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  • ESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Town Council meeting notes - June 20,2022

by Sylene Argent

Residents air concerns regarding outstanding issues in Townsview Estates

Townsview Estates residents Glen Mills, Troy Labidie, and Andrew Kawala approached Council regarding outstanding issues with the subdivision.

  Mills said the residents were there to simply get answers to issues residents believe need to be addressed.

  The three delegates brought forward a number of issues, including broken drain pipes, low water pressure, communication, transparency, sidewalks, and landscaping on the back of Morris Drive.

  To his knowledge, Mills said there are several broken drain pipes or sewer pipes. Those who had those issues should have been contacted by the Town so they didn’t spend money fixing up the front of their yards, like installing driveways.

“There’s zero communication from the Town,” he said.

  Labidie said they had no idea where the sidewalks were going to be located in his area on Morris Drive, until he asked for a permit to put in a driveway. He said two-years ago, there was discussion to have the sidewalk placed on the same side of the road as the retention pond, to give direct access to the park and mailbox, but it appears the sidewalk is slated to be installed on the opposite side.

  He also learned recently that instead of the sidewalk being planned to be three-feet off the curb with a five-foot sidewalk as was what he believed was previously planned, it was going to be five-feet off the curb and a five-foot sidewalk.

  This would mean those who will have a sidewalk going past their front yard will lose an additional two-feet of usable driveway space. “For us, that is a huge issue,” Labidie said.

  He hoped the Town would put the sidewalks on the curb, or no more than three-feet from the curb, and that the sidewalks be added to the retention pond side of Morris Drive. He also requested a sidewalk be added on Morris Drive, straight across to Maidstone, to facilitate a safe, even path for all to walk on, especially in inclement weather as he said this area is often a mud pit.

  Kawala also lives on Morris Drive. He said his house backs onto a farmers’ field, which has a drop-off from his yard to the field of around four-feet. He said he does not let his young kids play freely towards this area. He wants to put a fence up, but it was suggested it be put up five to seven feet from the property line. He said he does not want to lose any more property than he has to.

  He wanted a timeline as to when the matter would be taken care of and who is responsible.

  Director of Infrastructure, Kevin Girard, said there are seven broken cleanouts (pipes) – he believes two sanitary and five stormwater – in the subdivision, which includes phase 4 and 5 of the development. Five of them are in driveways. He said they were broken some time during construction.

  He said the Town did request at a recent site visit the developer and contractor send communication to the impacted residents. He suspected these residents will receive communication in the very near future regarding sidewalk construction and the broken cleanouts.

  In speaking of the grading issue affecting some of the lots adjacent to the farm field, Girard said the Town and developer have been working on a solution and are reviewing alternatives and working with third parties through negotiations to resolve the issue.

  Girard said the Town has been contacted twice about the water pressure in the subdivision. He said if many services are being used in a home, it will struggle to keep up. Another investigation will look at the water pressure to see if there are any issues.

  In speaking of sidewalk layout, Girard said the current plan is identical to when it was approved. The locations of the sidewalks have been known for many years. A couple of the deciding factors used to determine sidewalk location includes maintenance, uncontrolled crossings, and limiting the amount of crossing of the road. He said they are typically approved at the time the development is approved.

  The stormwater management plan for the subdivision was designed so stormwater will go to the pond. In the event of a large storm, the subdivision would flood in the roadways up to a foot. It would then spill over land to the pond, which is another reason the sidewalk was not planned for that side of the road.

  In looking at parking, it is allowed on one side of the Townsview subdivision.

  Councillor Joe Garon asked if the Town is aware of broken cleanouts and a property owner applies for a driveway permit, does the Town notify that property owner if their property is affected and warned not to move ahead with a driveway at that time.

  Girard did not have an answer for that, but would get the answer.

  Garon also asked about the four-foot drop at the back of the property. Girard responded it is the Town’s position that the grading issue was an oversite of the developer and its agents. A game plan is being developed to address the issue.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek asked if the sidewalk curb area could be three-feet instead of five-feet, and further asked who would be responsible to clean the sidewalk if it was placed on the pond-side of the road.

  Girard said there are a number of utilities that need to be accommodated in a small area the Town owns. He said if the sidewalk was placed on the other side of the road, the same side of the retention pond, the Town would have to clean the sidewalks, where residents would be responsible if it is placed on the other side.

  He said typically sidewalks do not directly abut curbs because in the winter, plows end up pushing heavy snow onto the sidewalks, which residents then have to clean.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said just because the plans were approved previously, does not mean they cannot change.

  Peter Valente, President of 1849749 Ontario Limited, the development company, spoke to address some of the complaints.

  He said he does not blame the residents for wanting answers. From the developer’s perspective, the work is wanted to be done. He said COVID has affected everything. He said his family’s reputation is important and wants to solve problems.

  He said the grade issue at the back of the properties was missed. He said it should not be like that. There is a plan to come forward.

  Recently, Valente said he completed a walk-through of the area with a Town rep to identify where repairs need to be and what cleanouts need to be replaced. As soon as locates are done, the work will be completed.

  In terms of changing sidewalks, Valente said it could delay things.

  “We are here. I want the work done as badly as you do. I am sorry it has taken so long. I would be upset, too. I don’t blame you. I just want to tell you, I want it done,” Valente said.

  At the June 6 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward two Notices of Motion for Council to consider at the June 20 meeting.

  The first requested that a “Caution Children Playing” sign be added on Morris Drive, due to the fact that there is a park on Morris Drive and residents are requesting signage.

  Council passed this motion.

  The second requested that the sidewalk slated for Morris Drive be put on hold and a review be taken to see if an active transportation trail can be placed on the same side as the drainage retention pond.

  Bondy said she would like to omit the sidewalk on Morris Avenue and that the money be put towards an active transportation trail and an eventual plan for a connecting link to Maidstone Avenue.

  She said she believes it is worth looking into.

  “When we can make something better, it is up to us as leaders of the municipality to say ‘pause. Let’s look. Something better is presented,’” Bondy said, adding she believes the cost will be minimal.

  She hopes Council would at least investigate this.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen asked if the Town has a sidewalk policy. Girard said the Town’s Development Standards Manual speaks to sidewalks. It notes local streets will have a sidewalk on one side of the street. A request to a developer to install an active transportation trail would take place on collectors and arterial roads. Any funding required to put toward a trail for Townsview could disrupt or delay active transportation plans for arterial roads.

  Garon did not want to see the Town getting into any hot water for changing the design after it was approved. He is in favour of a connecting link between Morris and Maidstone.

  After a friendly amendment from Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman, the motion was changed to that the sidewalk slated for Morris Drive be put on hold until July 18 and a review be taken to see if an active sidewalk can be placed on the same side as the drainage retention pond.

  In a recorded vote, only Councillor Vander Doelen was opposed.


 Town of Essex 2021 Financial Statements

Cynthia Swift, Lead Audit Engagement Partner for KPMG, presented the Town’s 2021 Audited Financial Statements.

Director of Corporate Services, Kate Giurissevich, said this was the second year the Town worked with KPGM. She said the audit went smoothly. Around four-months of work goes into the file.

  In reviewing the financial statements, Swift said there were no internal control deficiencies to note. There were also no unrecorded audit differences to note.

  “When we came out to the Town of Essex, the books and records were in really great shape,” Swift said.

  She noted the audit was based on materiality, and that was set at $1.2M, which is around three-percent of revenue. There were no changes to accounting or audit standards.

  The Town of Essex, Swift said, is in excellent financial health with net assets of $53M and non-financial assets of $193M, for an accumulated surplus of $247M.

  The Town’s financial assets increased from $81M to $87M, primarily an increase in cash. Financial liabilities increased from $29M to $33M. The deferred revenue increased from $2.2M to $3M. Long-term debt increased by around $1M. That was a result of around $3.2M in new debt for Fire Station # 2, offset by $2M of repayments.

  Infrastructure assets increased from $187M to $193M.

  Revenues were consistent with the prior year of $43M and expenses were $34M, leaving an annual surplus of $8.2M. This accounted for a surplus at the end-of-the-year of $247M, broken down to include $193 of capital infrastructure, $14M investment in ELK Energy, and reserve funds totalling $64M.

  She said reserve and reserve funds are in a healthy financial position.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said he is always glad to hear auditors say the Town has healthy reserves. He thanked the Town’s financial team for that.

  Council received the presentation.


Magnolia Ranch denied for Temporary Noise Permit

Gloria Cavenago and Linda Jeffery from Magnolia Ranch requested a temporary noise permit under the Noise Control By-Law 2038.

  They noted they have Saturday night weddings that take place until 11pm until the last weekend in October.

  She said there were several complaints from the same two neighbours, but others do not have issues with their operation. They want to be respectful neighbours.

  “If this is being turned into a destination area, then we have to accept the change that is inevitable when we are moving towards growth,” Cavenago said.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said there have been noise complaints about Magnolia Ranch for many years. He has gone out to the property and said those who are complaining have legitimate complaints.

  Not everyone wants to be on board with the area becoming a destination, he said, adding he is of the opinion the new establishments have to control what is on their property.

  He asked what physical changes have been made to mitigate sound.

  Cavenago said they have strong communications with the DJs, have moved the location where the DJs are situated, walls have been added to the tent, and a Night Manager tries to ensure the bass is at an adequate level.

  They asked what level does the Town want them to operate at to make the neighbours happy.

  Kevin Carter, Chief Building Inspector, said starting in July of 2021, the Town has received 12 complaints. Starting May of this year, there have been 10.

He said this is an agricultural zone, so they need an exemption to carry the music an additional two-hours to 11pm. The by-law, however, states at no time amplified music should be made to distract anyone living in the neighbourhood.

  There are five terms the proponents must meet, including identifying the source of music and the volume.

  The request does not grant the proponent amplified music, it only gives them two additional hours, he noted.

  If they want to have that music, Carter said there are a lot of conditions they have to meet.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said she is sympathetic to the situation. When these complaints happen, she gets calls late at night. She does not believe enough has been done for noise mitigation.

  She would support it for a one-time ask, but not for every Saturday for the summer.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen asked if the Town is going to be against weddings. He said it is part of life. He said the complaints are from the same few individuals. He said there should be a decimal limit. He thought permission should be granted for reasonable music that can be measured and controlled.

  Councillor Joe Garon believes 8pm to 11pm is reasonable, but the music does need to be at a controllable level. He said bands can turn their volume down. Until the delegates can come forward with how the sound is being mitigated, he can’t get on board.

  Bjorkman made the motion to receive the presentation and not approve the temporary noise permit.

  In a recorded vote, Councillors Chris Vander Doelen and Morley Bowman were opposed, with the remaining Council members in favour.


HIGH FIVE® Accreditation Verification received

Council received the report “HIGH FIVE® Accreditation Verification” for Council and public information.  

  Cynthia Cakebread, Manager of Recreation and Culture, said the Town is excited to accomplish the reverification, especially after two challenging years.

  There was a lot of great feedback from the verifiers, who provided a lot of input for the future.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek said this program is a big deal for the Town of Essex. She thanked the staff members for maintaining the verification.

  In the Report to Council, it notes HIGH FIVE® was developed in 1994 as a comprehensive quality standard for organizations providing sport and recreation programs to children, aged six to 12. It has been a part of the Town of Essex – Community Services Department since 2007.

  HIGH FIVE® Accreditation is a unique process for recreation and sport programs that verifies the quality standards organizations are achieving.


Update provided for My Main Street

Local Business Accelerator Program

Council received the report, “My Main Street Accelerator Program.”

  The report noted in December of 2021, the Town of Essex was one of 65 applicants approved for funding through the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator Program.

  The Town received funding for a dedicated Main Street Ambassador contract position, customized marketing research, data analysis, and non-repayable funding contributions for small businesses in Essex Centre and Harrow downtown areas.

  To date, 74 businesses in Essex Centre and 27 in Harrow on the main street have been contacted.

  Ambassador Tom Coke is looking forward to continuing on with the program.

  Businesses who want to apply for a grant through the program have to complete a market research document.

  To date, four applications have been submitted for the grants. There are ten available to give out. They are valued at $10,000 each, and are non-repayable contributions to support local businesses. Five are available for existing businesses, while five are available for new businesses.

  The My Main Street program expires February 3, 2023. The report continues that the main street Ambassador is focused on supporting Main Street businesses in accessing and making sense of the market research in their community, while also recruiting and assisting businesses in their business support applications.


Development Overview notes construction up 112.7% comparing May 2021 to 2022

Council received the Development Overview for the month of May.

  The Report notes the total construction value for May 2022, including all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential developments that required a building permit, totalled $27,549,900, which was a 112.7 percent increase, when comparing May 2021 to 2022.

  The average home sale price in Wards 1 and 2 in May was $578,815, which was higher than the $558,240 recorded in 2021. The average home sale price in Wards 3 and 4 in May was $528,936, which was higher than the $508,667 recorded in 2021.


 Additional expenditures approved for

Development Standards Manual

Council received the report “Development Standards Manual Capital Budget,” and further approved the additional expenditure of $6,500 for the Development Standards Manual.

  The overage will be funded from the Public Works Contingency Reserve, bringing the total budget to $86,076.

  Through the Report to Council, Lori Chadwick, Director Development Services, noted the Drawing Package increased with 36 new drawings and three additional OPS drawings.

  Once the Development Standards Manual was finalized and adopted by Council, the retained consultant submitted a request for Project Scope, changing the amount of $6,500 in order to recuperate the cost for the increased Drawing Package for the project.


 Additional funds approved

to replace netting at Essex Centre Sports Complex

Council approved an additional $1,470.78, to be funded from the Asset Management Reserve, to replace rink netting at the Essex Centre Sports Complex.

  During the 2022 budget deliberations, Council approved that Parks and Facilities replace the netting at the Essex Centre Sports Complex, with $35,000 in the Capital budget. Sound Barriers provided the lowest tender of $36,470.78 for the project.


 Additional funds approved to

replace netting at Harrow Arena

Council approved an additional $3,512.06, to be funded from the Asset Management Reserve, for Harrow Arena spectator netting.

  During the 2022 budget deliberations, Council approved that Parks and Facilities replace the netting at the Harrow & Colchester South Community Centre, with $18,000 in the Capital Budget.

  Sound Barriers provided the lowest tender of $21,512.06 for the project.


 Site Plan Control Approval for 0 Parnell Street approved

Council received the report, “Site Plan Control Approval for 0 Parnell Street (Applicant: McGregor Development Corporation), Ward 2.”

  Council also approved By-Law number 2163, to enter into a Site Plan Control Agreement with McGregor Development Corporation for the development of a 116-unit multiple dwelling at the lands located at 0 Parnell Street in the McGregor Hamlet.

  The Subject Lands measure 48,200 square-metres in total land area, and are dually zoned Residential District 3.1 for high density residential and Residential District 2.2 for medium density housing, including townhomes on urban lots.

  The proposed development is a four-storey apartment for phase 1, and 26 future townhouse units in phase 2.

  Should a building permit for Phase 1 be issued before December 31, $483,478 in development charges would need to be waived in 2022 and subsequently funded for this development. It was recommended that any overage in the waiver of development charges be temporarily funded from the Landfill Reserve and repaid with taxation revenue from growth for the 2023 budget and onwards.

  The proposal exceeds the Town’s minimum parking requirements, Lori Chadwick, Director of Development, noted. The report notes the parking area is proposed to accommodate 153 parking spaces, including six accessible parking spaces, two loading spaces, and six bicycle spaces, to serve Phase 1 of the project.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek is delighted with the project. She asked when will ground officially be broken to kick-off construction.

  Chadwick said the owner is looking to break ground as soon as Site Plan Control Approval and permits are obtained.

  Councillor Morley Bowman then put forward a motion that directed Administration to review the Zoning By-Law and development standards to review the minimum standards relating to parking spaces for future development.

  In a recorded vote Councillor Chris Vander Doelen was the only one opposed.


By-Law approved authorizing the Director of

Development to carry out Site Plan Control approvals

Council received the report “Bill 109 (More Homes for Everyone Act, 2022)- Changes to the Planning Act Affecting Site Plan Control Approval.”

  Council also gave first, second, and third reading to and adopted By-Law 2177, to amend By-Law 1924 that Delegates the Duties and Powers of the Council of the Town of Essex to delegate approval of plans and drawings respecting applications for Site Plan Control and Site Plan Control Amendments to the Director of Development Services in consultation with the Manager of Planning Services for the Town of Essex.

  This includes conditions to the approval of site plans and site plan amendments.

  As per the recently passed Bill 109, a Council must appoint an employee of the municipality as an authorized agent to carry out all Site Plan Control approvals for applications submitted on or before July 1.

  The purpose is to streamline the approval process, Lori Chadwick said, who is the Director of Development Services.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said the public wants some say over Site Plan Control approval. Chadwick said this has been approved at the Provincial-level and the Town needs to appoint an individual to carry out the duty.

  If Council was opposed, it would take away the ability for Administration to ensure development is orderly and meeting the Town’s standards.


 2023 Essex Open Budget endorsed

Council received the report “2023 Essex Open Budget” and further endorsed the 2023 Open Budget Plan.

  The report notes phase one will include the development of a dedicated budget webpage and a FAQ submission period, effective July 18th through to August 25th, and a social media campaign. Phase 2 considerations for the 2024-2026 budget years will include releasing interactive budget tools to the webpage and initiation of the participatory budgeting campaign.

  In a recorded vote, the motion passed unanimously.

  Budget engagement is important, Director of Corporate Services, Kate Giurissevich, said.


 Sidewalk Patio By-Law 2160 passed

Council received the report “Sidewalk Patio By-Law” and passed By-Law Number 2160, to regulate the use of sidewalk patios within the Town of Essex.

  The Report to Council on the matter notes the Town did not have a sidewalk patio By-Law.

  During the Covid-19 pandemic, the LCBO introduced automatic temporary extensions of a liquor license, which extensions did not require formal LCBO application and was only conditional upon the Town’s approval, the report notes. The Town then developed a temporary and expedited application process in order to provide for expedited approvals for businesses to develop or extend their outside patios as a pandemic relief measure in 2020 and 2021.

  Town Administration felt that it should continue to encourage eligible businesses to develop or extend a patio so as to further assist such businesses recovery from the effects of the pandemic.  This By-Law will provide a clear and consistent application process for applications and approvals.

  The By-Law sets a temporary Patio on Town lands that would be permitted seasonally for the period of April 1 to October 1.  

Councillor Joe Garon would have liked to see the program extended two weeks to include St. Patrick’s Day.  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman wanted to see it extended to Halloween.

  Council amended the By-Law to allow for the patio season from March 1 to November 1.

  Garon also wanted to see the security deposit of $1000 reduced to $500. Clerk Robert Auger said this is not mandatory and is up to the discretion of the Town Official as to if one was required.


 Notices of Motion

to be discussed at the July 4 meeting:

• Councillor Chris Vander Doelen will ask Council to discuss the difficulty some farmers in Ward 3 have been encountering while trying to get raw water lines and other infrastructure approved for their food growing operations. This was initially to be discussed at Monday’s meeting, but was pushed back.

• Mayor Richard Meloche will ask Council to direct Administration to review the feasibility of developing a regulation/by-law limiting storage of any type/classification of fireworks in any one location that totals in excess of 100lbs for not longer than three-months from the date of delivery into the Town of Essex. All Provincial and Federal regulations would still apply to the manner in which these fireworks need to be stored. This was initially to be discussed at Monday’s meeting, but was pushed back.

• Mayor Richard Meloche will ask Council to direct Administration to include $60,000 in the 2023 budget for a consultant to prepare a document on the feasibility, funding, and operational process to securing public transit for a route from St. Clair College, up County Road 11 (Walker Road), with stops at Paquette Corners, McGregor, and Harrow, and furthermore travels down County Road 13 (Erie Road) to Colchester for a last stop and then back down the same Corridor returning to St. Clair College. This was initially to be discussed at Monday’s meeting, but was pushed back.

• Councillor Sherry Bondy will ask Essex Council to send a letter to the Province of Ontario and the Federal Government to share concerns on behalf of residents with the increase the price of gasoline. This was initially to be discussed at Monday’s meeting, but was pushed back.

• Councillor Sherry Bondy will ask Essex Council to invite Hydro One and E.L.K Energy to a Special Council meeting to have a public discussion about the causes and the solutions to the ongoing power flickers and outages in the municipality of Essex.