Essex Town Council Notes for July 17

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

by Sylene Argent

Windsor Essex Compassionate Care Community

Essex Council received Windsor Essex Compassionate Care Community’s report, which Liz Daniel, Community Engagement Coordinator, presented. She highlighted the introduction of the second stage of the organization’s Community Pilot Study. This will launch in November. She also extended an invitation to Council to nominate compassionate people of Essex for an award to be distributed at that launch.

In correspondence sent to Council on the matter, it notes the Windsor Essex Compassionate Care Community is comprised of citizens, families, neighbours, service providers, businesses, and community leaders who believe in the power of community.

“Together, we are working to raise happiness, improve quality of life, and reduce inequities for the citizens in Windsor-Essex,” it states.

She noted, through the correspondence, a series of community pilots are aimed to connect citizens and care partners with neighbours, volunteers, coaches, support services, and technology to create thriving networks and relationships.


Tourism website launch and market ready guidelines

Communications Manager Laurie Brett and Economic Development Officer Nelson Silveira unveiled the new website that was created with the help of a summer student. I will allow business owners an opportunity to tell their stories and connect tourists with those stories that will inspire them to shop local.

The website includes around 30 businesses from around the Municipality that were “Market Ready” for the program. They plan to host sessions in the future to help businesses that were not ready to be included on the website for the launch to get to that point.

There are minimum criteria tourism-related businesses must have to get a business profile on the website.
The goal of the website is to provide the tourism industry in Essex with standards and advice to maintain a competitive approach in today’s marketplace and to increase consumer confidence, it was noted during the meeting.


Clean Water/Wastewater Funded Projects

Essex Council received Infrastructure & Development’s Report “Engineering Services for Clean Water and Wastewater Funded Projects” and appointed the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) to provide engineering services to design, procure, and administer the projects identified in the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.

The report states that Essex has received Clean Water and Wastewater (CWWF) funding for $1,965,000. The 13 funded projects include equipment and system replacement and upgrades for the Colchester South Lagoons, Harrow Lagoons, Essex Pollution Control Plant and the Harrow-Colchester South Water Treatment plant. The equipment slated for replacement and upgrade include aerators, motor control centre panels, pumps and pump stations, blowers and a microstrainer.


Special meeting set to deal with vacant seat

Councillor Sherry Bondy moved that a special meeting be held on Monday, July 24 to deal with the vacant seat on Council to talk about the by-election option. A majority Council vote supported this, excluding support from two decision-makers.

Administration had requested Council either decide to proceed with the matter by appointment or through a by-election so the appropriate bylaw could be drafter for Council consideration for the August 8 meeting.
Bondy thought the special meeting would move the process up a few weeks. She, and the majority of Council, stated they were in favour of a by-election. She voiced that if Council were to appoint an individual to the seat, it could appear scandalous. She wanted to give power back to the people. She also asked how could Council appoint an individual when it is currently changing its policy for electing a Deputy Mayor to be done at large.

The current method has Council members decide amongst Councillors via secret ballot who would take that position.

“We’re being held hostage by these circumstances. Council has to make a choice,” Bondy said, adding a by-election is likely to cost up to $15,000, but she wants the process to be democratic.

“Of all things municipalities should spend money on, it is democracy,” she said.

She would hope a candidate would be informed on current issues so that person could jump into the position in November with ease.

Councillor Steve Bjorkman voiced his concern with a by-election is time. Though he is not against that process, it could be November when an individual is put in place and at that time, Council will be discussing the 5-year budget plan. That could leave only one Council rep from Colchester at the decision-making table. Appointing someone would be much faster as an individual could be in that seat as soon as September. He said Council could ask for interested individuals to submit their names who fit the criteria and Council could decide on who the best candidate would be.

“I just think it is important to be aware that probably the biggest decisions that are going to be made for 2018, we will be 80 percent done budget deliberations before we fill that seat,” he said.

Mayor Ron McDermott thought Monday’s meeting was not to debate the issue, and interrupted Councillor Voakes with a Point of Order while he was asking what method could be used to compile eligible individuals who could be appointed. The Mayor noted he thought it should be discussed at a future meeting. Bondy made a

Point of Information to note it was her feeling the issue had to be discussed that night.

McDermott later said when Colchester voted during the past election, that was democratic. He didn’t see an issue with appointment.

It was noted there is money in a reserve to cover the cost of a by-election. McDermott commented that money is for a rainy day. He questioned why a good chunk of the money in that reserve would be spent on a by-election.

At the July 4 Council meeting, Council was notified Colchester rep at the decision-making table, Bill Caixeiro, handed in his resignation. Council declared there was a vacant seat for Ward 3, which has two reps.


Attendance at Court of Revision meetings

Councillor Sherry Bondy had asked at previous Council meetings that administration prepare a report to highlight Council member attendance at Court of Revision Meetings over the past five years. Council supported this at the July 4 meeting.

The report notes the attendance counting commenced with the first Court of Revision held on September 10, 2012 and ended with the most recent Court of Revision held on June 19.

In the report to Council, which Council received, it notes Mayor Ron McDermott and Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche each attended 12 meetings, Councillor Bondy attended 11, former Councillors Bill Baker and Bill Caixeiro attended 8, Councillor Larry Snively attended 5, former Councillor John Scott and Councillor Steve Bjorkman attended one each, and Councillor Randy Voakes has attended none.


CIP funding request in Essex Centre

Council opted to vote in favour of drawing up to $50,000 from the 2018 budget for the 2017 Essex Centre Community Improvement Plan (CIP) funding so that the program can continue with forward momentum for the remainder of the year.

In the report to Council, it notes Council was made aware at the July 4 meeting that the Planning Department experienced a large number of CIP applications for improvements to commercial buildings within the Essex Centre CIP Project Area. At that time, Council approved transferring an additional $61,000, left over funds in a contingency reserve from past projects, to cover outstanding grant approvals. Of those funds, around $25,000 was left to approve additional projects for the rest of the year as around $49,000 was owed to approved projects nearing completion.

The report notes the Planning Department expects to exceed the additional $21,000 to $25,000 in grant monies made available, and wanted direction from Council to either continue with accepting applications for 2017 or hold off until the 2018 budget is adopted.

Policy Planner Jeff Watson added the Planning Department is getting three to four phone calls a day from interested business owners who want to tap into the municipal grant opportunity that offers a variety of programs for improvements, such as façade updates.

He said he didn’t want to get into a position of giving a false promise in saying submit an application and Council will provide the funding sometime in the future when there is no commitment to do that. He figures in addition to that $21,000 to $25,000 left in the reserve for this project, the Planning Department will expect to need an additional $30,000 this year.

He gave Council three options to alleviate the issue, including direct the Planning Department to say ‘no,’ to give an IOU to accepted applications, or draw from the 2018 fund now and pay them to keep momentum going for 2017 projects.

Jeff Morrison, acting Director of Corporate Services, said it is his department’s preference to give pre-approval for the 2018 budget.


CIP program boundary expanded

Local business owner Roger Beaulieu asked Council to expand the Essex Centre Community Improvement Program boundary to include his property at 91 Scratch Street. He noted his property was right on the program boundary border.

Beaulieu said he wants to tap into the program to clean the property up at the front and from the back, which faces the Heritage Gardens Park area.

Policy Planner Jeff Watson suggested Council expand the CIP program boundary area to include the Train Station, 91 Scratch Street, the railway corridor, and silo district so as that park develops the commercial properties facing it can tap into the funding to make improvements. Council moved to have administration draft that bylaw and received the presentation from the delegate.

Councillor Sherry Bondy said Council would just have to deal with the consequence in the 2018 budget because the well is running dry. She is happy to see the CIP program take off.

Mayor Ron McDermott said this is the first of possibly many requests. He hoped for a map of the program boundary to show how many more will come after Council for funding to fix their property.

“When do we stop?” he said, adding he has had people ask him about the tax dollars that goes into the program and as homeowners they want to know when the tax dollars would go to help improve their homes.

Bondy said it is a good problem to have and that the program rewards positive behaviour. The money will come back through assessment, she said, and businesses will stay and more will get attracted here.

At the March 20 meeting, Council approved the expansion of the Essex Centre Community Improvement Plan (CIP) project area to incorporate the properties on the north side of Maidstone Avenue, being municipal addresses 13 to 87 Maidstone Avenue East. It also adopted Bylaw 1590, which provided a new CIP Project Area boundary map that incorporates the expanded project area.