Veterans Memorial Garden another St. Thomas success story


city_scope_logo-cmykThe ceremonial ground-breaking was held last month and now it is down to serious business at Veterans Memorial Garden, to be located on Moore Street, across from BX Tower.
The garden will incorporate the city’s war memorials in one downtown location. This would include the First World War soldier in front of St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital and the Second World War and Korean War memorial at Princess Avenue.
Standing on the site of the garden recently, Tony Bendel, representing Lord Elgin Branch 41, Royal Canadian Legion, described the layout.
The soldier will be moved to the north end of the garden while the Second World War and Korean War memorial will be in the centre and become “the focal point. And currently right now in Toronto there is a bronze statue being cast of an Afghan soldier and that will be at the far end (south end of the garden near Centre Street). They will be building a rock wall and that soldier will be sitting on that.” Continue reading

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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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Roundtable on rural poverty: Is the province out of touch?


yurek-legislaturejpgIs the goal of this provincial government to encourage migration from rural areas to urban centres, as suggested by one Elgin county mayor? That was one of the issues raised at a roundtable on rural poverty held Feb. 24 at the CASO station in St. Thomas and hosted by Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek.
Attended by two dozen municipal and social/community agency representatives, the forum was designed to get a sense of what rural poverty is and its impact on St. Thomas and Elgin county municipalities, explained Yurek afterward.
“What’s available and what barriers are out there for people. Too often policies are developed in Toronto with an urban lens and we need to look at it with a rural point of view. It’s different living in rural Ontario and we need to have a balance in policies to ensure we can help get people out of poverty in rural Ontario.”

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Sizzle and sparks at prospect of London-St. Thomas utility union


city_scope_logo-cmykThat buzzing and crackling sound audible earlier this week was the rumor mill churning full tilt at the prospect of London Hydro and St. Thomas Energy uniting in utility bliss.

Mum’s the word from the potential partners, however the picture may come into better focus following a special in-camera meeting Tuesday where St. Thomas council – sole shareholders of parent company Ascent Group – will be briefed on the findings of Grant Thornton, the financial consultants hired by the city to explore merger partners.

Their suitor search has been completed, advised Ascent Group board chairman John Laverty on Tuesday, and they “are in the middle of putting together a summary that is to be presented to the Ascent Group board and city council.” Continue reading

Can the Burstein boys of Brampton breathe life back into Elgin Mall?


city_scope_logo-cmykConsidered the poor cousin of enclosed shopping malls by its previous owner OneREIT, Elgin Mall has wonderful potential according to the small, family owned real estate investment company that acquired the 263,000-square-foot property last month.

Brothers Jay and Mory Burstein are adamant their intention is not to demolish the retail centre that first opened in 1975.

“Our goal is to try and lease the vacant space as quickly as possible and try to make this mall the vibrant place it once was,” Jay assured in an interview this week.

An optimistic game plan for a mall that is operating at a roughly 50 per cent vacancy rate. Continue reading

Health care system is not broken, but there is waste – Paul Collins


city_scope_logo-cmykIn a lengthy interview on Paul Collins‘ penultimate day as president and CEO at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, he dwelt on the Great

Expansion, the facility’s designation as a regional stroke centre and a greater role for STEGH as a regional player.

We’ll pick up this week with the suggestion the health care model in this province is broken.

“I don’t think the system is broken,” asserted Collins. “But I think there are some elements of the system we need to be paying attention to. How does the aging population affect this hospital. We talk about alternate levels of care. These are folks who come to the hospital because they need care, but then when it’s time to be discharged, the question where is the safest place for them to be discharged to – long-term care, in their own home or a nursing home? Continue reading

Departing CEO leaves St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital in good health


city_scope_logo-cmykOn his penultimate day as president and CEO of St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, Paul Collins reflected on a career that dates back to 1989, the last 15 years at the helm.

With construction crews clearly visible out the office window and Collins enjoying his final week bidding farewell to administration and staff, we asked him what was going through his mind as he drove in Thursday morning past the hustle and bustle of the Great Expansion.

Surely he must be swirling in a mix-master of emotions.

“Relief,” was the short, single-word answer.

Sensing my puzzlement he continued. Continue reading