St. Thomas looking forward

St. Thomas, Ontario. Formally the rail city of North America and the last place that Jumbo saw. Presently an area that has been hit hard with factory closures. So what of the future? What will St. Thomas be known for in 100 years time? A ghost town or a thriving city. Is there anything the city and it’s citizens can do now to make sure that the future is so bright we have to wear shades?

Perhaps it is time to say goodbye to the past and move on. We have CASO and the Elgin County Railway Museum but we no longer have the rail tracks that serviced both places. The First Ave bridge has severed the tracks to the East and the tracks no longer run parallel to Centre street. We have the huge bridge over Fingal Line and Sunset road that no longer serves a purpose as no trains will steam across it again. Thomas the Tank engine comes to visit to remind our kids what a train looks like but should we really keep calling ourselves the Railway City when the only trains rolling through as those supplying factories that may or may not be here in five years time.

There is a lot of space in St. Thomas that could be used for other purposes. On this webpage, it was suggested that the empty ground opposite the St. Thomas Timken Community Centre could be used to hold a brand new, state of the art, skate park. Something that would appeal to not only the teenage skaters who lost out when the original skate park was torn down, but recreational skaters who enjoy the exercise.

What about Centre St.? Now devoid of rail tracks, could the now vacation land that runs along side Centre St perhaps be made into a long park? Plenty of greenery, trees, benches, a place where locals would enjoy walking, sitting, and spending time in. The space is hopefully to small to have houses or apartments built on, so converting it to a small park makes perfect sense. Not only would it benefit anyone who wanted to walk but it would also make downtown St. Thomas a little more attractive.

To take it one step further, perhaps the city could investigate and invest in solar powered lighting for the park. It could be used as an experiment to see how feasible solar lighting could be. In the future, unless someone invents a hydrogen powered power station, the less electricity we use the better. Solar appears to be the way to go and why not get ahead of the big city to the North and be a leader in making the city greener? If it is successful, it could be taken to the next level, with perhaps Christmas lighting being powered by the sun. Even in winter, there should be enough light to power these lights. The less money spent on electricity, the more available for other things around the city. Doesn’t that make sense?

How about the bridge over Fingal Line and Sunset Road, and sometimes troubled waters. If it no longer had a purpose other than to remind people of glories long past, should the city look into the cost of removal? Could anything on the bridge be re-used? Could the concrete pillars be re-purposed elsewhere as a climbing wall? The steel on the bridge could probably be sold for scrap to help pay for the dismantling of the bridge.

It is time to look for the future. We don’t need to, nor should we, forgot the past but let’s build for the future.

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  1. Nathan, I have no issue with forward thinking. Have you considered the thousands & thousands of hours the volunteers have put in at the CASO station, Railway museum & others ? We have all been forward thinking for over 20 years.

    Regards,
    Dan Vernackt,
    President, PSTR

  2. Hi Dan,

    I did consider the CASO station, which in the 13 years I have lived in St. Thomas has changed dramatically. It is probably the most iconic feature of St. Thomas after that elephant.