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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Continued Essex Council meeting notes - May 16

by Sylene Argent

Report on election procedure of voting and vote counting received

Council received the report “2022 Municipal Election Procedures for Voting and Vote-counting equipment” for information.

  The Report to Council notes that on April 4, a By-Law was enacted to authorize the use of a paper ballot vote, using mark sense ballots and Optical Scanning Vote Tabulators for the 2022 Municipal Election.

  According to the Municipal Elections Act, when it comes to Procedures and forms, the Clerk shall establish procedures and forms for the use of any voting and vote-counting equipment authorized by by-law, and any alternative voting method. The Clerk must also provide a copy of the procedures and forms to each candidate when his or her nomination is filed.

 

By-Law to regulate use of election signs passed, permit will be required

Council passed By-Law Number 2028, regulating the use of election signs for the Town of Essex.

  Director of Legislative Services/Clerk, Robert Auger, said in July of 2021, Council received a report, overviewing all election policies and procedures coming out of the 2018 election. At the time, the idea to create a standalone election sign by-law emerged.

  “The rationale – and thinking – was that a more comprehensive standalone election sign by-law was needed in order to address what was felt to be some inefficiencies as far as the amount of detail provided,” Auger said, adding the existing election sign provisions in the Sign By-Law lack details that were lost in the overall comprehensive by-law.

  It was believed a standalone by-law, he said, would make it easier to communicate rules regarding signs during any election.

  The new by-law provides for more extensive definitions, and details requirements around the use of election signs, such as timing, placement, and location.

  It also includes a deterrence factor to try to prevent violations, an election sign permit and required deposit. Applications will be submitted to the Clerk’s Office for review and approval. The deposit - $100 for ward candidates and $200 for Mayor and Deputy Mayor – has the potential of being returned to the candidate if there have been no violations regarding the Sign By-Law.

  “The By-Law, as worded right now, gives the Clerk full discretion to retain some or all of that deposit, together with the discretion to revoke any permits issued,” Auger said, adding it also provides that violations have the potential to constitute as an offence under the Provincial Offences Act, including obtaining and placing signs without a permit.

Councillor Sherry Bondy was happy to see the report. She thought the sign deposit fee was too low and that it should be included in the spending limit.

  Bondy and Councillor Kim Verbeek shared concerns about the three-day timeframe after the election is over to gather signs. Auger said staff found other similar by-laws were between three and five days, and Council could provide direction.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman put a motion forward to give candidates five days to collect their signs as an amendment to the original motion, which passed.

 

Delegation of certain authorities during Lame Duck Period provisionally passed

Council provisionally adopted By-Law 2157, temporarily delegating certain authorities during a “Lame Duck” Council Period.

  In the Report to Council, it notes the Municipal Act prohibits Municipal Councils from undertaking certain acts after Nomination Day in a municipal election, which will be August 19 for the 2022 Municipal Election, and prior to a new Council taking office under specific conditions.

 

2022 Municipal Accessibility Plan received

Council received the report “2022 Municipal Accessibility Plan,” which presented plans to ensure persons with disabilities have the opportunity to participate fully in the 2022 Municipal Election process.

  The Report to Council notes the plan addresses how the Clerk’s Department will train election staff on providing accessible customer service to candidates and electors, outlines accessible communication methods, and provides details on how to offer feedback to assist the Clerk’s Department in delivering an accessible election.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said the report went into great detail to outline accessibility measures for the upcoming election.

 

Site Plan Control Amended for 1110 Ridge Road

Council adopted Bylaw 2147, to amend the Site Plan Control Agreement between the Corporation of the Town of Essex and (Upper Canada Growers) UCG Land INC, for 1110 Ridge Road.

  This will allow for the construction of two additional bunkhouses, warehouse, office space, greenhouse expansion, and ancillary parking spaces.

  The Report to Council notes on December 21, 2020, Council passed a By-Law to enter into a Site Plan Control Agreement with UCG Land INC, for the construction of two ancillary dwellings to accommodate the housing of farm help. This By-Law was subsequently amended in 2021, to accommodate the construction of the commercial greenhouse.

  The applicants have completed and submitted a Site Plan, Stormwater Management Report, and an Acoustical Report.

  Previously, there was concern in regards to the location planned for the two additional bunkhouses and the original setback to neighbouring wind turbines. As a result, the location of the proposed bunkhouses has been amended to be located closer to the existing bunkhouses to increase the distance from the commercial wind turbines. This still puts the additional bunkhouses around 120-meters shorter than the 550-metre setback requirement.

  Deputy Mayor Steven Bjorkman said Council would not allow wind turbines to be built closer to residences, so he would not support the motion as long as the bunkhouses keep getting closer to the wind turbines.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek also did not want to support the recommendation as is, as she believes the bunkhouses should be placed within the required distance from wind turbines. She was of the understanding that when the file came back to Council, the bunkhouses would be placed with the 550-meter setback.

  She said people who live in proximity have concerns and experienced disrupted sleep. When she read up on the issues, she said there were countries with a recommended setback of 2000-feet.

  Mayor Richard Meloche said it was his understanding that when Council adopted Bylaw 2146, amending Bylaw 1037, the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw for the Town of Essex, to permit the construction of two new ancillary dwellings to accommodate the housing of farm help, at the April 19 meeting, that Council asked for the bunkhouses be moved further away, eliminating the soccer fields planned, and that it would be approved, so long as the sound mitigation recommendations highlighted in the acoustics report were followed.

Lori Chadwick, Director of Development Services, said Council previously approved the Zoning By-Law Amendment application. Attached to the application was the acoustic study. The zoning was approved. The file is now at the Site Plan Control process, where the location of entrances and exits, and number of parking spaces are looked at.

  The recommendations put forward in the acoustics study will be added as part of the Site Plan agreement. This includes building materials and other mitigation efforts in order to support that reduction in setback between the dwellings and wind turbines.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen had no problem with the way it was presented. He noted when UCG agreed to move the bunkhouses closer to the existing bunkhouses to be further from the wind turbines, it impeded on the idea of adding soccer fields onsite. He suspected the sound of the wind turbines would only be heard at the bunkhouses a few times a year, due to wind direction and as he believes they are not operational all the time.

  Councillor Morley Bowman said he visited the site. He said there was a generator running outside of the original two bunkhouses and no sound could be heard inside. He said the sound mitigation measures they are using are working.

  When approving the motion, five were in support and two – Verbeek and Bjorkman – were opposed.


Supply and delivery of aerial platform fire truck, additional $52k approved

Council awarded the Request for Tender (RFT) for the supply and delivery of a new tandem axle rear mount aerial platform truck, in the total amount of $1,552,847,42, to City View Specialty Vehicles.

  City View Specialty Vehicles addressed all areas of the scope of the project as identified in the tender and submitted the lowest price, the Report to Council notes.

  During the 2022 Budget Deliberations, $1.5M was approved for the truck. After the RFT was issued, however, it was noted an additional $52,847.42 was needed. As a result, Council also moved the additional funds come from the Town’s Asset Management Reserve.

  Fire Chief Rick Arnel noted he spoke to four manufactures last August, and there has been a 24-percent increase to fire apparatus costs since those initial conversations, and they are planning another seven-percent increase in July.

  In the Report to Council Arnel provided on the matter, it notes in the Fire Master Plan, created in 2017, it indicated the Town of Essex can provide fire protection with one, rather than two, aerials.

  The two aerial trucks the Town has now were manufactured in 1998; one has been decommissioned and the other is beyond its operational life expectancy. The new aerial will be housed centrally, at Station # 2 on North Malden Road.

  The Report to Council continues that through a provision of trade-in that was included in the tender document, there were no bids submitted for either vehicle. As a result, Essex Fire & Rescue will place one unit in surplus immediately, as there would be extensive costs to repair, and the second unit will continue service until the new apparatus is delivered.

  “We are very happy to be getting a new truck,” Arnel said, noting delivery will take a little while, around 60 weeks, as there are issues with getting parts. “We are ecstatic to be able to get this piece of equipment, and our team is more than ready to get a new piece of apparatus in the building.”

 

Some construction on Essex Streetscape to be delayed to 2023

Council received an update on the Essex Streetscape and its schedule.

  Kevin Girard, Director of Infrastructure Services, explained due to the pandemic, the Canadian construction industry has been experiencing significant delays, especially for supply chain issues for essential materials, like water mains, sewers, streetlights, and electrical conduits.

  He said the Essex Streetscape would be a seven-month project, with no supply chain issues.

  “If we began construction in 2022, this would leave a significant amount of work unfinished through the winter, which could pose some issues with safety and accessibility,” Gerard said. “For this reason, Administration is recommending that aspects of the Streetscape be delayed to 2023.”

  The delay, he said, would likely make bidding more competitive and reduce construction impact to local businesses and residents.

  For 2022, Administration is recommending the ordering of all materials to be construction ready for the spring of 2023, if possible complete underground infrastructure that can be done this year, the Victoria Avenue road works and multi-use trail, and, if possible, some of the works for the outer limits of the project on Talbot, from Gosfield to Brien and from Maidstone to Medora.  

  This work would be completed from around October to November, with the remainder of the work to begin in May and be completed in October of 2023.

Councillor Joe Garon said residents and businesses in Ward 1 have been waiting to see what is going on.

  “It is disappointing, but I guess under the circumstances, it is probably the best way to go,” Garon said, adding he is happy to hear the Victoria Avenue works will proceed this year.

  At the June 7, 2021 meeting, Council authorized the additional expenditure for design and tendering services for the Victoria Avenue improvements, in the amount of $134,628.48, to Stantec Consulting as part of the Essex Centre Streetscape.

  The proposed scope of the engineering services for the Victoria Avenue corridor includes a multi-use path to be added along the north side of the road and to resurface the road from Talbot Street to Viscount Parkway. In addition, the watermain and storm sewer system will be reviewed to determine any required upgrades.

  Councillor Morley Bowman added it was an important step to allow residents and businesses to know when to expect construction, so they can move forward on their own plans. 

“This is something we have to do,” Mayor Richard Meloche said. “We have seen with our Harrow Streetscape project, how disappointing it can be not to have everything delivered on time to have it finished as we want to have it finished. To avoid any of that confusion and frustration, this is a great idea…we are just not going to get the supplies in on time. This gives us plenty more time to have an opportunity to get them in early in the next round.”

  While attending a walkabout at Co-An Park recently, Councillor Kim Verbeek was asked to reiterate that the Park’s Committee would like any lights, planters, and benches that will be removed from the Essex Centre Streetscape project area that will no longer be needed.

 

Construction up nearly 100 percent comparing April in 2022 and 2021

Council received the Development Overview for April, which noted the total construction value, including all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional and residential developments that required a building permit totalled $22,451,700.

  This is up 99.9 percent from April 2021.

  In addition, the average sale price for a home in Wards 1 and 2 in April 2022 was $640,988, which was significantly higher than the $451,026 recorded in April of last year. The average sale price for a home in Wards 3 and 4 in April 2022 was $640,894, which was higher than the $564,415 recorded in April of last year.

 

As-needed Contract Building Inspector approved

Council approved an as-needed Contract Building Inspector from May 16, 2002 through to December 31, 2022; and further adopted By-law 2151, to appoint Dan Boudreau as a Building Inspector for the Town of Essex.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said this needs to be done to speed up approval of projects. “We have so much work on our plates, so much coming, we need more approval. It is great.”

  “This is a good news story,” Mayor Richard Meloche added. “We just can’t keep up with all the building that is going on.”

 

Council receives progress update on ELK Action Plan for Kingsville

Essex Council received correspondence from ELK Energy that was sent to the Town of Kingsville to provide an update on its 2021-2022 Action Plan.

  The correspondence was a follow up to a letter sent in December, where ELK pledged its commitment to its customers, the residents and businesses of Kingsville and Essex.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said it seems Kingsville has gotten more answers from ELK than Essex has. During recent meetings when reps from ELK approached Essex Council on its finances, Bondy said she was not allowed to ask questions about its asset management plan or about upgrades.

  “I have yet, in my whole term of being on ELK and being on Council, had an answer like this,” she said, referring to the letter to Kingsville that highlighted details about upgrades.

  She wanted to invite ELK to Essex Council to provide a similar list of details, like on how many poles have been replaced and what is the annual distribution asset inspections for Essex Centre and Harrow.

  Bondy put forward a motion that Essex Council send a request to ELK to provide an update on an action plan for Essex, similar to the one provided to Kingsville.

  In a recorded vote, Councillor Morley Bowman was the only one opposed.

 

Essex proclaims May 27 - June 4 as National AccessAbility Week

Essex Council received correspondence from the Town of Essex Accessibility Advisory Committee’s Vice Chairperson, Lisa Wallace, which asked that May 27- June 4, 2022 be proclaimed as National AccessAbililty Week in the Town of Essex.

  Council moved the request.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy noted the Accessibility Advisory Committee will raise the accessible flag on May 27.

 

Short Term Rental by-law passed

Council gave final reading to the By-Law to license and regulate short term rentals. The By-Law has a suggested fee for the two-year license period of $700, which was raised from previous discussions, based on feedback gathered through numerous meetings on the subject, to accommodate the need for an after hours call centre.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said this will be a work in progress and amendments can be made in the future if needed.


 Council supports Harrow basketball nets in principle

Councillor Sherry Bondy’s Notice of Motion, originally to be discussed at the June 6 meeting, was discussed as part of New Business. She asked Council to consider one of the basketball nets from behind the Water Department in Harrow be installed on the cement pad at the Harrow High School for youth in the area to play one-on-one and other games.

  She said there is a latchkey daycare that plays in that area. The cement pad is in fairly good condition. There is a skate park, ball diamond, and playground nearby.

  There is a gap for the things the older kids can do, she commented, adding some from the community are willing to donate to buy a net if needed.

  Director of Community Services, Jake Morassut, said Administration did not recommend doing that because of the unknowns surrounding the Harrow High School, which the Town recently purchased and is currently being assessed for its integrity.

  “What we don’t want to see happen is we get into a position where we have all these donations from the public, and then we have to rescind that and take them down later on,” he said.

  There are a couple basketball nets at the Water Department. They are on six-foot posts, so extensions would have to be added. Locates would also need to be conducted to drill holes to put the posts into the ground. It could take two to three months to receive those results.  

  He suspected it would cost around $1000 to get the inserts and cut the posts to meet the ten-foot requirement.

  Administration, Morassut said, asked that the project be pushed to the 2023 Capital Budget.

  Director of Legislative Services/Clerk, Rob Auger, said there would likely be a premium adjustment to the insurance as well. The Town is looking into that.

  Council supported the project in principle to keep the project moving forward, subject to locates and budget options.  

 

NoM: Council supports installing accessible washroom at Kinsmen Fieldhouse

At the May 2 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion, to ask Council to discuss at the May 16 meeting, to consider using funds from the Capital Project Council Contingency to construct/install an accessible bathroom at the Kinsmen Fieldhouse.

  At the Committee of the Whole meeting on April 25, Bondy said the organization leasing the former Kinsmen Fieldhouse, LIFE, could use an accessible bathroom to accommodate some of its members. She wanted Council to solve the issue and an action plan to address the situation.

  Director of Community Services, Jake Morassut, said it would cost around $15,000 to complete the upgrade.

  The Essex Accessible Advisory Committee spoke of the issue at a recent meeting, she said, and will audit all Town-owned facilities for accessibility.

  “It is 2022, and we do know that we rent out buildings to private individuals and private companies. That doesn’t mean we can’t work towards a fully accessible Essex,” Bondy said, noting some of the buildings may not be able to become fully accessible.

  Councillor Morley Bowman said he is sure what the Town has spent on the building over the past ten-years has not been covered by the rent. “It is a building we shouldn’t be using,” he said, adding when the ball diamonds are relocated, he is sure the building will be gone.

  The user of the building, he said, really needs it.

  “It is a soul-searching time. Do we spend more taxpayers’ [money] on a unit that probably should not be there, or do we keep going in the direction we are?” he asked.

Councillor Joe Garon noted the building does house the electrical for the ball diamonds, which will be in place for a while.

Any business, Deputy Mayor Steven Bjorkman said, has to be accessible. If the building is going to be rented out, the Town should have a policy to outline what businesses have to provide, he said.

  Bjorkman said he was in favour of moving forward with the project.

  Bondy challenged Council to visit the organization and see the value its services offer to its members.

  “We should be ashamed this isn’t a slam dunk,” she said, adding many of those members have difficulty with everyday tasks. “Everything they do is hard.”  

  Bowman said the organization is doing fantastic work, but the building was never designed for that type of use. He said the Town can’t keep renting out old facilities and expect to meet modern needs.

  In a recorded vote, the motion passed unanimously.  

 

NoM: instead of installing ‘No Dumping’ sign, social media campaign will be created

At the May 2 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion to be discussed at the May 16 meeting, that asked Council to direct Administration to install a “No Dumping” sign on Dunn Road, due to repeat dumping at this location.

  Bondy said this has been a longstanding issue for a number of years.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen did not believe a sign would help the matter. He suggested instead a “Report Dumping” sign with a phone number.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said he would support conversations about a broader program that would look at getting the word out and costing if someone is caught.

  CAO Doug Sweet suggested a social media campaign may be helpful and said Administration can come up with some ideas and report to Council.

  After discussions, Bondy amended her motion that Council ask Administration to formulate a social media campaign on no dumping/littering. This passed.

 

NoM: Council to look at having Mayor Deputy Mayor

select EWSWA Board as top choice

At the May 2 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion for discussion at the May 16 meeting, that Essex Council ask County Council to review its policies regarding the appointment of the Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) Board to include one representative from the Town of Essex.

  Bondy would like to see someone from Essex at the table as the regional landfill host.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek agreed Essex should have a representative on this Board.

  CAO Doug Sweet said when selecting committees at the County-level, reps are asked to pick their top three choices. He suggested the Essex Mayor and Deputy Mayor select the EWSWA Board as a top choice. In addition, he noted the Essex Landfill Liaison Committee has eight members, two of which are on Essex Council.

Bondy said this can be discussed in house, that in the new Term of Council, the Mayor or Deputy Mayor select the EWSWA Board as a top choice to ensure the Town of Essex has a rep on it.

 

Notices of Motion to be presented at the

June 6, 2022 Regular Council Meeting:

• Councillor Joe Garon will ask Council to consider directing Administration to look into a means of better protecting public parks and Town-owned properties from graffiti and other vandalism through design strategies that minimize opportunity.

• Councillor Sherry Bondy will ask Council to direct Administration to amend the parking by-law to ensure OPP can enforce parking regulations.

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