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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Additional Essex Council notes from Monday, June 3, 2024

by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

Jakana Residential Subdivision

performance securities released

Council released the final performance securities on file for the Jakana Residential Subdivision in the amount of $51,957.60, plus accrued interest, back to the proponent.

  The Report to Council on the matter notes the Essex Centre subdivision includes 61 units, which was approved in 2006.

  All dwellings have now been constructed and services have been installed. The Town of Essex has assumed the development through Bylaw Number 2226.

  The Report to Council adds 50% of the value of the development is held through performance securities to ensure due and proper performance of the works set out in the executed Development Agreement. The performance securities may be reduced to the extent of the value of the work remaining as certified by the municipal engineer.

  The one-year maintenance period has also been completed.

Essex Zoning By-Law amended to support affordable housing initiatives, residential intensification

Council for the Town of Essex authorized amending the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law for the municipality to permit alternative housing options in residential districts at its June 3 meeting.

  On May 21, a statutory public meeting was hosted to support residential intensification and affordable housing initiatives, and meet new Bill 23 – More Homes Built Faster Act – requirements.

  Some of the recommendations included amending the Residential District 1.1 (R1.1) that currently only permits a single-detached dwelling to allow for a wider-range of low-density housing. A proponent would then not be required to ask for a Zoning By-Law Amendment for single-unit dwelling, two-unit dwellings, three-unit dwellings, and semi-detached dwelling.

  Amending the R2.1 medium-density Zoning District that currently allows for single and semi-detached dwellings to allow townhome dwellings up to three units, and two and three unit dwellings.

  In addition, amending the R3.1 high-density Zoning District that currently permits semi-detached, townhomes, and multi-units to allow two and three unit dwellings also.

  The Town, it was noted at the statutory meeting, needs to look at its building and lot regulations. The current minimum lot width is 15m for single unit, 18m for semi-detached, and 24m for townhome dwellings. It was proposed to reduce that to 12m, 15m, and 21m respectively.

  With Bill 23, the Town can no longer prescribe a minimum gross floor area. The Zoning By-Law has to be amended to remove the gross floor area and allow for the Ontario Building Code to prescribe that.

  That will facilitate the development of tiny homes and housing tenures, such as land lease.

  It was also proposed to amend the Zoning By-Law to the General Provisions for Accessory Buildings to a main dwelling to facilitate Additional Dwelling Units. That includes allowances for a maximum of two onsite parking spaces for lands owned by Essex Non-Profit Homes instead of three, specifically, 107, 126, and 143 Michael Drive. A grant was received for three-unit dwellings. There is on-street parking available.

  With Council having concerns with this, alternative designs will be submitted to accommodate required parking onsite, Director of Development Services, Lori Chadwick, explained.

  The proposed amendment for year-round occupancy on vacant land at Klie’s Beach was removed from the By-Law, Chadwick said. That will allow for a solution to be developed. When one is found, an application for a Site Specific Zoning Amendment can be made. This is zoned for three-season occupancy. At the previous Statutory meeting, it was noted there is potential to develop areas of this property – those vacant to the right side – to allow for full season occupancy.

  “We hope you see this as an opportunity in response to the Province’s call to build more homes,” Chadwick told Council.

Essex earns high recognition in 2023 Lifesaving Society Recognition awards

As an affiliate of the Lifesaving Society – a national organization with a provincial branch composed of over 800 individual affiliated municipalities, private businesses, schools, and clubs – the Town of Essex offers a variety of programs, including Learn to Swim, Lifesaving Certifications, First Aid, and Automatic External Defibrillation certifications.

  Essex recently participated in the 2023 Lifesaving Society recognition Award-Ontario Branch.

  In the recent award program, which rewards points based on the total number of certifications and awards that are delivered within their community, the Town of Essex earned:

• Second place in the Scarborough Cup, awarded to the municipal affiliate with the largest lifesaving/leadership program in a community with a population between 10,000 and 50,000;

• Second place in the R. Bredin Staples Cup, awarded to the municipal affiliate with the largest leadership training program per capita;

• Fifth place in the Arnold H. Morphy Cup; awarded to the affiliate with a single facility with the largest lifesaving/leadership program;

• Fourth place in the John E. McCutcheon Bowl, awarded to the single-facility affiliate with the largest first aid program. In addition, the Town of Essex was the only municipal affiliate to appear in the top 10.

  The Town of Essex was a Top 35 affiliate program provider in the Province of Ontario based on the overall point system, the Report to Council added.

  Cynthia Cakebread, Manager of Recreation and Culture, noted that though the Town placed second in two of the categories it has won previously, its numbers were higher than last year and 2022.

  “If you look at the competitiveness within those categories, we are a small municipality within that [Scarborough Cup] category. Woodstock, which beat us, is more than double our size,” she said. “Most of the organizations in those categories are much bigger than us.”

  She added Essex is one of the few municipalities not experiencing staff shortages when it comes to on-deck personnel.

  She spoke about program growth. During COVID, there may have been up to three teaching lines taking place, now there are seven to nine. The population boom is impacting the programming, but Cakebread added there is a significant number of individuals from other communities utilizing the services, as well.

  In addition, the Town has put nearly 900 grade three and grade seven students from 18 schools through the Swim to Survive program in the 2023-24 school-year. That is bigger than any other municipality in the area, she said.

June proclaimed as Recreation and Parks Month

Essex Council proclaimed June as Recreation and Parks Month.

  The proclamation notes recreation enhances quality of life, balanced living, and lifelong learning. It also helps people to live happier and longer, and develops skills and positive self-image in children and youths.

  The Town offers a number of free events in celebration of June as Recreation and Parks Month, which gives families a chance to try out the facilities and programs.

Colchester Beach Safety Audit received with recommendations

Council received the update report on the Colchester Safety Audit for the beach and harbour area at its June 3 meeting. The report offered a list of recommendations for Town staff to implement, such as designating a safe swimming area and better signage.

  At the June 19, 2023 meeting, Council passed Councillor Jason Matyi’s motion that directed Administration to have a comprehensive safety audit of Colchester Beach and waterfront conducted by the Lifesaving Society, and further develop a safety plan based on the findings from the consultant.

  This matter came up with conversations at the time, when a delegate was seeking permission to install an inflatable water park at Colchester Beach. That initiative did not move forward.

  It came to his attention that a safety audit has not been done for the area, and he thought it would be a good idea to have Administration come up with plans regarding any recommendations that may come from it.

  Jake Morassut, Director of Community Services, noted Town Administration worked with the Lifesaving Society in 2023 to go over operations, policies and procedures, capital plans, resources, staffing, water testing, and the environment, amongst other topics.

  “The consultants, overall, came back with very positive feedback of the operations we currently have, Morassut told Council at the June 3 meeting.

  As a result of that review, the Lifesaving Society consultants developed a report.

  The priority concerns included designating a safe swimming area, which will have staff reinstall a buoy in the water area to notify boating traffic to stay away, and create a sign with a map showing where the permitted swimming areas are located.

  In addition, lifesaving stations will be installed in designated areas to ensure the public has access to rescue equipment, should it be necessary, including a life ring, reaching pole, and appropriate signage indicating its location along the beach.

  Primary recommendations outlined in the report from the Lifesaving Society includes providing additional signage at access points, which will have staff add signage to the area indicating the warnings of rough water, ice in the winter, and permitted fishing areas. It also suggested investigating the cost for a railing to prevent people from going on the rocks.

  Morassut noted the railing will be costly, but staff will look into the matter.

  It also recommends enhance beach signage, due to the potential height of waves, and ensure frequent lake water testing is completed and posted.

  Morassut noted testing is completed on a weekly basis through the Health Unit. If there is a failing or warning result, retesting is done later in the week. The Town was not posting results at the beach. There is now a process for that.

  Secondary recommendations include installing beach map signage at each access point, including location of safe swimming area, the number of swimming areas, AED locations, and emergency telephone location; and provide lifesaving station rescue equipment check logs.

  The Town, he said, is doing a lot of that already, but just isn’t logging the maintenance checks. Keeping logs helps prove that process has been undertaken if there was ever an issue.

  There is no expectation that there will be any additional budget funding required for the implementation of the requirements. Administration will continue to utilize the approved Town of Essex Parks and Facilities Operating Budget. Morassut noted if there will be an impact, it will be brought up through a future budget process for Council consideration.

  Vince Murphy, Assistant Manager of Parks and Facilities, added that as a result of the Beach Safety Audit, the Community Services Department has already purchased a few life safety stations, which will be placed on both sides of the beach. Staff will then start working in signage to ensure all recommendations made are followed.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek sees the need for many of the recommended signs. She asked if there has been consideration in consolidating messaging to prevent sign pollution. Councillor Joe Garon agreed with Verbeek and suggested looking into an app as well.

  Murphy noted the current signs are being looked at to be updated to include the recommendations provided and utilize the same areas.

Councillor Rodney Hammond spoke of the Colchester Walleye Derby, where kids fish off the pier, and hoped when thinking about looking into railings, events like that are considered.

  Mayti was happy with the report and noted it highlighted the great job staff is already doing.

  Mayor Sherry Bondy hoped staff could keep track of water testing and provide an end-of-the-summer summary to Council. Morassut noted that can be done.

Ice rental rate to be increased 1.5%

Council approved an ice rental rate increase for 2024-2025 season by 1.5%.

  That will begin August 1, 2024.

  The Report to Council noted there has been no change to ice rentals at the Essex Centre Sports Complex and the Harrow & Colchester South Community Centre since 2022.

  According to Statistics Canada Report for 2023, the report adds, the year-over-year average Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by 3.9% while the Town of Essex has made these annual inflationary adjustments to the yearly operating expense budget, however, the revenues have remained unadjusted.

  Rodney Klie, Manager of Parks and Facilities, noted facility users have been notified. The Town has not heard a complaint on the increase, yet.

  He added Essex is competitive in terms of rates with municipal neighbours.

  This will bump minor sports prime time from $182.31 to $185.04. The average of municipal neighbours is $207.92.

73’s advertising lease pricing amended

Essex Council amended the pricing on lease for sign advertising at the Essex Centre Sports Complex with the Essex 73’s hockey club to operate within the Libro Rink and Shaheen Rink.

  Director of Community Services, Jake Morassut, noted the 73’s approached the Town about amending prices for the advertising.

  The 73’s is an agent for the advertisement at the Essex Arena, procuring the advertising. There is a 50/50 sharing agreement with the Town and the hockey club.

  The report to Council notes the additional revenues would add an estimated $1,500 in revenues, to be applied to the Essex Centre Sports Complex operating account to offset annual operating expenditures.

2025 Budget Initiation Memo

Essex Council received the 2025 Budget Initiation Memo for information.

  Kate Giurissevich, Director of Corporate Services, noted Administration will  roll out the 2025 Budget process. A new intake form will be forwarded to Council members soon for their budget requests.

NoM: Admin to review feasibility of

pedestrian ramps on South Talbot

At the May 21 Regular Council Meeting, Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais presented a Notice of Motion, that Council direct Administration to review the feasibility of installing pedestrian access ramps along South Talbot Road at Iler Avenue, Laird Avenue, and Centre Street to access the multi-use pathway along South Talbot Road South.

  It was discussed at the June 3 meeting.

  She said there is a large stretch where the trail cannot be accessed, unless walking on the street.

She would like to see at least two installed.

  Currently, it is not permissible as it is not a controlled stop, she explained.

  Councillor Joe Garon agreed. He noted this matter was discussed during the last Term of Council and asked if a report was created then.

  Mayor Sherry Bondy noted she, and Councillors Jason Mayti and Kim Verbeek supported this last time, and it failed.

  McGuire-Blais’s motion passed.

NoM: Admin to report options to complete

sidewalk between Thomas and Victoria

At the May 21 Regular Council Meeting, Councillor Joe Garon presented a Notice of Motion, that asked Council to direct Administration to come back with a report detailing options to complete the sidewalk between Thomas Street to Victoria Avenue.

  It was discussed at the June 3 meeting.

  He would like to see this stretch of sidewalk completed.

  Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais believes this is an important piece to connect the trail system in the area.

  Council passed the motion.

Notices of Motion to be brought forward

at the June 17 meeting:

• Mayor Sherry Bondy will ask Council to direct Administration to conduct a public satisfaction survey on Ontario Provincial Police services being provided to the Town of Essex and report the results back to Council.

  • Councillor Rodney Hammond will ask Council to direct Administration to review and prepare a Council Report outlining the feasibility of implementing traffic and parking changes.

  That will include installing a 'no-left turn' sign on the northside of King Street; and implementing a two-hour parking limit along King Street from Victoria Street to Walnut Street and Queen Street from King Street to Centre Street.

  It would also include implementing community safety zones to serve St. Anthony Catholic School and Harrow Public School.

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