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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council Notes for Tuesday, February 22

by Sylene Argent

Admin to report back on potential cost of

rehabilitating County Road 20, from Walnut to around Sunset

Resident Shawn Mulder approached Council about County Road 20 (King Street East) and the County of Essex Rehabilitation Program.

  He noted from Walnut Street to the connecting link, 100m east of sunset, this road is in need of repair.

“It is getting to the end of its lifecycle,” Mulder said. “You can see driving it – visually – that it has deficiencies.”

  The road is around 10m or so in width, Mulder estimated, adding the County of Essex, through its Connecting Link By-Law, will maintain its ‘through portion,’ which is typically around 7m. This makes the Town responsible for the remaining stretch.

  This road, he added, connects to a project the County of Essex is doing this year, County Road 20, from the connecting link to Ferris Road.   

  County Council approved this, and a list of other projects, at the February 16 meeting. The road rehabilitation will include Cold in Place Recycling with Expanded Asphalt (CIREAM).

  “Essentially, we will be able to get this project – that stretch – done for a third of the cost,” Mulder estimated.

  Another County roads project, he said, will include mill and pave work on County Road 50, From County Road 13 to Dunn Road. This could also lead to a favourable cost to the Town.

  In addition, Mulder said King Street East does have quite a bit of traffic during the day, and is a top ten road for traffic in a day. He added in 2020, the County had the stretch as needing to be repaired within the next five-years.

  “It is a well travelled road and a high-class road,” he said.

  “I just hope Council can put some thought into this,” Mulder commented. “I hope we can put our heads together and utilize this initiative and not let these funds go wasted.”

  He suggested if Council receives favourable tenders on other projects, where there is money left over, to put it aside for this project.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he is in favour of repairing a lot more roads and if there is any way to save money, he is in favour. He said the request is coming a bit late, as the Town’s 2022 Budget has already been approved.

  He said road projects also need to be talked about overall, and not in isolation, so the Town can share out the work from ward-to-ward.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said what Vander Doelen said has a lot of merit. Council does have to balance out work when making the budget. The budget, however, is a living, breathing machine.

  “When opportunities come where we can save the Town money, is it incumbent on us to look at those opportunities,” Bjorkman said.  

  Director of Infrastructure, Kevin Girard, said the County is willing to put this stretch in its tender. The factor that needs to be considered is that neither the County or the Town of Essex have allocated funds in their 2022 Budgets to complete this stretch of road.

  “As mentioned in the 2022 Budget deliberations, we decide on the priority of roads and our roads program, based on a multitude of factors, one of which is trying to disburse the funds amongst the wards and completing roads amongst the wards,” Girard noted.

  The Harrow area, he said, did receive a $5M boost for its Streetscape this year, which pushes off the need for those projects. He suggested to Council, if members were willing to participate in that program with the County, to Direct Administration to prepare a report that would identify the costs associated with the project and a recommendation for potential funding opportunities.

  At the previous meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion that Council give direction to Administration to explore on this opportunity and report back on the cost of rehabilitating County Road 20, from Walnut to around Sunset, under the connecting link agreement.

  A majority Council vote passed her motion.

  Bondy thinks Council needs to talk roads more often, and would still like to see some kind of a roads plan in the future, that would highlight needs.

  Vander Doelen voted against the motion, pointing to the comment he made previously and not wanting to set a precedent. In his opinion, Ward 3 has really taken a backseat on road spending in the past few years.


New Official Plan Request for Proposal approved

Council awarded the consulting services contract for the Town of Essex’s new Official Plan to WSP Canada Inc. in the amount of $111,920.74 including non-refundable HST; and also approved an additional $1,920.74 for consulting services and $2,500 for printing costs be funded from the Contingency Reserve for Planning & Zoning.

  Lori Chadwick, Director of Development Services, said the preparation of a new Official Plan will officially kick-off in March. This means, the Town, in addition to the consultants, have an additional 18-months of work ahead of them.

  Those invested in the project will complete background work and create the format for the project, including a review of the County’s growth forecast and work on an urban land needs assessment.

  At County Council’s February 16 meeting, Rebecca Belanger, Manager of Planning Services, updated members of Essex County Council on its own Official Plan review. At that time, it was noted Watson & Associates will prepare the Technical Background Report, which will provide new updated County and local municipal populations, and household and employment forecasts.

  The growth projection report will be presented to County Council in April.

  “We are also going to go a deep dive into our policies of the Official Plan, make sure we are on track with changing legislation and the latest and greatest of all sorts of items,” Chadwick said.

  Over the course of the project, the Town will host several stakeholder meetings, focus group sessions, public open houses, and meetings with Council, Chadwick noted.   

  This document sets the tone on how to use the land in the Town of Essex over the next 25-years. Through the document, policies are set for growth and development.

  “We are very excited to embark on this project,” Chadwick said.

Development Services Manual adopted

Council approved and adopted the Town of Essex Development Standards Manual as presented. The document may be further amended from time-to-time as necessary or required.

  On January 31, a special Council meeting was held to provide members with the purpose of the manual. Information found within the pages of the draft document include what to expect during the planning approval process, the design criteria for sidewalks and cul-de-sacs, consideration for climate adaptation, and specifications for sewer sizes and materials.

  The intent is that the manual will streamline development, reduce red tape, consolidate previously disconnected processes, and will become a ‘one-stop-shop’ for a development roadmap.

  Since that time, Chadwick said, the Town has received several comments and suggestions.

  Next steps include preparing marketing materials, including its placement onto the website in an accessible format with bookmarks and links.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said the document is a great tool for builders and developers.

  “People can now use one document. It is the same language. The rules are all there just to simplify things. And I think it is a great way to do it. It is a huge upgrade for us, and we appreciate the work that went into it,” Bjorkman said.

  In addition to working with Dillon Consulting to develop the manual, Chadwick said the Development Services and Infrastructure Services Departments for the Town of Essex collaborated on the project

Policy for the procurement and disposal of

goods and services provisionally adopted

Council received Finance and Business Services’ Report “Procurement Bylaw – Revisions to the Procurement Principles, Procedures, Thresholds, and Authorizations.” Council moved the recommendations made and further provisionally adopted By-Law 2129, which adopts a policy for the procurement and disposal of goods and services.

  Jackson Tang, Assistant Manager of Business Services, prepared the report, which noted the Town of Essex’s existing policy for Procurement and Disposal of Goods and Services was last updated and approved in April 2015. Since, staff have generated continuous feedback regarding the procurement methods, procedures, and thresholds in dealing with acquiring different goods and services.

  It adds that changes of internal and external environments have resulted in a need to complete a review to identify opportunities to improve processes, to create more fairness and transparency in procurements, and to strengthen compliance with current regulations, while also enabling more flexibility and the ability to better support the local economy.

  Finance and Business Services has revised the existing Procurement By-Law 1043, which includes bringing internal awareness to staff that supporting the local economy is one of the factors to be considered apart from quality, price, time, and service level, etc., whenever making a low value purchase up to $10,000; that departments should utilize the informal Request for Quotation/Request for Proposal (i.e., $10,000 - $50,000, three quotations) process to include at least one local supplier where possible; increase the authority limits to Chief Administrative Officer for construction projects up to $300,000, which is consistent with the threshold of Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA); and to approve purchases under new Procurement Thresholds and to allow more flexibility to CAO to manage the emergency situations, noting the authorized dollar value for CAO should be increased from $10,000 to $120,000 under emergency situations; amongst others.

  With Council approval, the new Procurement Bylaw 2129 will become effective on March 07, 2022, it notes in the Report to Council.

  “Mr. Tang has done a great job of incorporating Council feedback, with a new focus on the potential for local suppliers,” Katelynn Giurissevich, Director, Corporate Services/Treasurer, said, adding he also ensured the control of the Town’s risks through the requirement for Council approval should administration not request the lowest bid or should the project come in over the approved Capital Budget amount.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman asked if there was something the Town could do to ensure local businesses are getting an equal shot at receiving some money back they pay in taxes, through work for the Town.

  Giurissevich said the Town does have lists for that under $15,000 threshold. She said what is important to note is that from the $15,000-$50,000 section, three quotes are needed, and one is required to be local.


Skate Shop at Essex Centre Sports Complex

lease renewal provisionally adopted

Council provisionally adopted Bylaw 2127 to obtain Council approval to renew the lease for the Skate Shop at the Essex Centre Sports Complex to Richard R. Brett for a three-year term, commencing May 1, 2022 and ending April 30, 2025.

  The lease of the skate sharpening and pro shop at the Essex Centre Sports Complex is based on eight months per year. The starting rate of the lease is $301.53 (including HST) per month and will be recalculated based on the Consumer Price Index each September, the Report to Council notes.


Tax adjustment approved

Council received Finance and Business Services’ Report “Tax Adjustments – Section 357.(1), 358 and 359” and approved the cancellation, reduction, refund, or increase of taxes in accordance with the provisions under Section 357.(1), Section 358 and Section 359 of the Municipal Act, 2001.

  In the Report to Council, it notes in accordance with the Delegation of Authority By-Law 1924, the authority to adjust property taxes in accordance with Sections 357.(1), 358 and 359 of the Municipal Act, 2001 (the “Act”) is delegated to the Director, Corporate Services / Treasurer. The communication requirement associated with this delegation of authority required that an annual report of tax adjustments in accordance with these sections of the Act be provided to Council.


Construction for January up 54 percent compared to same month in 2021

Essex Council received the Building Report and Development Overview for January 2022, which noted the total construction value was $10,054,700. This includes all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential developments that required a building permit.

  This is up 54 percent from January 2021.

  The average home sale price in January for Wards 1 and 2 was $521,020, which was up significantly from the $390,481 reported the previous January. The average home sale price in January for Wards 3 and 4 was $900,000, which was significantly higher than the $395,550 reported the previous January.

  “That’s quite a jump from last year,” Mayor Richard Meloche said, remarking on the Ward 2 and 3 increase.


Essex to ask County to make County Road 23/20 intersection safer

Councillor Sherry Bondy asked Council to consider asking the County of Essex to lower the speed limit approaching the County Road 20/23 intersection, paint road markings, install a flashing stop sign, and complete the road markings as per the recommendation in the correspondence from the County of Essex to the Municipality of Kingsville dated June 25, 2021.

  Mayor Richard Meloche said this is something that has been brought up in the past and has been brought up again recently, after a fatal accident occurred there on January 11.

  Kevin Girard, Director of Infrastructure, said the intersection is completely under ownership of the County of Essex.

  Bondy said she thinks a traffic signal or roundabout at the intersection would come in the future, as they are costly. Some low-cost improvements, such as road markings and solar-powered flashing lights on stop signs could be suggested to County Council.

  She wanted Council to have a conversation to acknowledge this has been an intersection brought up. Council, she said, talked about it in October of 2019.

  Mayor Richard Meloche agreed with Bondy, noting it would take some time to get bigger pieces of infrastructure installed there.

  “I think this is a great idea to ask them to at least do some pre-work on this to and make it a more safe intersection. We all know it is a dangerous intersection,” he said.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen suggested, knowing many speed in the area, a speed step-down, before it crosses the Chrysler Greenway.

  Bondy’s motion carried.

  At the February 16 County Council meeting, Kingsville Deputy Mayor, Gord Queen, noted in the year 2020, his Council had a safety concern for the corner of County Road 20 and County Road 23.

  At the Kingsville Town Council meeting on Monday, February 14, Queen said he and Mayor Nelson Santos were directed to approach County Council to request a controlled intersection at County Roads 23 and 20.

  He put forward a Notice of Motion that at the next County Council meeting, to be held on March 2, Queen said he will move, or may cause to move, County Council to consider the best options moving forward for this particular intersection, including the option of a controlled intersection or other best possibilities.


Return to in-person meetings discussed/Town

to ease COVID-19 restrictions at facilities

At the Monday, February 7, 2022 meeting, Councillor Kim Verbeek put forward a Notice of Motion to be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, that Council have a discussion regarding the return to in-person meetings.

  Verbeek noted she just wanted to open up the conversation.

  “I love meeting from home, but I still feel like there is a lot lost by doing this [virtually].”

  She wanted to see if the rest of Council had an appetite to return to Chambers.

  She wondered if there were significant cost-savings by using the online format, with Councillors not claiming as much mileage.

  In addition, she spoke about the province’s intention to remove the vaccine passport mandates on March 1, and wondered if that would be lifted at Town facilities as well.

  CAO Doug Sweet said he participates in weekly meetings with other area CAOs and the Health Unit. At the time of the meeting, he said there was still letter instruction for the March 1 date.

  At the time, he said when the Town gets some notice, Administration will update Council.

  On Monday, February 28, the Town announced, in response to recent updates to the Provincial Government’s Reopening Ontario Act, it was lifting capacity limits and vaccine requirements for all public visitors of Town-owned facilities effective March 1, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. 

  Masks will continue to be required at all times within Town owned facilities and individuals are encouraged to continue to follow public health guidelines.

  In regards to in-person meetings, Sweet said Town administration has been thinking about that, and reviewing options. It will likely be a phased-in approach.

  The Chamber at the Civic Centre is still closed to the public and is not ready to stream the meetings. Essex staff has been working on enhancing the “zoom room” at the municipal building, which is its own Council Chambers.

  This room can only accommodate 11 people currently, but a minimum of 15 would have to attend meetings, including Council reps and staff members. They are working on adding the additional seats and getting two additional cameras. With obtaining the equipment and installing it, Sweet said in-person would be more realistically held in April, for those who want to come back, depending on guidelines. Anyone who would attend would need to follow the Town’s vaccination policy.

  A hybrid model can be used, which can be used to welcome delegates or other members of administration to come in virtually. This is allowed because of the Town’s Emergency Order. Once that ends, Robert Auger, Director of Legislative Services/Clerk, noted the Town’s Procedural By-Law allows for Councillors to meet virtually under the Emergency Order or during a time of non-emergency, only members of Council can participate virtually, however, quorum of those Council persons need to be in-person.

  In the spring of 2020, Auger added, the Municipal Act was changed to provide the option that if Council should decide to, it could amend its Procedural By-Law so that, even in a time of non-emergency, Council members and Committee members can meet 100 percent virtually online.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy believes members of the public are expecting Councillors to meet in-person. She does believe there are benefits to hosting meetings online. Sound quality, she said, has to be looked at to ensure it has good quality.

  Bondy thinks the Town should get out of that declared emergency, sooner rather than later. Sweet said the regional lower-tier municipalities will follow the County’s lead on that.

  For more Essex Council news, look for the articles, “Essex meets with Amherstburg to discuss McGregor matters” and “Tony Boudreau presented with 2022 Community Preservation Award” in this edition of the Essex Free Press.


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