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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

County of Essex Council notes for Wednesday, April 4

by Sylene Argent

Enbridge asks for letter of support for Panhandle Regional Expansion Project

County Council was asked to provide a letter of support for Enbridge’s Panhandle Regional Expansion Project, which will be included in its application filing to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) in mid-June.

  With increased demand for energy, Brian Chauvin, Enbridge’s Manager of Operations for Windsor-Essex-Chatham, said Enbridge Gas is proposing the project to increase the capacity of its existing Panhandle transmission system, which serves residential, commercial, industrial, greenhouse, and power generation customers in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.

  “To be very clear, this is a growth project,” Chauvin said. “We are seeing a significant demand for energy across all sectors of the economy.”

  This project, he added, will meet that current demand, and the future demand of the local area, with enough new energy to provide the equivalent of connecting 215,000 residential homes to the system in one year.

  The estimated cost of the project is close to $300M and would create hundreds of temporary local construction jobs.

  There are two main components to the project.

  The Panhandle Reinforcement component of the project will take part primarily in Chatham-Kent and Lakeshore. It would follow the existing Panhandle Transmission System. Construction would include 19kms of new pipeline, 36-inches in diameter. It would also include a new transmission station near Richardson Side Road and Middle Line in Lakeshore. It will be constructed in private easement, with some road crossings being required.

  If approved, construction would begin in 2023 and be completed later that year.

  The Leamington Interconnect component of the project would include new, 16-inch-in-diameter pipeline to connect several existing pipelines together, Chauvin explained. This will be around 12km in length. It will also be constructed in primarily private easements, with road crossings where needed, following County Road 8 and County Road 31.

  If approved, construction will take place in 2024.   

  Based on the feedback garnered through the Expression of Interest process, over 11,500 jobs could be created through the business growth that are enabled through the increased energy capacity created through the project.

  Those interested in the project indicated total direct capital investment of nearly $6.4B, Chauvin added.

Due to the scope of the project, OEB approval is required prior to construction.

  A letter of support from County Council will help demonstrate the need for the project. Windsor, Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex Chamber, the Chatham-Kent Chamber, Leamington District Chamber, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, and Invest Windsor Essex have all supported the project.

  County Council supported the request. More presentations are set to take place at local Council meetings in the coming weeks.

 WECHU asks for support for school charter

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), along with the Windsor-Essex County Active School Travel Regional Committee, sought Essex County Council’s endorsement for the implementation of an Active School Travel Charter.

  Eric Nadalin, Director of Public Health Programs for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, explained the charter was part of a successful grant application awarded through Green Communities Canada in November 2020 through the Ontario Active School Travel (OAST) fund.

  This fund supports the development, promotion, and implementation of active school travel across communities in Ontario.

  Kevin Morris, Health Promotion Specialist with the chronic disease and injury prevention department at the WECHU, said active student travel is defined as human-powered modes of transportation to and from school. Most commonly, this includes, biking, scootering, walking, skateboarding, and rollerblading.

  “Active School Travel has many benefits,” Morris said. “It increases children’s activity levels, enhances academic performance, and reduces the amount of air pollution and amount of traffic in and around school zones to make it safer for students to be active.”

  The WECHU, and partners, applied for the grant in the fall of 2020. In December, they were notified they would receive $60,000 in funding through the OAST. The funds were to be used for active transportation initiatives for schools throughout Windsor-Essex County.

  To implement the initiatives, an Active School Regional Committee was formed, including reps from local school boards and other partners.

  The partners are matching in the form of monetary or in-kind contributions.

  Morris noted to date, an active school travel planner has been hired, who oversees the coordination of the activities, a term of reference was created for the regional committee, and an after school travel charter was made. Pilot schools were also established, which oversee some of the larger active school travel initiatives; three schools from the county (including Holy Name Catholic Elementary School in Essex) and three from the city.

  Some of the things planned next include installing recently purchased bike racks at the pilot schools, delivering bike safety seminars, implementing AST activities, such as crosswalk painting, and promoting universal AST initiatives, such as walking school bus programs.

  One of the key initiatives was to establish an AST Charter, which helps strengthen regional coordination and collaboration, leverages collective resources and capacity to support program sustainability, and serves as a set of principles to encourage more active transportation in local communities, Morris said.

  He explained endorsing the AST charter demonstrates a commitment to active transportation, in alignment with other municipal mandates, and becomes an avenue for municipalities, community operations, and local school boards to collectively pursue opportunities to ensure long-term program stability.

  The AST Charter will provide guidance and direction for future active transportation initiatives in and around schools.

  County Council voted to endorse the initiative. 

Cross Border Land Ambulance Mutual Aid agreement endorsed

Essex County Council endorsed the recommendation to adopt a by-law, authorizing the Warden and Clerk to execute a Cross Border Land Ambulance Mutual Aid Agreement between the County of Essex and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

  It also voted to rescind Bylaw 35-2013 immediately following the execution of the Cross Border Land Ambulance Mutual Aid Agreement.

  Essex-Windsor EMS Chief, Bruce Krauter, prepared the report on the matter, and CAO Mike Galloway presented the information.

He explained the County of Essex and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent share a border and have historically utilized each other’s EMS resources for areas within the coverage zones of the EMS stations along that border.

  This arrangement has been in place since the province downloaded Land Ambulance services to the County and is outlined in the deployment plans of each of the services.

  Essex-Windsor EMS and Chatham-Kent Emergency Services have had an excellent working relationship since 2017, the Report to County Council notes.

  Galloway said in recent years, the way in which the billing is completed has become somewhat cumbersome from an administrative perspective.

  In 2017, a study began to see how many cross-border instances there were, and see if there was a need to complete hundreds of transactions back-and-forth when each provided service to each municipality.

  Pointing to the research in 2022 and 2021, Galloway said even though there have been a few hundred calls between the municipalities, the outcome is negligible.     

  “There have been recent discussions between the two EMS services to revive the mutual aid agreement, and that billing would not occur, unless an emergency response in the other municipality’s jurisdiction would require an upstaffing of any additional ambulance for a prolonged period of time,” Galloway said.

  County Council approved the recommendation.

 Safety measures to be added to CR 20/CR 23 intersection, speed review to come

County Council directed Administration to implement pavement markings stating “STOP AHEAD” and “STOP,” and to install side-mounted flashing beacons above the stop signs at the intersection of County Road 20 and County Road 23 (Arner Townline).

  The intersection borders Essex and Kingsville.

  In addition, Administration will undertake a pilot project adding colour and/or texture to the road surface in advance of the stop sign.

  Administration made the recommendation after being directed to review the intersection at past County Council meetings.

  Jerry Behl, Manager of Transportation Planning and Development, said the flashing beacons bring drivers’ attention to the presence of the stop. They “are particularly useful where visibility is reduced,” such as where there are hills or bends in the road.

  These are countermeasures that are quick to do and are supplementary ways to emphasize the stop control.

   At the February 16 regular County Council meeting, Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen, put forward a Notice of Motion that at the March 2 meeting County Council consider the best options moving forward for this particular intersection, including the option of a controlled intersection or other best possibilities.

  At the March 2 meeting, County Council directed Administration to review the request from the Town of Kingsville, seeking a controlled intersection at the County Road 20 and County Road 23 intersection, and to report back to County Council with recommendations.

  The Town of Essex and the Town of Kingsville each passed resolutions, urging the County to investigate safety measures for the intersection.

Behl said he will come back to County Council with a review of the speeds coming up to the intersection.

  Essex Mayor Richard Meloche said he believes the beacons will be more important to the intersection than the speed, and would not want to see them removed if a recommendation to lower the speed does come forward in the future.

  He also asked about approaching County Road 23, when on County Road 20, in perhaps drawing attention to drivers that they are approaching a possibly dangerous intersection.

County admin will provide update on County Road 27/Highway 3 intersection

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos asked if a review was being conducted for the County Road 27/Highway 3 intersection.

  CAO Mike Galloway said County Administration will update County Council on the intersection for the next Council meeting in regards to the Highway 3 widening and any updates and changes in regards to that project.

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