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Essex Council notes - Monday, December 2, 2019

by Sylene Argent

Council lowers animal tethering limit to four-hours

In a close vote, 5-3, Essex Council voted in favour of lowering the animal tethering limit from ten hours to four hours in a 24-hour time frame.

  Area residents Valerie Alexander and Daniel Inverarity, and Windsor Essex County Humane Society Executive Director, Melanie Coulter, appeared before Council to ask that the tethering limit be lowered.  

  Alexander, a teenager, has approached Council in the past regarding animal welfare issues, including when the Town reduced the tethering limit from 12 to 10 hours at a meeting in April of 2017. She said though it is a progressive bylaw, it could be improved.

  Previous to this meeting, Essex Council was the first in the County to implement a time-limit on how long an animal may be tethered, which was originally set at 12-hours.

  To persuade Council to lower the tethering limit, Alexander said dogs can become overheated in hot weather and the OSPCA says dogs should not be left outdoors for extended periods of times during below freezing weather.

  The CDC, she noted, has stated tethered dogs are almost three times as likely to attack. She also spoke of studies that noted dogs have the ability to feel emotions.

  The Town’s Bylaw regarding animal welfare notes animals should be treated in a manner characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy so not to cause injury, suffering, etc.

  Windsor, Kingsville, LaSalle, Leamington, and Tecumseh tethering limits are currently set at four-hours.

  Inverarity added said he was at the previous council meeting when the tethering limit was reduced to ten-hours. He explained the Windsor Essex County Humane Society has difficulty enforcing the bylaw at ten hours. It is barely enforceable at six hours.

  It is time for a change, he said.

  Coulter added the motivation for the changes is the concern about animals. Tethered animals are more likely to be aggressive. This change is good for animals. It is easier to enforce for Humane Society staff, and it is good for the community, she said.

  Coulter said the Bylaw is used as a tool for someone who has a dog tethered for long periods of times.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek thanked Alexander for speaking up for voiceless creatures. She said she doesn’t know how these lonely dogs cope as she knows of dogs who struggle with anxiety when left alone in the home for just a few hours at a time.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen argued that most other municipalities do not have as much rural area as Essex. He said wouldn’t mind a shorter limit for toy or teacup breeds. He said this takes pet rights away from working people and that farmers can’t have working dogs. So, he was going to vote against shortening the tethering limit. 

Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said it is different in rural communities. He said there are larger breed dogs that are content on being outside and that some dogs love to be outside.

  During her presentation, Alexander showed a short film depicting what would happen to a child if it were left in the cold for ten hours. Meloche thought it was terrible she compared a child to a dog. He said in order for a dog to be tethered in Essex, there has to be a clean environment for them, a waterproof shelter, and adequate attention, care and food/water.

  If someone works in the city, they have travel time to add to their shift, so they need the ten-hour limit. He said some farmers use dogs tied to a barn to protect equipment. There are fewer farms that do this, he noted.

  As someone who would not tether his dog, he said farmers should be allowed to have that dog on the farm. Let’s not make it more difficult for farmers to survive, he said, they have it hard enough as it is.

  He said he’d rather be outside with proper shelter and food than in a crate if he was a dog.

  He said he thinks the facts Alexander provided during the presentation were for dogs on a tether permanently, not a ten-hour limit.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman said he would support a tethering limit of four hours a day. Dog runs are a solution with adequate shelter, etc.

  “That job doesn’t have a place anymore,” he said of dog being used as alarms. Noting cameras are available. He said it was time to move along. The Bylaw has to be enforceable. It is not to chase anyone down, there is not an enforcement crew big enough. When there is a dog in distress, it gives the Humane Society a tool they can use, to watch for four hours, and watch how it was treated.

  “It gives us an opportunity to protect dogs that need protecting,” he said.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a motion that a four-hour tethering limit be adopted in the Town of Essex, and asked for a recorded vote. If it was to fail, she wanted to discuss alternatives so that something could be implemented.

  “This Town used to be progressive…we have stagnated,” she said.

Mayor Larry Snively said he does not believe in tethering an animal at all.

  In a recorded vote, Councillors Joe Garon, Bondy, Verbeek, Bjorkman, and Mayor Snively were in support. Deputy Mayor Meloche, and Councillors Morley Bowman and Vander Doelen, were opposed.

  The motion carried. Council also received the presentation

  The result was met with a round of applause from those in the audience.

 

Multi-Year Accessibility Plan presented for 2019-2024

Essex Accessibility Advisory Committee Chairperson (EAAC) Richard Kokovai and Vice Chair Lisa Wallace approached Council about the Town of Essex Multi-Year Accessibility Plan 2019 to 2024, which Town Administration prepared in conjunction with the Town of Essex Accessibility Advisory Committee.

  Council received and adopted the 24-page plan. Kokovai said the document lays out items to make the Town more accessible over the next five-years. The document will be shared through various forms of mediums.

  In the report, Kokovai noted the Accessibility Advisory Committee has supported various accessibility initiatives aimed at creating a welcoming and accessible community that allows all members to be engaged and participate, and has assisted the Town in meeting its legislative requirements.

  The committee will continue to work together with Council and Administration of the Town of Essex to identify, remove, and prevent barriers.

  The document includes topics, such as general requirements to ensure provincial mandates are met; customer service to better serve those with special needs; employment standards regarding recruitment of those with disabilities; information and communications to provide municipal information; transportation; and design of public spaces which reviews the physical environment of private and public sectors.   

  Wallace said the EAAC noted one of the initiatives is to bring forward international or national initiatives, such as December 3 being International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

  What they wanted to focus on was training and education and to look where other information is located. She said the committee will look to various organizations for that information over the next four years. The Committee will also look at municipal grant programs to ensure there are accessibility components.

  When the plan was designed, the Committee looked at the results for the survey that went out in May. One of the highlights was in regard to sidewalks. She said the Committee also wants to build on its successes, such as the Mobi-Mat and ramp at the Colchester Harbour, and the accessible swings now available at various parks throughout the municipality.

  Kokovai said one in five people have a disability, and that number rises to over 40 percent for those over 65-years of age.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy, who sits on the Board as the Council liaison, suggested the around ten recommendations outlined in the report under Council resolutions go back to the Committee for additional review to make sure they are still relevant.

  One of the recommendations for Council resolution includes that sidewalks be installed along Maidstone Avenue West to allow accessible pedestrian traffic to the McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s in Essex Centre.

 

Resident asks for Development Charges policy review

Resident Jim Oakley approached Council to ask for a review on the policy on development charges for semi-detached residences on appropriate infill lots. He hoped the policy could be changed for Ward 3.

  In May, there was a public meeting where he noted he had the intention of building one semi-detached unit on a single lot. This would be sold for family homes. Council voted in favour of this. In June, the Planning Department gave permission to built a semi-detached home. He was told the permit was ready.

  He said the development charges were over $26,000, and was told there could be an additional $10,000 in charges. He said he could build in Harrow with no charges currently.

He said he is not disputing development charges for a single unit, but said it is difficult to create affordable housing with having a semi-detached unit that brought on a second round of fees.

  Lori Chadwick, Director of Development Services, said there are infill lots throughout the municipality that could be used for obtainable or affordable housing. The Town needs to keep in mind that infill development needs to be defined. Before any changes, the bylaw would have to be looked at.

  Industrial or commercial infill areas would be a different can of worms, she said.

  She would like the opportunity to review what other municipalities do and review the infill inventory within Essex.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said this has to be made fair somehow. He said housing is crucial. He said it depends on how “infill” is defined. He was worried about setting a precedent.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek said she doesn’t see a big influx of single lots being developed into semi-detached homes and would support administration coming back with a report.

  Chadwick said it is hard to say when the report would be ready. She said it could take two to four months as affordable housing is something near to her heart. This would include reaching out to her counterparts at other municipalities and various related organizations.

  CAO Chris Nepszy noted more time could be added if changes are considered as public notices may need to be issued.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman said there should be no guessing about any fees. The Town needs to look at the policy today and ensure it is spelled out for everyone.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said it has to be affordable for the builder to build, or homes will not be built. She said she is motivated to look at an infill strategy as she does not want to see any more school closures.

  Vander Doelen put forward a motion that administration bring back a brief report on the cost to taxpayers of eliminating development fees on residential infill lots.

  The motion carried. Council also received Oakley’s presentation.

 

Town’s insurance agreement

Essex Council received the report “Town Insurance Agreement Option to Extend” and voted that the Agreement with Aon Reed Stenhouse Inc., for the provision of the Town’s general insurance and risk management services program, be extended for another five-year period.

  This would begin on January 1, 2020 and will continue until December 31, 2024, in accordance with the Town’s Procurement and disposal of Goods and Services Policy.

  Town Clerk Robert Auger noted the last time the Town issued an RFP for insurance was in 2014.

  According to the report, the 2019 premium rate was $581,703.60, of which $16,054.20 was added for a Cyber Insurance policy.

  A recent analysis of the Town’s insurance claims during the 2015-2019 term reveals that out of approximately 40 claims that were made over this 5-year term, 35 of those claims were closed and/or resolved without any loss or deductible payments having been made.

 

Site plan control approval for Crawford Packaging

Essex Council received Planning report “Site plan control approval, Covey Investments Incorporated” and voted to adopted Bylaw 1867, regarding the site plan control application of Covey Investments Incorporated for the construction of a warehouse operation at the intersection of South Talbot Road and Reed Street. The related site plan agreement will also be executed and registered.

  The warehouse facility will be operated by Crawford Packaging. Crawford Packaging packages industrial and commercial products for distribution.

The Report to Council notes the 3.5-acre property will be developed in two phases for warehouse facilities, totalling 50,000 square feet, and a business office of 6300 square feet.

  Mayor Larry Snively said this is great news and a great investment in the Town of Essex.

 

Municipal Modernization Program

Council received Chief Administrative Officer, Chris Nepszy’s, report “Municipal Modernization Program: Intake 1,” and supported Town of Essex for funding up to the $200,000 in the Municipal Modernization Program.

  Council also directed administration to engage a third-party consultant, in accordance with the program eligibility requirements, to undertake a municipal service delivery review to address opportunities to achieve cost-savings and efficiencies. This would also look for opportunities for shared services with regional municipalities.

  In the report to Council, it notes that on November 1, 2019, the Honourable Steven Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing advised that Intake 1 of the Municipal Modernization Program would be available to Municipalities. Under this program, the Province is making $125 million available through 2022-2023 to help municipalities with a population under 100,000 to conduct new service delivery reviews.

  Though the motion passed, Councillors Sherry Bondy and Kim Verbeek had concerns that this study could make it easier for the provincial government to amalgamate municipalities more.


 NoM: No meetings on Remembrance Day

During the November 18 regular Council meeting, Councillor Sherry Body put forth a Notice of Motion for Council consideration at the December 2 meeting. She wanted to amend the Procedural Bylaw to prohibit the Town of Essex from holding meetings on November 11th as this is Remembrance Day.

  The motion carried, but an adjustment will be made to the amendment for an exception of emergency meetings. 

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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