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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex Council Notes for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

Construction up 94.4% first quarter of 2024, compared to first quarter of 2023  

Essex Council received a development overview for the first quarter of 2024, for which the time period was January 1 to March 31.

  This report detailed that construction value for the first quarter of 2024 – including all new and expanding commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential developments that required a building permit – totalled $46,874,600.

  This was up 94.4% from the first quarter of 2023.

  This report also detailed that the average sale price for a home in Wards 1 and 2 in the first quarter of 2024 was $507,058, which was a bit lower than the $530,859 recorded in the same timeframe last year. In Wards 3 and 4, the average home sale price was $547,131 in the first quarter of 2024, compared to $500,523 in the same timeframe in 2023.

 Survey to be required to install fence abutting municipally-owned property

Property owners seeking to construct a fence abutting a municipally-owned property will soon have to provide a legal survey prepared by an Ontario Land Surveyor, at their own expense, as part of the application.

  Essex Council directed Town Administration to make that amendment to the Town of Essex Fence By-law after discussion on that matter took place at the May 21 meeting.

  This will not include properties abutting municipal roads and rights-of-way, which are already addressed in the Protection and Regulation of Town Highways By-Law that was passed in December of 2023. 

  This matter first came about when Council passed Jason Matyi’s Notice of Motion at the January 15 meeting, which directed Administration to prepare a report on the process for when a fence is requested to be constructed adjacent to Town-owned property.

  Matyi hoped part of this will look to ensure homeowners have their surveys done before installing fences on their property.

  Back in 2002, a by-law was adopted to regulate the installation of fences within the municipal limits of the Town of Essex. The Fence By-Law set standards for fences, including requirements for fence height, material that can be used, and the location where they could be installed.

  When speaking specifically to fence applications for those to abut municipal properties, Kevin Carter, Manager of Building Services/Chief Building Officer, said the process is currently the same as if an applicant was applying for a fence permit abutting private property.

  Currently, the Town of Essex does not require a survey for fence permit applications, due to the high monetary cost for the survey. In most cases, the cost for a survey will exceed the cost of the fence itself, he added.

  “It is the responsibility of the property owner to verify the location of the property lines,” Carter stated. “If an applicant is unsure, or cannot verify the location of the property lines, they may be required to have the property surveyed before a permit is issued.”

  To address Council’s concerns about fences potentially being built on municipally-owned land – such as parks, parkettes, community centres, arenas, municipal buildings, and parking lots – Administration recommended amending the current fence By-Law to require property owners wishing to construct fences abutting a municipally-owned land to provide a legal survey prepared by an Ontario Land Surveyor as part of their application.

  A potential downside to this type of requirement is the cost for a survey, Carter said. “This places a financial burden on the property owner wishing to build a fence. Moreover, since the cost of the legal survey is expensive, property owners may be inclined to construct the fence without a permit.”

  In order to obtain a fence permit, the property owner has to submit an application to the Town’s Building Services Department. When submitting the application to the online Cloudpermit tool, a site plan must be included with the municipal address, lot dimensions, location of property lines, and location of all registered easements and rights-of-way on the property. It also must identify the location of the dwelling and any accessory buildings or structures.

  The location, type, and height – including all gates – must be detailed, Carter added.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek asked what the approximate cost for a survey would be. Carter said the typical residential lot would ring in somewhere between $2600 and $3600.

  In the instance where a homeowner built a fence and the neighbour believed it ended up on their side of the property, Deputy Mayor Rob Shepley asked who would be obligated to finance the survey. Carter said there is Ontario Case Law on those types of matters. Whomever is disputing the location of the fence hires a surveyor to prove their theory and covers the cost.

  Shepley further asked if there have been instances where the Town had to get a survey done to prove a fence was put on Town-owned property. Carter said there have been numerous complaints regarding private property versus another private property owner disputes. He did not recall any instances where there were issues with a private property owner putting up a fence abutting parks.

  Shepley was not sure he was in favour of this amendment. He believed it would be disadvantageous to anyone abutting parkland by requiring a survey, when they would not have to if abutting another private property.

  Councillor Joe Garon confirmed this was just to protect municipal property.

  Councillor Matyi said he was happy with the report. He had heard of some disputes and was not sure how these types of issues were handled.

  Through this, Matyi said he was trying to protect the majority of taxpayers, as the municipality would have to pay for a survey if there was ever a dispute with a fence a private property owner put in that abutted a municipal property.

  In answering Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais’s question if it would be the Town’s responsibility to get a survey and have the fence removed if there was a dispute, Carter explained the Town has surveys for most of its parks. If there is doubt, the application would become void and an order would be issued to remove the fence or provide a survey at the owner’s expense.

  In Answering councillor Brad Allard’s question on whether or not this would be required for only new fences or replacements, Carter said a pre-existing, large scale fence would require a new permit. If it is a section, it can be replaced back in the existing footprint.

  Shepley and McGuire-Blais voted against the motion.

AccessAbility Week proclaimed May 26 to June 1, 2024

The Town of Essex Accessibility Advisory Committee asked Council to consider proclaiming May 26 to June 1, 2024 as National AccessAbility Week in the Town of Essex.

  Council moved the request.

  This is to allow Canadians to promote inclusion and accessibility in communities and workplaces, to celebrate progress, and to be inspired to further break down accessibility barriers.

  The correspondence on the matter notes over 15 percent of Ontarians live with some form of a disability and as a result there is a need for greater awareness, enhanced service delivery, and opportunities for persons with disabilities.

NoM: report to detail ways to support businesses impacted by Tom Wright Drain Culvert closure

At the May 6 meeting, Mayor Sherry Bondy presented a Notice of Motion, which was discussed at the May 21 meeting, that asked Council to consider directing Administration to come back with a report by the next Regular Council Meeting with ideas to support businesses impacted by the Tom Wright Drain Culvert closure.

  This closure is along County Road 50 in Colchester, near the Erie Road intersection.

  Nelson Silveira, Manager of Economic Development for the Town of Essex, explained Town staff has been working behind the scenes in contact with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) in terms of evaluating the situation and what can be done for businesses in the area.

  In discussions with those organizations, Silveria said they are potentially looking at a digital marketing campaign that could provide matching funding.

  “We understand it is a tough time for those businesses as well, and we are launching our tourism campaigns very shortly. We have been in communication with out Communications Manager on a number of different initiatives that we can do to support as well.”

  The majority of the projects will be promotion-related. He hopes to come back to Council at the next meeting with a report that will detail the financial implications of those additional projects, which he said can be done within the allocated budget for promotion approved for this year.

  This will include general marketing for County Road 50 as a destination in not trying to focus on any specific business.

  Council moved Bondy’s motion.


 NoM: Repot to come on the inflow and infiltration to the Town’s storm and sanitary sewers

At the May 6 meeting, Mayor Sherry Bondy presented a Notice of Motion, which was discussed at the May 21 meeting, that asked Council to consider directing Administration to come back with a report discussing the inflow and infiltration to the Town’s storm and sanitary sewers and potential solutions to help reduce flooding.

  The report should speak to the ability to create an inspection program to identify and repair cross connections and sources of inflow and infiltration, she added.

  This motion came about from some of the committee work she has done and out of the developer roundtable held earlier this year.

  There was a lot of inflow of stormwater into the sanitary system in the August flood, Bondy said. She wanted to start brainstorming ways.

  “I think we need to keep working all the time on preventing floods…I don’t see this going away,” Bondy commented. 

  Council moved Bondy’s motion.

NoM: Essex to send letter to province on rising cost to lease land at mobile home parks and land leased communities

Essex Council directed Town Administration to send a letter to the Provincial government regarding the rising cost to lease the land at mobile home parks and land leased communities.

  At the May 6 meeting, Councillor Kim Verbeek presented this matter as a Notice of Motion, which was discussed and approved at the May 21 meeting.

  Her resolution spoke to how in recent years, the mobile home unit selling price has doubled or quadrupled making land lease properties unaffordable to purchase.

  Typically, land lease properties and mobile home parks are seen as affordable living, these areas are now becoming unaffordable due to lack of rent control when a unit changes ownership, Verbeek said.

  She wanted to send the letter to the Provincial government, the Leader of the Opposition, in addition to MPPs from Windsor to Chatham, asking for the Province to look into the rising costs of these land rents.

  Verbeek speculates investors are buying these parks to make money off the land rents as an investment. In addition, the cost to buy a mobile home has drastically risen, quadrupling in some case.

  Director of Legislative Services/Clerk, Joe Malandruccolo, explained there was rent control built into leases however, when a unit changes ownership, the rent can be increased. If residing there, rent can only go up by a certain percentage. During COVID, that part was repealed from the Landlord Tenant Act, allowing for any increase.

  That needs to be put back in place, and one of the reasons why this issue has been created, he said.

  Mayor Sherry Bondy called this a complicated issue. She spoke of one she saw advertised locally where the land lease was $800 per month. She had concerns that the high lease price is devaluing the homes.

  Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais also spoke of the high costs to purchase the trailer. Though she agrees there should be a cap on rents, individuals need to be realistic in the price of the homes they are trying to sell on leased properties.

  “These are supposed to be more affordable places,” Verbeek said. This is about putting a stop in place to investors buying these places and jacking up the rent.

Notices of Motion to be brought forward for Council's consideration at the June 3 meeting

• Councillor Katie McGuire-Blais will ask Council to direct Administration to review the feasibility of installing pedestrian access ramps along South Talbot Road at Iler Avenue, Laird Avenue, and Centre Street to access the multi-use pathway along South Talbot Road South.

• Councillor Joe Garon will ask Council to direct Administration to come back with a report with options to complete the sidewalk between Thomas Street to Victoria Avenue.

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