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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

County of Essex Council Notes for Wednesday, April 6

by Sylene Argent

County preparing for future battery plant

The County of Essex will be ready for the battery plant that is planned to come to Windsor, Warden Gary McNamara said during his address during the County Council meeting last Wednesday evening.

  LG Energy Solution, one of the leading battery manufacturing companies in the world, and Stellantis are going to invest over $5B to build a plant in Windsor.

  “This facility will position Canada to be a global leader in the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles,” McNamara said. “And, it will have a huge economic benefit for our region.”

  The County of Essex, McNamara added, is making significant infrastructure improvements, and stands ready to assist in other ways “to make this pivotal investment as successful as possible.

  “The County has over $400M in road capacity expansion projects underway, or in the planning stage, between now and 2037, and we are improving major traffic corridors for future investments and growth in the County,” he commented, adding work is also underway on a multi-year project to widen and enhance County Road 42, from the Windsor boundary to Manning Road.

  “In the coming months and years, this project will involve the construction of new roundabouts, bicycle lanes, sidewalks, and multi-use trails down County Road 42,” he explained. “The result will be a road that can accommodate more traffic, serve the expanding needs of businesses, and safely connect growing residential neighbourhoods.”


CR 34 speed limit to reduce to 60km/hr east of Dawson to Manning

County Council adopted By-law 2022-10, reducing the speed limit on County Road 34, from east of Dawson Road to County Road 19, from 80km/h to 60 km/h.

  Jerry Behl, Manager of Transportation Planning and Development, said in May of 2021, the County of Essex received correspondence from the Municipality of Lakeshore, requesting a reduction in the speed limit at the aforementioned location.

“Administration reviewed and responded to the Municipality in October, and at that time, no change in speed was recommended,” Behl said.

With construction work ongoing with Highway #3, Administration recommended waiting until the work on the adjacent to Highway # 3 was completed.

In December, Administration was directed to review the speed at this location again. This was done, and following a more holistic review, a reduction in the posted speed of 80km/hr to 60km/hr, from east of Dawson Road to Manning Road, was recommended, Behl said.


County to take over operation of Temporary Foreign

Worker Isolation and Recovery Centre

The County of Essex will take over managing the International Agri-Food Temporary Foreign Worker Isolation and Recovery Centre (IRC) from the City of Windsor.

  Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald brought the issue up at the March 16 County Council meeting, noting the City of Windsor will cease responsibility for the operation as of June 30. At this meeting, she said someone needed to step up, once the City of Windsor is no longer responsible for the IRC.

  She also noted all of the funding will come from the federal government, and was approved to the City of Windsor. Since the City no longer wants to offer the resource, it was felt it needs to be taken care of by the partners benefiting the most from its availability.

  County Council moved to defer the matter, with a report and recommendation to come forward at the April 6 meeting.

  At last Wednesday’s meeting, Bruce Krauter, Chief of Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services, brought forward a report on the matter that highlighted the administering of funding to operate the IRC.

  He sought approval from County Council to have Essex County Administration apply for and receive Public Health Agency of Canada funding to take any and all necessary steps for the County to operate and administer the operation of an International Agri-Food Temporary Farm Worker Isolation and Recovery Centre, including retaining any additional staff and/or subcontractors that may be required. The request was approved.

  County Council also approved allowing the Warden and the Clerk to execute any necessary applications, documents, and/or agreements to give effect to the authorization to Essex County Administration.

  Krauter noted in the summer of 2020, the City of Windsor was approached to take the lead to operate and administer the IRC. Previously, it was managed by the Emergency Medical Assistant Team (EMAT) in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross. The location was in Leamington.

  “At the onset of that, when the EMAT team came from the province, we were in crisis in our region,” Krauter said, adding it was decided at that time, the greatest administrative capacity to oversee such a complex project was through the City.

  He added at the onset of the IRC operation, a subgroup of community leaders, from various health, social services, and greenhouse industry organizations, came together and formed an Agri-food Incident Management System (IMS) Table to maintain the operation of the IRC and to manage the agri-food crisis.

  Over the past two-years, the IRC has evolved and stabilized, and became a successful administration function, Krauter added.

  In the summer of 2020, there were various locations for the IRC, including in Leamington and Windsor. It was later moved to a different location in Windsor.

  The operation grew and shrank, to properly service demand. “With that, we learned different processes and different consistency of processes in those partnerships of operating and securing it,” Krauter said.

  As of March 2020, the IRC has accommodated over 1200 workers over that time-period, he added.

  The City of Windsor secured the funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which noted the funding will continue to March 31, 2023.

  Because the City of Windsor announced it will not administer the IRC after June 30, it ensured an agreement with the Public Health Agency of Canada that the funding for the program would continue.

  “This will allow another agency, organization, or municipality to take on the application of the Public Health Agency of Canada funding, from 2022 to 2023,” Krauter said. “The difficulty is, we have to have an administrator to run that funding and to run the operation.”

  The Public Health Agency of Canada funding currently covers all expenses for the IRC, Krauter noted, adding medical support is at no cost to the Public Health Agency of Canada or any municipality, because of partnerships with health teams.

  He added that currently the IRC is unoccupied, but it is expected to have the up and down attendance over the next few years.

  The City of Windsor is providing all plans and processes to ensure a seamless transition from one organization to the next.

  MacDonald thanked administration and Krauter for bringing this forward as it is crucial to Leamington and impacts the region.

  “And I am also of the opinion that we have an obligation – first of all – to keep the workers safe [who] come within our community, but that translates also then to the residents [who] can interact with the folks who come here to work. So, to me, this is something we need to do. We need to keep everyone safe.”

  She said she can’t thank the City of Windsor enough for basically providing a manual on how to operate the IRC.

  Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche asked how it would be managed.

  In terms of leadership, administration can iron out what department it would fall under, Sandra Zwiers said, who is the County’s Director of Finance/Treasurer. From a reporting perspective, it will be separate from the rest of County business.

  “This operation comes with it, a high-measure of reporting requirements,” Zwiers added. “We need to make sure we have detailed records available to report on a very frequent basis, the ins and outs of this program.”

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