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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council Notes for Monday, October 3, 2022

by Sylene Argent

Council denies site-specific request for stabilizing wall

Bob and Karen Parr requested permission to build a stabilizing wall, as well as a blank canvas for a mural, on their property on Adelaide Street.

  As per their building permit, they constructed the majority of a stabilizing wall as a means to prevent water runoff and land erosion between their land and Bell Park. Karen said they chose the best method for the installation.

  A stabilizing wall can be considered a fence, she said. A chain link or wooden fence would not stop water runoff, stop soil or gravel migration, or inhibit or control severe wind storms coming off of Lake Erie.

  In her opinion, objections to the wall lack merit for two reasons, consideration has not been given to a complete installation, and someone cannot object to something they cannot see.

  She asked to be able to keep the stabilizing wall and allow it to be completed properly so it is visually appealing.

  She offered three options for the park-side of the stabilizing wall they considered as a finished look, including adding climbing vines, plants, and cedars; using pressure-treated wood, or the option for the Town to commission a mural.

  Bob noted the wall was installed to save the trees and Bell Park. He said they are trying to provide an installation that works for everyone.

  Brandon Ferriss and Lauren Robinet live across the street. Brandon expressed concerns about the wall. He believes it is a retaining wall not a fence and is non-conforming to fencing standards. He said it is a commercial, industrial product and should not be used in a residential area.

  He had concern with the safety of the wall in relation to Bell Park, and noted it blocks the view of Lake Erie for many residents in the area.

  Chad Ferriss also spoke on the matter, and agreed with his son, Brandon, with the issues he brought up. He was told the wall was to be one layer of cement blocks with a wrought iron fence.

  Chief Building Official, Kevin Carter, noted the building permit was issued in mid-August. Prior to that, he met onsite with Mrs. Parr and her son. What was described to him was that they wanted to grade their driveway level. The grade sloped down to Lake Erie, which would call out for a retaining wall. They wanted to cap it and add a four-foot wrought iron fence.

  He said what is there now has not been approved and does not comply with the Fence By-Law.

  He said the first block was approved for the grade, which is two-feet tall, with a wrought iron fence. There are three levels of the industrial block. He received complaints and when he saw what was built, he asked for it to be removed. The Parrs asked if there was another option and were told they could ask Council for a site-specific approval.

  Deputy Mayor Steven Bjorkman said residents need to go back to the Town and ask for permission if a change to an original plan is needed. The fence and retaining wall need to conform and the matter can be readdressed later.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said Council has to follow policy. If Council allowed it, he said it would start a new form of neighbour free-for-alls.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a motion to deny the site-specific recommendation. It carried unanimously.

Admin to proceed with eliminating DCs for

commercial/apartments, reduction for industrial

Council directed Administration to proceed with commencing the process of a Development Charge (DC) By-Law Amendment to reflect the elimination of development charge waivers on commercial and apartment rental housing developments, and to reduce the development charge waiver on industrial developments from 100 percent to 75 percent.

  Administration was also directed to formulate and present a proposed Community Improvement Plan (CIP) program for industrial developments.

  Staff also recommended staying status quo in regards to the Harrow Settlement Area phase-out of DC exemptions, which will expire in August of 2024, and the affordable housing DC exemption.   

  CAO Doug Sweet said the purpose of DCs is to pay for the increased capital costs that are required due to an increase in municipal services arising from new growth development. Expenditures can include sanitary sewers and treatment services to parks and recreation services.

  To create an incentive to invest in Essex, Council has approved policies to waive DCs in the past. Waived costs still need to be reimbursed.

  The projected waiver of DCs in the 2023 Budget is over $1.1M. This would require Administration to cover this waiver through the current taxbase or a loan from reserves, as well as potentially reduced services and projects. The Report to Council projects the waiver of DCs in the 2022 Budget will be over $788,000. Between 2019 to the projected end of 2022, the Town of Essex would have waived a total of $3.3M.

  “The Town of Essex has been experiencing growth in all areas over the past few years, however, the Town is now recognizing it is not able to financially keep up with services required for this growth, and loans from reserves have been required to fund overages,” he said.

Lori Chadwick, Director of Development Services, explained the County of Essex has recently initiated the planning process to amend its Official Plan to incorporate CIP policies that would allow for the County to participate in grant programs of the lower-tier CIPs, specifically for large-scale industrial development. This would also allow the County to contribute matching municipal tax increment rebates for large-scale industrial developments.

  Director of Corporate Services, Kate Giurissevich, said that while some municipalities had waivers in effect between 2018-2021, the Town of Essex – with the most waivers – experienced below-average assessment growth compared to comparators.

  She added the average payback on a single-family dwelling is four-years. When the cost of service is considered – including OPP, fire, and winter control – the average payback is 6.55 years.

  Staff will now have to provide public notice for the amendments, host a public meeting, and present the amended DC By-Law for Council to consider. Changes to the DC By-Law could potentially be adopted by January 1, 2023.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he has always spoken against DC waivers. They are necessary sometimes, when there is no development, but then development took off and the waivers were kept far too long. He is glad the Town will go slower on removing the DC waivers on industrial development as that still needs to be supported.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said the DC waivers was a long-term strategy. It was never something that was going to be paid off in the short-term. No one was building in Essex, so the waivers were introduced to encourage development. Yes, it costs money to the Town to implement, but funds will come back to the Town in the long-run in the form of tax revenue for the next many years, he said.


Corporate Strategic Plan Progress Update

notes 56 of 64 objectives completed  

Council received the report “Corporate Strategic Plan Progress Update” for information.

  CAO Doug Sweet noted as this Term of Council is ending, it is important to provide an update on its Corporate Strategic Plan and highlight what has been achieved over the past four-years.

  At the beginning of this Term of Council, the Corporate Strategic Plan was developed as a road map for Council and Administration to follow for the four-year term.

  Council established six key values: Progressive and Sustainable Infrastructure; Healthy Community and Quality of Life; Financial and Economic Stewardship; Vibrant Growth and Development; Citizen and Customer Experience; and Organizational Effectiveness and Resiliency.

  Over the past four-years these values have been used to set budget priorities and in developing Reports to Council.

“I am extremely proud of Council and all Town staff on what has been accomplished from the Strat Plan, especially going through two-plus years of COVID and still achieving many of the objectives,” Sweet said.

  In total, there were 64 objectives, of which 56 have been completed. The remaining eight are in progress.


 E.L.K. Board composition changed

Council voted to change the composition of the E.L.K. Board of Directors for the next four-year term (November 15, 2022 to November 14, 2026).

  The new composition will include the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Town of Essex (Council Member(s) may be appointed by Council to serve in place thereof), two members at large appointed by Town of Essex Council who are E.L.K. customers in the Town of Essex, and two members at large appointed by Town of Essex Council from either the Town of Kingsville and/or the Municipality of Lakeshore to represent E.L.K. customers outside the Town of Essex.

  Kingsville and Lakeshore shall jointly nominate a cumulative total of four residents from either of Kingsville and/or lakeshore and Council shall appoint two of said nominees.

  In addition, Board members representing the Town of Essex shall serve for the full four- year term, unless the office otherwise becomes vacant.

  Council also directed Administration to prepare a Shareholders Declaration to be signed by the Mayor and Clerk on behalf of the sole shareholder of E.L.K. Energy Inc., in order to give legal effect to this motion.

  CAO Doug Sweet said staff is reviewing the structures of the Town of Essex committees. As the sole shareholder of E.L.K., Essex can alter the structure of its Board of Directors.

  He recommended the changes in the structure of the E.L.K. Board to include more independent members with competencies that are key to overseeing a local distribution company. “This model also removes the perception that decisions are being made for political purposes, rather than the best interest of E.L.K. Energy,” Sweet said.  

  The Report to Council, he added, recommended the Board be reduced from nine to six-members.

Currently, the Board is comprised of five members of Essex Council, two members at large who are E.L.K. customers with one from each Ward 1 and Ward 4 in the Town of Essex, and two members at large who are E.L.K. customers in the Town of Kingsville and/or the Town of Lakeshore to represent E.L.K. consumers outside the Town of Essex.

  The Report was reviewed by the CEO of E.L.K., Mike Audet, who concurred with the recommendations, Sweet relayed.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy thanked Sweet for the report as it is a matter that has been near and dear to her for some time. She is glad this will provide a new structure for E.L.K.’s Board of Directors and will give some outside experts a chance to sit on the Board. She sees this as a chance to give the next Term of Council the ability to question the Board.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he would vote against the motion because the people of Essex own the asset. Under the new Board, there will be two Essex Councillors on the Board, and two individuals at large, who are supposedly more competent than the Councillors currently on the Board. As they are not on Council, they are not representing the ownership group that is the Town of Essex. He said Essex residents deserve to have controlling interest and voice in the corporation. He believes this will be revisited in four-years because he doesn’t think it will work properly.

  In a recorded vote, the majority of Essex Council approved the motion, with Vander Doelen and Councillor Morley Bowman opposed. Councillors Joe Garon and Kim Verbeek were not at the meeting.


Municipal Election Compliance

Audit Committee Appointed

Council appointed Cheryl Bondy, Ashley Bevan, and Shawna Coulter as members of the Election Compliance Audit Committee for the period commencing November 15, 2022 and ending November 14, 2026.

  In addition, By-Law 2199, to authorize the appointment of members to the Town of Essex Election Compliance Audit Committee, was passed.

  The Report to Council notes the purpose of the Election Compliance Audit Committee is to consider applications for compliance audits for candidates or registered third-party campaign finances and determine if audits are required.

  The Terms of Reference propose to pay members at a rate of $150 per meeting.


Good Maps Navigation Assistance Tool

approved for Colchester Park

Council received the “Accessibility Feature – Colchester Park,” report and approved the “Good Maps Navigation Assistance Tool” with a total project cost of $10,570.

  This will be fully funded through the Inclusive Communities Grant.

  The Report to Council notes earlier this year, the Town of Essex Accessibility Advisory Committee explored several different projects that would be beneficial for residents with accessibility needs.

  Good Maps provides geolocations and points of interest markers for persons with poor vision through the use of an app available via cell phone. The navigational tool will notify the user how far away they are from specific points of interest, the Report to Council notes.

  In March, Administration applied for the Inclusive Communities Grant through the Province of Ontario and was recently notified it was successful. This project is fully funded by the grant.

  The Town of Essex will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance costs of the program, which will be $1,175 annually. This will be handled through the Accessibility Operating Budget starting in 2024.

  The Essex Accessibility Advisory Committee endorses the project.

  The project must be completed by March 31, 2023.

  Council can review the program at the end of the first-year. It is something that can be expanded to other facilities in the future.



 Mural to be added to storage shed at Harrow Veterans Memorial Park

Council approved funding in the amount of $2,605.77 from funds held in the Parks and Recreation Reserve, specifically designated for the Harrow Cenotaph. These dollars will fund a mural on the storage shed at Harrow’s Veterans Memorial Park

  The Report to Council notes members of the Harrow Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 338) and Administration with the Town of Essex met to discuss a solution of the Legion having several items that are utilized each year at their Remembrance Day ceremony with no area to store them. The discussion of a shed took place with Council approval in July.

  The container is not permitted on site until a mural is placed on the unit to prevent graffiti.

 Essex Council supports Kingsville’s opposition to

Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act

The Town of Essex supported the Town of Kingsville’s resolution that is in opposition to Bill 3, Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, 2022.

  The resolution from Kingsville notes if enacted, this will give Mayors additional authority and powers, and correspondingly will take away authority and powers from Councils and professional staff, and will include giving the Mayor the authority to propose and adopt the Municipal budget and to veto some decisions of Council. In addition, this Bill, if enacted, will initially apply to the City of Toronto and City of Ottawa, but will later be expanded to include other municipalities, according to a statement made by the Premier at the 2022 AMO annual conference.

  Kingsville’s resolution on the matter notes these changes to the Municipal Act, 2001, are unnecessary and will negatively affect the Town of Kingsville, and that if the Ontario Government deems these changes necessary in large single-tier municipalities, such as Toronto and Ottawa, that such changes should not be implemented in smaller municipalities.

  In addition, it also highlighted that the Ontario Government should enact legislation clarifying the role of Mayor, Council, and Chief Administrative Officer; and that if the stated goal of this legislation is to construct more housing in Ontario that this can be accomplished through other means, including amendment to the Planning Act and funding of more affordable housing.

  In a recorded vote, Councillor Sherry Bondy, Councillor Jason Matyi, Mayor Richard Meloche, and Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman were in support, and Councillors Vander Chris Vander Doelen and Morley Bowman were opposed. Motion carried.


NoM: creating a best practice policy on landscaping in the Town’s right-of-way

At the September 19 meeting, Councillor Jason Matyi put forward a Notice of Motion for discussion at the October 3 meeting, that asked Council to consider directing Administration to create a best practice policy on landscaping in the Town’s right-of-way.

  Matyi said there is no clear indicator on where plating is or is not allowed in relation to where the Town’s property ends and where resident property begins, and how it is to be maintained.

  The By-Law regulating the matter is vague on the issue, he said.

  Director of Infrastructure, Kevin Girard, said By-Law 135 dictates what is permitted within the Town’s right-of-way, only things permitted through the permit process. He added Administration in looking to refresh that By-Law, and it is on the list of things to do over the next few months.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said the By-Law badly needs to be updated. Some of the neighbourhood disputes are getting out of control, he said. Council cannot keep acting as judge and jury for neighbourhood feuds, he added.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy asked if there is a rule-of-thumb in determining what is Town property and what is resident property, otherwise a survey has to be done.

  Girard said there is no perfect formula to determine that. If ever in question, the first step is to contact the Town, he added.

  Council moved to have Administration come back with a report, recommending a policy on landscaping in the Town’s right-of-way.

 NoM: cornerstone from the former Harrow Junior School

be installed at the Harrow Hawk steel sculpture deferred

At the September 19 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion for discussion at the October 3 meeting, that Council consider the cornerstone from the former Harrow Junior School be installed at the Harrow Hawk steel sculpture to commemorate the former school.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy asked this matter be deferred to the October 17 meeting as another possible location has come up.


Notice of Motion to be consideration at the October 17 meeting:

Mayor Richard Meloche will ask Council to consider changing the sign banners for the gateway entries into the Harrow and Colchester areas to read, “Hometown of Craig C Ramsay - Winning Partner in Amazing Race Canada Season #8!”

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