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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex Council meeting notes - July 4, 2022

by Sylene Argent

Youth Diversion wants more referrals from OPP

Joanna Conrad, Executive Director of Youth Diversion, approached Council to speak about her program and its benefits for youths, who are finding themselves in trouble with the law.

  Youth Diversion supports those six to 18-years of age throughout Windsor and Essex County, “through effective prevention and intervention services,” she said, noting she has been in her position since 2011.

  “As I am sure you are all aware, there has been a significant amount of youth crime in the last couple of months, especially around Essex County,” Conrad said, pointing to the incident where an airsoft gun was brought to a dance in Essex. Following that incident, she reached out to Councillor Sherry Bondy over her concerns of what she called a lack of diversion referrals from the OPP.

  As a result, Conrad said she met with Bondy, CAO Doug Sweet, Mayor Richard Meloche, and Councillor Kim Verbeek, who is also the Chairperson of the Essex Police Services Board.

  She attended Monday’s meeting to paint a better picture of what Youth Diversion does.

  Youth Diversion, Conrad said, accepts justice and outreach referrals, and from the public as well, as a proactive and preventative measure. It is also an intervention, “when young people are making poor choices,” she said.

  She shared a video that is shown to youths as a pre-charge initiative through Windsor Police Officers offering diversion to youths. It highlighted how what these youths might consider not such a big deal now can lead to instances that are down the line.

  “Diversion can not only change the course of a young person’s path, as it did with me [with a circumstance in which she found herself in her youth], it also removes the stigmatization that comes with label of ‘offender,’” Conrad said, noting that can impact employment opportunities, reputation, current and future relationships, and so on.

  She added diversion impacts the youth and the community-at-large. The community, she said, is often left out of the criminal justice system.

  “The beauty of Youth Diversion is that it holds young people accountable for their actions, while examining the [underlying] reasons for their behaviour,” she said.

  From her professional experience, Conrad said most youth do not offend, ‘just because.’

  “We figure out what the ‘just because’ is at Youth Diversion, and we work to address it in order to prevent future criminal activity,” she said.

  The OPP, she added, is not referring youths to her program as much as she would like.

  She wanted Council to think about the ripple effect in regards to youth crime and look at how to work together to change those perspectives with respect to youth, youth crime, and how to keep the community safe moving forward.

  She explained officers have four steps they can take when it comes to handling youths: a verbal warning, laying a caution, diverting, or laying a charge.

  During the safety and crime prevention walkabout though Essex Centre last Thursday, Conrad had the opportunity to speak with the OPP, where she was told she could attend sergeant training in September to speak about Youth Diversion. Conrad would like to get together with the OPP sooner as well.

  An idea she shared included a youth-led initiative where youths can clean up graffiti, whether or not they are responsible for it, as a way to do something positive in the community.

  Bondy said residents are looking to Council to provide leadership, after the airsoft gun at the dance incident. She hoped Council could bring a message of support for utilizing Youth Diversion, when possible, to the OPP at the beginning of the summer rather than the end to try to curb bad behaviour.

  “Right now, they are building the blocks of their foundation…we want to give them the tools to build a block down the good road,” Bondy said.

  Verbeek also saw the benefit of bringing this presentation to the OPP. She said Youth Diversion has been confirmed to be included at the next Essex Police Services Board meeting, which will take place in September.

  She said the Board will be supportive in giving direction to the OPP to try and use the Youth Diversion program as often as possible.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman would like it brought to the Essex Police Services Board, that as a Town, there is desire to direct the police force to look at Youth Diversion when the situation warrants it.

  CAO Doug Sweet said he meets with the OPP on a monthly basis, with the next to be on July 13. He plans to talk about Youth Diversion, and the desire to see it used, as a topic.

  Verbeek asked Council to support having the OPP use Youth Diversion when possible, so Sweet can bring that with him to the next OPP meeting. Council supported that motion.

  Meloche added he would like the schools involved with Youth Diversion, if teachers see any of their students getting on the wrong track.


 Essex Centre and Harrow downtown vacancy rates drop around 50 percent

Essex Council received the report, “Downtown Vacancy Report,” which noted Town staff has recently completed its second downtown vacancy assessment for Essex Centre and Harrow.

  The report to Council notes the first study was conducted during the summer of 2017. At that time, Essex Centre had a vacancy rate of 11.54 percent, and now has an improved rate of 5.79 percent.

  Harrow had a vacancy rate of 10.42 percent in 2017, and in 2022 has a vacancy rate of 6 percent.


RFQ for Road Widener approved   

Council awarded the Request for Quotations for a Road Widener to Cubex Limited in the amount of $82,669.82, including non-refundable harmonized sales tax.

Council also approved an additional $12,669.82 to be funded from Asset Management Reserve for the project.

  A Road widener is used to complete asphalt patching on the road and adding stone to the shoulders, Director of Infrastructure, Kevin Girard, explained.

Engineering services for Erie Blue Sanitary Sewer Extension Local Improvement awarded

Council received Capital Works and Asset Management Report, “Engineering Services for Erie Blue Sanitary Sewer Extension Local Improvement,” and further awarded the Engineering Services for the Erie Blue Sanitary Sewer Extension Local Improvement to TYLin International Canada Inc., in the amount of $152,281.81, including non-refundable Harmonized Sales Tax.

  The intention of the project, being initiated by the residents, is to install sanitary sewers for existing residences (18 homes), Director of Infrastructure, Kevin Girard, said. He added residents of this area submitted a petition in 2021 to have sanitary sewers installed along their roadway and disconnect from septic tanks.


OCWA appointed to oversee addition work for Harrow Lagoons

Council appointed Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) to provide engineering, operational, and contract administration services to design, procure, and administer the additional works for the Harrow Lagoons sludge removal project in the amount of $250,000.00, including non-refundable HST.

  This will come from OCWA Capital Recommendations – Ward 4, in accordance with the previously completed request under Section 22 of the Town of Essex Procurement By-law 2129.

   While OCWA was removing sludge from Cell # 2 (as awarded as a project in 2021 for $1 million), it was determined that the sludge depths within Cell #2 were greater than originally estimated and it was realized that the budget prepared for this project would not be sufficient.

  As a result, during 2022 Budget preparations, an additional $250,000 was included in OCWA’s capital recommendations for Ward 4 to increase the total sludge removal, the Report to Council notes.


 Catholic School Board notes VIP program still being taught in schools

At the May 16, 2022 meeting, Council passed Councillor Kim Verbeek’s motion to send a letter to the school boards, requesting the OPP be invited and allowed to resume the Values, Influences, and Peers (VIP) program in area grade schools.

  In response to the motion, Rosemary Lo Faso, Superintendent of Education for Student Achievement K – 12, responded the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has continued to offer the Grade 6 Values, Influences, and Peers program at its schools.

  “Many schools, including Holy Name Catholic Elementary School in Essex, continued to deliver the program throughout the pandemic through a virtual online platform. Most recently, now that many restrictions have been lifted, the liaison officers have resumed facilitating the program in-person on several occasions at Holy Name and other Catholic schools within the last few months,” she wrote.

  “We understand from your correspondence that Council discussed the effectiveness of this program in teaching youth positive lifestyle choices, positive social behaviour, and becoming part of the greater community. We couldn’t agree more, and in addition to working with the OPP, our Windsor schools are continuing to work with the Windsor Police Service by inviting them into our schools to deliver a wide-range of programming.”

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said she spoke to the School Board Chairperson of the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) as to why the VIP program has not returned to the public school system.

  She was told the GECDSB is reviewing police in schools externally as part of the School Board’s commitment to diversity and equity. This commitment is reinforced by the School Board’s recently released “Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy,” Bondy relayed.


 NoM: difficulty farmers encounter trying to get raw water lines approved

At the June 6 Council Meeting, and subsequently deferred to the July 4 meeting, Councillor Chris Vander Doelen asked 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.

  He said this has been going on a while. He has heard a couple times that people are having trouble getting some things done that seem normal in other communities. One was an industrial-scale farmer, who was trying to put a water line from one property to another property line. They approached the Town about putting a waterline on the Town-Right-of-Way and was told, at first, the Town does do that, then was told it does not.

Eventually, the farmer solved the issue on his own.

  Vander Doelen said there needs to be a more streamlined process, when farmers are investing millions of dollars in ensuring the food supply.

  Mayor Richard Meloche said the Town does not have a process for raw waterlines, and he suspects Administration will look at that. Developers, he said, have to come to the table and have some kind of negotiation and consultation on the matter. He believes the Town should work to put a policy in place on this matter in the future.

  Vander Doelen said he wanted the matter spoken about publicly and hopes to have it streamlined in the future. He put forward a motion that, when time permits, Administration explore possible ways of streamlining the use of private water supply on public right-of-way. Motion passed.


NoM: reviewing feasibility of developing a by-law re: firework storage

At the June 6 Council Meeting, and subsequently deferred to the July 4 meeting, Mayor Richard Meloche put forward a Notice of Motion to 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.

  This will still ensure all Provincial and Federal regulations still apply to the manner in which these fireworks need to be stored.

  Meloche said this will help the Town from getting into a situation again where there are excessive containers full of fireworks stored in the municipality.

  If someone would have an excess of 100lbs, they can ask Council if it could be stored for more than three-months.

  Motion carried.


 NoM: Council discusses feasibility, funding, and operational

process to securing public transit for St. Clair to Colchester route

At the June 6 Council Meeting, and subsequently deferred to the July 4 meeting, Mayor Richard Meloche asked 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 and up County Road 11 (Walker Road). Stops would include Paquette Corners, McGregor, and Harrow. The route would travel down County Road 13 (Erie Road) to Colchester for a last stop, and then back down the same corridor returning to St. Clair College.

  He amended the motion because Transit Windsor reached out since the NoM was made public and is interested in helping it along, and has someone to work out the numbers. As a result, there was no need to include the $60,000 to pay for a consultant.

  He asked, instead, that the motion be that the discussion on the possible route still takes place in 2023. He believes it will be beneficial to many and is something many have wanted for some time.

  Motion passed.


NoM: Council to send letter to Federal government re: increase in the price of gasoline

At the June 6 Council Meeting, and subsequently deferred to the July 4 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy asked Council to consider sending a letter to the Province and Federal governments to share concerns on behalf of residents regarding the increase in the price of gasoline.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman noted the province has reduced its tax since the Notice of Motion was tabled. The Town can still ask the Federal Government to reduce its tax on gasoline.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said it is not fair to treat the provincial and federal governments the same, as the province has reduced its taxes. The same could be asked of the Federal Government.

  According to an announcement made through Newsroom Ontario in April, the Ontario Government introduced legislation that would cut the gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre and the fuel tax by 5.3 cents per litre for six months, beginning July 1, 2022.

  This would cut the Gas Tax rate from 14.7 cents per litre to 9 cents per litre, representing a cut of 5.7 cents per litre. The Fuel Tax rate, which includes diesel, would be reduced from 14.3 cents per litre to 9 cents per litre, representing a cut of 5.3 cents per litre.

  It is hypocritical of Council, he added, to support climate change actions that play a major role in prices increasing.

  Essex Mayor Richard Meloche said it is a catch 22 for the Town. Many grants issued to the municipality are funded through Gas Tax.

  Bondy amended her motion to have Council send a letter to the federal government to match the decrease the provincial government issued. Motion passed.


NoM: to invite Hydro One, E.L.K Energy to discussion causes

and solutions to the ongoing power flickers

At the June 20 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion that asked Council, at the July 4 meeting, to consider inviting 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.

  She thought it would be a good idea to have reps of the two utilities at the table to discuss this.

  She understands there are upgrades in the Hydro One area. People are calling in when flickers are happening.

  Deputy Mayor Steve Bjorkman said he loses power usually twice a day in Colchester. He said it is worth reaching out to the utilities.

  Council removed E.L.K. Energy from the motion as Hydro One feeds the electricity into the E.L.K. area.

  In a recorded vote, all were in support.


 Notice of Motion to be discussed at the July 18 meeting:

Councillor Sherry Bondy will ask Council to consider directing Administration to cease the multi-residential waiving of development fees, unless the new proposal is deemed to qualify for affordable housing.

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