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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex Council Notes for October 7

by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

Councillor members review AMO Conference

Essex Council began Monday’s meeting with a recap of issues discussed at the Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO) Conference held in Ottawa this past August.

 In a series of meetings with colleagues representing municipalities across Ontario, various industry leaders, and Provincial Ministers, members of Essex Council and Administration had the opportunity to network and discuss matters of municipal importance on subjects ranging from environmental, tourism, and transportation.

Mayor Larry Snively had the opportunity to speak with Mike Harris Jr., Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, on the subject of Phragmites, an invasive plant species found throughout Essex County.

“What we understand, is that there’s a new chemical being tried in the St. Thomas area, and it seems to be working,” Mayor Snively explained. “The rumor was that they would be moving the chemical down this way if it works down there, which is good.”

  Phragmites pose a major concern for local ecosystems, crowding native vegetation, providing a poor habitat and food supply for local wildlife, among posing a significant blockage hazard for municipal drainage systems.

  Councillor Morley Bowman met with Jeff Yurek, the Provincial Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, on the issue of algae blooms and buffer zones and the need for related regulations for farms encroaching on ditches and water courses in an effort to reduce the flow of nutrients to our waterways.

  Bowman said he felt it was a very “non- committal” meeting with the minister, but that he seemed to listen to the concerns of the councillors.

  During the conference, Premier Ford announced that his government would commit $17 billion towards revitalizing and building new hospitals, along with an additional $1 billion for important local projects.

  “To see that type of money being put into healthcare, I think that impressed everybody that was at that meeting,” Mayor Snively said. “That’s all good news.”


Modernization Grant to improve lighting and systems

Council received a Report from Administration, prepared by Essex Director of Corporate Services, Jeffrey Morrison, regarding the receival of a “Modernization Grant” from the provincial government, in the amount of $620,201.

  This one-time payment will be received this fiscal year, and is intended to help modernize service delivery, and reduce future costs by investing in projects such as conversion to more energy efficient street lights, as will happen with the grant for the Town of Essex.

  The grant will be allocated in several ways, with $610,527 for the conversion of streetlights to LEDs, $6,106 Report a Problem, an Online Service Request System, and $3,468 for Playground Software.

  The more than $600,000 designated for streetlight infrastructure, will have a number of lights across the municipality converted to a more energy efficient LED lighting system. In addition to saving money spent on energy costs, the lighting system will alert maintenance to outages allowing for quick and efficient repair.

  The Report a Problem Online Service Request System will allow citizens of Essex the ability to report problems directly to members of administration, reducing the amount of staff time needed to relay issues. Citizens will also be automatically updated when issues are addressed, reducing the amount of staff time needed to follow up. Additionally, the system will provide for more consistent tracking of problems submitted by citizens, which will give administration enhanced ability to prepare for work over the long run.

  Playground software will enable a consistent system to track and report on playground inspections, and track ongoing repairs and their completion.


Local business owners concerned with power interruptions

Essex Council received correspondence from the owners of the Harrow area fitness centre, SouthShore Fitness, advising Council of the constant hydro interruptions at their establishment, which they claimed has cost them thousands of dollars in repairs and replacement for equipment damaged by power surges.

  “Businesses and residents in Harrow and Colchester with power outages are really looking for a public statement, and some sort of message from our Council that we’ve heard that there’s concerns,” Councillor Sherry Bondy said. “We don’t have a lot of pull with Hydro One. They want someone to be held accountable, and people are having a hard time getting repeat insurance.”

  In their letter, the business owners ask Council take priority in addressing this issue, and do more to help existing businesses in the municipality.

  “We have been working with ELK to get some communications,” Bondy explained. “Anybody that has power issues, I cannot stress enough to call your utility company. If you don’t like what they’re saying, you still have the option to go to the Ontario Energy Board to get results.”


Town to purchase floor scrubber for Harrow Arena

Essex Council received Community Services’ report “Reallocation of Capital Budget Funding for the Purchase of an Automatic Floor Scrubber for the Harrow Arena” and authorized the reallocation of $3,058 from the power washer replacement project to cover the full cost of a new automatic floor scrubber for the Harrow Arena.

  The report notes the power washer and automatic floor scrubber at the Harrow Arena were added to the 2019 budget.

  The lowest bid for the automatic floor scrubber came in at $9,400, plus HST, but $7,022 was allocated in the approved capital budget for this project. The report adds staff members at the Harrow Arena believe the features on the new automatic floor scrubber will allow for the maintaining of all floors in the facility, so a new power washer will not be required.

Essex arena skate shop lease transferred

Essex Council received Community Services’ Report “Transfer of Lease for the Operation of the Skate Sharpening and Pro Shop at the Essex Centre Sports Complex,” and further repealed Bylaw 1582 for Essex Sports Equipment Ltd. to operate the Skate Sharpening and Pro Shop at the Essex Centre Sports Complex, effective immediately.

  In addition, Council approved an Agreement with Richard R. Brett to operate the Skate Sharpening and Pro Shop for a three-year term, commencing October 1, subject to the general terms and conditions, and gave Bylaw 1852 two readings. The third reading and adoption will take place at a subsequent Council meeting. Brett has been employed by Essex Sports Ltd. to operate the skate sharpening and pro shop on their behalf.

  The Report to Council notes the Essex Sports Equipment Limited responded to a request for proposal to operate the skate sharpening and pro shop at the Essex Centre Sports Complex in 2009 and has been operating the shop since that time.

  In September, the Town received a letter from Essex Sports Ltd., requesting the lease transfer.


Fire Dispatch Services agreement with Windsor

Essex Council received the report “Agreement for Fire Dispatch Services with the City of Windsor” from Essex’s Fire Department and further gave three readings to Bylaw 1854, authorizing the Town of Essex to enter into a formal agreement with the City of Windsor for fire dispatch services.

  The Report to Council noted since the late 1960s, Windsor Fire and Rescue has provided fire dispatch services throughout the Town of Essex.  Following the amalgamation of several county municipalities into the present seven municipalities, a Regional Radio System Advisory Committee was created to review options and costs for a multi-channel, interoperable radio system with respect to dispatch and communication services.

  In 2005, Lakeshore, Tecumseh, Essex, and Amherstburg agreed to work together and implement a UHF system through Kelcom infrastructure that provided interoperability between the four departments, but with separate channels from which to communicate.

  Essex Fire Chief Rick Arnel noted this contract does not change what was already in place with Windsor Fire and Rescue for the dispatch service, the contract just formalizes the agreement, which he said is better for everyone involved.


Interim Control Bylaw for County Road 20

Council received the report “Interim Control Bylaw for Specific County Road 20 Properties” and approved Bylaw 1856 to establish interim control restrictions for properties on that part of County Road 20 discharging, potentially discharging, or affected by septic waste inflow into the Skeates Drain.

  The properties affected are located on the north side of Country Road 20, from and including 2896 on the west to and including 2920 on the east, precluding new residential development or additions to existing dwellings for a period of one-year to permit the study of options to remediate the problem.

  The report to Council noted this is the consequence of failed septic systems and illegal septic system connections to this covered drain, which camera testing revealed in September of 2018.

  Council, however, may repeal the Bylaw before the termination date if the studies and necessary works have been completed, but may also extend the period for up to one-more year if they have not been completed.

Town’s Economic Development Officer earns certificate

Council learned Nelson Silveira, Essex’s Economic Development Officer, recently fulfilled the requirements to earn a Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo. He was officially presented with his Certificate while at the Economic Developers Association of Canada conference in Edmonton recently.

  This certificate allows Silveira to work towards an Economic Development accreditation.

  Mayor Larry Snively congratulated Silveira on earning the certificate on behalf of Council, noting it is helping him build on his career and providing him with the tools to help make Essex a top investment for investors.


Live Streaming Town Council Meetings

During the previous Council Meeting, Councillor Chris Vander Doelen put forward a Notice of Motion that administration look at internet streaming, as well as broadcasting options with respect to Town Council meetings.

  “I’ve been asked by a few citizens if we’re ever going to stream [Council meetings],” Vander Doelen said, noting that not all residents receive CFTV, the live TV broadcaster of the meetings. “I heard that Amherstburg had started streaming, and that the cost was relatively modest, it seemed to be a small price to pay to have complete permanent access.”

  The motion passed, and administration will look into streaming options. 


NoM for October 21 meeting: Intersection Safety

Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche put forward a Notice of Motion. He would like the Town of Essex to request an intersection safety audit to the County regarding County Road 20 and County Road 13 and County Road 20 and County Road 23. The Notice of Motion will be brought forward for consideration/discussion at the October 21 meeting.

  Meloche first brought the file forward during the New Business section of the meeting; however, Councillor Steve Bjorkman called a Point of Order, noting he did not believe what the Deputy Mayor was presenting met the New Business criteria of being urgent or minor.

  At first Mayor Larry Snively said he would allow Meloche to continue with his presentation, but then put it to a vote, asking Council to weight in. A majority Council vote noted the content did not meet the requirements, so it was brought up as a Notice of Motion to be considered for discussion at the next meeting. 

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