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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council meeting notes for November 15, 2021

by Sylene Argent

Council includes the ‘flex street’ concept

into Essex Centre Streetscape project

Essex Council voted to endorse the change to the 2013 Downtown Essex Centre Streetscape Plan to include the flex street concept. This is for the portion along Talbot Street, between Victoria Avenue and Laird Avenue.

  The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022.

  The flex street design, the Report to Council notes, provides more flexibility for sidewalk patios and retail space, and would provide better accommodation for any future downtown event, like parades and open streets.

  Kevin Girard, Director of Infrastructure, said through the Streetscape Plan, the sidewalks were chosen to be white concrete, and the utility strip in between parking spaces and the sidewalk will house all the trees, benches, and furnishings.

  The plan will also include advanced landscaping features, more tree planting, and more accessibility features. Furnishings like bike racks, garbage pans, and streetlights are to be restored and replaced as needed.

  Girard said in his time with the Town, he has received many requests from Council members and businesses for more outdoor patio and retail space.

  In the flex street design, the asphalt surface is only two lanes. The parking is provided over a mountable curb, as opposed to a barrier curb, and can be easily closed to accommodate outdoor retail and patios for an area for pedestrians to walk safely.

  This concept is starting to be adopted by other communities, and is an ongoing trend in an effort to boost economic opportunities, he added.   

  Girard outlined the pros and cons for the flex street concept. Disadvantages include reduced available on-street parking spaces along Talbot Street when patios are in place, increased risk of damage to Town amenities, and an increased capital cost to implement. Advantages, he added, includes that this concept creates a unique sense of place and enhances the distinct identity of Essex.

  Essex would be one of the first in the region to implement such a design, he added.

  Other pros include identifying Essex as a destination for shopping and dining, allowing for a seamless transformation of parking spaces into restaurant patios and social gathering areas for events. It would also  improve the aesthetics of the downtown area, promote liveability, encourage motorists to reduce speed, and reduce urban heat, amongst others.

  Girard said in person meetings were held with local businesses in the proposed flex street area on November 3. He said many positive comments were made about the concept, and the majority preferred the concept over the current design.

  There were concerns raised, regarding construction timing and duration, access to businesses during construction, access to parking, and the cost of the project.

  As part of the design, the intention is not to remove parking, he said.

  Councillor Joe Garon said he sees a lot of good in the flex street concept. He asked about accessible parking spaces.

  Girard said this design will increase accessibility for all parking spaces in Essex Centre. He said the Town is looking to create a policy surrounding patios and what would be and not be allowed in those parking spaces.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman said the flex street concept is fantastic and fits the intent of the streetscape. When the Streetscape Plan was being designed, he was the Chairperson of the Essex Centre BIA, and there was a goal to find a way to make downtown Essex more pedestrian friendly.    

  Girard said the discussion about the cost of the Streetscape will take place as part of the 2022 Budget Deliberations. He added the Talbot Street construction is estimated to come in around $6M to do the streetscaping. The Victoria Avenue addition will be another $1.2M. He said a lot of the underground infrastructure is past its useful life and will need to be included, estimated to be around $1.8M. The overall cost will be around $9M.

  When looking at the flex street concept to be around another $300,000.  

Kate Giurissevich, Director of Corporate Service/Treasurer, said the Town did receive a $750,000 grant for the project. Girard added another $125,000 was received through another grant that was applicable to the Harrow and Essex Streetscape projects.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy hopes there will be more opportunity for more conversation with businesses and the Essex Centre BIA about this concept.

Intermunicipal Courts Service

Agreement renewed

Council voted to renew the Windsor/Essex Area Intermunicipal Courts Service Agreement for another five-years, for the period January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2026, and passed the By-Law 2095 to authorize the execution of the Agreement.

  This is between the Corporation of the Town of Essex, together with the City of Windsor, County of Essex, the Town of Amherstburg, the Town of Kingsville, the Municipality of Lakeshore, the Town of LaSalle, the Municipality of Leamington, the Township of Pelee, and the Town of Tecumseh.

 False Security Alarm Reduction By-Law passed

Council passed a by-law to impose fees and charges for services provided by the Ontario Provincial Police on behalf of the Corporation of the Town of Essex, relating to reducing false security alarms in the Town of Essex.

  Director of Legislative Services/Clerk, Robert Auger, said the OPP approached Town staff, inquiring if there was a by-law in place to act as a deterrent for false security alarms.

  From August 2020 to August 2021, the OPP responded to 215 calls because of false alarms in the Town of Essex.

  The proposed by-law, Auger said, was drafted with consultation with the local OPP and was sent for feedback to the Essex Municipal Police Services Board. At its October meeting, members of the Essex Police Services Board voted to endorse and support a by-law to impose fees and charge for services provided on behalf of the Corporation of the Town of Essex by the Ontario Provincial Police relating to reducing false alarms.

  A false alarm, Auger said, is any signal from a security alarm reported to a police service that results in an unnecessary dispatch. It could be caused by a range of matters.

  The concept includes a voluntary registration system for businesses or individuals. Those who volunteer to register will not be charged a fee for the two first false alarms in a calendar year. If additional dispatches are required, or if the premises is not registered, a charge will apply for response by the OPP for each false alarm within the calendar year.

  The fee for the third or more dispatch within a calendar year for those registered, and any dispatch from non-registered parties, is $180.

  An alarm will not be classified as a false alarm if, within 48 hours of the response, satisfactory evidence is provided to the OPP Detachment Commander that the alarm was caused by an unauthorized entry or attempted unauthorized entry into the building, structure, or facility, or an extraordinary circumstance occurred as determined by the OPP Detachment Commander, the Report to Council notes.

  The By-Law will come into full force and effect on January 1, 2022.

 Additional funds approved to replace Leaf Vacuum

Council approved an additional $13,948 to replace the Leaf and Turf Vacuum for Parks Maintenance.

  This will be funded from the Asset Management Reserve for Capital Projects.

  In the Report to Council, it notes Council approved $29,300 for the replacement of the leaf and turf vacuum during the 2021 budget deliberations.

  The project was posted for public tender, with only one submission received. The price submitted from GC Duke Equipment was $43,248.

   The Report adds the Community Services department recently cancelled a capital project valued at $13,740 that was to be funded from the Asset Management Reserve. With the cancelled project savings, the net impact to the Asset Management Reserve is $208.

 Colchester Schoolhouse leased

to Heritage Colchester

Council approved By-Law Number 2041 to enter into a lease agreement with Heritage Colchester to operate the Colchester Schoolhouse for ten-years, commencing December 1, 2021; and further provincially adopted it.

  It is recommended Heritage Colchester pay a lease fee of $5 annually, and would also be responsible for all utility costs related to operating the schoolhouse building, as well all insurance costs related to liability and contents in the schoolhouse building. The Town of Essex will be responsible for all property insurance costs for the building.

  Heritage Colchester formed earlier this year to find a way to preserve the building.

 RFP for Information Technology

Strategic Plan approved

Council awarded the Request for Proposal for the Information Technology Strategic Plan to Perry Group Consulting LTD, in the total amount of $53,245.92. Council also approved the reallocation of budgeted amounts from the Network Security Audit project, in the total amount of $27,000, to this project for a new total combined project budget of $67,000.

  It noted in the Report to Council the solution from the Perry Group includes a Threat Risk Analysis and Disaster Recovery Review, which aligns with the principle of a Network Security Audit.

  The Report to Council notes during the 2021 Capital Budget deliberations, the IT Strategic Review was approved to develop a five-year Information Technology Strategic Plan.

  Five proposals were submitted, with Perry Group Consulting LTD submitting the lowest bid and the highest score.

  Any excess funds from the combined project budget are recommended to be carried forward into the 2022 budget year for implementation of the findings of the strategic plan.

 Construction value for October is

down 60.4 percent from October 2020

Essex Council received the Development Overview for the month of October, which noted the total construction value for October 2021 – including all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential developments that required a building permit – totalled $2,813,900. This was down 60.4 percent from October 2020.

  The average sale price for a home in Wards 1 and 2 in October was $553,730, which was significantly higher than the $355,572 recorded for October 2020. The average sale price for a home in Wards 3 and 4 in October was $615,656, which was still much higher than the $506,046 recorded for October 2020.

 Council pre-approved its share to participate in CWTAS Municipal Partnership Fund

Council voted to pre-approve the Town’s 50 percent share of the estimated $20,000 cost, in the amount of $10,000, for the Municipal Partnership Fund of the County Wide Active Transportation (CWATS) initiative.

  This will be under the 2022 Capital Budget as the municipal contribution.

  The Report to Council notes the CWATS Municipal Partnership Fund specifically supports services promoting the use of the active transportation system.

  The pre-approval is necessary because the County of Essex CWATS MPP application submission deadline is scheduled prior to the Town of Essex 2022 Budget deliberations.

 Rain barrel subsidy program approved

Council directed Administration to implement the Town of Essex Rain Barrel Subsidy, and further approved the $5000 annual expenditure for the program within the 2022 Operating Budget, through the Green Fund Reserve.

  The Rain Barrel Subsidy was included as a corporate objective in the Town of Essex’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which was adopted in February.

  In order to allow residents to choose the rain barrel that they prefer, with no additional financial impact to the Town, Administration proposed a financial subsidy be provided for 100 percent of the cost of the barrel to a maximum subsidy of $50 per property.

  It is recommended that the program be capped at $5,000 annually, which would allow for 100 rain barrels to be added to the Town each year, on a first come, first serve basis.

  Advantages of rain barrels include decreasing water consumption, resulting in energy, operational, and capacity savings from the wastewater and water treatment and pumping processes for both consumers and the municipality. They also decrease stormwater runoff at peak storm times, reducing the chance of basement flooding, the Report to Council notes.

Council to send a letter to dog pound over large charge for one dog’s stay

Councillor Sherry Bondy spoke of the dog days – the days dogs spend at the Lakeshore Dog Pound. She said dogs from Essex have accumulated many dog days this year.

  As part of Essex’s agreement with the Lakeshore Dog Pound, she explained, a dog brought there should not stay there longer than 72 hours. At that point, the dog should be either brought to the Windsor/Essex County Humane Society or St. Clair College.

  Essex’s Deputy Clerk, Shelley Brown, explained there was an incident, where one dog was kept there for a significant amount of time. She said she spoke about preventing such instances in the future.

  Brown added the Dog Pound Committee spoke of creating a policy or measures staff there could use to prevent these circumstances from happening.

  Based on a conversation she had with the Lakeshore Dog Pound, Brown said the Town budgets $25,000 a year for the dog pound, expecting to be significantly under budget. This will likely double this year.

  The way the billing model is done is by dog days. When a dog is there, the billing is split up, based on how many dogs each municipality has there each day. Essex had the most dogs impounded. There was one dog from Essex that was there around 116 days.  

  “This is totally unacceptable,” Bondy said.

  Brown said administration was not aware the dog was there that amount of time. In this instance, the person was unable to pick-up the dog, due to circumstances. Without a policy, their hands were tied in releasing the dog.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said Essex’s Council rep on the Dog Pound Committee or an administrator should have been notified about the instance. “I think we need to write a letter and say, ‘hey, look it. We are not paying an extra $25,000 for this one dog, because someone did not reach out and explain what was going on.”

  He made a motion that Essex’s administration write a letter to the Lakeshore Dog Pound, asking for a reduction in the dog days because no one reached out to Essex to let them know something abnormal was going on with this particular case.

Tecumseh asks Essex to support regional housing strategy

The Town of Tecumseh sent a letter to Essex, noting at its regular meeting held on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, its Council supported a letter received from the Town of LaSalle, supporting correspondence from the County of Essex, dated September 15, 2021, regarding a Regional Affordable Housing Strategy and review of the Social Housing Cost Sharing Agreement.

  The letter from Tecumseh asked Essex Council to support the Regional Affordable Housing Cost-Sharing Agreement and to send a letter to the City of Windsor as confirmation of Essex’s support.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy hopes in the new year Council could have a roundtable meeting on affordable housing.

 NoM: cutting/clearing of trees on public property

At the November 1, 2021 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion, for discussion at the November 15 meeting. She asked Council to have a discussion regarding the cutting/clearing of trees on public property and the potential creation of policies and by-laws around the removal or trees on public property by residents.

  Mayor Larry Snively said he hates to see a healthy tree cut. He said it is unacceptable when residents cut down trees owned by the Town.

  CAO Doug Sweet said the Town has a very old policy and there was one that started to get developed in the past they plan to pull off the shelf. The Town’s arborist looks at trees in questions. If one tree is removed, another is planted, through a best practice. Developers are also required to plant one tree in a lot.

 He hopes to have the revised policy back to Council sometime in the first few months in the new year. Council moved a resolution to have administration return with the updated policy.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he hopes there is a penalty that will penalize people for what they removed.

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