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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Additional Essex Council Notes for Tuesday, February 20

by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

Request for billboard on Highway 3 passed

With a vote of 5-3, Essex Council passed By-Law 2297 to permit the erection of one static billboard sign facing west- bound traffic, with the other side being a digital media billboard sign facing east-bound traffic, at 14978 14th Concession along Highway 3.

It also passed By-Law Number 2298 to amend By-Law Number 1037, the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law for the Town of Essex.

  This is located within the future Inspiration Industrial Park Subdivision. The lands are currently subject to a Holing (H) provision under Section 8.13 of By-law 1037.

  Austin Friesen of Inno Homes/Essex Weld first approached Essex Council at the February 5, where Council deferred the matter to give staff time to circulate more renderings on the proposal and further investigate similar signs to determine suitability.

The billboard proposed would be a maximum height of 8.7-metres and a maximum width of 6.09-metres. The billboard image will be approximately 3.04-metres in height, and 6.09-metres in width. The billboard will be located 30.12-metres from the lot line abutting Highway 3.

  The site-specific exemption for billboards is needed to prevent over saturation.

  Essex’s Junior Planner, Ian Rawlings, provided Council with information based on questions raised at the previous meeting. In regards to the setback from the centreline of the road, the Town’s current Sign By-Law required a setback of 41-meters. This billboard will be located 54-meters from the centreline. 

  Rawlings has also confirmed the MTO permits obtained are still active.

  Rawlings also provided Council with a report that included renderings of the proposed billboard and others to compare it to. 

  It was recommended, based on discussions from the previous meeting, that the dwell time be reduced to 60-seconds, Rawlings said. At the previous meeting, it was noted Friesen wanted the 180-second intervals set to switch to another ad in the Town by-law be shortened to what the MTO guidelines suggest of 20-seconds.

  He added the By-Law was also amended to be a little stricter in terms of the light and lumen levels. The By-Law will only expire, he clarified, if the applicant is unable to obtain the MTO permit, as it would be required to renew the permit every-five years.

  Councillors Joe Garon, Rodney Hammond, and Jason Matyi voiced concerns about third-party advertisers.

  Garon hoped consideration would be given to Town businesses.

  The Report to Council notes the proposed billboard will advertise local businesses and their products and services. Sign By-Law 2167, Schedule B, states that a Billboard shall advertise a single business, organization, event or activity located in the Town of Essex or serving the local community. The proposed billboard complies with the advertising regulations of By-Law 2167.

  Director of Development Services, Lori Chadwick, noted when the By-Law was written it was meant to encompass County businesses.

  Mayor Sherry Bondy noted there are billboards outside the municipality that promote Essex businesses.

  “We are a County. We want to encourage residents to go different places in the County, too,” she said. 


Admin, consultant to undertake public engagement

to review Parkland Dedication By-Law

Council moved to allow Essex’s Administration, with the assistance of Watson & Associates Economists Ltd., to undertake public engagement to review the draft Parkland Dedication By-Law.

  This would regulate the dedication of parkland or the payment-in-lieu thereof, as a condition of the development, or redevelopment, to implement the changes made by Bill 23.

  For the past year-and-a-half, the Town’s Community Services Department has undertaken a Parkland Dedication Study, Jake Morassut, Director of Community Services, explained.

  The Report to Council notes the dedication of parkland is a requirement under the Planning Act that allows municipalities to ensure that the park system grows at the same rate as the development of the community.

  The Planning Act authorizes municipalities to prepare and adopt a Parkland Dedication By-law to impose conditions on development and redevelopment to receive parkland or payment-in-lieu of parkland, it adds.

  With the discounts from Bill 23 on revenue tools, like Development Charges, higher pressure is put on the taxpayer. “Maximizing recovery of Parkland Dedication minimizes the impact on the taxpayer,” Daryl Abbs, from Watson & Associates, explained. “If you are going to impose the [maximization] of Parkland Recovery, you need a Parkland Dedication By-Law to impose those conditions.”

  He presented a draft Parkland dedication By-Law to Council, which will be brought back to Council for consideration at a later date.

  He said most of the County is currently undergoing this review.

As part of the memorandum presented to Council, Abbs said they have taken a look at the Town’s current inventory and what is the service level identified in the Official Plan at the end of 2031 to see if the service level can be achieved.

  What was discovered was that the Town has around 208 acres of parkland. If the Official Plan standard of 6.2-acres per thousand is applied, only 137 acres would be needed.

  Essex’s Official Plan notes that Parkland Dedication may be required at the rates of 5% for residential development and 2% for commercial and industrial development. There is no mention of the alternative residential rate, or for dedication to be received from institutional development.

  It also notes that the Town may accept payment-in-lieu of parkland dedication.

  It is hoped to bring the By-Law before Council in April.

  Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy doesn’t want to rush this matter. She wants this document to work for the Town and development community.


 Cancellation, reduction, refund, or increase of taxes approved

Council approved the cancellation, reduction, refund, or increase of taxes in accordance with the provisions under Section 357.(1), Section 358 and Section 359 of the Municipal Act, 2001.

  The municipal portion of the tax adjustments, which includes the municipal base levy, rural and urban levy, and garbage collection, and disposal levy amounts to a net write-off of $10,449.95, the Report to Council notes.


 Essex applying for RED matching grant, will pull $35K from reserve if successful

The Town of Essex’s Economic Development Department is looking to submit a grant application into the Rural Economic Development (RED) program, which provides 50% funding to municipalities or non-profits implementing projects that have direct benefit to rural communities.

  Nelson Silveira, Economic Development Officer, asked Council to approve taking $35,165 from Economic Development reserves and $59,230 from grant monies, pending approval of the application, to support the included initiatives.

  As part of the Business Retention, Expansion Plan and Council’s Strategic Action Plan – both documents competed in 2023 – “We developed a package and work plan we believe not only aligns with Council’s Strategic Plan, but also aligns with the rural Economic Development program,” Silveira noted.

  That money would be to hire a one-year contract position to assist with project implementation, enhance the ability to support local business and Council priorities in a much more timely and effective manner, Silveira said. In addition, directly implementing business supports, the position would assist in identifying grants the Town could apply for to help alleviate financial burden on capital projects.

  If approved, the Town would fund half, with the grant providing the other half.

  It would also support retaining a consultant to explore the feasibility of a Community Improvement Plan strategy which has the potential to bolster the municipality’s efforts towards job creation and economic growth. It could serve as a strategic road map for sustainable development, guiding, and incentivizing new investments that stimulate growth and attract new business.

  Lastly, it would fund the purchasing of GrantMatch software to help identify funding opportunities.

  If approved through RED, this would be funded in 2024 and 2025, with potential for renewal in 2026. It would be a pilot project for the Town to assess the return on the interments. He noted the software is around $12,000 per year subscription.

  Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais asked where the new hire would focus their efforts, municipal-wide, wineries, or the business corridors?

  Silveira noted this could focus on tourism, industrial, any businesses looking to expand that need information about funding opportunities from upper-levels of government, for example.

  Councillor Jason Matyi would like to see the rural businesses get some help through a CIP as the downtown cores have benefited from CIP programs in the past.

  Mayor Sherry Bondy, if the grant is approved, would like to see a report created highlighting any new grant dollars the software brings in.

  In Answering Councillor Rodney Hammond’s question, Silveira noted that if the Town is unsuccessful in obtaining the grant, he will return to Council with a next step plan in terms of what can be down in terms of Town funding available.

  Deputy Mayor Rob Shepley suggested sending the information also to MPP Anthony Leardi.


NoM: bollard outside 114 Talbot Street North be removed

At the February 5 meeting, Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais put forward a Notice of Motion for discussion at the February 29 meeting, that the bollard outside 114 Talbot Street North (the one to the west of the parking lot entrance) be removed and a sign that says “parking lot entrance” be installed and “no parking” lines be painted at the entrance to the parking lot.

  Businesses have reported cars are parking in the entrance, as it does look like a parking spot, she said. Some have been parked in the lot and got stuck – some she heard for up to two hours – as that is the only entrance/exit.

  She believes her suggestions will help deter anyone from accidentally parking in the parking lot entrance.

  Kevin Girard, Director of Infrastructure, noted the Town does not typically sign parking lot entrances as they add to sign pollution. There were painted lines prior to the streetscape completion, they will be repainted in the spring.

  The estimated cost to remove the bollard would be $1615. That could be covered through project contingencies.

  Council moved the motion to remove the bollard, taking the funds from the project contingency fund. Council will revisit the option for the sign in the future. The lines will be painted in the spring.

 

Notices of Motion to be presented at the March 4 meeting:

• Councillor Jason Matyi will ask Council to consider directing Administration to prepare a comprehensive report that compares water-tight manhole covers to standard manhole covers

• Councillor Kim Verbeek will ask Council to discuss ways to fund the remainder of money required to cover the cost of a shade sail for the McGregor Community Centre.

 

  For other Essex Council news, see the articles in this week's edition...“Essex will seek RFPs for high-density residential development at former Harrow High,” “CTMHV, Steam & Gas Museum, author Fred Johnson presented with Essex’s Heritage Award,” “Hydro One: 2023 poor for momentary and sustained outages, improvements continue,” and “Essex Council approved $67K to community groups through 2024 Community Partnership Fund” in this edition of the Essex Free Press.

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