City Scope

By Ian McCallum, St. Thomas Times-Journal
February 18, 2006

While we wait for the city to deny a demolition permit to Alma Heritage Estates, along comes Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Steve Peters with the observation Alma College could be saved if St. Thomas courts were moved there.

That suggestion predictably enraged Shmuel Farhi, owner of the 153-year-old Elgin County court house. The London, Ont., developer challenged Peters to elaborate on his musings and passed along to this corner a copy of his letter to the minister.

“I was quite taken aback by your suggestion that Alma College could be saved if the courts moved there and I can only hope that this was a passing comment and not a serious suggestion. I would be extremely disappointed if the provincial government rewarded Alma College’s current landlord for his irresponsible handling of the property in this way.”

Farhi reminded Peters it will be almost impossible to find an economically viable alternate use for the Wellington Street landmark if the courts should amalgamate at another location. “Now is the time for us to act to ensure that this historic building has a secure future and never faces the demolition ball.”