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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council notes for July 2

by Adam Gault

Brenda Anger named Essex Senior of the Year

In a special presentation at the onset of the Council meeting, Brenda Anger, the President of the Colchester South & Harrow Agriculture Society, was presented with the 2019 Essex Senior of the Year Award.

  Anger was recognized with the distinction for her “outstanding contributions for her community” and her long-time involvement in the promotion and preservation of the annual Harrow Fair.

  “This year, Council is thrilled to present this award to Brenda, who has proven to be an active citizen and a community contributor,” Mayor Larry Snively said. “She is a shining example of a farmer, dedicated, sharing her passion with the next generation.”

  Anger thanked the Town for the nomination, and her family for their continued support. She stated that she hopes to volunteer with the Harrow Fair for years to come.

Sign permit at 103 King St. postponed

Essex Council decided to postpone a decision on a potential bylaw revision pertaining to a request for a sign permit at 103 King St. West in Harrow, which would allow for the construction of a billboard on the side of the building.

  As it stands, the current Town bylaw does not allow for billboard signs in settlement areas.

The proponent of the sign’s construction would like to see a 10’x10’ sign with a decorative frame placed on the west-side of the building’s second floor. It would be used for advertising, with the applicant hoping it would be utilized by local businesses and for local events.

  Despite this proposed design, Planning is concerned this could set a precedent for the Town’s urban areas, as it could lead to what is known as “sign pollution.”

  Council decided to postpone its decision until the Harrow & Colchester South Chamber of Commerce could have an opportunity to give additional input on the matter.

  “There are some strong opinions for, and there’s some very strong opinions against,” Councillor Sherry Bondy explained of an earlier Chamber of Commerce meeting on the subject. “They don’t want to throw the whole idea out, because this doesn’t look bad, but they wish to see design criteria.”

  The Chamber had planned to send a letter detailing both sides of their opinions, but that was not submitted at the time of this council meeting.

Councillor Joe Garon was opposed to the sign, explaining the benefit of the sign is not for the Town, but the individual selling the advertising space, which goes against the Town’s current bylaws.

  Conversely, Councillor Chris Vander Doelen stated his support for the sign, saying the Town has no right to determine who can and can’t advertise.

  “As for the fact that it’s third party, so what? As for the fact that it’ll make a profit, good,” Vander Doelen said. “I don’t see that as any reason to oppose it. I say if that’s the case, let the guy do it.”

Explore the Shore grant approved

The Explore the Shore Committee requested a $1,000 grant from the Essex Tourism Events Fund to be used for a targeted social media Facebook and Instagram campaign to increase attendance with a younger demographic at this year’s event, which will take place the weekend of July 27.

  With the approval of the grant, a balance of $25,000 remains in the Essex Tourism Events Fund.

Colchester Memorial Shed roof replacement approved

The administration of the Town had asked for additional funding than what was budgeted to replace the roof on the Colchester Memorial Shed at the Colchester Memorial Cemetery.

  Earlier this year, council approved $2,300 for the replacement of the Memorial Shed roof at Colchester Memorial Cemetery.

  Cemetery staff has since reported that the window and door frames require updating as well, and with that new information, administration is asking for an additional $1,700 for the installation of a metal roof for a more cost-efficient long-term solution.

  This approval includes that the shed will remain intact where it is currently located, as the possibility of moving or destroying the shed had previously been discussed.

Dog licence fees temporarily reduced

Council has approved a one-time temporary reduction of new dog licences to $15, for the duration of the 2019 Dog Licensing Campaign from July 3 to August 31.

  This will cost the town $9,450.

  The licensing program helps track lost dogs, and financially supports Essex’s animal control and related services.

  The summer campaign was established to support awareness of municipal dog tags, and maintain an updated and accurate database of dog tag licenses. It will include canvassers, going door-to-door in the municipality to inform and educate residents of the benefits and importance of annual dog licensing and provide an opportunity for the resident to purchase a dog tag right at their own front door.

To encourage compliance, the licence rate will be dropped to $15 for new tags. Normally Dog Tags that are purchased at this time of the year cost $45 if the dog is spayed or neutered and $75 if not spayed or neutered. It is cheaper to buy the tags earlier in the year.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen believed spending the near $10,000 to make up the lost revenue in the decrease in licences between 2013 and 2018 was a good idea.

  Administration member, Deputy Clerk Shelly Brown, stated that the initiative is less about profit than it is an important data collection exercise. She said all dogs that are registered are included in the town’s database.

Grant approved for Harrow Junior School demolition

Developers of the property of the former Harrow Junior School had approached the Town to request a “middle ground” to the provided Community Improvement Plan (CIP) demolition grant program.

  The grant allotted 50 percent of the cost of demolition up to a maximum amount of $6,000 and then up to $25,000 if the cost of demolition is over $250,000.

  The estimate for the cost of the demolition of the former Harrow school, was $83,000 at the lowest, according to the developers.

  Essex’s Planning Department suggested a new grant be set on a percentage base, in place of the current fixed grant numbers.

  With that in mind, the Planning Department suggested 50 percent of the cost of demolition for the first $12,000 of that total demolition costs, plus 15 percent of the cost of demolition thereafter to a maximum grant of $25,000.

  Under this new grant, the developer of the junior school would be awarded $16,650.

  While Councillor Sherry Bondy was in support of the grant, Councillor Vander Doelen was opposed of the measure, stating that it sets a bad precedent heading forward.

  Funding for the grant will be provided from the CIP fund.

Credit card payment rules changed

Essex has approved changes to its credit card payment cap, for residents wishing to pay their property taxes through credit card.

  With the change, payments would only be allowed to a maximum of $1,000 per transaction, per roll number, per installment.

 This change seeks to close a loophole, which allowed homeowners to pay property taxes over consecutive days with a credit card.

In a previous year, the Town had to pay upwards of $67,000 in credit card processing fees due to the number of payments made by credit card.

  The town hopes to eventually phase out the usage of credit cards as a payment option, and promote further the current alternatives, including drop box (Harrow and Essex), virtual city hall, online/telephone banking, pre-authorized payment plans, in-person, mail, and cheque.

Anti-Bullying Campaign to go ahead

The Town is ready to go ahead with an anti-bullying campaign, after findings from administration and a motion put forward by Deputy Mayor Meloche.

  Councillors were on board with the project, with youth councillors Cameron Soucie and Ehva Hoffman stating interest in a hands-on approach with the campaign, that could include giving them the opportunity to attend area schools and present information on the initiative.

  The project will have an anti-bullying media campaign and “bully-free zone” signage and posters developed for all Town of Essex recreation facilities, both indoors and out, that will also include the OPP non-emergency number for individuals to report harassment.

  The Town will continue to work with the OPP, including the request for increased presence at facilities where bullying has been noted to take place.

  Municipal staff will also receive training to deal with bullying in town facilities, both business and recreation.

  $750 from the council contingency fund will be used to implement the campaign.

Correspondence received by Council

Essex Council received a number of correspondences from other Ontario municipalities and levels of government which were discussed during the meeting.

  The Ministry of the Solicitor General stated that the Essex Police Services Board was granted $13,480 under the R.I.D.E. grant program, which provides stop checks to police services to check for suspected impaired drivers.

  Councillors Sherry Bondy and Kim Verbeek explained they had seen alleged impaired drivers behaving recklessly in the Colchester area. They spoke to the need for additional R.I.D.E. programs or police presence in the area.

  The City of St. Catharines submitted correspondence asking for other municipalities to follow their lead in providing complimentary menstrual products in municipal structures. The councillors received and supported this correspondence.

  The Town of Georgina submitted correspondence regarding its efforts in reducing litter and waste in its town. It has had user-pay garbage for 20 years and furthermore would want to see the province of Ontario to follow suit with Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia to implement a deposit/return program for all single-use recyclable drink containers.

The councillors received and supported this correspondence.

  The Township of Armour is calling on municipalities to join it in its opposition of Ontario’s Bill 115, which would allow the sale of beer and wine in corner stores.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen spoke in favour of Bill 115, saying residents want more convenience options for the purchase of beer and wine. Mayor Larry Snively and Councillor Steve Bjorkman also spoke in support of the Bill.

  In opposition was Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche and Councillors Sherry Bondy and Kim Verbeek.

  Their reasoning was potential negative impacts on the youth population, and those struggling with alcoholism.

  The correspondence was only received, as a tie was the result of the question to support or oppose the Township of Armour’s request.

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