More sensitivity and less stunt when reaching out to the homeless


city_scope_logo-cmykThe promotion was called Sleepless In Our City, a well-intentioned fundraiser for the United Way of Elgin-St. Thomas. In capsule form, former MP Joe Preston and Tim Smart, the regional sales manager for a couple of local radio stations, were going to bundle up and spend the night sleeping – if possible – in the back seat of their respective cars. In the case of Tim, a Honda Civic.
(Full disclosure here, I spent several years as a volunteer on the United Way campaign cabinet and the entire team is to be applauded for raising in excess of $485,000 in this year’s campaign, as announced Friday evening.)
The media release from the United Way noted, “In Elgin St. Thomas, 20% of home owners and 42% of renters were spending more than 30% of their household income on shelter costs.”

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A bold step forward in tourism promotion for St. Thomas


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The city has been relatively coy of late on whether it will continue its participation – and to what extent – in Elgin county’s tourism program.
In 2013, the city’s share of the tourism budget is almost $122,000 and more than once in the last couple of years there have been suggestions the city go it alone in the marketing and promotion of tourist-related opportunities.
Well the wraps are about to be thrown off the new tourism model at Monday’s council meeting.
CAO Wendell Graves suggests with an upcoming strategic review of the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation, it would make sense to deal with many of the tourism-related ventures as economic development opportunities.
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Talks progressing on cross-lake ferry service between Cleveland and Port Stanley


Port Stanley harbour

March 30, 2011 – A delegation of officials from Central Elgin, Ontario spent last Friday in Cleveland meeting with Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority officials and others about launching cross-lake ferry service.

Officials from both sides are eager to explore the opportunity and agreed to craft a memorandum of understanding outlining their shared vision and next steps. If a ferry service results it would begin on a pilot basis, operating between Cleveland and Port Stanley with a focus on tourism and other passenger demand.

“We were quite pleased with our discussions and impressed by Cleveland’s many tourist attractions,” said Central Elgin Mayor Bill Walters. “I believe this proposed ferry service would create a wonderful international gateway and cultivate new opportunities for travel and economic development.”
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County to city . . . pay up or take a hike


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Upon her election in October, Mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman made it clear a priority would be a harmonious relationship between the city and Elgin county.

That will be put to the test Monday when a county delegation appears before city council with the expectation of St. Thomas ponying up $118,000 this year (up from $89,000 last year) to remain in a tourism partnership with Elgin.

At the very minimum, the county is demanding $99,000, and for that piddling amount the city’s voice in the partnership would be reduced from two to a single representative.
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Blue Flag to fly this summer over Port Stanley’s Main Beach


“Central Elgin will be proud to fly the Blue Flag. The Municipality and community have worked hard over several years to achieve this international beach quality designation,” said Mayor Tom Marks. “Port Stanley Main Beach is an important tourist draw. With the Blue Flag designation, this beach is now formally recognized as one of the best beaches in the world.”

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