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Essex Town Council notes - Monday, January 20, 2020

by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

Anderdon Eco students ask Essex to consider banning single-use plastics

Addisyn Walker and Darragh Aston, grade eight eco students from Anderdon Public School, and their teacher, Mrs. Jodi Nolin, requested that Essex Town Council implement a town-wide ban on single-use plastics.

  During a presentation the students prepared for the meeting, they claimed banning plastic straws and bags can be cost-efficient. Each year, they said, over 100,000 seas animals are killed because of plastics in the ocean, and many more are injured.

  They spoke of many companies and cities that have banned plastic straws, and they believe this should be done locally. They also noted plastics contain chemicals, and pointed out how chemicals can impact health.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek thanked the students for their activism, and for educating people on the subject.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman asked the students where replacement straws can be found that can stand up to being used for milkshakes and other thicker drinks. He asked if they knew, to forward that information about it. People expect a certain level of service, and a replacement needs to be adequate.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said it is about getting into a habit. When in Cuba, she said plastic straws were not used and that was normal there. She thinks there are things Council can do and hopes Council will do something.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said the nice thing about living in a democracy is that people get to disagree. There are some aspects to the ban that could affect people in a negative way. If a ban was forced, he said, it could negatively impact people with physical disabilities and seniors in nursing homes.

  Vander Doelen asked about the lid that often accompanies a straw for a to-go drink as it also uses a lot of plastic. He added that cutting down trees to create paper straws is not a solution in his opinion.

  He is all for voluntary use of plastic reduction.

  The students recently made a similar presentation in Amherstburg. They said the result of that meeting is that their home municipality banned the use of plastic straws at the Libro Centre Arena and is currently conducting a feasibility study. It is all about being role models, they noted.   

  Councillor Bjorkman put a motion forward that Council receive presentation and have administration look at banning single-use plastic bags and straws, and single-use items, where control can be passed over to the Town. He said it important to have the conversation.

  Council passed the motion.

 

Decision on CREW Winery signage deferred

Council received a public presentation from CREW Winery proprietor, Bernard Gorski, regarding his request for a bylaw amendment to allow for the continued standing of the electronic signage in front of his Colchester area winery.

  Enhanced with an electronic display board, and raised several feet higher a few years ago, the signage for the establishment along County Road 50 exceeds size and digital display limitations imposed under current sign bylaws for businesses in designated agricultural zones.

  Speaking to the issue, Gorski explained he and his wife have made a significant investment into their business, and he believes his sign helps to complement the Town of Essex’s plans to increase tourism along County Road 50 and the Lake Erie shoreline.

  “The new sign now has a digital media component to it. The sign permit application that we neglected to fulfill, was strictly an oversight on our behalf, and for which we apologize,” Gorski said. “Our old sign was a letterboard sign and it looked unprofessional. Our messages to the public will be clear, and easy to read with the new sign.”

  Administration had recommended that Gorski’s application be denied, due to the sign’s ongoing violation of current Town by-laws, and if that motion was passed by Council, bylaw enforcement would dictate that the sign would be removed, and only one in compliance with the current sign by-law be permitted to remain in its place.

  Speaking to that recommendation, Essex CAO Chris Nepszy explained that Gorski had failed to get a signed permit to modify the sign as part of the site plan control agreement. The sign is in violation of height restrictions, and in violation of having an electronic media display board.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen took a sympathetic view to Gorski’s plight, stating that businesses in Essex have to advertise their products to the general public.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche added that although some have felt that by having larger, industrial signs, that it would take away part of a region’s country charm. In spite of that, he was receptive to the idea of reviewing the sign bylaw.

  With this, a motion was passed to defer the recommendation from administration until after Council has had an opportunity to review the bylaw.

  During this interim time, the electronic sign must be powered down.


Clerk provides verbal report on OPP Contract

During Budget Deliberations held the week prior, Councillor Steve Bjorkman asked about the OPP Contract Sergeant position, which costs the Town approximately $200,000 per year.

  To address the OPP Contract Sergeant position, administration was to come back with more information on the position for Council.

  Robert Auger, Clerk for the Town of Essex, spoke of the issue at the regular Council meeting on Monday evening. He noted Council does have to give one-year’s notice to the OPP if it wished to eliminate this position.

  Council voted in favour of giving the OPP the one-year’s notice that it intends to remove the position.

  After the meeting, Bjorkman noted that putting the one-year notice into play allows Council a chance to learn more about the position and its benefits to the community. The notice can be revoked at a later date, if Council wishes.


Changes approved for CIP programs

Council received the report “Community Improvement Plan (CIP) Update” that Rita Jabbour, Manager of Planning Services, provided.

  Council also adopted bylaws to amend the Community Improvement Plans for each Harrow Centre, Essex Centre, and Colchester Centre.

  A Community Improvement Plan provides municipal funding incentives to property owners within a defined geographical area.

  In the report to Council, it notes that a review of the individual CIP programs was conducted and reported to Council on Monday December 16, 2019. The review looked at the effectiveness of the programs and if any changes would be necessary.

  The changes to the Community Improvement Plan programs include a delegation of approval authority on CIP applications from the Planning Department to the Economic Development Officer. It also includes that the Harrow and Essex Centre implementation period be amended to expire at the end of 2021 to assist with financing the debt related to implementing the Harrow and Essex Centre streetscape projects.

  Other changes include the ending of the Parks Levy Equivalent Grant Program, the extension of the CIP project area for the Essex Centre, the removal of employment generation as a qualifier for the tax increment grant, and the removal of the affordability qualifier for the allocation of funds under the Conversion Grant Program to assist with the creation of new rental dwelling units.


Increase to water and sanitary sewer rates approved

Essex Council approved the 2020 Water and Sanitary Sewer Rate Charges increase bylaw, which will impose an increase in water and sanitary sewer charges across the municipality.

  The increasing water rates will result in an increase in annual water charges of one-percent in all wards in 2020, while increases in annual sanitary sewer charges will vary by ward: a two-percent increase for Ward 1, a three-percent for Ward 3, and a two-percent for Ward 4.

Combined water and sanitary sewer charges will increase two-percent in Ward 1 or $16.07 per year, and two-percent in Wards 3 and 4 for an annual increase of $21.96 in Ward 3 and $16.32 in Ward 4.

  Sanitary sewer charges are not applicable to Ward 2.

  Increases in water and sanitary sewer rates have the effect of offsetting increases in expenses resulting from increases in the Consumer Price Index and providing cost effectiveness for municipal water infrastructure.

 

Two staff members pass Municipal Tax Administration Course

Essex staff members Amy Fournier and Michelle Woodiwiss passed the Municipal Tax Administration Course, a three-course program, provided through Seneca College and the Faculty of Continuing Education.

  Jeff Morrison, Director of Corporate Services, said the program is rigorous and provides relevant, hands-on training.


Notices of Motion re: road works, having the National Anthem played before meetings

Three Notices of Motion were presented to Council, which will be discussed at the February 3 Council meeting.

• Councillor Kim Verbeek put forward a Notice of Motion that will have Council consider getting road works on old Malden Road done in 2020. She would also like Administration to look into if it was possible to get this done.

• Verbeek also put forward a Notice of Motion that Council be provided with a five-year road plan.

• Mayor Larry Snively put forward a Notice of Motion that the playing of ‘O Canada’ be resumed at the commencement of Town of Essex Regular Council meetings.

  The regular practice of playing ‘O Canada’ before town meetings was discontinued several years ago.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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