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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council Notes for Monday, April 15, 2024

by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

Colchester wins Best Beach TWEPI Award

Through this year’s installment of the Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) Best of Windsor Essex Awards, the Town of Essex’s Colchester Beach won the Best Beach Award.

  This was a result of online voting.

  Jake Morassut, Director of Community Services for the Town of Essex, thanked Council and staff for the efforts put into the Colchester Beach over the past decade.

  “It is showing great success,” he said.

  Mayor Sherry Bondy called the news exciting.

Third annual Climate Change

Adaptation Plan update presented

Essex Council received Development Services' Report “Climate Change Adaptation Plan Annual Report” for information.

  The Town of Essex adopted the Climate Change Adaptation Plan “Climate Ready” in February of 2021, Lori Chadwick, Director of Development Services, told Council.

  “This document is a strategy that lists various action items to be completed over a five-year time-span, specifically designed for the Town of Essex on how we can better prepare ourselves and adapt to the impact of a changing climate through things like policy changes, process improvements, infrastructure development, and communication,” Chadwick said.

This report highlights the progress made since March of 2023 on the various action items, including investing ways to utilize public spaces for naturalized areas and dedicated tree nurseries for future use, retrofitting municipal buildings with LED lighting, expanding the geese management plan to various parks, amending the Zoning By-Law to require minimum landscaped areas in the required front yard of residential properties, to minimize increased pavement in urban centres, and other various initiatives.

 Drainage Works, Engineering Services

Prequalified Bidders Roster Lists approved

Council authorized the acceptance of the prequalified bidders for the Drainage Works Roster List for a term of three-years.     

  This is meant to improve the overall procurement portion of the drainage process.

  The Town of Essex posted a Request for Prequalification (RFPQ) to obtain a prequalified list of contractors for drainage works, the Report to Council notes.

  The contractors were scored based on knowledge and experience, demonstration of abilities to provide required services, equipment, and qualifications and experience of staff to determine if they met the minimum score of 75 out of 100 to qualify.

  Two contractors did not meet the minimum score.

  There is the ability to add companies through additional submissions or resubmissions at four additional time-points within the three-year time-period.

  The first version of the roster was approved in 2022 for a one-year term as a pilot project, Lindsay Dean, Drainage Superintendent, explained.

  Council also authorized the acceptance of the prequalified bidders for the prequalification of firms for Engineering Services for Drainage Works Roster List.

  This is the first version of this roster, Dean added. This will be on a one-year term basis to see how it works before committing to a longer-term.

  “Drainage Engineers are in short-supply across the Province, so we are looking to get a list of Engineers to distribute work and that have a variety of different skill-sets to best serve our residents,” Dean said.

  Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais asked about the two contractors that did not qualify and wanted to know who they were. Dean answered they have not been contacted yet and did not have the names readily available.

  McGuire-Blais said she was told on a different matter recently that those who are disqualified or do not get a tender are disclosed, but was not provided the information on this matter. She wanted to see consistency.

  CAO Doug Sweet said Director of Corporate Services/Treasurer, Kate Giurissevich, could work with procurement staff to create a cheat sheet, so qualifications can be summarized.

  In answering Deputy Mayor Rob Shepley’s question about going through the procurement policy needing Council approval, Dean noted the Contractor Roster is to establish a list of prequalified bidders, which go out for request for quote.

  Drainage Engineering starts with a Council appointment, an onsite meeting then molds the scope of the project. Quotes for engineering projects cannot be obtained in advance because the scope of the project is unknown. The purpose of this roster is to distribute work fairly.

  Council awards Surface

Treatment Tender for 2024

Council awarded Surface Treatment Tender for 2024 to Shepley Road Maintenance Ltd., in the amount of $602,640, including non-refundable Harmonized Sales Tax.

  Shepley Road Maintenance was the lowest bidder.

  This project scope includes 2024 Surface Treatment, including the supply and application of surface treatment pavement in accordance with Ontario Provincial Specification Standards 304 for various roads for $266,051.52,

  The Report to Council adds additional provisional works within the tender are also being recommended to be awarded as part of this contract.

  It was recommended to also add a single treatment lift on 12th Concession Road, from County Road 15 to North Malden Road, for $ 24,071.33; the supply, placement, and compaction of 540 tonnes of asphalt pavement to complete road shoulder repair works on the roads receiving a single course of surface treatment in the amount of $137,376.00; 15,000 square meters of spray patching for extending the useful life of existing roadways (from the Operations Budget) in the amount of $152,640.00; and adding a contingency to this contract in the amount of $22,501.15 to cover any items that may come up during construction.

  $660,000 was put into the 2024 Budget for this work. This Request for Tender result was $602,640.

  It adds the remaining portion of the Operations Budget will be used by Public Works for other items, including crack sealing and additional spray patching throughout the 2024 season.

 Irwin Avenue reconstruction awarded

Council awarded the Irwin Avenue Reconstruction to Shearock Construction Group Inc., in the amount of $ 3,493,255.95, including non-refundable Harmonized Sales Tax.

  It was the lowest bidder.

  In addition, the contract for administration and onsite inspection, including drawing revisions and end of maintenance services to TYLin International Canada Inc., in the amount of $204,720.77, was approved.

  The Report to Council notes in August 2022, Council awarded the engineering design for Irwin Avenue and Walnut Street to TYLin International Canada Inc. for detailed engineering design.

  The Irwin Avenue reconstruction project is from Arthur Avenue to Gosfield Townline. It also Includes Brien Avenue and Wellington Avenue, from Talbot Street to Irwin Avenue.

  The proposed works, as part of the detailed engineering design, includes full depth road reconstruction, including granular base and two lifts of asphalt and standard concrete curb and gutter; and the widening and urbanization of the road section from Brien Avenue East to Gosfield Townline, which removes the granular shoulders and creates on-street parking.

It also includes new dual storm sewers and private drain connections, watermain, fire hydrants, and water services, and driveway approaches and concrete sidewalk.

  In addition, in December 2023, Council pre-approved the budget in 2024 for the Irwin Avenue Reconstruction in the amount of $4,350,000.

The report details the bid for the work was $2,935,773.97. It was recommended additional provisional works be awarded as part of the tender. These provisional works total $557,481.98.

  Overall, the project came in under-budget.

  David McBeth, Manager of Capital Works & Asset Management, said the Town received excellent pricing on the project through the early timing of the tender. Construction is expected to start around May 13, which will hopefully be around the timing of when the completion of the Maidstone/Arthur/Gosfield intersection changes.

  It is hoped completion of the reconstruction of Irwin Avenue project will be around the end of October to mid-November.

  In answering Councillor Joe Garon’s question, McBeth noted the sidewalk on Irwin will end up on the east-side. A few trees will need to be removed to do so.

 2024 Hot Mix Asphalt Program Update received

Council received the Capital Works and Asset Management Report “2024 Hot Mix Asphalt Program Update.”

  In the Report to Council, David McBeth, Manager of Capital Work & Asset Management, noted in an effort to provide cost-savings to the Town of Essex through economies of scale, Administration partnered with the County of Essex Infrastructure Services Department to include the Town of Essex hot mix paving projects with the County’s tender for this year.

  As part of this year’s project, McBeth said the Town is looking to use Cold In-Place Recycling with Expanded Asphalt Mix (CIREAM) and asphalt overlay on Wright Road, from Gore Road to County Road 50.

  In Harrow, mill and pave projects are planned for Arthur Street South, from Murdoch Street to the southern limit; Murdoch Street, from Pearson Drive to Arthur Street; Pearson Drive, from Murdoch Street to Arthur Street South; and Taylor Road from Given Road to Arthur Street South.

  In Essex Centre, a provisional mill and pave project is planned for Oak Drive, from Woodview Drive just north of Willow Crescent and Meadow Lane. This project will depend on what the tenders on the other projects come in at.

  The Report to Council notes the Mill and Pave Project in Harrow came in at $389,165.86, including non-refundable Harmonized Sales Tax, and the provisional Mill and Pave Project in Essex came in at $235,147.01.

  It adds the first portion of the CIREAM tender by the County of Essex closed on April 4, 2024 and the Wright Road portion came in at $175,000, including non-refundable HST. The asphalt overlay has yet to be tendered.

  Councillor Joe Garon said he does not remember hearing the Oak Drive area being in need before. McBeth noted the road was listed as being in poor condition previously. It is an area that is halfway through its life and does not need underground infrastructure redone.

  As per the 2024 approved budget, $1,270,000 has been allocated for the subject works, the Report to Council notes. So far, Essex’s portion of the Request for Tender from the County is $624,312.87. Additional expenses are also expected for asphalt escalation, and contract administration services provided by the County of Essex, which include material testing, line painting, and contract administration.

 Essex Sidewalk Patio Policy, fees postponed

After bringing up a variety of concerns, Essex Council postponed adopting a Sidewalk Patio Policy and associated proposed fees and charges to a meeting in May.

  When presented at the April 15 regular meeting, the recommendation was to adopt the policy and fees, so they would be in effect for May 1 for patios on Town rights-of-way. This policy does not include those on private property.

  David McBeth, Manager of Capital Works & Asset Management, explained this was meant to build off the existing Sidewalk Patio By-Law that was created in 2022.

  This policy was created to ensure pedestrian and vehicular safety, as well as to create a standard look for patios within the Harrow and Essex Centre Streetscapes that tie to their themes, while protecting Town infrastructure.

  “With the completion of the Harrow and Essex Centre Streetscape projects, this is the first year this by-law is really going to be used,” McBeth told Council, adding that when the By-Law was adopted two-years ago, the Ontario Traffic Council created guidelines for patio creation in municipal rights-of-ways. “That is what we are planning to use moving forward to protect our residents’ safety and ourselves from liability, when sidewalk patios are being created.”

  He said the biggest recommendation within the policy is allowing the Town’s Operations Division to be responsible for installing these patios on behalf of businesses. In part, that is to meet the guidelines in the Ontario Traffic Manual. Constructing them may become too burdensome for businesses to complete the work, he said.

  “The Town wants to ensure our newly installed infrastructure in our streetscape projects are protected,” McBeth said.

  The Town, he said, is proposing a $1,000 fee for the setup/takedown of sidewalk patios for standard patios that do not require traffic control, and $2,000 for patios requiring traffic control measures, as they take more work.

  The permits would be for May 1 until the end-of-October.

  They would be increased annually on January 1 by the Consumer Price Index.

  The cost would be borne by the business. So would the cost for the materials, such as railings.

  “We are not trying to make money off of these patios, we are just trying to make sure that they are set up correctly," McBeth said.

  In answering Councillor Joe Garon’s question, McBeth said the policy is trying to eliminate businesses installing their own patios.

  Garon asked if the bollards in the streetscape are set up to be moved for the patios. McBeth noted the bollards are meant to keep cars from entering the pedestrian area. He added the bollards are removable for the majority of the streetscape area, but the requirements from the Ontario Traffic Council manual require certain tested barriers for certain locations.

  The Town, he said, has looked at things, like concrete planters, to provide additional security.

  Patios could be located adjacent to the building or in parking spaces. Six-feet of free-clearance space is required, so pedestrians can get around the patio.

  Garon believes the policy is needed, but the cost associated for a business for a seasonal patio is a lot.

  He thought the bollards could be removed to the outside of the parking perimeters to extend the patios or space for tents sales. McBeth noted they are removable, but there is no other space for the bollards to go.

  Garon thought that was part of the original streetscape plan. McBeth noted in his two-years with the Town, he never saw that on the engineering drawing.

  CAO Doug Sweet noted that may have been one of the items revised when having to look at cost-cutting for the streetscape project.

  In answering Councillor Rodney Hammond’s question, McBeth noted the Town is mostly looking at black metal railings that could be anchored into the concrete for the patios.

  McBeth said businesses can make proposals that could fit and still make things safe.

  Deputy Mayor Rob Shepley asked in the section in front of a business out to the sidewalk could be used for sidewalk sales and things of that nature.

  Director of Legislative Services/Clerk, Joe Malandruccolo, will review the by-law for the information.

Shepley said he would hate to see this policy stop businesses from being able to have sidewalk sales.

  McBeth noted this policy would not look at temporary weekend sidewalk sales.

  In terms of the cost of the fees, Shepley believes it would be recoupable by restaurants, but not feasible for those wanting to use the space for sidewalk sales. Shepley asked about businesses with small patio areas, if they could expand beyond the perimeter of their location for more space.

  McBeth noted that in terms of the perimeter, the intention is to keep to the width of the front of their building, ensuring there is a six-feet clearance for pedestrians.

  Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais noted in the policy it mentions pop-ups and asked for clarification. McBeth believes that would include longer-termed instances that would impact pedestrian movement.

  She further asked if the street was closed for an event if a business that may want to have a patio for that one night would be charged the whole fee.

  McBeth said that is not the intention.

  McGuire-Blais was not ready to adopt the policy as was presented and does not believe the price is fair. She said she spoke to a few restaurant owners in Essex Centre and they indicated they would not have the patio or lively urban environment required with the policy as it is.

  She suggested looking at what other municipalities do in terms of this.

  She also asked for the definition of the “flex street” in the downtown Essex Centre Streetscape.

  McBeth noted that the bollards do come out but cannot be moved to the back of the curb. The flex street is still there on one-level for access, with no step down. He added the bollards are not rated to take the force of the car, but will help restrict movement.

  McGuire-Blais asked about allowing anchoring of the railings. McBeth noted that would be allowed to be done if done by the Operations Department.

  She believes there has to be a policy. Town staff should not be setting up the patios. She does not believe the fee and cost for the barricades and materials is feasible for businesses.

  “I don’t think any of our businesses are going to utilize this, and it is a waste of my breath right now, because if we keep with this, we will never use it. Ever,” McGuire-Blais said.

  CAO Doug Sweet said staff will try to bring the policy back, in answering Council questions, as soon as possible.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek said she liked the idea of Town staff taking the reins on setting up the patios to protect the new streetscape infrastructure.

  Shepley further asked if a range of costs for all materials could be provided. He also asked about storing the materials. McBeth said the Town would remove the materials from the Rights-of-way, but the business would store its own equipment.

  McBeth added the Town is trying to get a grant to help with the cost for some of the patios, but may not know if it is successful for several months.

  Garon added, “I’m really stunned at the fact we spent that money on the flex street and we will not be able to utilize it, unless we spend all kinds of money to take away a parking spot for the whole summer, so they can utilize and expand their space out there.”

  To him, it is a lot more complicated and does not even come close to what he thought this would be.

  In November of 2021, the previous Term of Essex Centre voted to change the 2013 Downtown Essex Centre Streetscape Plan to include the flex street concept.

  Additional Essex Council Notes for the April 15 meeting will be available in the April 25 edition of the Essex Free Press.


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