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Essex Council notes for Tuesday, February 19



by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

Mayor Snively welcomes incoming CAO


Mayor Larry Snively began the meeting by welcoming Chris Nepszy into his new position as Essex’s Chief Administrative Officer, effective March 15.

“Chris, on behalf of Council, I’d like to congratulate you on your new position,” Snively said in his opening remarks. “We have worked together over the past Term of Council, and we can all see how well you have led our infrastructure efforts and everything else we’ve thrown your way. You spearheaded projects, which contributed to the growth of the Town and ensured that we maintained positive and constructive relationships with private business and developers.”

Nepszy is currently serving as the Town’s Director of Infrastructure and Development Services, a position he has held since 2018. He was also recently appointed to the position of Deputy CAO.

“I’m excited to work with [Council] and make [Council’s] vision for a future Essex, a reality,” Nepszy said, thanking Council for their support. “To the residents and developers, I look forward to getting to work with you, build on our relationships, and continue to create new ones.”

Nepszy thanked outgoing CAO Donna Hunter, adding that her commitment to the Town of Essex had laid a solid foundation for his own tenure as CAO going forward.

Heritage Preservation Awards presented

Town Planner Rita Jabbour, who is also the Town’s liaison on the Essex Municipal Heritage Committee, took a few minutes to recognize history-minded groups and individuals.

She noted that the week of February 18-24 is recognized as Heritage Week, so it was a suitable time to recognize those within the community who dedicated themselves to promoting and preserving local history.

On behalf of the Essex Municipal Heritage Committee, Jabbour was pleased to hand out the Youth Community Heritage Preservation Award and the Community Heritage Preservation Award.

Local high school students Erik Wolgen, Josh Birch, and Brian Neufeld had earned the Youth Community Heritage Week Awards. Jabbour explained the Town reached out to EDHS and asked students to submit creative works, which reflected local history. The creative works are available on Essex’s website.

Jabbour also presented the Community Heritage Preservation Award to the Essex & Community Historical Research Society (ECHRS) and the Harrow Early Immigrant Research Society (HEIRS).

Both groups, she said, were presented with the award to recognize their outstanding contribution to the preservation and celebration of local heritage.

University of Windsor unveils cemetery research findings

Council received a presentation from the University of Windsor’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Associate Professor, Maria Cioppa, regarding her department’s findings on several cemeteries within the Town of Essex.

This research was conducted in cooperation between Essex and the University, as the University had received a geophysics survey grant to conduct a one-year study on the AME/New Canaan and Gilgal Cemeteries.

Cioppa explained she and her team were able to locate several underground anomalies in both cemeteries using a state-of-the-art ground penetrating radar, which allows objects to be located underground without the need for excavation.

According to Cioppa, these anomalies could potentially be an unmarked mass grave, buried headstones, or some other type of submerged structure.

In the future, Cioppa hopes to use a finer grid spacing to examine specific areas in both cemeteries in order to provide greater details on what specifically may be buried in those areas in question.

ERCA presents 2018 report, 2019 objectives

Richard Wyma, Essex Region Conservation Authority’s (ERCA) Executive Director, approached Council to present the organization’s 2018 Annual Report and highlight objectives for this year, based on its 2016-2025 sustainability plan.

Wyma said ERCA is working with municipalities, stakeholders, and landowners to work toward and achieve regional goals. Some challenges include flooding and erosion, land degradation, low natural area cover; these are some of the same problems the foundation faced when it was established. Each year, he added, programs are developed to handle existing and new challenges, such as for water quality.

The work ERCA does relies on a strong board, Wyma said, recognizing past and current Essex Councillors who have sat on the ERCA Board.

A video Wyma shared noted ERCA planted 109,000 trees last year and restored 140 acres of habitat.

In 2016, ERCA launched a ten-year strategic plan. Some of the actions to be taken this year, based on that report, will include researching and creating a climate change plan, updating flood contingency plans, restoring many acres of wetlands and habitat, and working with the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup by continuing to rehabilitate a 70-acre wetland on the Canard River and create a fish habitat on Peche Island, amongst other projects.

ERCA’s budget is proposed to be $7.7 million, with a total levy contribution of 3.2 million. More than 60 percent of ERCAs budget comes from non-levy contributions, he said.

Council received the report.

Councillor Sherry Bondy asked Wyma about ERCA’s opinion of Fluoride in terms of how it could affect the ecosystem and water quality with talk of Windsor recently voting to reintroducing it to drinking water.

Wyma said its water quality programs do not actually monitor for things like that. That is the work of the Heath Unit, and ERCA would look to the Health Unit to provide the information and knowledge.

Weston Apartments

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

The cost of developing a complex like this, is pretty tight, Wieringen said. The rental prices are regulated and are also pretty tight, he said. So, they are competing with buildings that were built years ago. He said, their current budget is $13-14 million for this particular building. There are three sites they can build one, in Essex, Kingsville, and Amherstburg.

Wieringen said they chose to come to Essex because of the vacancy rates, demographics, and what Essex offers appealed to them.

It is a competitive business, he said. He is trying to get some help in the development of the complex. They would like relief from development fees on building the property.

Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he was delighted to hear about the project as there is a need for rental units. He wondered what the bottom line would be.

Wieringen said there will be 57, two-bedroom apartments, which works out to be around $350,000 in development fees to his knowledge, but there could be other charges. He also noted it is planned the unites would be rented for $1250 to $1700 per month, but it could be tough to say for sure. This will be a six-storey building.

Council received the presentation.

Council then dealt with Planning Report 2019-06, which was in regards to the 22 Victor Street Site Plan Control Approval. Included was Bylaw 1787, which would enter into a Site Plan Control Agreement between Essex and the delegates for 22 Victor Street. Council received the report and gave three readings to the Site Plan Control Agreement.

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 a model was created in 2018 regarding commercial charges where development charges were waived. The model put the funds back into the reserve because they have to be paid back. They are funded through the incremental tax increase associated with the properties.

For this report, the tool is the same, using the incremental tax increase, so the taxes received after development goes to pay back the development charges that were waived. He recommended the waste-water portion would not be waived.

The Finance Department offered a strategy for Council to consider through this report, and was looking for direction.

Vander Doelen noted then there would be no tax advantage to the Town, using this model, for up to three-and-a-half-years.

After discussion on the file, Council decided to table the issue to see what other municipalities offer in similar instances.

The developer did note they want to build in Essex, but would go elsewhere if needed. It is not a threat, he noted, it is just business.

Upon wrapping up the discussion on the file, Mayor Larry Snively said the Town did not want to lose the development either.

Virtual City Hall

Council received a verbal report from Director of Corporate Services, Jeff Morrison, regarding the launch of Essex’s online “Virtual City Hall.”

“[Virtual City Hall] is a tool that residents can log onto through our website, you can view your property tax information in real time. This resulted as a need that was identified through the comments that we received during tax time,” Morrison explained of the newly implemented service.

Morrison added that with traditional paper billing, there were costs and expenses that were not clear to taxpayers, and that this new system will allow them to see those expenses in greater detail.

Users of the new services will be able to manage and pay their property taxes from anywhere with internet access, at any time.

A charge will be added to residents paying with credit cards, to alleviate costs to the Town from credit card companies.

Virtual City Hall can be accessed at essex.ca/VCH

Results of Request for Tender for Clear Water and Wastewater Funding

Council awarded the contract for the Clean Water and Wastewater Funding (CWWF) to BGL Contractors Corporations for $2,364,400 plus applicable taxes.

The 2016 Federal Budget announced the establishment of the CWWF that proposed to invest up to $570 million in federal funding and up to $270 million in provincial funding in the province of Ontario.

The CWWF is intended to provide Ontario communities with vital infrastructure funding to help accelerate short-term investments to support the rehabilitation and modernization of drinking water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure, and the planning and design of future facilities, and upgrades to existing systems.

The Town applied for, and received, Clean Water and Wastewater (CWWF) funding for a total net eligible cost of $1,965,000. These 13 funded projects include equipment and system replacement and upgrades for the Colchester South Lagoons, Harrow Lagoons, Essex Pollution Control Plant, and the Harrow-Colchester South Water Treatment plant. The equipment slated for replacement and upgrade include aerators, motor control centre panels, pumps and pump stations, blowers, and a microstrainer.

Beachside Eats and Treats transfers ownership

Council approved the transfer of ownership of Beachside Eats and Treats, located at Colchester Harbour, from Steve Forman to Michelle Vanhoorne and Carson Broadbent.

In April 2016, the Town of Essex entered into an agreement with Steve Forman to lease space for purposes of operating a concession stand on the lower-level of the Colchester Harbour Building, known as Beachside Eats and Treats. The lease was for four years and expires on September 30, 2019.

Steve Forman notified Town Administration that he has sold the Beachside Eats and Treats business and requested that a new lease incorporate the new owners’ name.

Code of Conduct Policy Amendments

Council received a report from Administration regarding amendments to the Code of Conduct Policy to bring it in compliance with new subsections of the Municipal Act.

This would include the addition or requirement that all codes of conduct must now include members of local boards/committees as being subject to its provisions (not just members of Council).

The Integrity Commissioner now has expanded jurisdiction under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA). This includes the ability to review the application of the MCIA to Members of Council and local boards and committees together with the ability to conduct an inquiry or investigate applications that allege violations of the MCIA.

This expanded jurisdiction also includes the ability to provide advice to Councillors and or members of local boards or committees regarding their obligations under the MCIA and the ability to further apply to a judge under the MCIA for a judicial determination as to whether a member has contravened the MCIA.

The motion carried.

Amendments made to Procedural Bylaw

Council passed Bylaw 1788, to amend Bylaw 1681, which would make changes to the Rules of Procedure for the Conduct of Meetings of the Municipal Council and its Committees and Boards, as part of the new requirements needed before March 1 to be in compliance with the Municipal Act.

These changes will allow for greater accountability in record keeping during meetings, as well as the maintenance of a registry available for public inspection.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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