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Essex Council Notes for Monday, October 1

by Sylene Argent

Essex wins National CIB award

Director of Community Services, Doug Sweet, and Essex’s Landscape Technician, Nathan Hamilton, attended the Annual National/International Communities in Bloom (CIB) Symposium in Alberta last week.

  Sweet said the Town competed in two non-evaluated categories, as it was not judged this summer. With its partnership with the CIB program, Essex was still able to compete nationally for the Outstanding Achievement Awards.

  Essex was nominated for two CIB Outstanding Achievement Awards. It ended up a finalist in the Environmental category. Essex, however, won the Community Involvement Award.

  “Great kudos to our Council, our staff, administration, [and the Essex] Communities in Bloom Committee, but all our committees…this is a team effort and something our residents should be extremely proud of,” Sweet said.   

The “Home Hardware Community Involvement Award” is given annually to a community which demonstrates achievements in encouraging community engagement through Communities in Bloom.  

  As the winner of the category, Canadian Gardening Guru, Mark Cullen, will visit Essex for a for a day.


Town of Essex updated on SouthWestern

Integrated Fibre Technology plan

Essex Council received a public presentation from Essex Manager of Information Technology, Jack Barron, regarding the implementation of SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) in Essex. This is an initiative supported by all levels of government and private businesses, designed to bring high-speed broadband and fibre optic connectivity to underserved rural areas of southwestern Ontario.

  Currently in Phase 1, the project is in the process of laying the fibre optic infrastructure in a number of areas throughout the region.

  At this time, around two dozen companies, including Bell, Rogers, and Cogeco, have made a request for proposal regarding access to be providers on the fibre infrastructure.

  “The main key for this is that providers offer fiber optics. They’re not looking at a wireless solution, they must provide fibre through the communities,” Barron explained. “Once they have completed the RFP, NETCO (National Electric Trade Council) will be looking at selecting the vendor and then starting construction.”

  Barron added SWIFT will work with the larger companies to provide fibre optics in the underserved area, and then allow smaller companies to access that fibre and bring high-speed internet service to rural residents.

  The project currently has a targeted completion date of 2023.


Council awards tenders for winter control equipment/salt

Essex Council received the Department of Infrastructure & Development’s report “Results of Request for Tender-Winter Control Agreement for Truck, Salter, Plow, and Wing Rental. The RFT was awarded to Colchester Farms. This is for the 2018 to 2020 winter seasons.

  According to the report, the Town has successfully utilized a rental truck in this capacity for the past seven years. The rental truck allows the Town to provide improved and more complete winter control service, especially in peak winter conditions.

  Colchester Farms, the previous supplier, submitted the only bid, which satisfied all of the tender specifications and requirements. The average yearly expenditure for this work is approximately $78,600, based on average actuals for the last three years, the report notes.

Essex Council also received the Department of Infrastructure & Development’s report “Results of Request for Tender-Supply of Bulk Winter Road Salt” and awarded the file to K + S Windsor Salt Ltd.

  In the report to Council, it notes K + S Windsor Salt Ltd. submitted the only bid, which satisfied all of the tender specifications and requirements. Based on the estimated quantity of 5000 tonnes, the total estimated amount for the winter season 2018-2019, including applicable taxes is $395,600.00. In general, winter control budgets are based on 3-5 year rolling averages in attempts to predict upcoming expenditures.


RFP for Vehicle Tracking System and Digital Two-Way Voice Radio System awarded

Council received the Department of Infrastructure & Development’s report “Results of Request for Proposal-Supply and Installation of Vehicle Tracking System and Digital Two-Way Voice Radio System and awarded the file to Sky Mobile Corporation.

In the report, it notes this approved the appointment to supply the Vehicle Tracking System and Digital Two-Way Voice Radio System for 36 months from 2018 to 2021. It added the Town has been with its provider for over five years. The current provider was not able to meet the Town’s progressive needs.

  As a result, a Request for Proposal was posted.

  After reviewing each proposal as submitted and totalling the scores for evaluation, Sky Mobile Corporation received the highest overall evaluation, as well as the lowest costs, the report notes.

  The estimated cost per year including all applicable taxes as submitted by Sky Mobile Corporation is $19,658.67.


Break wall repair at Colchester Harbour

Essex Council received Community Services Report “Colchester Harbour Break Wall repair” and further approved funding for the Town’s portion of the Colchester Harbour Break Wall Repair from the Colchester Harbour Dock reserve in the amount of $40,000, including HST.

  This is conditional, providing that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans matches funds.

  The report to Council notes during the summer, Colchester Harbour experienced extremely strong east winds that caused high water levels and damaged a portion of its Break Wall. It was further determined several portions of the wall would need to be repaired to avoid further damage to the wall and potentially to the docks within the harbour.

  The Department of Fisheries and Oceans suggested the proposed repairs for this project include the addition of armour stone and core stone.

  The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has provided confirmation that they will fund the break wall repairs at the Colchester Harbour to an upset limit of forty thousand dollars $40,000.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman pointed out that the report notes some of the stone will be reused. He noted he has been contacted by residents in the area who are not able to reuse their stone when their own walls need repairing. He asked why that was.

  Sweet noted this is criteria trough that Ministry, based on the scope and permits they get.

  Bjorkman would like that question asked to the Ministry.


Fire & Rescue Workplace Assessment recommendation update

Essex Council received CAO Donna Hunter’s report “Essex Fire and Rescue Services- Update on Recommendations from Workplace Assessment.”

  This report updated Council on the implementation of recommendations arising from the Workplace Assessment of Essex Fire and Rescue Services (EFRS).

  At a special meeting on March 26, Council approved the fourteen recommendations contained in Hunter’s report on the matter. The report to council noted Administration has been working on the recommendations. Three of the recommendations had a direct financial impact (Respectful Workplace and Diversity Training, Code of Conduct and Communications Training for Council, and Enhanced Communications Training for Leadership positions. This totaled $5,800. In addition, a portion of the costs associated with Enhanced Communications Training will come in the spring.

  Work on the recommendations include creating the framework for a Learning Strategy, including a survey to all EFRS employees on training requirements. This is underway. A trainer has been identified to conduct communications training over two sessions. Enhanced training on the Respectful Workplace Policy and Diversity was provided to all members of EFRS in June. Revisions to the Respectful Workplace Policy were reviewed with the Personnel Committee and approved by Council in May.

  A chart illustrating the required training requirements for various positions within EFRS as set out in the new regulations has been developed and was communicated to EFRS members as part the education sessions held in relation to Recommendation 8. Further work on a succession plan will continue in 2018.

  A release of information policies and the Codes of Conduct session was held for EFRS and Council members.

  Other recommendations have also been implemented or have been worked upon.


Update provided on the Ontario Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan

Council received Essex Fire Chief Richard Arnel’s report regarding updates to the Ontario Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan.

  This comes in the wake of the Town of Amherstburg reviewing its own nuclear emergency response plan in September of 2015, and finding that there were gaps in nuclear awareness, response, and funding, especially given Amherstburg and Essex County’s proximity to Michigan’s Enrico Fermi II nuclear power plant.

  With the current interim plan, in the event of a nuclear emergency in Amherstburg, Windsor and Essex would act as Designated Host Municipalities, and would be responsible for the reception and care of individuals evacuated from their homes as a result of the emergency.

  In an updated review from 2017, the Windsor-Essex County Medical Officer of Health requested funding for KI pills, for distribution to designated zones across Essex County.

  In the event of an emergency, these pills would be taken to reduce or prevent the absorption of radioiodine by the thyroid gland, which would be at risk during radioactive exposure.

  Local fire departments will be tasked with the distribution of these pills this coming November.


Council updated on Ontario government’s intentions to repeal Green Energy Act

Council discussed correspondence sent to Mayor Ron McDermott from the office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, regarding the provincial government’s intention to pass legislation to repeal the Green Energy Act in the Province of Ontario.

In the letter, the Premier states the original Green Energy Act has led to “the disastrous feed-in-tariff program, and skyrocketing electricity rates for Ontario families,” and took powers away from towns like Essex when it came to stopping expensive and unneeded energy projects.

  The letter also stated the Premier was “pleased to share this information with (Mayor McDermott), as we know that your municipality has expressed concerns and an unwillingness to participate in any portion of the Green Energy Act, which included the forced installation of wind turbines in communities all over our province.”

  “That’s not true,” said Mayor McDermott, taking issue with the line that Essex was unwilling to participate in any portion of the act. “The big thing we had an issue with was the turbines.”


Medical cannabis facilities

Essex Council received correspondence from MP Tracey Ramsey that contained a letter she sent to the Health Minister, following up on the issue with the licensed marijuana producer within the Municipality of Essex.

  The letter from Ramsey to Minister of Health, Petitpas Taylor, noted that recently, her office has been working with Health Canada, local municipalities, and law enforcement to address concerns over medical cannabis producers who appear to be operating outside the law in the Riding of Essex.

  She noted her office is receiving an increasing number of complaints from people who are directly and negatively impacted by growing operations coming to the region that setting up large sites with little regard for community safety or municipal bylaws, and people in Essex County are forced to live with the consequences. These facilities are often located near established neighbourhoods.

  “Ultimately, I believe Health Canada must play a stronger role in ensuring compliance and enforcement of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). More inspectors are needed in my region, and authorities must be able to shutdown those who operate outside federal and municipal laws,” she wrote.

  She has extended an invitation to Health Canada and the Office of Medical Cannabis to come to the Riding of Essex to meet with local municipalities and other concerned stakeholders.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said legalization is coming quickly. He wold like Council to look at bylaws to see if Essex would allow a facility to sell medical marijuana.

Possible CIP expansion

At the September 17 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put a Notice of Motion forward that would open discussion at the October 1 meeting about the possibility of expanding the Town’s Community Improvement Plan (CIP).

With the recent Harrow & Colchester South Chamber of Commerce hosting the recently launched “Win this Space Harrow” contest, Bondy went through the City of Windsor’s CIP program. She found one grant program offered through the Windsor CIP, a retail revitalization grant, which Essex does not offer in its program.

  She wanted to have administration to investigate the possibility of expanding Essex’s CIP to include a retail revitalization grant. She said Essex has continuously added to its CIP.

  “[It would be] just another one of our tools in our toolkit for the businesses and the promotion of our downtown cores,” she said.

  CAO Donna Hunter said administration could look at the program, but this may not be implemented until the new Term of Council.

  Council moved to have administration look at the possibility.


NoM on Safety Zones and Speeding around School Districts

Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward her Notice of Motion, which was deferred from the September 17 regular Council meeting, that would have Council create an inventory of Community Safety Zones around school districts and crossings and review the speed limits in community safety zones.

  “What some other municipalities have done, (is) looked at working with the police, and administration, sending out reminders that all school zones are 30 kilometres an hour,” Bondy said. “I’m not saying that we need to go all school zones 30 kilometres an hour, but I would like to get an inventory of our school zones.”

Bondy noted she receives many complaints regarding speeding in school zones and enforcement, and asked if it would be possible to explore additional measures such as Community Safety Zones.

  “I just want to have that inventory here, and then we can vet it with public information and public feedback, and we can all work together on something with the police,” Bondy explained. “I would like it if Council would entertain that idea.”

  The motion carried.


NoM on areas a marijuana retailer could be located

Councillor Steve Bjorkman put a Notice of Motion forward for discussion at the October 15 meeting. He would like administration to report to Council regarding a bylaw to regulate where in the Town of Essex a marijuana retailer cold be located.

ELK Update

CAO Donna Hunter provided an update on the momentary power outages experienced in Harrow. She said Hydro One recently placed into service upgraded equipment last week for the Harrow Service Area, which ELK oversees.

  With these upgrades, hopefully some improvements are noticed, she said.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy urged anyone experiencing momentary power outages to contact their service provider so that information can be tracked to ensure the problem has been addressed.  

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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