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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council Notes for Monday, July 17, 2023

by Sylene Argent

Alternative street names for

80 Maidstone approved

Council approved the request from Walter Branco, President of Noah Homes, regarding alternative street names for the 80 Maidstone subdivision development.

It was explained at the meeting he would like Street A to be named Susie Court and Street B to be named Lucy Lane, after his twin sisters who played a role in raising him.

CAO Doug Sweet noted typically the Town chooses street names via a draw from a list of veteran names. Developers can request to deviate from that method and Council has the option to approve the request.

Staff will look to ensure there are no duplicate street names in the municipality, and will return to Council if an issue is found.


Developer makes requests to deviate from Development Standards Manual

Walter Branco, President of Noah Homes, approached Council with a few requests regarding the Town of Essex Development Standards Manual and the Subdivision Development Agreement for 80 Maidstone.

He asked that Council consider changes to the watermain pipe material used for the future of the Development Standards Manual, that it allows “V” curbs instead of barrier curbs, and that he be allowed to remove the sidewalks in the design on two dead-end roads that lead to nowhere to create a sidewalk on Maidstone Avenue.

Removing those sidewalks, Branco said, could allow two vehicles in the driveway. He noted the lots are only 24’ wide and there will be no garages added.

Kevin Girard, Director of Infrastructure, said the barrier curbs are used to help keep rain water in the streets, helps to alleviate illegal driveway accesses, and prevents snowplows and vehicles from getting onto the grass.

Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais said she preferred the V curb in her experience as it is easier to maneuver around.

Girard also explained that as part of the existing agreement, the developer was already required to install a multi-use trail along Maidstone and any changes should be shared with the County of Essex.

A motion to receive the delegation, exchange the barrier curb for the V curb, and discuss the remainder of the requests after Administration provides a report as to what could be and could not be done, failed with a four to four tie.

The issue of the sidewalks and trails will be discussed with the developer in the near future.


Essex Area Food Bank makes two requests

to help in finding a new home

Lonnie Jones, Treasurer of the Essex Area Food Bank, noted the local food distribution service is in desperate need of a new home, after 35-years of feeding families facing economic hardships.

It is estimated it will need to find a new location within the next year to year-and-a-half.

“Our next home will be our seventh location,” he explained, noting it began from a garage on Hanlan Street, had four locations at Essex District High School – including the former Sun Parlour Junior School, and now works out of the gym at Essex United Church.

It is the third largest food bank in the region.

Jones explained the Essex Area Food Bank is currently feeding around 80 families – which equates to around 240 individuals – each week. On average, over $11,000 is spent each month in purchasing food for those in need at five food businesses, thanks to support from residents, schools, churches, and other organizations.

He made two requests of Council to help the Food Bank better find a new location. The first was to change the by-law that restricts the food bank from being located in the business core. The second was to direct Town staff to examine Town-owned facilities where a building can be developed to host the Food Bank, which could find a way to pay for the new build and then maintain it.

Previously, before the Essex Area Food Bank settled into Essex United Church a few years ago, three potential sites were found that were along Talbot Street. He noted the former Schinkel’s facility was ideal as it had a cooler, no steps, and an entrance at the back of the building that clients could use. The Town then informed the Food Bank via a letter that it was not allowed in the business district.

“We were devastated,” Jones said. “We should have come to Council at that time.”

Jones said frustration came from never having actually seen the by-law and not knowing when it came into effect, and why.

“The Food Bank does not attract undesirables to the town, it does not attract people who live on the street. We do the very opposite. We feed the needy – our neighbours,” Jones said, noting he believes that is a bad by-law.

In the near future, the Essex Area Food Bank will have to head down one of three avenues: build, find a rental, or close.

Mayor Sherry Bondy was sure no members of Council or Administration wanted to see the Essex Area Food Bank close and thanked its volunteers for all they do for the most vulnerable citizens.

She said the Food Bank reps should have come to Council when they were informed of the by-law as they often become antiquated. She only heard rumours of the situation then.

Councillor Kim Verbeek thought it was a great time to get rid of the stigma and talk about it as a Council. She wondered if Council should direct Administration to find a way to support the work done through the Food Bank.

CAO Doug Sweet said he did meet with Jones prior to COVID about options in Essex Centre. At the time, it was restricted. One option was the Kinsmen Fieldhouse, which would not have met their needs.

Currently in Essex Centre, there is no space available at town-owned facilities.

Deputy Mayor Rob Shepley liked the option to build a facility that could be designed to meet their needs. He was happy to make the motion to direct Administration to report on that.

Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais agreed with Shepley, and also wanted to see the details of the by-law and when it was created.

Shepley’s and McGuire-Blais’s ideas were put into a motion and passed.


Council to forward feedback on Decorative Crosswalk Policy to staff

- mural suggested as alternative for request of

Progress Pride Rainbow crosswalk -

At the June 5 Council meeting, Stefanie Pest of the Windsor/Essex Rainbow Alliance and Reverend Chris Brouillard-Coyle of St. Paul’s Anglican Church approached Council with the request that a Progress Pride Rainbow crosswalk be installed.

Ideally, they wanted it installed at the Talbot Street/Centre Street intersection, which is currently being redeveloped as part of the Essex Centre Streetscape project.

At the time, Council received the presentation and directed Administration to create a report on costing and possible sources of funding. Administration was also directed to create a policy on decorative crosswalks.

Having seen the policy as it was on the meeting agenda for discussion, Pest and Brouillard-Coyle reapproached Council Monday evening to speak to it.

Brouillard-Coyle spoke of the murals in Essex Centre and how they tell a story. She sees the proposed crosswalk as another step in doing that.

She asked Council to consider that a decorative crosswalk is not about a particular group of people, but is about the Essex community.

“This is telling the story that Essex is affirming as an inclusive – in the case of the Pride crosswalk – of the Pride community, and whatever other crosswalks might be proposed,” Brouillard-Coyle said, adding Councillors should consider what burdens they are asking of a particular group in having them pay for the bulk of such a project and who that excludes.

Pest had the chance to review the proposed Decorative Crosswalk Policy, and recommended Council not adopt it as presented. She has a few concerns, including that a request would not be considered if it includes depictions that can be related to a commercially-available product as rainbow flags are available commercially.

Other concerns she had included that only residents can apply as in terms of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community they are facilitating on behalf of a group of humans who have been discriminated against. She also believes the Town should bare the cost as they are part of humanity and would help the quality of life of residents of 2SLGBTQIA+ community and their allies.

She also had an issue with the recommendation in that policy that would require each crossing meet the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) prior to installation, including wheelchair ramps and tactile plates. She said they would only be painting on the road with skid-preventing paint.

Deputy Mayor Rob Shepley said he is not a fan of decorative crosswalks of any sort. He wondered if they had approached the Arts, Culture, and Tourism (ACT) Committee about creating a mural in the town known for its murals. He believes that would be well received.

Brouillard-Coyle said that would have to be something brought back to the Pride community to ensure they feel included and validated by it.

Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais agreed with Shepley, noting they could bring in an artist from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to create it. Murals are being created on removable panels, so they can be removed and placed somewhere else if needed.

One crosswalk is just one space, but the 2SLGBTQIA+ community can have an imprint throughout the municipality during its Pride month with a flag program.

Councillor Rodney Hammond also wondered why it has to be a crosswalk. He also liked the idea of a mural as they make a statement. He believes everyone should be represented.

Councillor Brad Allard said he likes the crosswalks, but they wear down. Murals seem to last forever. Councillor Joe Garon was also looking at the Town slogan, “Where you belong” to ensure it is inclusive.

Brouillard-Coyle said they are hanging their head on the crosswalk as it is symbolic in large town centres. She said they have become a sign of hope and inclusion to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Council received the delegation.

Later in the meeting, Council discussed the Decorative Crosswalks Policy.

In the Report to Council, it notes the policy ensures that all requests for non-traditional crosswalk designs are done in a non-biased, fair, and equitable manner.

The Report to Council notes in order to be considered, proposed crosswalks must celebrate the Town’s culture, history, and events.

Generally, crosswalks will not be considered if it represents: commercial, religious, and political organizations; a group or organization whose undertakings or philosophy are contrary to Town policies or by-laws, espouse hatred, violence, or racism; or any trademarks symbols or words or depictions that can be related to a commercially available product.

In addition, installation and maintenance of the Decorative Crosswalk shall be completed by the applicant, including future maintenance.

Shepley believes it was important to dispose of the Decorative Crosswalk Policy all together and look at other ways to be inclusive.

Councillor Kim Verbeek wanted the part that the request had to be from a resident tweaked, as sometimes people need to have an advocate on their behalf.

Shepley put forward a motion to not adopt the presented Decorative Crosswalk Policy as presented and create a crosswalk policy to maintain the status quo. With four votes, the motion failed.

Garon noted he was not prepared to pass the policy as presented. Council members received the policy on Thursday and have not had time to get feedback. Councillor Jason Matyi wanted time to tweak it.

Council then moved to have Administration solicit feedback from Council and make amendments to the policy if necessary and bring it back to Council for further discussion. From there, the matter can be presented to the public to gather resident input.


Reserve Management Policy approved

Council approved the Reserve Management Policy, including the final reserve continuity schedule as of January 1, 2023.

In addition, By-Law 2225, to establish and maintain reserve funds, was given two readings and provisionally adopted.

Kate Giurissevich, Director of Corporate Services/Treasurer, said this is the Town’s first Reserve Management Policy. It will become a guiding framework on how, when, and where to use reserve money within the budget process for Administration and Council.

The policy, she said, defines the roles for Council and Administration in regards to management of reserves and ensures legislation is being followed.


Intersection improvement tender for Gosfield/Arthur/Maidstone approved

Council awarded the Maidstone/Arthur/Gosfield intersection improvement tender to Quinlan Inc., in the amount of $678,743.27, including non-refundable Harmonized Sales Tax.

Council also approved the additional funding of $152,108.21 above the approved 2023 Capital Budget for a total project cost of $826,666, of which $59,401.75 will come from the Development Charge Reserve and $92,706.46 from the Town’s Canada Community Benefit Fund.

The plan is to have the work on this project commence at a point where traffic will not be impacted while the Essex Centre Streetscape project is underway.

The Gosfield/Arthur/Maidstone intersection is set to be redesigned.

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