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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex Council meeting notes - Monday, July 20, 2020

by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

CAO provides COVID-19 update

Chris Nepszy, CAO for Essex, said there really is not a whole lot to report as it relates to business of the Town of Essex and COVID-19.

  He noted the region would be staying in Stage 2 of the Province’s reopening plan at this point. The Town, however, is preparing for the reopening of Stage 3, which includes creating procedures for the arenas with user-groups.

  In addition, the maintenance of fields is going well, Nepszy said.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy said she has heard a lot of favourable feedback from within the community in regards to how the pool was opened, and that they are happy to be able to use it to get out and keep active. She said the Town is also getting accolades on how it had opened the splashpads.

  Bondy wondered when Council would again be able to meet in person. Nepszy said he has been working on that, but there have been some logistical issues in terms of continuing livestreaming as delegations would not necessarily take place in person at first. He is working through the parameters on what the Town needs to do to go back to using the County Council Chambers at the Essex Civic and Education Centre.

  When livestreaming can be done to meet the needs of the meeting, Nepszy will come back to Council. Council members can then make a decision on how it would like to move ahead.

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen wondered why delegations would not attend meetings. He believes regular delegations should be held, so long as social distancing is adhered to.

  Nepszy said the Civic and Education Centre is closed right now, which offers a different complexity. Perhaps delegates could be housed outside and brought in when it is their turn to approach Council.

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche would like to see this issue come back to Council to ensure everyone is comfortable with a plan. He is still leery to get back in person too soon. He believes the meetings online are working just fine.

  “We have to be setting an example, I believe, as being public figures. One of the ways we can do it is to continue on with virtual meetings until such time we feel is very safe,” Meloche said, adding staff and administration should be wearing masks when it does come time to meet, at least until they get to their seats.

  Council received Nepszy’s verbal report.   


Council receives CIP grant update

Essex Council received Economic Development’s report “Community Improvement Plan Update (Quarter 2 2020)” for informational purposes.

  The Town of Essex’s Community Improvement Plans (CIP) are municipal grant programs for eligible commercial property owners, offering a myriad of potential funding opportunities, including for façade improvements, new signage, and building renovations and improvements, the Report to Council notes. There are three program boundaries, including Essex Centre, Harrow, and Colchester/County Road 50.

  Nelson Silveira, Economic Development Officer, prepared the report, which noted the majority of applications received in 2020 have come from property owners located in the Harrow CIP project area. Several new applications have been received in Quarter 2 of 2020. Interest remains, but potential applicants may have not come forward to begin the process.

  Completed projects for 2020 to-date total $50,757.90. Of the five applications, one was from Essex Centre, three were from Harrow, and one from Colchester/Country Road 50 boundaries, the report notes.

  The Town has also received 10 applications for projects that have commenced in 2020; of which four are from Essex Centre, four are from Harrow Centre, and two are from the Colchester/County Road 50 programs. One of the Colchester/County Road 50 projects includes Development Charges Grant, Development Permit Fee Grant, Architectural Design Grant, Outdoor Café/Patio Grant for the John R. Park Homestead’s new Heritage Centre/Tourism Information Centre.

  The Report to Council continues that Council approved $100,000 in the 2020 budget for the Essex Centre CIP and $100,000 for the Harrow and Colchester/County Road 50 CIP. In the Essex Centre CIP program, there is $91,868.71 left in the budget, there is $53,538.78 left in the Harrow & Colchester/County Road 50 CIP budget.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy talked of when, a few years ago, the CIP uptake in Harrow was not as great as it was in Essex Centre. Now, she is seeing the reverse with more Harrow and Colchester businesses taking advantage of the program. She hopes Council will be open minded if money has to be shifted to a CIP program, which she said is a great opportunity.

  Councillor Joe Garon wondered how much the pending projects would amount to, and how it is determined, with the applications out, if the budget will be met.

  Lori Chadwick, Director of Development Service, said a lot of work is being done in the three CIPs. The work is ongoing, so it is difficult to know the demand on the funding. Staff is monitoring the program. Prior to turning any application down, staff will come forward to Council with possible options.


Council receives development overview for June

The development overview for June of this year notes the total construction value for June 2020 is $8,376,100. This includes all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential developments that required a building permit.

  This is up 44.4 percent from June 2019.

  As far as real estate goes, the average sale price for June was $392,192 for Wards 1 and 2, and $367,935 for Wards 3 and 4. Both numbers are up from June of 2019.

  A total of 33 single-family dwellings were sold in June 2020; 18 of which were in Ward 1 and 2, and 15 in Ward 3 and 4. In June of 2019, 39 were sold.

  To date in 2020, 159 homes have been sold within the Municipality of Essex, according to the report.


Council receives Climate Change Adaptation Plan progress report

Council received a progress report from Essex Climate Change Analyst, Niharika Bandaru, regarding updates on the Town’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan.

  This report follows two late May meetings of the Essex Climate Action Team, and the Internal Climate Action Team, where discussions were held on various facets of climate change, and how they might impact the Town of Essex.

  Subjects of these meetings included how resource availability, social networks, and service delivery between urban and rural areas vary, impacting climate change adaptation and resilience. In addition, other subjects included individual vulnerabilities, based on variances in lifestyle and occupation, and similarities between COVID-19 and climate change impacts and how these lessons could be applied to climate change resilience in the Town of Essex.

  This is part of Phase 1 of the Town’s four phase climate project plan, with Phase 1 being Assessing Climate Impacts. Phase 2: Adaptation Planning, Phase 3: Approval and Funding, and Phase 4: Implementation.

  “We’ve assessed climate impact, we’ve analyzed our vulnerabilities, and we’re currently identifying what our priority risks are,” Essex Director of Developmental Services, Lori Chadwick, said, as Essex plans to move to Phase 2 by the end of July. “Moving into Phase 2 you’ll start to see that [Climate Change Adaptation Plan] take shape.”

  The municipality will continue to work with its internal team in conjunction with consultation from members of the public, as well as external groups, such as the Essex Region Conservation Authority, ELK Energy, and The City of Windsor, before unveiling the final plan.

Council approves Harrow Arena roof replacement

Council approved a request for tender to replace several segments of the Harrow Arena roof. The contract was awarded to Gillett Roofing Inc., in the amount of $171,923.52. This includes a non-refundable HST.

  In accordance with municipal bylaws, Council approval is required for any purchase over $100,000, and thus the municipality sought tenders from qualified contractors.

  Although Gillett Roofing submitted the second lowest bid, it was approved as the lowest bidder’s quoted roof materials did not meet tender specifications.

  Gillett Roofing has been a previous supplier of roofing services for the Town on previous projects.

Columbarium approved at Colchester Memorial Cemetery

A columbarium was approved for construction at Colchester Memorial Cemetery, seeking to alleviate a shortage of options for final resting places within the Town of Essex, as well as provide an economic alternative to costly, land consuming traditional burials.

Colchester Memorial Cemetery is the only remaining cemetery in the Town of Essex to actively offer plots for sale, and the addition of columbarium niches will offer additional selection, especially with the rising popularity of cremation services.

  “I think this is going to be a great addition to our cemetery in Colchester,” Councillor Sherry Bondy said. “It’s an extremely affordable option that many people are looking forward to, and I think that it will really look great. I think it’s a great step for our cemetery.”

  The first niches are scheduled to be constructed over the next few months.


Amendments made to the Cemetery Bylaw

Essex Council gave two readings and provisionally adopted Bylaw 1812, to provide for cemetery amendments. And, also approved that this bylaw come back for a third reading upon approval by the Bereavement Authority of Ontario.

  Council also agreed that Bylaw 1186 and any amendments thereto be repealed upon Bylaw 1812 coming into full force and effect.

  The Report to Council on this issue notes the purpose is to update the current bylaw to reflect the current procedures by which the Town operates and maintains its cemeteries, in accordance with current legislation and recommended best practices.

  Bylaw 1812, the Report to Council adds, provides for and is a result of a complete review of Bylaw 1186. The review was held to ensure compliance with current legislation and amendments and best practices provided by the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) and the Ontario Association of Cemetery and Funeral Professionals (OACFP).

  As the Town is installing its first columbarium unit at the Colchester Memorial Cemetery, the installation of this unit requires amendments to the current bylaw to permit the sale of niches in Columbarium units.

Several changes were made, including adding definitions to provide for further clarification as well as the addition of columbarium units; allowing for rights holders the ability to sell or transfer their rights, so long as the sale or transfer is conducted through the Town and the interment rights holders and purchaser meets the qualifications and requirements outlined in the Cemetery Bylaw, and a list of cemeteries has been added to provide further transparency pertaining to the cemeteries owned and/or maintained by the Town.

  The interment rights now permits the burial of either one traditional interment plus two cremation interment, or three cremation interments.


Essex to send letter to Health Unit to ask for better COVID-19 data

Councillor Sherry Bondy put forth a motion for Council consideration, that the Town of Essex request the Windsor Essex County Health Unit provide the breakdown of COVID-19 cases in the municipality and region, based on classification.

  Bondy said Council needs to insist the Health Unit provide that data, not just the graphs currently being provided.

  “If we get the raw data, then we can make better decisions,” Bondy said, which would include when Council should open arenas and the Colchester Beach.

  “The Health Unit, what they are currently providing, isn’t adequate. And, I think they could be a little more transparent,” she said, adding she is concerned with the lack of information. “If we want to move out of our declared emergency, we need these tools to make these decisions.”

  The more data, the better, Bondy said.

  If Council would support a letter to the Health Unit, she believes the whole region would benefit from the data.

  Councillor Steve Bjorkman agreed the breakdown is important to Council. He said there are businesses that have not opened at all, yet. And, the Town does not know where the bar is. More data, he added, will help show where the bar is and how Essex can work at getting to Stage 3 of the Province’s reopening.    

  Councillor Chris Vander Doelen agreed the information is needed, but “I guarantee you, we will not get it in a million years. This current iteration of the Health Unit, for whatever reason, has decided it does not cooperate with other agencies and other political entities in the region.”

  If they are not helping us, they are contributing to the public’s cynicism about this crisis because there is a terrible lack of transparency, he said.

  Mayor Larry Snively said he took part in a meeting regarding the Coronavirus earlier that day. He agrees, Council should know what it has in Essex and Harrow. The region is not going into Phase 3 anytime soon, not with the positive numbers, he believes.

  Snively said he was a witness at a shopping centre recently, but would not identify the town. He said there were a lot of migrant workers at this shopping centre. Outside the door entrance, half had masks on and half did not. The ones who went inside the store wore masks. He provided this information to the Health Unit. Enforcement, he said, is very important and critical.   

  Council carried Bondy’s motion and will also send the letter to other municipalities in the region for support.


Procedural Bylaw Amendments and Consolidation approved

Seeking to consolidate recent amendments made to Bylaw 1681, as well as to capture various other minor housekeeping changes intended to eliminate inconsistencies or to clarify wording regarding procedure of municipal meetings, Council approved Bylaw 1926, which also seeks to allow more flexibility with delegations.

  “This is a consolidation of a result of some amendments over the last year or so,” Town Solicitor, Robert Auger, said, adding that these amendments have allowed for residents to become delegates after the publication of town meeting agendas.

  These included the consolidation of Bylaws 1784, 1788, and 1902, which has allowed Council to meet for quorum during a Declared State of Emergency.

  These new provisions go on to state that it may be possible for Council members (but not Committee and Board Members) to participate electronically in meetings outside of a declared emergency, but such participation would be limited to personal emergencies and the electronic participation would not count towards quorum.

  Also amended was the requirement of Youth Councillors to be representative of the Town’s Wards, whereas before they could reside anywhere in the municipality, now one must be from Ward 1 or 2, and the other from Ward 3 or 4.


Bylaw to Delegate the Duties and Powers of Council adopted

Much like Bylaw 1926, Bylaw 1924 consolidates several bylaws pertaining to the delegation of municipal council’s duties.

  The changes now proposed in Bylaw 1924 addresses changes as a result of the recent organization review process together with additional requested changes by Administration for the purposes of facilitating the operations of the municipality.

  Some of these approved changes include the requirement for the primary delegated authority to consult with various other members of administration; Letters of Support has been amended to include Administrative Approvals, including cannabis retail store applications and liquor license applications, in accordance with Town policies to be developed or approved by Council; and for the Heritage Grant Program to add delegating primary authority to the Manager of Planning Services, and secondary authority to the Director of Development Services.


NoM: notification to neighbours of new subdivisions re: potential water pooling

Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche presented a Notice of Motion for Council to consider at the August 4 meeting. His Notice of Motion is that Council request the Town of Essex Planning Department to include, as part of its site plan control procedures, notification to property owners abutting a new subdivision regarding potential for water pooling, if the existing property owners lack rear-yard drainage.

  He will also ask that these neighbours are notified by direct mail, so existing properties have full comprehension of potential outcomes, and that the Town of Essex will act in residents’ best interest with aiding conversations between builders and existing neighbourhood and come to a solution in regards to rear-yard drainage.  

For more Council news, check out the article “Council reviews election policies and procedures.” 


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