Stop wasting the St. Thomas wasteland

If you drive down Elm street towards Sunset drive, or Wilson Ave, you see the Memorial Arena and on three sides of it, rough, mostly overgrown land. By far it isn’t the only plot of land that appears abandoned to the wilderness. While not exactly overgrown, the area between the Timkens Arena and Lyle Cook is also barren.

A visitor to St. Thomas would be able to draw only one conclusion from seeing such sites, that they are an indicator of better times in St. Thomas when a building or buildings stood there but now are left empty since the business that occupied the buildings left town. It cannot be said that they are a blot on the landscape of St. Thomas but they certainly aren’t a positive part of the city.

Obviously this land is owned by a person or company, yet haven’t chosen to either maintain, develop or sell it. There are probably many reasons as to why this is so, but regardless of reasons, the land is still unused and unsightly.

What can be done with it? That will depend on the owners and either the city or private citizens or companies because as with everything in life, there are plenty of options.

Option 1. The city or a private company negotiates with the owners of the land to rent it for a nominal fee, 10 dollars a month, which is 10 dollars a month more than it’s making right now, and then the city or private company tends to the land and makes it more attractive. Obviously the rental agreement would need a get out of clause for the owners for such times as when the land is bought by someone else. The positive would be the same for both parties, the land would look better, which is good for the city and good for potential buyers of the land.

Option 2. The owners of the land choose to look after the land themselves but using local companies to do so. Again the land looks good and local companies get the work.

Option 3. One of the land owners rents the land, again for a nominal fee, to one of the local interest groups in St. Thomas. A second dog park? A large community garden? A make shift skate park? There are plenty of groups that could make good use of the land.

These are just three options but each opens up possibilities and questions. It should be one of the priorities of the city and those who dwell within it that St. Thomas looks as attractive as possible. Think of it as keeping the house clean, just on a larger scale.

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  1. I don’t think the empty lots necessarily say “abandoned” to visitors. I’d rather have the empty lot beside the arena then have that old decrepit railway building that used to be there still there.

    I think instead of worrying about the empty lots, it would be much better to worry about the abandon buildings and storefronts on Talbot. Lets fill the empty stores first before thinking about what we can build on empty lots.

    It’s driving down the main street of town and seeing the empty stores, dollar stores and only the second hand stores prospering that gives a visitor the sense that the town is in hard times currently.

  2. I do agree with you about the buildings on Talbot. It would be great to see it thrive again. Is the reason for so many empty buildings financial (rent too high) or demand or lack of interest? There are plenty of home based companies in St. Thomas, perhaps a couple of them are ready to move up to having a store front? Again, negotiating with the owners to get a better deal might in order since otherwise the owners will be getting nothing anyway.

    The reason I talked about the wasteland is that I drive past it twice a day and imagine what could be in their place.

  3. I grew up on Wilson Ave… and I would love to see something done there. A golf course would be awesome (especially for high school age golfers, since there’s nothing those without a car can easily get to).

    However, like the other rail lands in St Thomas, the cost of dealing with the contaminated soil quite likely makes it difficult to build a good business case.

  4. St. Thomas has been stagnating and dying for quite some time now. Since our government sold out manufacturing by dong away with the auto pact and then giving it all away with free trade, jobs are scarce and economies suffer from it. I left my hometown area of St. Thomas for that very reason. There was no work. If you want to make a better impression on visitors then clean up your drug problem! How many meth clinics are there now? I heard three or four. I am glad to not raise my children there. It seems there is nothing but the dead and dying back in my hometown!

  5. There are great ideas but the mayor’s decision to hide us from the world, (turning down the chance to have the community featured on tv), shows the lack of imagination we’re up against. Now that we know what our ‘leaders’ think of us, I think it’ll be a while before any progress is made on this land or in any other aspect of our lives.