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Essex Council Notes for Monday, March 18

by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

Boards/Committees Procedures and Best Practices

Essex Council received the report, “Local Boards/Committees Procedures and Best Practices Manual 2018-2022,” which was presented to outline the changes made to the “Local Boards/Committees Procedures and Best Practices” document that was revised August 10, 2015.

  The Report to Council on the matter noted the Local Boards/Committees Procedures and Best Practices 2018-2022 document include amendments as a result of Bill 68 and other changes.

  Changes were made to the sections for Responsibilities and Protocols-Attendance, the Effective Meeting Management-Open and Closed Meetings, Effective Meeting Management-Conflict of Interest, and Rules of Procedure.

Harrow Junior School Rezoning

Council received a report from Policy Planner, Jeff Watson, regarding the application for rezoning of lands encompassing the former Harrow Junior School at 230 Centre Street. This will allow for the redevelopment of the property through the construction of semi-detached dwelling units.

  The Greater Essex County District School Board decommissioned the former educational facility in 2012, and sold it four years later in 2016 for private development.

  With the change from Institutional to Residential Zoning, this would allow for the construction of the proposed 17 semi-detached buildings (34 dwelling units) on 60-foot-wide lots fronting on Centre, Arthur, and Munger Streets.

  With an ongoing lack of availability of new and affordable housing, it was decided that this proposed rezoning would conform to the site’s repurposing provisions as laid out by the Official Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement.

  As the property in question is within the limits of the Harrow Community Improvement Project (HCIP) area, the applicants have submitted a request for grants.

  These grants available include a demolition grant equal to 50 percent of demolition costs to a maximum municipal contribution of $6,000, professional services grant of $2,000, and a grant refund of municipal permits related to the demolition and cleanup of the site and other municipal permits not related to the actual construction of dwellings and associated facilities.

  The motion to rezone the former Harrow Junior School carried.


Residential uses on Highway Commercial lands in Essex/Harrow Centres

Essex Council received the report, “Residential Uses on Highway Commercial Lands in Essex Centre and Harrow Centre,” and moved to have the Planning Department give Public Notice for an Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Change concerning the addition of multiple dwelling units as a permitted use at the Essex Motel, 263 Talbot Street North, Essex Centre.

  In the report, it notes there has been interest in converting that venue from a motel to affordable dwelling units. Recognition in the OPA and supplementary zoning provisions were recommended for the conversion of the Essex Motel into affordable dwelling units, the Town’s Policy Planner Jeff Watson noted in the Report to Council.

  In addition, it was moved that potentially obtaining a Marketing Planning Consultant be reviewed with a report to come to Council on the matter. This process would undertake a Local Comprehensive Review on the adequacy and sufficiency of the local residential and employment land allocations within this Planning Period to 2031. This will determine whether or not the reallocation of Primary Settlement Area lands for residential and employment land uses is warranted, and where new mid and higher density residential development should be prioritized by location.

  In the Report to Council, it notes on March 4, 2019, a public meeting was held to hear public comment regarding the introduction of a residential component to the Highway Commercial lands existing along Talbot Road North, in Essex Centre, and on Queen Street, in Harrow.

  According to the Report to Council, the “Highway Commercial” zoning designation in the Town of Essex Official Plan permits uses that generate moderate to heavy traffic volumes, require good vehicular access, and onsite parking, and may require drive through facilities. Such properties are permitted to sell bulk goods or materials (such as fuel, building materials, and hardware, with the exception of construction materials stored in bulk form in storage areas open to the sky).

  They can also be establishments selling/service automobiles, trucks, recreational products; hotels, motels and related tourist facilities. Other possible uses are permitted.

  This zoning change would add multiple dwelling units as a permitted use, as well.

  The Report to Council noted the Primary Settlement Areas of the Town, being Essex Centre and Harrow Centre, have had no multiple residential development since 1990 in Essex Centre and 1978 in Harrow.

  With rising house prices, an aging population, and provincial mandates for municipalities to ensure that a mix of housing types for existing and future residents is available, it is necessary to first provide the opportunity for new multiple residential developments through the adoption of Official Plan and zoning provisions, it notes in the Report to Council.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen wondered how much the Local Comprehensive Review would cost, and how long would it take to complete. He wasn’t sure if the study was needed as he sees Watson as an expert on the subject.

  Watson estimated the Local Comprehensive Review would cost around $25,000, and that it would not take too long to complete as experts in the field would work on the file.

  Watson said this process in a provincial mandate. He added it has been 10-years since the Official Plan has been completed. Since its completion, provincial policies have been kept up with, but the distribution of land uses has never been looked at.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman added it is also a County mandate as the Town does not have jurisdiction over own residential areas. This would prove more residential areas are needed.

 Remunerations:

Council received the Report, “Statement of Remuneration and Expenses Paid 2018.” This was for the year ending December 31, 2018. These figures are reflective of the remuneration for the position, conferences and conventions, seminars and education, and mileage.  

 Mayor Ron McDermott: $47,012;

Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche: $26,193;

Councillor Steve Bjorkman: $29,006;

Councillor Sherry Bondy: $25,057;

Councillor Ron Rogers: $18,431;

Councillor Larry Snively: $26,504;

Councillor Randy Voakes: $22,073.

  Since a new term of Council began after the October election, this statement also included newly elected Councillors.

  Councillor Morley Bowman: $5,689;

Councillor Joe Garon: $1,906;

Councillor Kim Verbeek: $ 5,623;

Councillor Chris Vander Doelen: $ 1,989.


2019 Communities in Bloom Legacy Tree Program

Council received the report, “2019 Communities in Bloom Legacy Tree Program” for information.

  The report informed Council of the Legacy Tree Program partnership the Town has with the six local elementary schools, which will recognize Earth Day on Wednesday April 24, 2019.

  The Essex Communities in Bloom Committee began this Legacy Tree program in 2014, which is designed to allow the senior graduating class of the school to plant a tree in recognition of Earth Day and present it as a gift to the Senior Kindergarten class, which then adopts and cares for tree for the remainder of their elementary school career.

  The Committee has secured funds again through the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation to offer the same program in 2019. The Town of Essex Communities in Bloom Committee was awarded $2,500 in 2019, which will be put towards the purchasing of the trees. 


Essex Tourism Development Fund

Council received a report prepared by Economic Development Officer, Nelson Silveira, and Communications Manager, Alex Denonville, regarding an overview of potential changes to the Essex Tourism Development Fund, a municipal grant program which provides funding for tourism-related events in the Town of Essex.

  The Essex Tourism Development Fund was first developed to enhance and encourage partnerships with local non-profit organizations hosting tourism-related events and festivals. Funds distributed through this program were made to enhance existing events to build and increase attendance. Organizations who receive grants through the program must prove growth in tourism after their initial year.

  According to the report, funds previously delivered to non-profit organizations have enhanced tourism events across the municipality. However, in order to make the program more successful and assist tourism event organizers in the Town of Essex with additional funds to boost their event, certain steps need to be taken.

  Suggested in the report, the creation of a formal application process for event funding available from the municipality would legitimize the program. Applicants would need to meet a certain set of criteria that shows their event provides an increase in tourist visits and benefits the local economy.

  Up to $1,000 in grant funding would be made available to festivals or events with a total project budget of less than $35,000. Up to $2,000 in grant funding would be available to those events with a total project budget of $35,000 or greater. Applicants would be eligible to apply for one festival or event per year.

  “I think the $1,000 threshold is low,” Councillor Sherry Bondy said. “It might be hard to prove the amount of attendees from outside the community.”

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman suggested a survey during these events would be a good way of seeing where attendees are coming from and how best to direct Tourism Essex advertising dollars.

  The motion carried.


Level of service from Essex Fire and Rescue regarding water/ice rescue

Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion at the previous Council meeting to have a public discussion about the level of service they wish to see in the Fire Department when it comes to water/ice rescue. She also wanted Council to further provide direction (subject to budget constraints) as to the level of training/equipment they wish the Fire Department to possess as it relates to water/ice rescue.

  As the motion carried to begin discussion, Council was provided with a presentation from Essex Fire & Rescue’s Chief Rick Arnell and Deputy Chief Rick Malott. Their presentation focused on the level of service provided by Essex Fire & Rescue with regards to ice and water rescues.

  Currently, as Essex Fire & Rescue has no marine units, there is an agreement with the Town of Kingsville that Kingsville Fire will provide assistance with its boats in the event of a Water Rescue Entry (where fire personnel have to enter the water from a marine unit) or an Ice Water Rescue.

  In consultation with the Canadian Coast Guard and the OPP, the authority having jurisdiction on Lake Erie for search and rescue falls under the Canadian Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, with the OPP and Coast Guard taking direction from there.

  After gaps in service were noted in 2015, ten personnel began basic advanced-level water rescue training to serve the many inland waterways and potential inland flood zones within the Town of Essex.

  “Our recommendation is that we continue with shore-based water rescue for all staff, and a technician-based team of ten that we have right now that is committed to that training,” Deputy Chief Malott said. “We also have the recommendation that powered watercraft, that advanced level operator level, at this point in time, be provided from Amherstburg Fire Department and Kingsville Fire Department.”

Currently, Essex Fire & Rescue has purchased ice/dry suits, helmets, boots, ropes, and PFDs for its team, but there will be additional budget implications if their recommendations are approved.

Equipment would need to be upgraded and replaced as necessary, including a potential inflatable rescue craft if approved in future budgets.

  “We want to ensure that our waterways from border-to-border are covered, and we can take care of those issues,” Chief Arnell said.

  While Councillor Bondy said she supported the recommendations put forward by Essex Fire & Rescue, Councillor Chris Vander Doelen was less receptive to Essex spending more tax dollars when he believes the town is already well served by the current plans in place.

  “We’re surrounded by police departments and other government agencies that have boats,” Vander Doelen said. “I don’t think we need to go overboard for some sort of aquatic disaster that I don’t think is likely to happen. I think we’re as well trained and equipped as we need to be.”


New youth member

Cameron Soucie, and EDHS grade nine student, applied to be a Youth rep on Essex Council.

In a letter to Council, Soucie wrote how Essex youth need a voice in the community. To the applicant, holding this position will engage the youth and also provide an opportunity to involve the youth in community activities.

Soucie volunteers at the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary.

  “It would be a great honour to serve on Council in a youth capacity,” Soucie wrote.

  Council appointed Soucie to the second Youth Council member position. Ehva Hoffmann has been a Youth Council Rep since she was welcomed to the position during the regular Essex Council meeting on Monday, October 17, 2016.

 

Notices of Motion to be considered at the April 1 regular Council meeting

• Councillor Joe Garon would like to see the Town’s Sign By-Law 1350 be amended to require commercial property owners to remove or conceal business branding from signs, windows, and doors within a reasonable period of time following the closure of a business.

• Mayor Larry Snively would like Administration prepare a report outlining processes and steps in a detailed plan to move forward with rezoning Colchester Centre from residential to commercial.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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