New electoral boundaries: ‘It’s about population and not about communities’ – Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio

city_scope_logo-cmykNew electoral boundaries proposed by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario could have a significant impact on the outcome of federal and provincial elections in both St. Thomas and Elgin.
Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio is quick to admit she has concerns with the proposed re-alignment.
The aim is to have all ridings in the province fairly equal in population, around the 115,500 mark.
The new electoral roadmap was unveiled a week ago and it would see St. Thomas incorporated into a new riding to be known as London South–St. Thomas.
It would stretch north to Commissioners Road and the Thames River, east to Springwater Road to include Belmont and Mapleton, south to John Wise Line and west to Sunset/Westdel Bourne/Wonderland Road, but would not include Lambeth (see map).
The London South-St. Thomas riding has a population of over 120,000 right now, the majority of residents living in London.

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Area residents to become ‘sacrificial lambs’ in Alma project? – St. Thomas planner Sue Fortin-Smith


McIntyre Street residences

More than a decade ago, we began referring to St. Thomas resident Dawn Doty as the Alma College watchdog. That was prior to the May 28, 2008 fire that marked the beginning of the end for the former school for girls.
Doty, who owns property on McIntyre Street across from the three-tower residential development proposed by developer Michael Loewith, was instrumental – via a Freedom of Information request – in obtaining an Ontario Heritage Trust report which the provincial government of the day withheld from the public for more than two years.
That document encouraged “the municipality to refuse any request for demolition or substantial alteration that would destroy the building or heritage attributes.”
It’s a moot point all these years later, but it demonstrates the passion of the Alma watchdog.
At Monday’s meeting (Feb. 11) she and Sue Fortin-Smith – a registered professional planner and former chair of the city’s Municipal Heritage Committee – appeared in separate deputations to council regarding what they believe are shortcomings in reports related to the development of the Moore Street property. Continue reading

No throwing caution to the wind in this chapter of the Sutherland Saga

city_scope_logo-cmykThe Sutherland Saga forecast for next week?
Cautious for the next few days.
With the 30-day appeal period having expired this past week and no indication Sutherland Press building owner David McGee intends to challenge the June 28 decision handed down by Justice Peter Hockin that, in essence, the four-storey downtown edifice is in fact unsafe, is that the wrecker’s ball we hear approaching?
Not so fast, advises city manager Wendell Graves who indicated Friday the city is taking a cautious approach at this time.
He advised while no word has been received from McGee or his lawyer Valerie M’Garry an appeal is in the works, it is better to err on the side of caution while seeking advice from legal counsel. Continue reading

Don’t forget this in the inventory of places of worship

Inside the chapel
From Bob Foster in Brampton:

Minister Aileen Carroll,
In a recent news release on the CNW Group website,it was reported that the Ontario Heritage Trust was taking inventory of places of worship.At first I was taken aback, because for 15 months we have been trying to convince your ministry to recognize a quaint little chapel located on the grounds of 96 Moore Street in St.Thomas,Ont.The chapel was a huge part of Alma College and the thousands of student who passed through the granite gates of the college would eventually enter the chapel at some point to pray,as it was a part of their daily routine.We lost Alma College to fire in May 2008,however the chapel survived,as did the music building and outdoor amphi-theater.It would be a fitting tribute to the great legacy of Alma College,if the Ontario Heritage Trust would recognize the chapel as a place of worship,and it would also be fitting if the ministry of culture would give provincial heritage designation to 96 Moore Street,so the chapel,music building and outdoor amphi-theater would be protected from any further neglect.The Alma supporters are formally asking your ministry to recognize 96 Moore Street.I’ve included a few photographs of the chapel,and if your ministry is serious about taking inventory of places of worship,starting with the chapel at 96 Moore Street,would be a great start.The chapel may not be a grand old church,but many a student prayed inside her walls,and the chapel brought piece and comfort to all those students who came to study at Alma College,from all across the globe.Alma College gave to our province for well over 100 years,it’s now time for the Ontario government to give back with provincial heritage designation for 96 Moore Street St.Thomas,Ont

Bob Foster

St. Thomas And East Elgin join Doors Open Ontario promotion

Doors Open Ontario 2009 kicks off on April 25
with an event in Guelph. This year, visitors will have the chance to explore
heritage buildings, architectural showpieces and community landmarks at 48
events across the province.
Six of the events in 2009 are new. Lake of Bays, Richmond Hill, Minden,
East Elgin, Milton and St. Thomas have all joined the program.
Full story

Smoke Clears,Dust Settles,Snow Melts and still no word from Aileen Carroll.

Alma fire, May 28, 2008

Alma fire, May 28, 2008


Minister Carroll,
I was reading a quote you recently made regarding heritage volunteers,the quote was “The achievements of these dedicated volunteers help to strengthen communities across Ontario,” said Culture Minister Aileen Carroll. “Their hard
work ensures our rich heritage is conserved and celebrated for generations to
come.”.How could you make such a statement,when you yourself DO NOT “conserve and celebrate”,in fact your motto should be “search and destroy”.It never ceases to amaze me,that you have been quoted on many occasions praising the hard work of heritage voluteers for their tireless efforts,on behalf of our built heritage,then head back to your Queen’s Park office,to sign the demolition papers on some beautiful and historic building,that could be saved with a little help from the ministry of culture,but you would rather bring it down,then assist in bringing it back.Your words are hollow and mean nothing,when it comes to our rich heritage.96 Moore Street has sat abandoned and neglected since the May 2008 fire,the chapel is further damaged,do to the gaping hole in the roof,the music building continues to deteriorate,thanks to the brutal weather here in Ontario,and the outdoor amphi-theatre will surely be unrecognizable,once the snow melts away,so even though the smoke has cleared from the devastating fire in May of 2008,the dust has settled on the demolition that followed the fire,and the snow and ice slowly melts to reveal that nothing has changed on the property in 9 months,one has to wonder what exactly you meant when you said “Their hard
work ensures our rich heritage is conserved and celebrated for generations to come”,because at 96 Moore Street,in St.Thomas,nothing has been conserved and there is no sign of celebration,however “demolition by neglect” has been evident for many years.I do applaud all the heritage volunteers and heritage advocates,who stand up for our built heritage,now if we could only put someone at the helm of the ministry of culture,who has the same passion,we would be well on our way to “conserving and celebrating”…
Quote taken from the following news article:
Aileen Carroll

Robert F.Foster

Bombshell letter derails Dunlap Observatory hearing

David Dunlap Observatory

David Dunlap Observatory

Posted by Ian:
My but this story has an eerie familiarity to it. Perhaps because we in St. Thomas have lived through it first hand. Withheld Alma report So what exactly is the mandate of Culture Minister Aileen Carroll and her staff? It would appear preserving the heritage of this province is not anywhere on her radar, as witness this story from Thanks to the Alma Advocacy Association for the heads up.

The Minister of Culture could have preserved the Dunlap Observatory site’s entirety with the stroke of her pen, according to newly-released information.
A letter sent by Ontario Heritage Trust chairperson and former Lt.-Gov. Lincoln Alexander to Culture Minister Aileen Carroll in September, recommends the province take immediate action to declare the site’s main 177 acres a heritage site.
That would mean if designated by the minister, no alterations to the property would be allowed without her consent.

Letter to culture minister Aileen Carroll

Aileen Carroll

Aileen Carroll

As I watched question period,you rose and spoke about the Ontario Heritage Trust,in response to
another members question,regarding former premiers.You stated that you value the input of the OHT,and that they have been a great asset to the ministry of culture.I have to ask why you did not value their opinion with regards to Alma College.The OHT reported to the culture ministry,that Alma College was indeed eligible for provincial designation,but you ignored the report,and the end result was,the college being set ablaze,and lost forever. I’m not sure of the all the rules & regulations in your ministry,but I find it very suspicious that you ignored Alma College,when it was listed as the number one endangered building in Canada,you hid the OHT report,as thousands of Alma College supporters were gathering petition signatures,and even though 2 buildings survived the inferno,at 96 Moore Street,you have failed to designate the property.The Alma supporters thought for sure,that once you had seen the devastation that was brought to this property,you would move immediately to protect what remained,but again we were mistaken.The Ministry of Culture seems to be unaware,of the “demolition by neglect” that is spreading across this beautiful province.Owners of historic buildings now know,if they simply let enough time go by,the culture ministry will never step in,and city’s cannot help protect these historic buildings,without government assistance,so its a waiting game,of which the owner will win every time.It’s very sad to see so many buildings abandoned and neglected.It’s true they built these structures to last,and in most cases they withstood the hands of time,what they couldn’t withstand,was the hand of Aileen Carroll…

Robert F.Foster

MPP Steve Peters Writes to Minister of Culture Regarding Inaction on Ontario Heritage Trust Designation Recommendations

Dear Minister:

Please find enclosed e-mail correspondence and a copy of an Ontario Heritage Trust letter from Ms. Donna Moore, a London resident who has concerns regarding the historic Moore House located southeast of St. Thomas in the village of Sparta.

As you are aware, the Moore House was at risk last year after its owners applied to the Municipality of Central Elgin for a demolition permit so that they could construct a new home on the same footprint of the existing heritage structure. Built in 1823, the Moore House is one of the oldest homes in all of southwestern Ontario and there is a great interest within the community to preserve this heritage building.

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