Essex Council Notes from July 4 meeting

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

by Sylene Argent

Bjorkman welcomed back
On behalf of Council, Mayor Ron McDermott welcomed Councillor Steve Bjorkman back to the municipal decision-making table after a brief hiatus due to health reasons.


Voakes removed from COA

Essex Council removed Councillor Randy Voakes from the Committee of Adjustment. Councillor Larry Snively began discussion on the matter.

Voakes was absent from Monday’s meeting. Earlier in the meeting, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott noted Voakes informed the Town Clerk he would be away.

Snively said he wanted to talk about Committees, one in particular he serves on is the Committee of Adjustment. The last meeting was pretty sparse in member attendance. “We almost didn’t have quorum,” he said.

“For some unknown reason, Councillor Voakes has not been to the last three meetings,” Snively said, adding administration was not informed of those absences before hand. “I don’t know what the problem is there.”

He made a motion to replace Voakes on the Committee and add another Councillor member to the Committee. Councillor Sherry Bondy supported the motion. Council would move this motion. Bondy later offered to be the replacement, which Council accepted.

Essex Clerk Robert Auger explained all committees have a procedure and best practices guide book. He said in that document, there is language to the effect that states if any member cannot be present, that person is to give notice to the chairperson or the secretary of the committee.

Auger continued the guide book also highlights if a member misses three consecutive meetings without providing notice, that individual can be removed from the committee.

Assistant Planner Rita Jabbour explained typically an invitation for these meetings is sent out by the Planning Assistant, and she informs if there were to be any cancellations.

The Planning Assistant is no longer with the Town, Jabbour explained, however, she did inform Voakes did not contact her the past few times. There was a correspondence between the Planning Assistant and Voakes for the May meeting and there could have been some confusion as to whether or not the meeting would be on or not, but it was not cancelled.

Bondy said being at meetings is part of the job. Members do not have to attend every meeting, but they need to inform others if they cannot make it. There could be a financial loss if meetings did not have quorum as sometimes notices are issued and staff time is used to set them up.

“If you are not going to be there, at least have the respect and the decency to let people know because people are counting on you to be there,” she said in general of the issue.

Snively said it was unfortunate, but he would expect Council to do the same to him.


2016 audited financial statements

Mike Cowan of BDO presented the 2016 audited financial statements for Essex. Council received the audited financial statements and adopted them as presented.

During his presentation, Cowan noted he would go through some highlights of the report. He said staff members at BDO assist in the preparation of the statements, but their job is to express whether or not they believe what is presented is accurate. It is BDO’s opinion the statements present fairly in all material respects to the financial position of the Town, he said.


CIP update/transfer of funds into Essex Centre program

Council received the Planning Department’s report regarding an update on the Community Improvement Plan (CIP) and further approved a transfer of $61,000 to the Essex Centre Community Improvement Plan budget from the Contingency Reserve.

Acting Director of Corporate Services Jeff Morrison explained the funds would be transferred from a contingency reserve.

The Finance Department recently went through the books to identify small balances remaining from former projects that were fully funded.

Essex has a CIP program, a municipal funding incentive for commercial property owners within a defined geographical area to stimulate physical improvements, for Harrow and Essex Centres. Recently, a CIP program has been initiated for Colchester Centre.

The report to Council notes the Harrow program, implemented in 2012, and the Essex Centre program, implemented two years later, have assisted over 40 business owners and operators with a variety of updates or improvements, including the revitalization of their storefronts and the creation of new affordable dwelling units.

The Essex Centre CIP budget at the start of 2017 stood at $153,040 of which $93,887 has been issued. The Planning Department is expecting to payout an additional $94,567 before the end of the year for approved ongoing projects. This would leave an in-year deficit of approximately $35,414.

Budgeted funds for Harrow currently amount to $97,000 and are expected to meet the demands of the Harrow and Colchester business community.

Councillor Steve Bjorkman pointed out that since the program inceptions, only $2000 has been spent more in Essex Centre. $251,600 has been spent in Essex Centre and around $249,300 has been spent in Harrow in partnership with willing commercial property owners.

“That is a great, balanced project,” he said. “It shows both centres are taking advantage.”

Assistant Planner Rita Jabbour said the Colchester CIP is currently in effect. The Town has not received any questions about the CIP for Colchester businesses, but staff members are working to market the program.


Designation declared for 1215 Iler Road

Council designated the property known municipally as 1215 Iler Road by way of municipal Bylaw and authorized that the designation Bylaw be advertised in the local newspapers, served on the Ontario Heritage Trust and current property owner, and be registered on title at the appropriate land registry office.

Council also received the report on the matter that notes the purpose of these actions is to designate this property as having cultural heritage value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.

The report continues that the southeastern corner of the current Town of Essex has been known as the Iler Settlement since the early 19th century. The Iler family is one of the area’s earliest pioneering families, having settled the area in 1808 when Jacob Iler purchase Farm Lot 37.

On May 15, 2017, Council authorized a Notice of Intention to Designate the property. The 30-day appeal period for the designation of the property has been completed and no comments or concerns were raised, Jabbour reported.

The adoption of the bylaw was required to complete the designation, the report notes. The Bylaw must then be registered. Once designated, the property will be listed on the municipal and provincial registers of heritage properties.


Fire Chief on Executive for Ontario Association

Essex Council received correspondence that noted Essex Fire Chief Rick Arnel has been elected as the Executive Vice President of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs. He was congratulated on this achievement.

This is his second term serving in this position.


Report on attendance for Court of Revision

At the June 19 meeting, Councillor Sherry Bondy put fourth a Notice of Motion requesting administration provide a report to highlight Council attendance at Court of Revision meetings over the past five years.

She said she wanted an objective view to see past patterns.

Council moved this.