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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council Notes for Monday, March 15, 2021

by Sylene Argent

96 County Road 50 West declared surplus,

admin directed to return with sale bylaw

Essex’s Clerk, Rob Auger, noted on March 5, Council met in closed session to discuss three items: proposed purchase or exchange of land by the municipality, a potential sale of land by the municipality, and to receive advice, subject to solicitor-client privilege, relating to an ongoing bylaw enforcement matter.   

  As a result, Council gave direction to administration in regards to the bylaw enforcement matter and the proposed sale of land by the municipality. It further directed administration to disclose, in public session, Council’s intention to declare 96 County Road 50 West as being surplus to the needs of the municipality and to come back to the April 6 meeting with a bylaw, for Council’s consideration, which would approve the sale of said lands by the way of direct sale, on or before June 30, to the proponents, who submitted an offer.

  A resolution was required in open session to declare the property surplus, and for administration to provide the required public notice and bring back the needed bylaw. Council moved the recommendation.

ERCA shares changes to Conservation Authorities Act, impact to the Draft Budget

Tim Byrne, CAO, Shelley McMullen, Chief Financial Officer, and Tania Jobin, Board Chairperson of Essex Region Conservation Authority, approached Council regarding recent changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and resulting impact to its Draft Budget.

  Jobin said the changes to the Act, contained in Bill 229, have wide-spread and significant implications for operations and program delivery. In accordance with these changes, the Authority’s programs have been categorized into mandatory and non-mandatory services.

  The Draft 2021 Budget totals just over $10M, she said, adding funding is redirected from non-mandatory services to mandated functions, primarily in watershed management and corporate services.

  The budget expenses include $2.4M in costs, attributed to municipal partnership projects, where ERCA secures partial funding from other sources. The total requested levy contribution from member municipalities is approximately $3,454,619, representing a total increase in levy of 2 percent. In Essex, this increase is 1.4 percent and amounts to $2,284.

  Municipal levies account for slightly less than 50 percent of total funding of ongoing programs. This levy equates to $10.75 for every person in the watershed. Of the levy, 72 percent is tied to delivery of mandatory services.

  By 2022, Jobin said, it is anticipated the Authority will need to obtain funding agreements with participating municipalities, where municipal support is needed, to fund non-mandatory services. This could include tree planting, habitat restoration projects, water quality monitoring, education programs, operations at the John R. Park Homestead, trail development, and climate change resiliency.

  “It is widely recognized that conservation authorities play a critical role in protecting our environment and natural heritage, mitigating hazards, and supporting municipal partners by providing an environmental conservation risk assessment lens on development applications,” Jobin said.   

  It was of her opinion that ERCA’s resource management programming is best provided regionally, on a watershed basis.

Byrne noted this year is a transitional year. Agreements in place have to be honoured. Going forward, however, private land reforestation and tree planting programming can only take place with agreements with all the municipalities.

  He added the details of what the agreements look like and what ERCA can offer will be the subject of regulation, currently being promulgated through the Province. Reps of the Authority are waiting to see what that will be.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy asked where does the municipality goes from here, and what part does Essex have in aligning the agreements?

  Byrne said it is a bit of an unknown right now. There may be some wiggle room as the Province is parsing out certain services. Once regulations are received, staff has to work with the Board, and determine from ratepayers what services they want. ERCA would then respond accordingly.

  Reps from the Conservation Authority does not know what that landscape will look like yet, and may go before Council when the regulations are received, and seek further instruction.

  The challenge, he said, will be approaching all municipalities fairly and inquiring as to which municipalities will choose to have ERCA host those non-mandatory services. He said that will be a tough process, and he will seek direction on how to proceed from the area Councils, when regulations are published.

  Council received the presentation.

 Council extends stray cat intake program

Council approved extending the intake of stray cats agreement with the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society for a one-year period, retroactive to January 1, 2021.

  As part of the agreement, the Town of Essex will pay the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society $25 per stray cat taken in from the municipality.

  The Report to Council notes the Town of Essex entered into an agreement with the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society in 2011, which provided residents of the Town with intake services for stray and feral cats.

  At that time, the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society charged a fee of $30 per stray cat, with $10 paid by the resident and $20 paid by the Town. The fee remained the same, until 2018, when the Town’s share of the fee increased to $25 and the resident portion was eliminated.

  This agreement does not apply to cats surrendered by their owner.

  The actual annual cost for the program is averaging $3,878 over the period of 2013 to 2020.

  Administration recommended that the Agreement be extended one year, to coincide with the expiry and renewal of the Animal Control Services Contract. A review of all of these services will then be evaluated at that time.

 Council approves funding mechanism for Homestead’s Tourism Kiosk

Council approved funding the balance of the Town’s commitment to the John R. Park Homestead Education Centre, that falls outside of the Colchester Community Improvement Plan, through the Council Contingency, in the amount of $34,793. The balance of the remaining funds will be funded from the Town’s Land Acquisition Reserve.

  At the April 6, 2020 Council meeting, a motion was passed that committed $100,000 to the John R. Park Homestead for its future Visitor’s Centre. The Town, in exchange for the funding, asked that the included Tourist Information Centre be named for the Town of Essex.

  The Report to Council notes the donation will be funded through the 2020 and 2021 Colchester CIP for $35,000, Council’s Contingency in the amount of $34,793, and the Town’s Land Acquisition Reserve in the amount of $30,207.

Town to temporarily borrows from Landfill Reserve to cover DC waiver deficit

Council approved the temporary borrowing from the Landfill Reserve, for the deficit portion of waived Development Charges (DC) for hard and soft services in the amount of $397,216.26, which will later be repaid in the 2022 Budget.

  Development Charges recover capital costs associated with residential and non-residential growth.

  The Report to Council notes administration previously identified the total amount of waived Development Charges for 2020 was $820,615. There were discrepancies in the first number presented, and the Development Charges deficit for 2020 is $716,555.78.

  The Town’s Development Charges for industrial, commercial, and institution are waived until August of 2024, when the Development Charges Bylaw will need to be reviewed as it will expire. In addition, residential Development Charges in the Harrow Settlement Area were waived by 100 percent until December 31, 2020. It will be reduced by 75 percent until the end of 2022, 50 percent until the end of 2023, and 25 percent between January and August 24, 2025.  

  The municipality still has to make up for the loss as the charges still need to be paid.

  User rate funded Development Charges for wastewater had a sufficient budgeted amount, the Report to Council notes, however, property tax funded development charges for hard and soft services were under budgeted, leaving a deficit of just over $397,000.

  This amount will be setup as temporary borrowing from the Landfill Reserve, and will be later funded and repaid in the 2022 Operating Budget.

Development Overview for February 2021 shows 82.6 percent drop

In the Development Overview for 2021, Council learned the total construction value for February 2021, including all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential developments that required a building permit, was $1,026,640.

This was an 82.6 percent drop from February 2020.

  The average sale price in Wards 1 and 2 was $522,886 in February of 2021, compared to $313,138 in February 2020. The average sale price in Wards 3 and 4 was $557,463 in February 2021, compared to $470,593 in February 2020.

  There have been 57 Single Family Dwellings sold within the Municipality of Essex in February 2021, compared to 42 in February 2020.

  Council received the report.

 Electronic building permit/inspection software approved for $175K

Council authorize administration to procure and implement the electronic building permit and inspection software “Cloudpermit” through single source means for a period of five-years.

  The Report to Council notes with the pandemic’s social distancing regulations, e-permitting is on the rise within the building and construction industry.

  This will track building application permits as well as conduct and track mandatory building inspections much more efficiently, Lori Chadwick said, who is the Director of Development Services.

  Using an e-permitting system in the Town’s Building Division will allow customers to apply for building permits, schedule inspections, and track progress from their offices or homes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, thereby potentially reducing the cost and time to the customers while improving our service delivery the Report to Council notes.

  The cost structure that was provided by Cloudpermit is $175,000 for the five-year term, including the annual subscription fee of $32,000.

  It is proposed that the annual subscription fee be offset in the Building Services Operating Budget by a proposed increase in Building Permit Fee. This will be presented in a Report to Council in the near future, while the purchase of hardware has been identified and approved in the 2021 Capital Budget. The Town is also in the process of applying for a Municipal Modernization Grant that could potentially assist in funding the 2021-2022 annual subscription fees.

  At first, Councillor Kim Verbeek was scared by the cost, but she thinks the Town will get more bang for its buck and will improve customer service with the addition of the software.

 Natural Heritage Conservation Easement Agreement approved

Council adopted Bylaw 1994 to enter into a Conservation Easement Agreement between the Owner of Part Lot 17, Concession 2 and The Corporation of the Town of Essex.

  In the Report to Council, it notes that on November 17, 2020, the Town of Essex’s Committee of Adjustment approved an application for Consent to Sever for a property on the 3rd Concession.

  The approval by the Committee resulted in the severance of a 6.88-acre parcel from the subject lands to be added to the abutting lands on the 3rd Concession Road, owned by the same owner. The retained parcel resulted in a balance of five-acres.

  The severed parcel contains an existing natural heritage feature that has been identified as a significant woodlot, valley-land, and provincially significant wetland, the Report to Council notes. As a result, a condition of the Committee’s approval requires the owner to enter into a Conservation Easement Agreement with the Town of Essex, in order to prohibit any use which would damage or destroy the area.

Subdivision Agreement adopted for Parkland Woods

Council adopted Bylaw 1993 to enter into a Subdivision Agreement between the Corporation of the Town of Essex and 1552843 Ontario Limited for the lands comprising Part of Lot 12, Second Range of the Gore.

  It also approved that the Subdivision Agreement be registered against the lands to which it applies by the municipality as notice to prospective purchasers.

  The Report to Council notes the proponent, Noah Homes, submitted an application for approval of a Plan of Subdivision to the County of Essex on August 10, 2020. The draft plan consists of twenty-six lots for single detached dwellings and twenty-three lots for semi-detached dwellings, that will be developed in two phases.

  A virtual public meeting was held on Monday, November 23, 2020. Council later requested the Manager of Planning Services for the County of Essex give draft Plan of Subdivision approval to the proponent subject to Noah Homes entering into a Subdivision Agreement with the Town, such other conditions requested by the Manager of Planning Services for the County of Essex as a condition of draft Plan of Subdivision approval, and that Council agrees to accept cash in lieu of a parkland dedication to permit the construction of a storm water management pond and public parking area on Town lands.

Council receives 2020 remuneration

Essex Council received the Statement of Remuneration and Expenses paid for the year ended December 31, 2020.

  Including remuneration, expenses, and committee work, Council members received:

Mayor Larry Snively: $48,124.06. Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche: $31,701.99. Councillor Steve Bjorkman: $22,819.35. Councillor Sherry Bondy: $23,531.38. Councillor Morley Bowman: $26,145.64. Councillor Joe Garon: $26,714.56. Councillor Chris Vander Doelen: $26,965.01. Councillor Kim Verbeek: $26,046.54.  

For more Council news, see the articles inside this week's edition... “McGregor Library pilot project introducing staff-less hours for greater community access” and “Developers present new concept for year-round accommodations for Colchester.”


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