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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex - Continued Council notes - June 7th

by Sylene Argent

Admin to return with another report with options regarding fill permits

Kevin Carter, Chief Building Official, spoke on the issue of fill permits during the Essex Council meeting on Monday, June 7, and presented the report that Mike Diemer, By-law/Property Standards Officer, prepared on the matter.

In the Report to Council, it notes the Town of Essex created the Grading and Fill By-Law in 2019 to regulate the properties that bring in fill, as well as the grading that is completed on the properties. The Report focused on three areas regarding fill permits, including timeframes, limiting the number of fill sites, and contaminants. 

  The issue was discussed because at the Monday, May 3 Essex Council meeting, members of Administration were directed to prepare a report on issues regarding fill sites and further present recommendations on the issues – pros, and cons – and limitations on the number of sites, permits, and their extensions. 

  Councillor Kim Verbeek first brought up the issue through a Notice of Motion, and wanted to investigate if permits should only be extended or renewed once, after the initial permit, to limit the negative impact the ongoing extensions are having on community residents and roadways.

   Verbeek and Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche were to work with members of Administration to relay concerns they have heard on the matter from residents, notably from Ward 2. The meeting Verbeek had with the Town on the matter was educational, she said. It was driven by some of the neighbours to the sites that have been ongoing.  

  Verbeek brought the matter forward because she was hearing from residents in her Ward of McGregor, who have been affected by neighbours having fill excessively dumped onto their own properties. Sometimes this goes on for many years, with many trucks heading down these roads, that would otherwise be quiet. She also voiced concerns regarding soil testing associated with the collection of fill.

  The Report to Council on the matter notes in some cases, farmers are trying to build up land, however, there is concern there could be other reasons for the collection of infill, such as stockpiling.

  Through the By-Law, a permit is required, which is obtained through submitting an application. Certain conditions of the By-Law need to be satisfied for issuance. If the owner of the property, however, breaches of any of the terms and conditions of the issued fill permit, it is voided.

  The Report notes an Officer with the Building Department may grant or refuse any fill permit, but in no case shall an event being applied for be longer than one year in duration.

  The Report adds that extending or renewing an existing one-year grade fill permit may cause further increase with a number of local issues, including concerns regarding noise, dust, truck traffic, road damage, erosion, drainage and other social, health and environmental concerns.

  It warns that prohibiting the extension or renewal of an existing one-year grade fill permit on larger projects of five-acres or more may cause a rush to complete the work within the timeline of their original permit and could exacerbate the issues into the one-year timeframe.

  Smaller sites, under five acres, are expected to be completed within the one-year permit, Carter said.

  Prior to the by-law, Carter said there were no closure dates.

  Limiting the number of sites where fill can be brought to is contrary to the principles of the permitting process, due to creating conflicts evolving from the minimal sites throughout the municipality, Carter noted. This process would also create conflicts for Administration as fairness and integrity could come into question. 

  Contaminated soils cannot be used or imported at any time. The By-Law dictates that the proponent must have all soils tested prior to being imported into our Municipality, but does not require testing of soil contaminants during or after the fill process. If contaminants are noticed, the project is stopped immediately, Carter added.

  Carter noted there are currently three fill sites in Essex, all of which are set to expire in the coming months. He said there was one that was revoked, due to the timeframe. They are all larger sites. He does not expect all of them to be finished this year.

  Verbeek wondered about having the proponent go through ongoing testing, at risk of not regaining the deposit, or something similar. Carter said Council may wish to add that to the By-Law, but added By-Law Officers are at these sites quite often, checking for smells, debris, or anything that may provide for a suspicion that there may be contaminants. If there is suspicion of contaminants, an order to get testing done is issued immediately.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said he would like to see testing at the end of the fill permit, with the cost taken out of the deposit. Carter said that could be a hefty cost to complete. This is something that could be looked at. He said the Engineer for these projects has to sign off, noting there are no contaminants. Meloche said if it is known the Town will not test, he wondered what is preventing someone from taking a risk and saying there are no contaminants.

  Council received the report for information. Administration will follow up with another report on the items discussed during the meeting.


 Council approves Pride Flag to be flown at two separate occasions

Council approved two requests to fly the Pride Flag in front of the Essex Municipal Building at two separate occasions.

  The first request came from St. Paul’s Anglican Church, which asked for the Pride Flag to be flown during the Windsor-Essex Pride Festival, from August 6-8. The second was from Trans Wellness Ontario for Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 19.


 Council receives March 2021 Capital Variance Report

Council received the March 2021 Capital Variance Report. It looks at the first quarter of 2021.

  Director of Corporate Service/Treasurer, Jeff Morrison, said this was an updated 2021 Capital Variance Report, which the Finance Team put together. It aligns with the look and feel of the budget document. He said the report has been in the works for awhile.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said it is easy to read, and thanked the Finance Team for their efforts.


 Deputy Mayor highlights meeting with Hydro One over power-outages

In an effort to pursue better services in the area, on Friday, May 7, Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche and Mayor Larry Snively met with senior representatives from Hydro One.

  Mayor Larry Snively requested the meeting, so Hydro One could provide an update resulting from recent outages and learn what Hydro One is doing to improve services and make investments in the area.  

  The current Hydro One system in Essex County consists of six transmission stations and 15 distribution stations, together with 70 distribution lines. The Lauzon Transfer Station and the Kingsville Transfer Station are the two main feeds for the Town of Essex.

  Meloche relayed that Hydro One’s reliability improvements began in 2017, but are continuing with requests to both local transfer stations. Improvements have consisted of conducting infrared scans along the distribution line in order to source, locate, and fix problem areas, and the installation of remote control and smart switches at key impact points.

  The remote control and smart switches provide for quicker responses, Meloche said, adding the installation of these devices, in addition to fault indictors, continues.

  Hydro One, Meloche said, has also modernized the Kingsville Transfer Station.

  Meloche said the Hydro One representatives noted all of these improvements have overall helped reduce the number of outages, the number of customers affected, and reduced response times.

  Hydro One, Meloche added, is aware of planned future growth, with over 800 homes expected in the future, and advised both transfer stations could handle the additional demand.

  Meloche said he also asked about the flickers and outages that seem to be occurring in the southern-end of the municipality, and if they are due to aging assets belonging to Hydro One. He was told the flickers and power-outages do not appear to be due to that, but that issue still largely appear to stem from animal or weather related issues. It is hoped this will be improved with planned vegetation elimination in the future, he relayed.

  Meloche also asked about the south-west and north-east area of Talbot Road, as the area’s services are split between ELK and Hydro One. He asked if the north-east area fails, if it could be set up to automatically switch to draw power from the other side of the town. He was told this would need to be discussed with ELK, which they would do to see if it would be feasible.

  “I believe by initiating this meeting, Hydro One understands that Essex Council has major concerns that we will not let lie in regards to consistent and quality hydro service for our residents. Both individuals we met with, seemed to have a genuine desire to help towards our goal, and have agreed to meet with us again, both the Mayor and I, within a six-month timeframe for further evaluation,” Meloche said.

  He hopes this is the start of a better relationship that could begin a speedier recovery of hydro services for customers.

  Snively said during the meeting, he and Meloche were quite direct with their questioning and wanted to know where the problems were. Hopefully, there will be improvements, he said.


NoM to be considered at the June 21 meeting:

Councillor Sherry Bondy will ask Council to Consider installing a “Children at Play” sign on McAffee Street in Harrow, at the entrance to the Harrow Fairgrounds and Arena. As per a Council resolution, “Children at Play” signs are only installed within community areas, such as parks, schools, and other institutions, with a main purpose to provide services to children.

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