Essex County Council Notes for Wednesday, October 20

by Sylene Argent

County Council update on Essex County Floodplain Prioritization Project

During its regular meeting last Wednesday evening, James Bryant, Director of Watershed Management Services for the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), updated members of County Council regarding the Essex County Floodplain Prioritization Project.

  Bryant explained the current vintage of the floodplain mapping for the Essex Region needs an update. With the Manager of Planning at the County of Essex recognizing there was a need to update the maps, it was asked that ERCA lead the project, because of its watershed-based approach that is required to complete this study.

  ERCA approached County Council at the December 16, 2020 meeting about the project. During that meeting, primarily, the methodologies and results were outlined.

  Flood maps, he said, are used by regulatory agencies to ensure development proceeds in a safe manner. These maps inform Official Plans, indicate where flood hazards are, and form land-use designations and zoning.

  ERCA is looking at identifying flood hazard vulnerabilities, and prioritizing those in using that information to leverage it towards more comprehensive and complete applications for funding opportunities to update those maps.

  Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche thanked Bryant for the information. He noted he did not see Sucker Creek, which runs through Essex and Amherstburg and connects to Canard River, included on the map. He said there has been a lot of flooding associated with that waterway in the past as it is a low area

  Bryant said he is aware of the historic issues regarding Sucker Creek. He said, through the analysis done on this project, ERCA does have the information to identify specific sections of all these water areas and can identify particular reach can be higher-risk, based on historic flooding concerns, and the number of structures within the estimated and floodplain extents.    

  Meloche said if Essex has further questions on that, he will connect with ERCA at another time.

  Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche said he lives close to Sucker Creek and commented anything impeding the water has to be removed, so the water naturally flows instead of floods.


Regional Food and Organics Waste Management Project update

Michelle Bishop, General Manager of the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA), updated members of County Council on the Regional Food and Organics Waste Management Project.

  Her recommendation was passed, which asked Essex County Council to consider a regional approach to the Food and Organics Waste Management Project as it relates to participation from municipalities and report its decision back to the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority no later than December 31, 2021.

  Bishop noted EWSWA directed its Administration to schedule a presentation at each of the seven local County municipalities and the City of Windsor, as soon as possible, to outline the requirements of the Ontario Food and Organics Waste Policy Statement and the decision points that will be required by each municipality surrounding a Regional Organics Waste Management Program.

  She said the reason for the project is to comply with the province’s food and organic waste policy statement.

  There are different requirements for the seven local municipalities that make up Essex County. Some of which will have to achieve specific reduction and recovery target rates by 2025.

  Bishop noted the City of Windsor will have to provide curbside collection of food and organic waste to single family dwellings in an urban settlement area and to achieve a target rate of reduction of 70 percent. This is because it has a population greater than 50,000, and a population density greater than 300 people per square kilometer, Bishop noted.

  Amherstburg, LaSalle, Leamington, and Tecumseh will have to provide collection – either through a public drop-off depot or community composting area, or through curbside collection – of food and organic waste to single family dwellings in an urban settlement area and to achieve a target rate of reduction of 50 percent. This is because their population is in excess of 20,000 and their population density is greater than 100 people per square kilometer.

  Essex, Kingsville, and Lakeshore, however, will not be required to achieve specific rates of reduction for food and organic waste, based on their population and population densities.

  She suggested, however, that reps from the three municipalities currently not required to achieve specific reductions as of yet, consider if their populations would reach that requirement through the 2021 census.

  At its meeting held October 6, 2020, the EWSWA Board approved the development and implementation of a Regional Food and Organic Waste Management Plan and creation of a working group consisting of EWSWA, City of Windsor, and County of Essex representation. The City of Windsor was given responsibility for all technical aspects of the plan development, the Report to County Council notes.

  From there, work on the program began. Then, at the June 1, 2021 EWSWA Board meeting, the Board was presented with the final report from GHD Limited to Phase 1 of the project, which was to consult and provide direction. Additionally, the Oversight Committee presented a set of proposed recommendations to proceed with the next stages of this project. The Board received the recommendations and passed a motion for EWSWA Administration to retain a third-party independent consultant to conduct a peer review of the evaluation process as detailed in the GHD report, it notes in the information provided to County Council.

  EWSWA then retained Tetra Tech Canada Inc. to conduct the peer review.

  At the September 15 and October 5, 2021 meetings of the EWSWA Board, Tetra Tech provided a summary of findings as a result of the peer review. This included given the compliance deadline of 2025 that applies to Windsor, Tecumseh, Amherstburg, LaSalle, and Leamington, and the likelihood of an organics ban at all landfills, which would then capture Kingsville, Essex, and Lakeshore. It was then recommended all eight communities be part of a regional solution.

  Similar to the Blue Box program, Bishop said, the Board members also identified the organics program should include regional collection to ensure the highest capture of the material.

  At a meeting in October, Bishop continued, the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority Board received a list of recommendations of the Food and Organics Waste Management Oversight Committee, as amended and was to refer to Essex County Council for direction.

  Further, at that meeting, the Board approved having the Solid Waste Authority begin the process of preparing a Request for Proposal and Request for Qualifications for the program.

  The recommendation before County Council last Wednesday evening, she said, was that Council of the County of Essex be requested to initiate and lead an organics collection and processing on a regional basis.

  In addition, she added, Ontario’s environment plan includes the development of a proposal for a potential food ban on waste delivered to the landfill, potentially by 2030.

  Bishop said EWSWA, in conjunction with a consultant, will need to decide where the organic food waste will go. There are synergies with the current regional landfill, the Windsor biosolids processing facility, and there could be an opportunity for other partnerships to provide a solution.

  Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald said as a member of the EWSWA Board, it was felt collectively it would be much better for efficiencies if this project was done through a regional approach.

  Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen said he liked the idea of the program being presented to each of the local councils, especially since the site is unknown at this time, and could possibly affect the regional landfill, which is located within the Town of Essex. Cost is also unknown, he added, for the long and short-term.


Municipalities asked to improve communication with ag community

Essex County Council directed Administration to request cooperation of Essex County municipalities in ensuring the Essex County Federation of Agriculture (ECFA) be given the opportunity to consult with administrative committees and be notified of opportunities for public consultation on matters affecting the agriculture sector.

  Part of the motion was to show support at improving communication and engagement of the agriculture sector within the Region.

  Mary Birch, Director of Council & Community Services/Clerk, explained the agriculture community has raised concerns about communication from the local municipalities and the decisions being made that affect agriculture.

  Their concerns are about decisions made on road infrastructure and planning and land-use matters, which affects agriculture. Some examples include road and bridge infrastructure that does not accommodate the size of their equipment and prevents them from gettingaccess to some roads, road closures for construction done at a time when they need to get to particular sites, and long-term planning decisions that are allowing for urban sprawl or loss of farmland.

  At one time, Birch said the County of Essex had an Agriculture Liaison Committee, which was short-lived for a few different reasons.

  In speaking with ECFA, Birch said a look was taken at existing County Committees that deal with the planning of these issues. Birch said County of Essex staff was going to reach out to the seven local communities and ask if they would invite ECFA to one or two meetings a year to allow them an opportunity to express their concerns on decisions that affect their operations.

  In addition, it will be asked that the communications departments in each municipality touch base with ECFA to ensure its reps are on the list of organizations that receive notification for public information sessions or meetings.

  Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald had some concerns with the requests. To her understanding, there are plenty of opportunities in place for the ag community to come forward to speak to issues.    

  “We are in a position right now where the farming community is fighting us on some by-laws, and to strengthen that at this point in time, I can’t support that; unless you are talking strictly county roads and county issues,” she said, adding as far as her municipality goes, she believes farmers are met more than halfway.

  She said this goes above and beyond what is done for members of the public.

  “I support the farming industry. They are the backbone of my municipality. But, I think they have plenty of opportunity to speak,” she said.

  Warden Gary McNamara explained the biggest concern was that when the County of Essex designs bridges, farmers can’t get across the width of the bridge. The idea is to speak with them about capital works, and has nothing to do with municipal by-laws.

  MacDonald believes her municipality does its due diligence when it comes to that issue.

  Essex County Council notes for Wednesday, October 20 will be continued in the November 4 issue of the Essex Free Press.