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  • ESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex Council meeting notes - Monday, August 23

by Sylene Argent

Better Laws for Paws asks animal care and control by-laws be updated

Mackenzie Porter, Policy Writer for Better Laws for Paws, approached Council regarding the Town’s animal control and welfare by-laws and recommend amendments to current pieces of legislation.

  “We are here tonight, asking for your help to better animal welfare by-laws across all municipalities throughout Windsor-Essex. We ask that Essex pioneer this movement that aims to ensure all animals are protected under municipal legislation, and we request your assistance in helping implement a blanket of protection throughout Windsor-Essex, so that the city and all townships have excellent and equal by-laws,” Porter said.

  Recommendations include that a thorough background check be completed when hiring or tendering for an animal control worker.

  Other recommendations include that the floor and ceilings of kennels be solid to protect from elements, that no chicken wire be used within a kennel structure, and that animals kept in outdoor crates or kennels be offered regular exercise. She also recommended minimum enclosure requirements, depending on the size of the animal, and that animals be sufficiently grooming and be on a veterinary approved flea and tick regime.

  Their petition calling for amendments to all Windsor-Essex animal and welfare by-laws has garnered over 1000 signatures so far. The petition can be found at change.org.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy thanked the reps from Better Laws for Paws for approaching Council and noted the issue is one near and dear to her heart.

  “We have done a lot of work in Essex, but we can still make improvements,” Bondy said, adding she would love for Essex to dig into and review its own by-law again.

  Organization member, Sarah Aubin, said members were told, after speaking to provincial leaders and managers for the province that had a hand in the PAWS Act, to try and unite Windsor-Essex so there is a blanket of by-laws.

  The Town of Essex’s Animal Control Officer, she added, advised her that it would be better for him if there was a blanket set of rules for kennels, tethering, and dogs in hot cars, that way, when going to other municipalities, they do not have to adhere to different by-law requirements.

  “We would appreciate Council going to its community and asking the community what you would like to see in your animal control by-law,” Aubin said.

Councillor Steve Bjorkman said this Council should tell administration what they would like to see in the by-law, and ensure it represents what the public wants.

  Council received the presentation and will host a roundtable when Doug Sweet takes over as CAO and get public feedback on the matter.


 Noise By-Law updated

Council received the Legal and Legislative Services report “Noise Control By-Law Review and Updates, and provisionally adopted By-Law 2038, being a by-law to prohibit and regulate noise in the Town of Essex.

  Deputy Clerk, Shelley Brown, noted the Town’s noise bylaw was adopted 16-years ago. Earlier this year, Council directed administration to look at the use of bird bangers, propane-fired cannons that emit sounds to scare away birds, in agricultural zones.  

  Administration conducted a review of the Noise By-Law and identified some areas of concern. Then, staff looked at the possibility of prescribing regulations relating to the use of bird bangers and the legalities of such matters.

  If they follow normal farm practises, farmers are protected from liability, resulting from nuisance noise complaints, pursuant to the Farming and Food Protection Action, Brown noted, adding the Act states no municipal by-law applies to restrict a normal farm practice, carried on as part of an agricultural operation.

  This conversely means that a municipal by-law can in fact restrict or regulate those farm practices, she said, further noting that legislation does not have a predefined list of practices that are deemed farm practices. Instead, it is determined through a case-by-case basis.

  In cases where a dispute arises, Brown explained, the question of making an independent determination falls on the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board.

  This means, she continued, that a municipality can regulate the use of bird bangers, but can only regulate in those cases where such uses are outside accepted practices or what would be considered normal farm practice as determined on a case-by-case basis by the Normal Farm Practises Protection Board.     

  Administration drafted and recommended the proposed Noise By-Law be adopted, with a variety of key aspects, including the proposed By-Law specifically outlines the general prohibitions, further prohibits certain acts by time and place, and also distinguishes between residential, agricultural, and commercial areas.

  Other key components include exemptions for public safety and other matters be provided, and that Bird Banger Regulations of the proposed By-Law states that no person shall operate a bird banger on land that is not an agricultural operation.

In addition, any person may make an application to the Town and/or its Special Event Resource Team to be granted an exemption from any of the provisions of the proposed By-Law by the issuance of a Temporary Noise Permit.

  The proposed Noise Control By-Law 2038 is being recommended for adoption by Council as an effective method to regulate noise within the Town of Essex. Upon the third and final passage of the bylaw, administration will make an application to the province to get approval on the set fines.

Council Sherry Bondy likes the portion for sound mitigation. She has received complaints on such instances, where residents are being disturbed to the point where the quality of life is being impacted.

She would like to be kept up to date on which Noise Bylaw exemptions are approved to be kept in the loop to inform residents if Councillors receive noise complaints from within the community.


 Appointment of Animal Control Appeal Committee

Councillor appointed Terri Coutts, Richard Kokovai, and Chris Ortner as members of the Animal Control Appeal Committee for the limited purpose of adjudicating upcoming appeals, and further approved an honorarium of $100 be paid to each member of the Animal Control Appeal Committee for serving an adjudicative role for a specific purpose.

  At the July 5, 2021 Regular Council Meeting, Council considered a Legal and Legislative Services Report regarding an upcoming appeal hearing to be convened pursuant to Section 4.07.3 of the Animal Care and Control By-Law.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek thanked these residents for stepping up. She noted it is an important role.


 Road closure requested for Ken Knapp Ford Party at the Park

Council approved closing Wilson Street, between Talbot Street and Scratch Street, in Essex Centre, between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm on Saturday, September 11, to accommodate the foot traffic for the Ken Knapp Ford Party at the Park event.

  The event will take place in the Heritage Gardens Park in Essex Centre on Saturday September 11, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and will include a farmers’ market, car show, and live music.


 Town leases space for viewing devices in Colchester

Council approved entering into an agreement with 2633698 Ontario Ltd. (Vintage Grapes) for leased space to install two viewing devices within Colchester.

  The lease will be for two-years, commencing on September 1, 2021 and concluding on August 31, 2023. There will be an option to renew for an additional two-years.

In addition, Council gave three readings to Bylaw 2056.

  In the Report to Council, it notes, the lease will require the proponent to pay an annual rate of $226.


Colchester Harbour maintenance dredging awarded

Council awarded the Colchester Harbour Maintenance Dredging contract for 2021-2022 to Cobby Marine and Crain in the amount of $125,164.80.

  There was only one tender submitted for the project.

  Jake Morassut, Manager of Parks and Facilities, said the plan is to start the work in October to not interfere with boating. The sediment collected will be taken further out into the lake. The regulation for depth is 1.8m inside the Harbour and 1.6m in the mouth coming into the Harbour as per regulations.

  The Department of Fisheries and Oceans have committed funding of $31,291.20, since there is an agreement with a cost-sharing for projects up to $40,000 per year.


Harrow Arena splashpad washroom and changeroom postponed

Council voted to postpone the tender issued in 2021 for the Harrow Arena splashpad washroom and changeroom and that the capital project funding of $129,902.40 be carried forward to the 2022 Budget, with a request for additional funding.

  The other option was to cancel the project.

  In the report to Council, it notes during the 2021 budget deliberations, Council approved the Harrow splashpad washrooms to be constructed this year, with an approved $150,000 in the capital budget.

There were four submissions to the Request for Tenders, ranging in price from $193,614.16 to $289,522.69, all of which were over budget.

  The Town of Essex has already spent $20,097.60 in architect costs for the project of the budgeted amount.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman moved the option to try to get the remaining funds in the budget for next year.

Councillor Joe Garon suggested the project is needed and the price may go up next year, so he urged Council to get creative in getting the project done, such as using the remaining dollars in the Council Contingency Fund.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said it has been inconvenient to use a port-a-john there. She thinks the majority of residents in Harrow would be okay to postpone the project. She is even willing to start earmarking a bit for the splashpad in McGregor.

The washroom project is more than a want than a need, she said. She was grateful for the conversation.

Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche agreed in carrying the funds over to next year, because of the time of year. He is hoping for an early jump and bid on it next year.

Kate Giurissevich, Acting Director of Corporate Services, said there are funds set in the Parks and Recreation Reserve for the project. She said Director of Community Services, Doug Sweet, has been in talks with the Town of Amherstburg regarding a Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which would lay out the framework for what a splashpad in McGregor should look like.


Turtle Crossing Signs to be installed on Iler Road

Council directed Administration to install turtle crossing signs on Iler Road and further accepted a $50 donation from the Harrow Youth Action Committee to be used toward the purchase of the signs.

  In the report to Council, it notes At the July 5, 2021 Regular Council meeting, Council directed administration to work with the Essex Region Conservation Authority to determine if there was a need for and if it was feasible to install a turtle/ snake crossing sign on Iler Road.

  After consultation with the Essex Region Conservation Authority, the Town was provided a map regarding a nesting area for turtles in the Fox Creek, where it crosses Iler Road.

  It was recommended that the signage be installed within the Iler Road right of way as recommended by ERCA.

  The total cost to install the turtle crossing signs are estimated to be approximately $600, plus taxes, minus the $50 donation. They will be installed by Town of Essex Public Works Department.

  The remaining cost of $550 plus taxes will be funded from the approved 2021 public works operating budget.


151.7 percent decrease in construction when comparing July 2021 to 2020

Council received Economic Development’s overview report for July 2021.

  The report noted the total construction value for July 2021, including all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential developments that required a building permit totaled $1,967,800. This was down 151.7 percent from July 2020.

  The report continued that the average home sales price in July of 2021 in Wards 1 and 2 was $609,897, which was much higher than the $429,239 average recorded in July of 2020. The average home sales price in July of 2021 in Wards 3 and 4 was $680,810, which was also significantly higher than the $376,210 average recorded in July of 2020.

Site Plan Control Amendment Approval for Tim Hortons

Council approved Bylaw 2053, being a Bylaw to amend Bylaw 260, the existing Site Plan Control Agreement between The Corporation of the Town of Essex and K.S. Crowder Enterprises Inc. (Norene Investments), for the reduction of six required off-street parking spaces, and that it be executed and registered.

  This is for the 9 Maidstone Avenue facility.

  Kevin Girard, Director of Infrastructure Services, explained it is believed the improvements will help with congestion and provide some alternative turning movements.

  In the Report to Council, it noted that in an effort to alleviate safety concerns for traffic entering and exiting the premise, and to provide better service for restaurant patrons, the applicants, K.S. Crowder Enterprises Inc., wished to widen the entrance into the parking area from Maidstone Avenue and construct a dual lane drive-through.

  As a result of the modification, the required number of parking spaces under Bylaw 260 will be reduced by six for a total of 23 parking spaces.


 Recommendations approved for the Regulation of Short-Term Rentals

Council directed Administration to implement the action items contained in the Report to Council regarding recommendations for the regulation of short-term rentals.

  Lori Chadwick, Director of Development Services, noted several departments for the Town of Essex collaborated on this complex issue.

  Rita Jabbour, Manager of Planning Services, explained at the June 21 meeting, Council expressed desire to continue conversation on what constitutes a short-term rental, where they should be seen, and how they would be regulated and controlled.

  In general, Council expressed desire for regulations, Jabbour said.

  The density of short-term rentals can be controlled through zoning regulations, Jabbour noted. This is something already done through odour nuisances, which provides setbacks from dwellings. The same can be applied for short-term rentals, but the number will be arbitrary until the Town can find out how many there are and where they are.

  They could also be regulated through numbers, which is done mainly through a licensing by-law.

  There are some things to consider. She said a licensing by-law combined with zoning regulations, are needed. This is in the works and will be up for consideration in early 2022.

  Jabbour noted short-term rentals cannot be allowed in residential areas currently without an Official Plan Amendment to permit the use when not owner-occupied. In addition, a Zoning By-Law Amendment is being looked at to allow on-farm accommodations in ag districts.

  Immediate action items were proposed, until there is a licensing system in place, which includes for the fall-winter of 2021, Council direct Administration to collect an inventory of short-term rentals within the Municipality of Essex through a review of listing platforms. Admin would also like to launch a campaign to get short-term rental operators to register their business.

  Administration is also asking residents to voice concerns with the OPP on the matter, and staff to work with the County of Essex on the feasibility on an Official Plan Amendment, if Council wants to explore short-term rentals in residential districts and a Zoning Amendment for short-term rental for ag tourism uses.   

Council receives EPSB request on adding a traffic enforcement officer

Council received the Essex Police Service’s Board’s recommendation, stemming from its special meeting held on August 19, that a Traffic Enforcement Officer be added to the OPP Contract and that the position be included in the 2022 budget.

  Mayor Larry Snively said this is something Council has to look at.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek is the Chairperson for the Essex Police Services Board and explained in order to add a position, alternatives have to be put in place to help mitigate the issue, which was done, such as putting up the speed trailer, targeted enforcement, and adding slow down signs.

  Traffic issues are an issue in many municipalities across the nation, she added. 

  Verbeek said this is the next step. The OPP will come back with what the role will be. It is hoped this will be put into the draft budget now, if Council does decide to move forward with the addition.

  Council received the meeting minutes from the Essex Police Services Board.


 Mayor wishes CAO well on new position with Windsor

Mayor Larry Snively took a moment to thank CAO Chris Nepszy for his dedication to the Town of Essex for the past 14-years.

  He recently accepted a position with the City of Windsor as the City Engineer/Commissioner of Infrastructure Services. He will start September 7, 2021.

  “I have worked with Chris on many big projects here, and I’ll tell you, he put out 110 percent. I tell you, he is going to be really missed,” Snively said. “I can’t say enough about Chris. We have had our differences…at the end of the day, we shook hands. Chris has really moved this municipality forward.”

  Nepszy said Essex has been home to him for nearly a decade-and-a-half.

  “I am so proud and honoured to be part of the success and the tremendous growth of this municipality. I have always put Essex first in everything that we have done here. And, let me tell you, this decision was not easy to come by. But, I have had a chance to work with and continually learn from a really special group of people here.”

  He thanked his family for their support and previous CAOs Donna Hunter and Wayne Miller for laying the foundation administratively for the Town. He said they were great to work with and learn from. He also thanked Council for its support.

  The main ingredient in success is the team, he said, adding the staff at Essex are rockstars.   

  Director of Community Service/Deputy CAO, Doug Sweet, will step into the CAO position for the Town of Essex.


 SDU By-Law given third reading

The By-Law to amend the Comprehensive Zoning By-Law to Permit and Regulate Second Dwelling Units (SDUs) was given a third reading and passed.

  Rita Jabbour, Manager of Planning Services, noted at the previous Council meeting, Administration was directed to include regulations restricting the height of secondary dwelling units in residential districts. That was implemented in this By-Law as was a definition for ancillary residential buildings.  

By-Law to Recover the Capital Costs for watermain crossing Highway 3 passed

Council gave third reading to and passed By-Law 2050, being a By-Law to Recover the Capital Costs related to the watermain installation crossing Highway 3 at the 14th Concession, for those receiving a present or future benefit from the services and activities of the Town of Essex to extend services.


 Notice of Motion to be discussed at the September 7 Council meeting:

• Councillor Steve Bjorkman will ask Council to consider requesting the government of Ontario add public health units to the Ombudsman Ontario mandate.

• Councillor Kim Verbeek will ask Council to have a discussion regarding the installation of sidewalks in Gesto as it is a safety concern for school-aged children.

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