You’d expect a healthy workplace environment at the Canadian Mental Health Association, wouldn’t you?


city_scope_logo-cmykThey deal with some of the most vulnerable members of the community, but staff at the Elgin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association say they are struggling with their own unbearable stress.
And now, members of OPSEU Local 133 are breaking the silence.
Bolstered by CMHA members from Oxford, about two dozen staff took a stand outside the Centre Street office where they claim to be working in an environment of fear, intimidation and anxiety.
According to Carol Warner, OPSEU staff representative, St. Thomas employees are consistently targeted and penalized by upper management for speaking up about health, safety and other workplace concerns.
“It’s hideous, it’s a long-standing issue,” notes Warner. “I would say it’s a systemic issue. We have grievances in the docket that are, at a minimum, four or five years old. And the grievance program has flaws as well.
“If one decides to, they can influence how quickly or how slowly the grievance process unfolds.” Continue reading

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Best of intentions reduced to dust in Sutherland Press building demolition


city_scope_logo-cmykCity manager Wendell Graves advises Schouten Excavating employees are expected on site at the Sutherland Press building the week of Oct. 16 to begin demolition work.
According to the city’s agreement, the contractor has 30 days to demolish the four-storey structure, although as chief building inspector Chris Peck indicated previously, the site itself may not be totally cleared of debris in that period of time.
Once demolition has reached a certain stage, re-opening of the adjacent transit centre will be possible.
At this point, Talbot Street will remain open during the demolition and Graves adds Moore Street may be opened to traffic sooner than expected if the demolition work can be contained on site. Continue reading

New life for an old St. Thomas foot path


The city’s newest trail project may very well involve one of the older, well-established foot paths in St. Thomas.

At Monday’s reference committee meeting, city council was apprised of the Owaissa Trail project connecting Hiawatha Street to Athletic Park and then continuing on to St. George Street.
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Existing path looking eastward from Athletic Park clubhouse

The short-cut to Athletic Park has been in use for decades, most notably by Arthur Voaden Secondary School teams to quickly get from the school to games at the sports fields.
“It’s a very, very well used trail,” advised Ross Tucker, director of parks, recreation and property management.
The move to formally create a trail was prompted by queries about ownership of land in the area and liability issues.
The plan is to create a three-metre wide asphalt path down from Hiawatha Street to the clubhouse area at Athletic Park and then through the parking area up to St. George Street. The cost is estimated at $180,000, which does not include any possible land purchases.
The route includes a storm sewer easement which the city does not own.
When asked about steepness of the trail and ease of use for those with accessibility issues, director of environmental services Justin Lawrence indicated the grade would be in the six to eight per cent range.
Coun. Steve Wookey questioned whether the trail would be lighted, to which Tucker responded, “We’re not entertaining any lighting, at least yet.”
A staff report will be presented to council later this fall, with cost of the trail to be included in the 2018 capital budget.
Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope

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City to assume ownership of Lake Margaret . . . and those grass-gobbling geese


The process and implications of transferring ownership of Lake Margaret and associated lands to the city were outlined to residents of the lakeside subdivision in attendance Monday at city council’s reference committee meeting.
The update of the Lake Margaret Management Plan by city staff was deemed “a phenomenal presentation,” by one shoreline resident who added the process “restores a lot of our faith.”

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Market study recommends more retail in downtown core; revitalization of Elgin Mall


city_scope_logo-cmykIn the period 2000 to 2015, St. Thomas experienced an almost three-fold increase in vacant commercial retail space. That’s one of the key findings in a 2015 retail market study to be presented to council Monday.
The study, undertaken by Dillon Consulting and W. Scott Morgan & Associates, sought to “analyse the ability of the city’s commercial policy framework to support the health of its retail market, while identifying the evolving retail market trends that may affect St. Thomas.”
The city has 2.46 million square feet of retail commercial space – an increase of 15 per cent since 2007 – but in that total, 313,000 square feet is vacant, up from 114,000 in the year 2000.

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South Path: paving the way to a more connected tomorrow in St. Thomas


Although the city was unable to obtain funding under the Canada 150 grant, an ambitious path project linking the west end of St. Thomas to the east side along its southern boundary will march ahead as planned.
The South Path Connectivity Project involves a 4.2 km multi-use asphalt trail that will connect with the existing London & Port Stanley Rail Corridor in the west and extend the existing OPS recreational to Elm Street in the east.

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It’s a recreation plan with plenty of kick to it


City council Tuesday was walked through design plans for the proposed St. Thomas Outdoor Recreation Complex on Burwell Road at Dennis Road and extending south past Silver Street.
Conceived as a multi-use recreation complex, its focus is on the provision of much-needed soccer pitches and football fields, but its scope extends far beyond those two sports.
To be housed on a 65-acre parcel of land, the ambitious complex is the brainchild of a committee struck five years ago by council.

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