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  • ESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex Council notes - Monday, May 4, 2020

by Sylene Argent

Essex Fun Fest cancelled due to Coronavirus

Essex Council received Community Service’s report “2020 Essex Fun Fest Update” and approved the Essex Fun Fest Committee’s recommendation to cancel this year’s four-day event, which was scheduled to take place from July 2-5, at the Essex Centre Sports Complex grounds.   The cancellation of this longstanding festival was due to the health threat caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a Provincial Order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act that requires all outdoor recreation facilities to be closed, and this current order has been extended to May 6. It is anticipated that this order will be extended beyond this date, the Report to Council notes.   Members of the Essex Fun Fest Committee met on April 22 by video conferencing to discuss the situation, and unanimously voted to cancel the 2020 Essex Fun Fest. Festival planning would need to be completed in the very near future. There were concerns with social distancing and other issues associated with the virus.   Mayor Larry Snively said, “That’s a sad day for us, I can say that.”   No other Councillors commented on the issue.

COVID-19 Update in regards to Town operations

Essex’s CAO Chris Nepszy provided Council with a COVID-19 update as it pertains to the operations of the Town of Essex.   Nepszy first spoke of the Province’s first stage in re-opening, which happened Monday. The biggest impact for Essex, he said, is that the Town can start preparing for the marina to be opened. It is not known when it can be officially opened, but when the Province gives the go-ahead, Essex will be ready, he said.   Deputy CAO/Director of Community Services, Doug Sweet, said to open the harbour, there will be two-phases. The first is to open the ramp, so boats can just come one at a time. Staffing will be needed for the opening of the slips. The Union has been met with to discuss how that can be tackled.    There has been no impact as it pertains to essential infrastructure construction projects that were on the go already, Nepszy continued.   The Town is continuing to create facility separations, and is eyeing the Shaheen Room at the Essex Centre Sports Complex to reposition staff if offices need to be deep-cleaned.   As far as staffing, the Town has accepted voluntary layoffs, which allowed for the redeploying of other staff members. This has allowed business for the Town to continue.   Councillor Sherry Bondy wondered if there have been any discussions on hosting a virtual version of the summer concert series, Tune Up the Parks. The Arts, Culture, and Tourism (ACT) organizes this series. Sweet said the Community Services Department has been working at setting up an online ACT Committee meeting to discuss, not only online opportunities, but how to proceed if social distancing restrictions are removed.   Bondy also spoke of the discrepancies in internet usage availabilities and service. Though not much can be done now, she said the Town should take an aggressive approach on creating an internet strategy to ensure all pockets of the municipality are covered with reliable internet. Mayor Larry Snively said the Town has been working on the internet issue for quite some time and has met with companies. Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he too would like to have a discussion about internet. He said he would like the discussions to be more open. Council received Nepszy’s verbal report.

Community Safety and Well-Being Plan

When receiving correspondences, Councillor Kim Verbeek wanted to speak about the letter sent from the Solicitor General regarding amendments made to the Police Services Act (PSA) that came into effect on January 1, which mandates every municipality in Ontario to prepare and adopt a Community Safety and Well-Being (CSWB) plan.   Verbeek, who sits on the Essex Police Services Board, said Essex is going to submit a joint-document with neighbouring municipalities. She said municipalities throughout the province are in different places on their plans, but wondered where Essex was at in the process.   Deputy CAO/Director of Community Services, Doug Sweet, said Essex has partnered with the County of Essex and Windsor to submit a group plan. Windsor is leading the plan as it has the staff and resources. They had two meetings before the COVID-19 emergency. He said once the pandemic is over, the process will resume.

Essex to send letter in support for Canadian Wines Excise Exemption

Essex Council received correspondence from the Town of Amherstburg that its Council, at its meeting on March 23, passed a resolution that directed its administration to send correspondence in support of Grey County’s resolution regarding 100 percent Canadian Wines Excise Exemptions. Amherstburg appealed the Federal Government to ensure the exemption remains in place.     Councillor Kim Verbeek said she wanted Essex Council to also write a letter of support to show appreciation and support to local wineries.   Council passed Verbeek’s motion to receive and support Amherstburg’s correspondence and write its own letter in support to the Federal Government.

Modifying/closing roadways for Highway #3 expansion

Essex Council received correspondence from the Ministry of Transportation, which requested Council pass a bylaw to close South Talbot Road, at County Road 8, and modify access on Victoria Avenue/North Malden Road at Highway #3, to allow for through traffic only via a grade separation.   The above mentioned closure/modification was the approved recommended plan in the 2017 TESR Addendum, the letter to Essex Council notes.   Kevin Girard, Director of Infrastructure, said the MTO needs a commitment from Essex that it will close the roads when they need to be as part of the expansion project.   In addition to the two intersections mentioned in the correspondence, Girard said Pinkerton Sideroad will be realigned at County Road 8. It will be extended to the south to do so.       Girard said the MTO is looking for a resolution from Council to commit to the road closures, then after the two-month notice period, it wants a bylaw adopted. Councillor Chris Vander Doelen asked if it is known when the project would start. Girard said he has had a few meetings with the MTO to date. As far as timelines, he said, the MTO is pushing to get project underway. It is looking to have utility conflicts and preloading the earth for the overpass started in the fall.   Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said he frustrated. He was supporting the idea there would at least be an onramp from North Malden, going towards Kingsville.   He said North Malden in one of the key routes from Colchester North and McGregor into Essex, with the heaviest traffic counts of roads going in that direction. He pointed out that these closures will have those residents drive halfway through the Town, cross-over, then come back out of the Town to get onto # 3 to get back on the thoroughfare to head towards Kingsville or Leamington.        Meloche said this is the one thing he has been opposed to. He is not opposed to the widening of Highway # 3, and if this what has to be done to make it happen, he said the Town doesn’t want to be the reason to hold the project up.   Someday, Meloche suspects, there will be a lane for North Malden to connect to Highway # 3. He said he was told there was not enough room to merge between Victoria and North Malden to Arner Townline. In his opinion, the MTO just does not want to do this.   Councillor Joe Garon said he knows it is a little late in the game to make any changes. He wishes there could still be an access there. He knows Hanlan Avenue will be extended. He wondered if the Town was to oppose the bylaw would the whole project be held up?   He also added that the Talbot Street/Maidstone Avenue intersection is backed up as it is. So, more traffic will be added to that intersection. He does support the resolution, though.   CAO Chris Nepszy said not passing the resolution would hold up the process. Council, in the past, has bought into the idea.   Mayor Larry Snively said he understands the frustrations, but the Town has been waiting for the expansion for years.   Councillor Steve Bjorkman said the closing of the Victoria Avenue/ Highway # 3 intersection will benefit the future sports fields, which will offer a controlled access that will be 50km/hr. He added that it will also be great for active transportation and extends the town.   Council passed the resolution.

NoM: re: online input survey

At the April 20 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put forward a Notice of Motion that the Town of Essex do an online satisfaction survey, similar to the one recently completed by the Town of Tecumseh. This survey would look at the quality of life, core services, and to see if the Town is going in the right direction. The issue was discussed on Monday evening.   In the past, a similar survey has held in Harrow. She does not think 2020 is the year for it, but thought it should be budgeted for 2021, and it can be debated at budget time. She said this is the first step to see if Council has an appetite for conducting such a survey.   She does not think this should replace a survey on policing. At first, she saw benefits of putting the two surveys together, but she does not want to jeopardize a survey Council has already given permission for administration to move forward with.   Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he is in favour of getting political opinion, but he is opposed to doing an online survey, which he said can be more misleading than illuminating. This system can be manipulated by a small segment of individuals.   Council passed Bondy’s motion to have a satisfaction survey, and that the dollars be debated in the 2021 budget.  

NoM on Shoreline protection of public property:

Councillor Sherry Bondy presented a Notice of Motion to be discussed at the May 19 meeting for consideration.   The Notice of Motion includes that the item listed as shoreline protection of pubic property from the Mayor’s list of roundtable items to discuss potential liability, budget considerations, shoreline protection of public property policies, timelines, and fallen trees policies during time of historic high water levels be discussed.  

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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