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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

County Council Notes for Wednesday, September 15

by Sylene Argent

McNamara extends condolences to family of Allan Parr, speaks to Wheatley explosion

Essex County Warden Gary McNamara extended condolences to the family of Allan Parr, a former Warden of the County, who passed away in August.

  “Allan, we all know, worked tirelessly for his community,” McNamara said, noting Parr served Essex County as Warden in 1997 and was on Sandwich South Council for twenty-years, where he served as Mayor and Reeve. “We were saddened to learn of his passing and we certainly offer all of our condolences, and all of our thoughts go to the Parr family.”

  McNamara also acknowledged the struggle Wheatley is going through as it recovers from an explosion that took place previously.

  “While it is no doubt a scary and frustrating situation, it has been heartwarming to see the community pulling together. Our thoughts are certainly with them and the County of Essex is here to provide whatever support that they need,” he said.

 

Support for affordable internet services

County Council received and supported correspondence from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent that sought support for affordable internet services.

  The correspondence from Chatham-Kent was addressed to Justin Trudeau and noted “Internet is a necessity, not a luxury for the vast majority of Canadians – a fact that has been highlighted throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite being an essential utility, too many people are struggling to afford reliable internet services, while some don’t have access to broadband internet at all. Ontario residents, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, should never have to choose between paying their internet bill and other essentials, such as food, medication, or housing expenses.”

 

ECLB: Transparent Language Database

As County Council received the minutes of the Essex County Library Board for June 23, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos, who is the Chairperson on the Essex County Library Board, spoke of the Transparent Language Database, which has 110 different languages.

Santos noted the database is interactive and provides education. It also includes interactive lessons and game-type dynamics.

 

Electricity and Natural Gas Update

Sandra Zwiers, Director of Financial Services/Treasurer, noted the Treasurer has to present an annual report on the effort the County has in participation on hedging programs.

  She explained a hedge is a financial agreement that fixes the price to be paid by the municipality for future delivery of a commodity. A hedge is typically used to reduce cost fluctuations and provide cost certainty.

  The County participates in AMO LAS program for electricity and natural gas. Much of the County’s utility bills are regulated and are therefore not able to be hedged, but in regards to the unregulated pieces, it is believed to still benefit the County, she added.

  In 2020, there were subsidies provided in regard to the electricity program, in light of COVID. As a result of the provincial subsidies, the effectiveness of the hedge was reduced. The hedge then out-performed time-of-use and produced savings.

  In the Report to Council, it notes had COVID-19 Relief Rates not been in place during 2020, the hedge program would have generated annual savings of $23,007. Due to pandemic subsidies, the hedge rates resulted in excess costs of $19,416 for 2020.

  In terms of natural gas, the County’s participation in this program isn’t necessary with a goal to save money, but rather stabilize rates, making it easier for the County to budget.

  The Report to Council notes the hedging program for natural gas includes a rebate feature that returns program savings back to participating municipalities. In 2020, the Corporation received a rebate payment in the amount of $4,905 for the savings earned in 2019.

  County Council received the report for information.

 

Support for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

County Council approved the Federal Holiday of September 30 as a paid holiday for all County of Essex employees.

  Employees will be provided with educational resources and they are encouraged to attend events.

County Council adopted the recommendation.

  “The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is a day of refection to commemorate the tragic history and the legacy of residential schools, McNamara said. “It is also a day to honour indigenous residential school survivors, their families, and their communities.

  McNamara encouraged everyone in Essex County to take the time to show respect and reflect on the important day, adding the County is planning to adopt a Land Acknowledgment Statement to recognize the Indigenous past, present, and future of the Region.

  “This will be an important step in our journey towards Reconciliation,” he commented.

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