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Essex Council Notes for Monday, July 15

by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

ERCA speaks on ongoing lake levels and flooding

Essex Council received a public presentation from Essex Region Conservation Authority’s (ERCA) Water Resources Engineer, James Bryant, and Tim Byrne, Director of Watershed Management Services, regarding ongoing high lake levels and flooding in and around the Great Lakes system and region.

Citing a chart comparing current Great Lakes levels with respect to historic levels over a period of the last one-hundred years, Byrne explained Lake Erie’s water level is currently 13 centimetres higher compared to its all time high, and 84 centimetres higher than its long-term monthly average since records began in 1918.

Byrne citied the previous record lake levels of the mid 1980s was caused by the record-breaking cold winter conditions of 1981 and 1982, where the total freezing of the lake takes years to thaw, leading to the record 1986 level.

Similarly, 2013’s total freeze of the lake is currently still having an impact on the ongoing lake levels, along with heavy periods of precipitation, leading to the current levels and flooding throughout the system.

“What was liquid water, or liquid precipitation, gets locked up into the system and is held for a period of time,” Byrne explained, adding that ice in the most northern part of Lake Superior is still melting, leading to that water flowing down towards Lake Erie, as it ultimately makes its way to the St. Lawrence Seaway.

“Some people don’t like to hear the term, or use the reference, but it is climate variability and climate change that we’re dealing with, and these are some of the results to it and why we’re at what we’re at right now,” he said.

Toward the end of the presentation, Byrne noted some of the impact that elevated water levels and flooding events have had on the Town of Essex, including the ongoing increased water levels at Colchester Harbour and the erosion and failure of the Colchester Bluff.

“It’s a stark reality of what we’re living right now,” Councillor Sherry Bondy said of ERCA’s presentation, before asking if ERCA was familiar with other municipalities doing bank stabilization on public lands to combat ongoing erosion.

Byrne noted the Town of Tecumseh and the City of Windsor have added additional protection to its pumping stations to provide an additional level of flood protection.

“Just about all municipalities are undertaking some level of works,” Byrne explained. “[Essex CAO Chris Nepszy] and I have had discussions with respect to infrastructure within [Essex] that needs to be looked at.”

Essex will explore the possibility of additional events to inform residents on the issues surrounding flooding and elevated lake levels.


Council to host accessible parking meeting on August 6

Essex Council received the Planning Department’s Report “Accessible Parking Provisions in the General Zoning Bylaw and Sign Bylaw.” It also authorize the holding of a public information session on August 6 to introduce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act accessible parking space provisions.

In the Report to Council, it notes the Town’s comprehensive zoning bylaw includes regulations for the provision of accessible parking. These provisions were introduced to the Town’s zoning bylaw in 2010. Comprehensive standards, however, have been established provincially under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the most recent version having been adopted in 2016.

Through the report, it was recommended the Town’s Zoning Bylaw and Sign Bylaw incorporate the regulations of the AODA as it relates to the provision of off-street parking.

The AODA requires more accessible parking spots than the Town’s zoning bylaw. It also divides accessible parking spaces into two types: one of which is 3.4m in width with an access aisle of 1.5m, next and parallel to it, to serve vans; and the other includes a width of 2.4m, with an access aisle of 1.5m next and parallel to it, to serve persons in standard vehicles

According to the Town’s General Sign Bylaw, each accessible parking space must be identified by a reserved parking sign, however, the comprehensive sign bylaw, does not set out this requirement.

A public meeting to consider changes to the Sign Bylaw to address abandoned signage is already set for August 6. It was recommended, through the Report to Council, the changes to the zoning and sign by-laws regarding the provision of accessible parking be added for discussion.


New Essex Fire Station 2 Location announced

Essex Council received Community Services’ Report “New Essex Fire Station 2 Location.”

According to the Report to Council, the Town has purchased three acres of land for the new Fire Station 2 as directed by Council.

In June, the Town closed a deal to purchase just over three acres of property at the corner of County Road 15 and North Malden Road at a cost of $229, 527.21, not inclusive of the non-refundable tax. This property will allow the Town to meet current and future fire needs and improve response times as per recommendations in the Fire Master Plan.

Pomax Consulting, the Consultant that completed the Fire Master Plan in 2017, recommended Fire Station 2 in Gesto be relocated to the area of North Malden Road and County Road 15 to potentially improve response to Essex Centre and McGregor, and to provide response to rural fires although response configurations will shift further north, the Report to Council notes.

A new station, the Report to Council notes, would address deficiencies in the current station.

In a November 2016, a Facility Audit Report by Stephenson Engineering Ltd. outlined a host of issues with the current facility. The major issues included the size of the apparatus bays, a lack of a proper exhaust system in the apparatus bay area, no area to store or decontaminate personal protective equipment, no change rooms and showers, no functional kitchen, no file storage, and no proper training room.

The Report continues that Architecturra Inc. has been retained by the Town to design the new Fire Station 2.


Treasurer earns accreditation

Council received correspondence from Maureen Zabiuk, Past President of the Ontario Municipal Tax and Revenue Association, that noted Essex’s Director of Corporate Services/Treasurer, Jeff Morrison, was awarded the designation of Certified Municipal Revenue Professional (CMRP).

The letter congratulated Morrison on his achievement.


Harrow Arena Canteen to operate for 2019-2020 season

Essex Council voted to enter into a one-year lease agreement between the Town of Essex and a numbered company, represented by Darlene Synder, to operate the canteen at the Harrow Arena beginning September 1, 2019.

Essex’s Community Services Department managed the arena’s concession services until 2011, and in 2012, the Town issued a Request for Proposal for a company to operate both the Essex and Harrow Arena’s concession canteens beginning September 1, 2012.

M & M Canteen was the successful proponent of that 2012 request, and operated both canteens until the end of the 2018 season.

At the end of that season, M & M Canteen notified Administration it would no longer be operating the Harrow Arena canteen, as it stated it was losing money annually with its operation.

The Town had three proponents attend the mandatory site meeting to operate the Harrow Arena Canteen for the upcoming 2019-20 season, but only one proposal was submitted to operate the Harrow Arena canteen.

The business of 2299961 Ontario Inc., represented by Darlene Snyder, met all requirements of the scope to operate the canteen, but in the proposal, they requested a minimal monthly lease payment be incorporated for the first year so they can determine the viability of the operation of the arena’s concessions.

After a meeting with Administration, a monthly rate of $22.60, including HST, would be the agreed upon rate, and after the 2019-20 season, would be subject to review prior to the renewal of the canteen operations lease.


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