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  • ESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex Council meeting notes - Monday, April 19, 2021

by Sylene Argent

Surplus land, GECDSB invited to talk Harrow High property, Mayor to reply to ECCCA

Clerk, Robert Auger, reported Council had met prior to the regular meeting to host an in-camera session.

  Council discussed personnel matters of an identifiable individual, a propose acquisition of land, and proposed disposition of land, he said.

As a result, Council gave direction to Administration to:

• Extend an invitation to the GECDSB to attend a future meeting of Essex Council to discuss the former Harrow High School property.

• Mayor Larry Snively will send a letter of acknowledgement in regards to the Essex County Chinese Canadian Association’s (ECCCA) recent media release.

• To declare First and Second Streets on Plan 1461 Colchester, in addition to the portion of Erie Drive on said Plan, as surplus to the Town of Essex. In addition, during the regular meeting, Council moved to have Administration come back with a by-law at the May 3 meeting to authorize the sale of these three properties by way of direct sale to the abutting land owners.   


Pillon congratulated as new Deputy Fire Chief

Mayor Larry Snively congratulated Jason Pillon on his recent appointment to the position of Deputy Fire Chief for Essex Fire & Rescue. Previously, he held the position of Assistant Deputy Fire Chief – Prevention/Public Education.

  “We all know his commitment will continue to make our community a safe place to live and do business,” Snively said.

Pillon said he is, “Extremely humbled, honoured, and proud to hold the position.”

  The position of Deputy Fire Chief became available when former position holder, Rick Malott, recently took a position with LaSalle Fire Service.  

COVID-19/facilities update

Doug Sweet, Director of Community Services/Deputy CAO, provided Council with an update as it relates to COVID-19 and the Town of Essex’s facilities.

  He noted the Colchester Harbour Marina, the beach, pavilions, and sports fields are closed. Outdoor playgrounds, greenspaces, and Colchester boat ramp are open. Outdoor washrooms are scheduled to be open May 1, when staff members will be onsite.  

  Virtual programming, he added, will continue.   


  Council adopts Agritourism Development Strategy

Council adopted the Town of Essex Agritourism Development Strategy, and further directed Administration to begin the implementation process.

  The Report to Council on the matter notes the Town of Essex Corporate Strategic Plan 2019-2022 outlined priorities and strategies to be achieved over this Term of this Council, including the creation of an Agritourism Development Strategy.

  Culinary Tourism Alliance (CTA) was selected to complete the Agritourism Development Strategy for the Town of Essex.

  Trevor Jonas Benson and Caroline Morrow of CTA spoke about the project, noting more and more Ontarians are looking to take trips closer to home and are interested in learning where their food comes from.

  Through the Agritourism Development Strategy, four objectives were identified to support the Town’s Corporate Strategic Plan. These include establishing a shared understanding of agritourism amongst stakeholders; evaluating challenges to agritourism development in the region; identifying the destination’s strengths and opportunities within the agritourism sector; and looking at actions for growing the visitor economy through agritourism in the short- (1-2 years) and medium-term (2 or more years).

  The Agritourism Development Strategy has 12 action items included, which Morrow said were designed to be as implementable as possible, to ensure implementation can be done quickly.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said the Strategy will give the Town some direction on the matter. It also provides a better understanding of what needs to be accomplished.

  The Town of Essex had $55,000 to put towards the project. At the September 8, 2020 Council meeting, Council approved reallocating up to $25,000 from the 2020 Tourism Marketing Budget. The Town was also successful in earning $25,000 from the Tourism Economic Development Recovery Fund (TEDRF), through the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries. These funds had to be spent by March 31, 2021. In addition, TWEPI supported the project with $5,000.

  The Report to Council notes $33,433.88 has been spent to create the strategy, leaving $21,566.12 for implementing the identified action items within the Agritourism Development Strategy.


 Development in March 2021 down 106.6 percent from March 2020

Council received the Development Overview for March 2021, which noted there was $2,200,600 in total construction value for March 2021, which included all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional, and developments that required a building permit. This was down 106.6% from March of 2020.

  The average home sale price in March of 2021 was $499,469, which is significantly higher than the $318,784 average in March of 2020 in Wards 1 and 2. The average home sale price for Wards 3 and 4 was $528,028 in March 2021, which was higher than the $412,846 average in March of 2020.

  A total of 98 single-family dwellings sold in March 2021, compared to 78 in March of 2020.


 Community Improvement Plan Update

Economic Development Officer, Nelson Silveira, provided Council with a first quarter update of Community Improvement Plan (CIP) applications.

  The report notes a total of $6,827.50 so far has been distributed between two facilities for completed CIP programs of the $100,000 set aside in the 2021 Budget. One new application was received for CIP funding, for the former Dahl House for Rehabilitation, Façade Improvement, Development Permit Fees, Accessible Entrance, and Architectural Design Grants.

  There are six open CIP applications from 2020 that have yet to receive funding.

  The CIP has a variety of grant programs for eligible property owners that invest in façade improvements, new signage, and building renovations and improvements. These programs have facilitated and encouraged community change by providing grant funding for new development in three separate project areas that include Essex Centre, Harrow, and Colchester/County Road 50, the Report to Council notes.

  Funding for CIP programs in Essex Centre and Harrow will expire at the end of the year.

Funds from these programs will instead go towards the Essex Centre and Harrow Streetscape projects. The Colchester and County Road 50 CIP is set to expire in 2027, the Report to Council adds.


Free feminine products to be distributed at Essex and Harrow arenas

Council approved the installation of menstrual dispensers and disposal containers at the Essex Centre Sports Complex and Harrow and Colchester South Complex for a one-year pilot-project that will provide free feminine products, beginning in August.

  The Report to Council noted that while menstrual products are not necessarily a health issue, this initiative is likely to provide social benefit to the community. Menstrual products are very expensive, yet necessary.

  The four washroom locations at the Essex Centre Sports Complex and two washroom locations at the Harrow Arena were chosen for the pilot project, as these facilities are continuously serviced by staff and they service the most amount of people on a year-round basis, the Report to Council notes.

  Administration will monitor the usage throughout the one-year pilot to determine the need and report back to Council.

  The estimated costs to implement the pilot project from August 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022 is $4,854 for these two facilities.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said she is grateful for the program. She said the pilot project, “Is making some inconveniences in being a woman more convenient.”


Additional work on Essex Centre Sports Complex Refrigeration System approved

Council approved additional work to be completed on the refrigeration system at the Essex Centre Sports Complex. The additional work includes the replacing of two Bitzer Compressors, the addition of replacing two motor bearings while the compressors are being replaced; and the addition of repairing the heat exchanger gaskets while the compressors and bearings are being replaced.

  The Report to Council notes Council approved $86,000.00 in the capital budget to have two Bitzer screw compressors replaced at the Essex Centre Sport Complex.

  It adds Machinery Monitoring & Analysis LTD (MMA) conducted a vibration analysis of the existing compressors at a cost of $2,096.15, and recommended replacement of the two compressors.

  The Town of Essex, upon approval from Bitzer, may receive an estimated credit of $6,500. With these credits taken into account, the Bitzer Compressor project is expected to cost approximately $55,634.55, which is $30,365.45 under budget.

  It was further recommended to replace the bearings in the motors. The Report to Council noted the bearing replacement will cost $1,780.80. In addition, to repair the gaskets in the heat exchanger will cost $10,069.15.

  The new project total could be $67,485.50, with the credit. If there is no credit, it will cost $73,985.50.


 Site Plan Control Approval for 3900 North Malden Road

Council approved Bylaw 2009, to enter into a Site Plan Control Agreement between the Corporation of the Town of Essex and Lorne McKim, for the conversion of the existing dwelling to accommodate the housing of farm help at 3900 North Malden Road, be executed and registered.

  Bylaw 1037, was previously received and approved by Council on April 6, 2021 through Bylaw 2003.

  The applicant is required to apply for Site Plan Control Approval when amending the Zoning Bylaw to permit an ancillary dwelling on an operating farm for the purposes of housing farm help to ensure the ancillary dwelling is located on the lot and accessed in such a way to prevent the creation of a severable residential lot in the future, the Report to Council notes.

  The existing dwelling will be serviced by the existing access area and will share a water service connection with the proposed dwelling.


Official Plan amended to permit SDUs, Zoning Bylaw Amendment to come

Council approved a Bylaw to Amend the Official Plan for the Town of Essex to permit the addition of a Second Dwelling Unit (SDU) in a main dwelling or a detached structure in the agricultural district and select residential districts throughout the Town of Essex. Further, Council directed Administration to prepare a Zoning Bylaw Amendment with the proposed zoning regulations concerning Second Dwelling Units for Council to consider.

  Council held a special meeting on this matter on April 6.

  The Report to Council notes a SDU is a separate and independent housekeeping unit that includes its own entrance, bathroom and kitchen facilities, living room, and bedrooms. An SDU is not a short-term rental facility. It is intended to be used as long-term accommodation for those seeking affordable rental housing alternatives.

  At the April 6 meeting, the concern of structures being added to undersized lots was brought up by Councillor Steve Bjorkman and Mayor Larry Snively. Town staff has researched the topic to address the issue in the report, Rita Jabbour said, who is the Manager of Planning Services.

  She said there is a special section in the Zoning By-Law that focuses on lots that are undersized and when a dwelling or accessory structure can be built on them, without having to go for special permissions.

  What the Town is suggesting, in instances of detached structures on undersized lots, is to amend that section of the Zoning By-Law to state when a lot is undersized for a zoning district, a SDU would only be permitted inside the dwelling, Jabbour said.

  This will be proposed at a future Council meeting, when the draft Zoning By-Law will be presented for Council consideration for adoption and implementation.

  Bjorkman further forwarded concerns about where on a property the Town will allow residents to build a secondary dwelling unit. He said he had received concerns from individuals who did not want to sit in their backyards and be surrounded by potentially three more homes. Snively said he had the same concern.

  If in the required yard and four feet from a property line, a SDU would be limited to one-storey, Jabbour noted.

  Administration will bring the Zoning By-Law Amendment back to Council for consideration in the near future.  


Council supports Paramedic Recognition Banners

Council received correspondence from the County of Essex, Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services, which requested temporary banners be displayed between May 16 to June 6, 2021 in support of Paramedic Services Week. 

  Administration will also send a letter of no objection to E.L.K. Energy Inc. in support of the temporary banners.


Split-vote turns down request for support for paid sick leave

In a five to three vote, Essex Council defeated supporting a request from the Town of Amherstburg and St. Catharines that asked for support for their resolutions “to send a letter of support regarding the City of St. Catharines’ request for permanent universal paid sick days for all workers in Ontario during the pandemic and beyond.”

  In the resolution from St. Catharines, it adds City of St. Catharines endorses legislated sick leave and calls on the government of Ontario to permanently legislate universal paid sick days for all workers in Ontario during the pandemic and beyond, regardless of workplace size, type of work, or immigration status.

  Also in the correspondence sent from St. Catharines, it notes workers in Ontario without paid sick leave often feel forced to work when unwell, so they can feed and support their families, and are at risk of losing a paycheque or even their jobs if they stay home. It adds that had legislated paid sick leave been in place before the global pandemic, lives would have been saved because infection rates would have been reduced.

  Councillor Morley Bowman said he would not support the resolution, because he said this will be a big cost for small businesses. He said he did not think the resolution was well-thought out.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek supported the resolution, noting many workers have been requesting this. She spoke of instances she has heard about, where people had to go into work feeling under the weather, while waiting for their COVID test results to come in. She saw this as a safety net for the most vulnerable families.

  It is about being responsible and pushing for basic standards, Councillor Sherry Bondy added.

  Mayor Larry Snivley pointed out the resolution noted the paid sick days should go beyond the pandemic, and he had concern with people not going to work, saying they are sick after the pandemic. He said this could kill small businesses.

  Councillor Joe Garon said he would rather the government come up with a plan.

  In a recorded vote, Councillors Bondy, Verbeek, and Steve Bjorkman were in favour. Snively, Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche, and Councillors Garon, Chris Vander Doelen, and Bowman were opposed.


NoM: Land Acknowledgement report to come

Essex Council approved the Notice of Motion Mayor Larry Snively presented at the previous meeting.

  As such, Administration will research and consult with local First Nations, indigenous organizations, and other community champions in creating or developing a land acknowledgement statement for the Town of Essex.

 A report on the matter will come back to Council.


 NoM: Council supported sending letter to Hydro One

-Mayor will send complaint to Integrity Commission re: a video Bondy made on ELK-

In a recorded vote, Council unanimously supported the Notice of Motion Councillor Sherry Bondy presented that asked Council to consider informing Hydro One of concerns within the municipality of frequent power outages that are negatively impacting residential homes and businesses via a letter.

  Mayor Larry Snively said he has been in contact with Hydro One, and a meeting will take place between Essex’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor and the electricity provider in the near future. The meeting, he said, will inform the Essex Council reps of upgrades in Kingsville that bring service to the area.

Snively added Hydro One is aware of the problem and is working on improvements.

  Bondy thought if Council had the issue recorded in meeting minutes, that it may help the situation.

  Snively then left his seat as Chairperson of the meeting to ask why Bondy filmed a video in front of the Town-owned ELK facility. He claimed the video upset a lot of residents and threw ELK under the bus.

  Bondy said the Town does not even know what ELK’s value is and the state of its asset management.

  Snively said he was going to file a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner about Bondy’s video, which he said was, “pathetic on your part.”

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said Council should not expect the issue of power outages to be fixed quickly. He said the issue has become personalized between a couple of Councillors, which is muddying the situation. What the Town really wants to do is improve service, he said.

  He said Essex is in a weak position because of how it is being argued publicly, and that is too bad.

  As far as sending the letter, Councillor Kim Verbeek said at least that would create a paper trail on the issue and by doing so, Council is making an effort to address the issue on behalf of residents.


 NoM: to be considered at May 3 meeting

• Mayor Larry Snively will ask Council to consider recognizing significant dates, such as special milestone anniversaries and birthdays, for members of the community.

• Councillor Kim Verbeek will ask Council to consider creating a Secondary Plan for McGregor, similar to the ones created for Essex Centre, Harrow, and Colchester.

• Councillor Kim Verbeek will ask Council to consider only issuing one extension, after the initial Fill By-Law permit is issued in accordance with By-Law 1799, to limit the negative impact the ongoing extensions are having on residents and roadways.


 Vander Doelen said COVID should not be taken lightly

Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he has been asked by many individuals what his experience with COVID-19 was like. Monday was day 15 for him with the virus.

  He said when he made a Tweet a few weeks ago, that got him into trouble, he was hoping to perform a public service to tell people what it was like. The first three days, he said, it was nothing. He said he was sleeping a lot. Then he felt good for a few days, but then he got dragged back down.

  “And, that is why people cannot make light of this disease. Now, it got scary,” Vander Doelen said, who noted he lost 12-pounds during the ordeal as he was not able to eat for ten-days. He added he could not lift his head off the pillow for many days.

  “It was scary. I had to try to go to sleep with the feeling of a fist squeezing my bronchial tubes, even though I could breath,” he said, adding he can just imagine what the individuals sent to the ICUs and onto the ventilators feel like. “It must be just Godawful terrifying. I feel so terribly for them.”

  He said he thinks Council should let the professionals handle the issue and take their advice. Those who know they are at risk should stay home and look after each other.

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