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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council Notes - September 16, 2019

by Adam Gault

New sports field design discussed

- Town to apply for ICIP grant -

Council received a report Director of Community Services, Doug Sweet, prepared regarding concepts, designs, and costs surrounding the creation of a new sports and recreational facilities within the Town of Essex.

  Over the past several years, demand for sports fields and facilities has greatly outpaced supply, with groups, such as Essex Minor Baseball, Essex Minor Soccer, Essex Ravens, and various Adult Slo-Pitch leagues, all requesting the Town to create new facilities to serve the growing popularity of their respective sports.

  In 2015, a Parks, Recreation, and Culture Master Plan was put together, recommending that the Town explore the option of purchasing land to develop into sports facilities to accommodate current and future needs.

  With direction from Administration and Council, the Town of Essex closed a deal to purchase 70 acres of property at the corner of Highway 3 and North Malden Road.

  In beginning the process, the Town consulted with stakeholders on what their needs were regarding new facilities, as well as the hiring of Bezaire Partners Architects to provide a conceptual layout and cost estimate of the project.

  The conceptual layout includes 9 soccer fields (4 senior, 2 junior, 3 intermediate), 5 baseball diamonds (3 multi-use, 1 hardball only, 1 pee wee diamond), 1 multi-use stadium and amenities for football and soccer (with a turf field), 3 washroom/concession/storage buildings, multi-use trails throughout the complex, 3 designated play equipment areas, 2 entrances off of Batten Side Road with parking on site for up to 625 vehicles, and one maintenance building.

The total cost of the project was estimated at $20,650,000, and if were to go ahead, would likely be constructed in stages.

  However, earlier this month, the Federal Government announced “The Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program” (ICIP), a cost-sharing infrastructure program between all three levels of government.

  The program will provide up to $30 billion in combined federal, provincial, and other partner funding, under four priority areas, including Community, Culture, and Recreation. Approximately $407 million in federal funding and $320 million in provincial funding will be available for the Community, Culture, and Recreation stream over 10-years, starting in 2019-20.

  This is the first time since 1967 the upper tiers of government are offering grant funding for recreational infrastructure projects.

  With this announcement, Council put forward a motion to direct Administration to apply for the ICIP grant in the total amount of the project.

In addition, Council will direct Administration to meet with stakeholders surrounding the project to discuss future fundraising, sponsorship, and naming right opportunities for the proposed complex, as well as the development of phase in options and timelines for the construction of the complex based on the outcome of the ICIP grant.

 Administration to finalize Shoreline Assistance Loan Program

Council approved Administration to go ahead with finalizing a Shoreline Assistance Loan Program, to replace a previous program that was abolished by the provincial government in 2010.

  The previous program provided loans to private owners of shoreline properties to repair or construct protective works, or repair, raise or relocate buildings or structures damaged by high-water levels.

  The program was discontinued nine years ago, due to minimal uptake as a result of lower lake levels, along with an economy that allowed private financial institutions to provide comparable or better interest rates than those offered by the program.

  With record-high lake levels this past year, and nearly 600 waterfront properties in the Town of Essex, renewed interest has been found in offering this type of program to waterfront property owners.

  “Simply put, we’ve identified a gap, and we’re leading the way. Essex County is one of the hardest hit regions when it comes to rising lake levels,” Director of Corporate Services, Jeffrey Morrison, said. “I believe we are one of the first, if not the first, in Ontario to introduce a program like this.”

  Through partnerships with a local lender, the interest rate under the proposed program would be comparable to the current residential posted mortgage rate at the time of the loan, which as of September 2019, is approximately 2.99 percent.

  Morrison explained that the Town is working with the Essex Regional Conservation Authority and a lender to implement the program, and all costs associated with the administration of the program will be recoverable.

  With the approval of this motion, Administration will work with the Town’s strategic partners to finalize the steps involved in the application, approval, and completion of the process to finalize a program that can be brought to market.

  Once adopted, the Town will put forward a communication and marketing campaign that will detail eligibility for shoreline property owners.

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