Essex Council Notes for Monday, January 14

by Sylene Argent & Adam Gault

Essex Council ‘opts in” for retail cannabis stores

Ahead of the January 22 deadline, Essex Council ‘opted in’ to having a cannabis retail store at the Essex Council meeting on Monday evening. This message will be passed along to the AGCO, which will regulate such stores for future consideration.

  Part of the influence to Council making the decision was the online survey results. In the report to Council “Cannabis Retail Stores Survey Results,” which Council also received, the Town received 1104 survey submissions, with 80 percent preferring to “opt in.”  More than 300 comments were also received as part of the survey.

  The survey, published online through the Town website and was available in paper format.

  Further, Council also adopted the proposed Communications Plan for Public Consultation to facilitate the development of a Municipal Cannabis Retail Policy Statement.

  As part of “opting in” or “opting out” of being willing to host such a site, Ontario municipalities have a one-time opportunity to make that decision. A municipality that “opts out” could, however, opt back in.

  According to the report submitted to Council, on December 13, 2018, the Government of Ontario announced it would take a phased approach to recreational cannabis retail licensing. This included beginning with the issuance of 25 retail licences province-wide. None of these initial licenses will be allocated to municipalities having a population of less than 50,000.

  On December 17, 2018, Council passed a resolution to postpone the decision on whether to “opt in” or “opt out” of hosting cannabis retail stores until their regular meeting on January 14,


  Council had also requested that the results from the Town’s cannabis retail store survey be provided at that time.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman thanked every resident who took time to fill out the survey, which he said was one of the best survey responses the Town has experienced. He said he would vote to “opt in” because Essex needs to not wait and see what happens in other communities that want to accept a retail cannabis store, seeing as it is legal.

  “We need to blaze our own trail,” he said, adding this system is not the “silver bullet” to ending the black market, but will help give control.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he was ready to make the decision a month ago. He said it would be foolish for Essex to be a sort of “prohibition town” and ignore the majority of residents who want it.

  Mayor Larry Snively said is was a tough decision for him to make, but ultimately voted to “opt in.” He was fearful of people obtaining illegal cannabis as is sometimes done from the backdoor of cigarette stores.

OPP contract renewed/Council questions Essex Centre office change

  Essex Council received the report, “Contract for Policing Services – Ontario Provincial Police” and voted for a three-year Agreement for Policing Services for purposes of bringing forward a bylaw.

  The report notes the estimated costs for policing services for 2019 is $3.3 million. In 2008, when the cost comparison between municipal and OPP policing was presented to Council, municipal policing costs were $4.7 million. The cost for 2019 is slightly higher than 2018’s costs of $3,320,876, primarily as a result of an increase in the rate per property for Calls for Service.

  While discussing the OPP contract, some Councillors took a moment to ask OPP West Operations Inspector Glenn Miller about the news that on January 31, the OPP Essex detachment members will no longer begin their shifts from the OPP Community Safety Office, which is located at 31 Gosfield Townline.

  In a news release, the OPP stated, “the change will have no impact on the level of policing services to the Town of Essex. The OPP will continue to conduct regular patrols and will maintain a significant local presence,” and that the “change is being made to maximize OPP resources and operational efficiency.”

  Miller said he was glad to address the issue. He said the office was designed for officers to keep notes, complete data entry, and meet with members of the public when working in Essex. The office will still be used for these purposes.

  He said the change would have no impact on the residents or the community.

Councillor Sherry Bondy said in reading the report and OPP Contract, the OPP is always accountable to the Police Services Board. She said it was a surprise when this change was announced on Facebook. When Council and members of the Police Services Board found out this way, it put them behind the ball, she said.

“It doesn’t feel right,” she commented.

  She was worried about extra travel time, wear and tear on vehicles. Other Councillors expressed their concern of if there was going to be a gap in OPP presence or longer response times in Essex Centre.

  Bondy asked if capital dollars were needed to keep the Essex Centre Community Office operating as it is.

  Councillor Morley Bowman said he had been on the Police Services Board in the past. To his knowledge, the OPP decides how to police.

  Miller said the OPP would never do anything to impact the safety rate and that the OPP continues to be proactive. He said the OPP operates on flex schedules.

Robert J. Swayze re-appointed Integrity Commissioner

Council received the report, “Results of Request for Proposal – Integrity Commissioner Services,” which suggested the Request for Proposal for Integrity Commissioner Services be awarded to Robert J. Swayze Barrister & Solicitor, for a term to commence January 1, 2019 through to December 31, 2020. 

This position was appointed in accordance with the provincial Municipal Act, which states each municipal council is mandated to have an Integrity Commissioner. This position is responsible for performing in an independent manner with regards to the application of the Code of Conduct for members of Council, and any additional policies and procedures governing the ethics of members of council and local boards.

  Two proposals for the position were put forward, and were evaluated using a point system, taking into account the law firm’s experiences with similar projects, municipal knowledge, and approaches to education and public relations.

  After thorough review, Robert J. Swayze Barrister & Solicitor received the highest score in the system and was also the lowest bid. 

Essex County K9 Services renewed for Animal Control Services

Council received the report, “Agreement with Animal Control Officers,” which requested the Agreement with Essex County K9 Services for Animal Control Services be extend for a two-year term, from January 1, 2019, toDecember 31, 2020. There is an option to extend the agreement for up to two years.

The annual retainer for the contract of services would be based on the current retainer of $27,000 per year, excluding HST, with an adjustment for the change in the Total Consumer Price Index for the second year of the agreement, and any extensions to the contract that may be agreed upon.

  Essex County K9 Services for Animal Control Services first entered an agreement with the Town in the fall of 2013, and Essex has retained the use of its animal control services through several agreement renewals since that time. 

Extension for Superintendent and Caretaker Services for certain cemeteries

Council received a verbal report from administration regarding an Agreement Extension for Superintendent and Caretaker Services for certain Cemeteries in the Town of Essex.

  This report sought to extend the agreement between the Town of Essex and Mike Bezaire regarding the Superintendent and Caretaker Services until March 31, 2019, with all of the previous terms and conditions remaining unchanged.

This will allow Administration time to conduct a Request for Proposal to determine the provision for Superintendent and Caretaker Services past the above date.

  The motion carried.

Council notes for Monday, January 14 will continue in the January 24 edition of the Essex Free Press.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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