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  • ESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council meeting notes - January 18, 2021

by Adam Gault

Council receives update on 2021 Agri-Tourism Strategy

Council received a report that Economic Development Officer, Nelson Silveira, prepared regarding the ongoing development of an agricultural tourism strategy for the Town of Essex.

  A plan of this design would be used to try to designate the Town’s tourism priorities over the next several years. The focus is on local producers and attempting to attract visitors from more local areas across southwestern Ontario to assist the local tourism industry in recovering from the pandemic over the next several years.

  This plan would have a specific focus on highlighting the many facets of the Town’s agri-tourism sector, such as area wineries, farmers’ markets, and additional agriculturally-based destinations that fall under the designation.

  At the September 8, 2020 Council meeting, Council approved reallocating up to $25,000 in funding from the 2020 Tourism Marketing Budget to create an Agri-Tourism Strategy in 2021.

With numerous award-winning wineries, scenic vistas, and some of the warmest summer weather in the country along Lake Erie and County Road 50, the Town of Essex hopes the agri-tourism sector can become a top priority when it comes to the overall tourism strategy for the municipality, especially at its southern, lakefront end.

  In addition, Council provided a resolution supporting the Town of Essex grant application, seeking $25,000 in funding from the Tourism Economic Development Recovery Fund (TEDRF), through the provincial Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.

  This past month, Essex received confirmation from Minister Lisa MacLeod that the grant application to the TEDRF was approved, and that funds through this program are to be spent by March 31.

  The Town hopes to have the full strategy and implementation plan completed by late April or early May, with the implementation of additional action items to be enacted by municipal administration, in partnership with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation, and the stakeholders within the town.

  The Town of Essex is currently seeking third-party proposals for the development of the project.

 

Council receives update on property values within the municipality

A report Essex Economic Development Officer, Nelson Silveira, prepared highlights the total construction and real estate values across the Town of Essex for the year 2020.

  This comes ahead of an overall development update, featuring all major commercial and residential developments initiated over 2020 to be presented to Council at the upcoming February 1 regular meeting.

“There’s incredible numbers when you look at [this] report,” Councillor Steve Bjorkman said, noting the tremendous growth over the last several years. “2016 total construction [value], we did $25 million. 2020 is $104 million. New houses [in] 2019 was $20 million, 2020 was $40 million. That’s an incredible amount of work that our staff is putting out there. It’s phenomenal, the amount of work that’s coming out of our departments to work with developers to make sure these things are getting done.”

  In 2020, the Town of Essex had a total of 379 single family dwellings sold, and a total of 129 single family homes begin construction.

  In Wards 1 and 2, the average sale price of these homes was $366,479, and in Wards 3 and 4, it was $402,048.


Council receives correspondence in support of opposition of amalgamation

Council received separate letters from the Town of Amherstburg and the Town of Kingsville, supporting Essex’s opposition to any additional restructuring or further amalgamation at this present time.

  This comes in the wake of the resolution passed at the November 2, 2020 Essex Council meeting, where the municipality sent correspondence to the Premier’s Office in opposition to such measures.

  With concerns surrounding the possibility of the addition of sharing some municipal services with other local municipalities, Essex Council felt the current needs of residents are best served by the current model in terms of fiscal responsibility and levels of service.

While opposed to further restructuring at this time, the letter also stated that the Town was, “not opposed to sharing some services where our service quality, safety, and price to our residents is not compromised.”

  Noting that having been amalgamated in the “not so distant past,” the Town of Essex is focused on finding efficiencies and shared services where feasible for the Town.


Remembering Bill Gay

Essex Council took a moment to remember Bill Gay, who passed away last week.

  Gay was a former Essex Councillor, acting in that role before amalgamation, and most recently worked at the Essex Railway Station, where he used his vast knowledge of local history to educate the public.

  “He was a great historian,” Essex Councillor Morley Bowman said. “He was a personal friend, and I am going to miss him.”

  For more Essex Council note matters, read the article “Council asks developer to hit pause button on potential schoolhouse sale” in this issue of the Essex Free Press.