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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council Notes for Monday, March 4

by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

Council recognizes CAO for 17-years of service

On behalf of the Council for the Town of Essex, Mayor Larry Snively recognized outgoing CAO Donna Hunter at her last Council meeting.

  “She did one great job,” Snively said, noting Hunter served the Town of Essex for 17 years as Treasurer, Director of Corporate Services, and CAO. “It’s an understatement to say she has made a lasting impact on our community.

  “In her time as Treasurer, Director, and most recently as CAO, Donna has done so much more than improve the financial health of our municipality. She led the transition to the Ontario Provincial Policing Model, made the financial case for a new twin pad arena in Essex Centre, and transitioned the Town to be the sole shareholder of ELK,” Snively said.

  “As Chief Administrator, Donna brought a depth of knowledge and a positive attitude to the Council table. As an elected leader, I have been able to count on her as a source of accurate information, which helps my collogues and I carry out our vision” Snively said of Hunter.

  Snively thanked Hunter for her service to the Town of Essex.

  Hunter said it has been a pleasure to serve the residents and Council of the Town of Essex. She said serving the Town has been a lot of fun.

Increment tax increase to fund multiple-residential development charges

At the February 19 Meeting of Essex Council, developers Murray Van Wieringen and Terry Jones requested Council consider eliminating development fees in Ward One for the proposed build of a multiple-residential dwelling on lands at 22 Victor Street, the site of the former Weston Bakery.

  The current build budget is $13-14 million for this particular building, which is proposed to be a six-storey building with 57, two-bedroom apartments. The units are planned to be rented for $1250 to $1700 per month.

  Council then gave three readings to the Site Plan Control Agreement for the property.

  Council then discussed Corporate Service’s Report, “Waiving Multi-Residential Development Charges.” The report focused on multi-residential development charges in general, as a strategy, which could be applied to all similar strategies.

  Jeff Morrison, Director of Corporate Services, explained the incremental tax increase model that has been used for commercial development and could be used for multi-dwelling development, if Council so chooses to do. This model directs the taxes received after development, which are higher than before development occurs, to go back to pay the development charges that were waived during construction.

  He recommended then that the waste-water potion would not be waived.

  This model, depending of the situation, could leave the Town with no tax revenue from the facility once it is built for a few years as the development fees waived have to be paid back.

  Morrison went over this model again on Monday evening as Council tabled as the report, “Waiving Multi-Residential Development Charges” so the Town could look into what other municipalities offer developers in terms of waiving development charges.

  On Monday, the report was brought back to the table for discussion.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman, who was absent at the previous meeting, watched the meeting video. He chided Council for, at one point during the previous meeting, looking to the audience for input during the discussion.

  “We don’t ask for influence outside of the table,” he said, as Council reps are elected to make those decisions.

  He was not in favour of waiving the waste-water fees on these types of developments. He said, over the last two years, Essex taxpayers have put $4million into waste-water and storm water infrastructure. He did like the idea of using the incremental tax increment model.

  It was noted during the meeting, the development charges for this specific property would be $123,000.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche agreed with Bjorkman, but suggested the waste-water charges be deferred for a period of time, while construction is underway.

  Councillors Sherry Bondy and Kim Verbeek wanted to see the waste-water waived as they noted there is a need for rental units in Essex. Bondy went as far to say it was unfortunate the developers were not going to build in Harrow as waste-water charges are waived there presently.

  “It is unfortunate that you picked Essex Centre, but maybe come to Harrow. I don’t know,” Bondy said. “I’m sick of sitting here in stagnation.”

  There is a lot of competition around the Town, she said, adding she didn’t want to risk the lot sitting vacant. “It’s short-term pain for long-term gain,” she said.  

  Verbeek said every avenue should be looked at to embrace “this gift.” She added development brings in new individuals as well.

  It was pointed out during discussions that the decision Council makes affects all multi-residential development, not just this specific build.

  Council then moved to use the incremental tax increase model for multi-residential dwellings and to defer waste-water charges until 18 months from the completion of construction.  

Bondy wants proxy loopholes closed

Councillor Sherry Bondy said she recently contacted the OPP regarding proxy loopholes during municipal elections. The OPP is currently investigating proxy voting uses in relation to the 2018 Essex election.

  Bondy said she was told there is no reason why Essex can’t look at how to close proxy loopholes. There could be a by-election, before the next regular election, because they do happen, as noticed in 2017 when former Essex Councillor Bill Caixeiro resigned. Knowing that, Bondy would like to have that investigated sooner than later.

Proposed Restructuring of Union Water Supply System update

Council received a report Andy Graf, Essex’s Manager of Environmental Services, submitted, regarding the proposed restructuring of Union Water Supply Systems (UWSS), and ongoing updates with the respective restructuring process.

  The UWSS has its origins in an Area Water System set up by the Ontario Water Resources Commission in 1959. The system was owned and operated by the Province until 2001. Under “The Municipal Water & Sewage Transfer Act, 1997,” the ownership of the common system was formally transferred from the Province to the four municipalities in 2001.

  The governance of the common system was then given to the Joint Board of Management of the Union Water Supply System. The present Board has six Leamington representatives, four Kingsville representatives, and one each from Essex and Lakeshore.

  In April 2018, the Union Water Supply System (UWSS) and its retained financial consultant, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and legal consultant, Willis Business Law, presented its report on the draft Business Case for Proposed Restructuring of UWSS into a Municipal Services Corporation (MSC) to all affected municipal councils.

  In regards to the proposed restructuring, Essex administration senses the main concerns identified in the legal review that triggered the corporate restructuring process have not been properly addressed, such as municipal and individual liability, self-financing and debt, staffing levels and financial/legal expertise, funding opportunities, and corporate capacity, among other concerns.

  The Town of Essex will continue to work with UWSS on these issues to facilitate the most effective solutions.

Youth Members to be appointed from across Essex

Councillor Kim Verbeek put forward a Notice of Motion that the Procedural Bylaw be revised to allow Youth Members be appointed to Council, regardless of the ward they reside in.

  Currently, one Youth Councillor must be from either Ward 1 or 2, with the other being from either Ward 3 or 4.

  This change would allow the two Youth Council Members to be appointed from anywhere within the municipality.

  “It’s really important for us to make every effort to encourage our youth to get involved, especially with local government,” Verbeek explained. “Inviting them to the table. I think is just really important.”

  Currently, Ehva Hoffman is the only Youth Member on Council, representing Wards 1 and 2, with the designated Wards 3 and 4 position sitting empty.

  The motion carried.

Verbal report to clarify role of Climate Change Coordinator

Councillor Chris Vander Doelen put forward a Notice of Motion that Administration provide a verbal report to Council to provide further details and/or clarify the terms and role of the Climate Change Coordinator position as put forward in the 2019 Operating Budget.

  This will include providing confirmation that the position is a temporary, short-term contract position for no more than a two-year duration, which will be subsidized at a rate of at least 80 percent by outside agencies.

  This position was added to the 2019 budget as part of a funding incentive provided by the federal government. It would adhere to the provisions as outlined in the budget and that which was outlined as per Councillor Vander Doelen’s Notice of Motion.

  The motion carried.

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