A new home for health unit and it’s not on Farhi property


Over to you Shmuel.
Elgin St. Thomas Public Health made it official this week: they are seeking a new home and it won’t be on property at the west end of Talbot Street owned by London developer Shmuel Farhi.
As reported in the Times-Journal, the health unit is close to a deal for two acres of property at a yet-to-be-disclosed location, with a budget of about $10 million to design and build a new, 30,000-square-foot-home.
Their current abode is 27,000 square feet at 99 Edward St., and the proposed move prompted T-J reader Bill Petryshyn to post on our website: “10 million dollars for an extra 3000 sq ft? Seems pricey.”

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‘Mayor’s negativity . . . unwarranted,’ says TV show’s fan


    As we wrote in this corner last week, City Scope applauds the decision made to take a flyer on providing the backdrop for the popular reality series, Million Dollar Neighbourhood, because of the negative light in which it might cast St. Thomas.

     Reader Bill Sandison takes exception and passed along the following argument.

     ” So much for this mayor and meaningful community engagement; a missed opportunity to build community spirit over a 10-week stretch as 100 families would help each other try to achieve a community savings of $1,000,000; equating to $1,000 a week for each family,” Sandison writes.

     “Mayor Heather Jackson reportedly reached consensus with the Economic Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce to say no.”

     He continues, they “should replay the video “St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada – Faster. Stronger. Better.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qQl4Nvrmmc) It portrays St. Thomas in a far more progressive light, one that appears to have been forgotten.  While the video is industrial focused, it is about a community working together, which is exactly the premise behind Million Dollar Neighbourhood, except it involves ordinary families working together to improve their individual circumstances and the community as a whole.

     “Each week the families select one household to receive $10,000 for leadership towards achieving their goal. Has Mayor Heather Jackson watched any of the 10 episodes; talked to any of the 100 families participating in saving Aldergrove $1,000,000; talked to Aldergrove resident Irene Setka who won the $100,000; talked to Mayor Jack Froese or any of the township councillors before trashing the opportunity as simply “more negativity about the city?”              

       Sandison points out, “Joanne Nicolato, a participant, said in her address to council, ‘I found myself bursting with community pride.’ Not quite the image being portrayed by our mayor.

     “While other Ontario communities are actively soliciting the Million Dollar Neighbourhood show, our mayor turns her nose up at the offer.  Perhaps it is just indifference towards the residents of St. Thomas?

     “After all, what 10 families here could possibly use $10,000 and potentially $100,000?  While I can appreciate Jackson’s fear of criticism, it has nothing to do with the families living in St. Thomas.”

     Sandison concludes, “The mayor’s negativity is defensive and unwarranted, and has deprived local families of hard cash and an opportunity to showcase community pride.”

     As always, this corner encourages input from readers.


     Ascent, formerly St. Thomas Holdings Inc., has an off year and yet board chairman, Ald. Tom Johnston, feels the directors should receive a hike in compensation.

     Johnston would not reveal specifics of the increase, but board members currently receive about $8,500 for attending 10 or so meetings a year.

     Handsome remuneration for the work involved.

     Thankfully, city council was united in nixing this proposal to further stock the trough.

     So, who sits on the Ascent board of directors?

     In addition to Johnston and Mayor Heather Jackson, neither of who are compensated, the members include former St. Thomas mayor Peter Ostojic, vice-chairman Jim Herbert, Brian Dempsey and local businessman Joseph Starcevic.

     “I can’t support this recommendation,” asserted Ald. Gord Campbell. “St. Thomas Holdings had a difficult year, lost some money.

     It was Campbell who called for the recorded vote,

     Is that why council was unanimous in opposition? Shame by association?


     After months of speculation, the where-will-Steve-Peters-surface-again question was answered this week with an announcement from the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors (AOFP) that their new executive director is none other than the former mayor of St. Thomas.

     AOFP is a member-driven organization representing over 650 food and beverage processing companies in Ontario and employing more than 110,000 people.

     Can’t think of a more qualified and enthusiastic ag business promoter than Steve. He served as this province’s minister of agriculture from 2003-2005, then moved on to minister of labour from 2005-2007.

     Of course, long-time residents of St. Thomas will remember Steve really got a hands-on education in the food business stocking grocery store shelves in the previous century.

     Reader David Delgado gives two thumbs up to the announcement.    

     “Good for Stevie boy,” he notes on the T-J website. The AOFP got a good man to work with them. Too bad we can’t convince him to come back as mayor!”

     It’s a safe bet the AOFP is not familiar to many in the province. It will be interesting, therefore, to follow Steve’s impact on the alliance, both in profile and increased political clout.


     After a two-year hiatus, Canada Day celebrations will return to Pinafore Park, a venue that was vacated due to risks associated with the grand finale fireworks display and the proximity to the Lake Margaret development.

     It’s a wise decision by the city, albeit unfortunate the compromise solution could not have been reached much sooner so as not to break the long tradition of celebrating Canada’s birthday in the family-friendly confines of Pinafore Park.

     The Douglas J. Tarry Sports Complex is a wonderful site for ball tournaments and the like, but as a gathering spot for the community to come together for a day-long party, it just doesn’t cut it.

     Based on early comments on the T-J website, the prospect of renewing the association with Pinafore Park on July 1 is embraced by readers.

     “One of the best decisions made so far this year,” writes ‘dewing.’ “Back to the Park! That should be the most repeated saying of the city. Congratulations on bringing ‘family’ back to July 1.”  


     “I am looking forward to the opportunity to be a champion for a manufacturing sector that is so vital to Ontario’s economy.”

     Former Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Steve Peters on his appointment this week as executive director of the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors.

     City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions or comments can be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.


Sorry, we’re very busy getting our house in order


It’s a gutsy call . . . turning down an opportunity to have St. Thomas profiled on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Mayor Heather Jackson and other city officials turned thumbs down on feelers from Force Four Entertainment in Vancouver requesting the city consider serving as a backdrop for the second season of Million Dollar Neighbourhood.
Promotional material touting the series gushes, “Million Dollar Neighbourhood is a groundbreaking television series about taking control of finances, the power of community and guiding people toward their best lives.”

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