Essex Council Notes for Monday, August 21

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

by Adam Gault

Harrow pool feasibility study

Two University of Windsor students Alex Steel and Ben DeGroot made a presentation to Council regarding the feasibility of constructing an outdoor pool in Harrow.

Several locations were considered as part of the study, including the Harrow and Colchester South Arena, the Harrow Soccer Complex, and the Colchester Harbour Park.

Although they determined that the Harrow Arena would be the prime location choice, they determined that the project was ultimately unfeasible.

“The big red flag is the population percentage change over the past five years,” DeGroot said. “The other red flag is the population distribution, which has fewer children and a higher percentage of those over 65.”

They determined that the initial construction costs associated with the outdoor pool would be somewhere in the range of $3.2M with operational costs reaching near $9000 for the nine-week summer operational period.

Councillors acknowledged the importance in having the study completed and would take it into consideration with regards to future decisions.


Town sells fire engine

Council approved allowing Essex Fire & Rescue Services to sell its 1992 Spartan/Phoenix Engine to the Township of Pelee in the amount of $8,000. The funds will be credited to the fire department and transferred to the Building and Equipment Replacement Reserve for Fire.

The Town anticipates the arrival of the new replacement fire engine sometime this coming September.


Commuter Cycling Program–grant funding

Council was presented with a funding opportunity from the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling (OMCC) Program. If implemented, it would be a 4 year, cost-shared, direct funding program. It would fund several types of cycling initiatives, including upgrading cycling networks and improving cycling safety.

It would be supported by proceeds from Ontario’s cap and trade program to assist in the reduction of greenhouse gasses.

Council endorsed the Town’s administration to pursue funding for this endeavour.


Essex Centre BIA member resigns position

Donna Steinhoff resigned her position as a Director of the Board, with the Essex Centre BIA effective immediately due to personal commitment issues.

The position is currently available to interested parties.


Mayor requests limited cell phone usage

Mayor Ron McDermott vacated his seat to address Council regarding cell phone usage. Councillor Larry Snively stepped up temporarily to act as Mayor.

“These things are for emergency uses only and that hasn’t been going on,” McDermott claimed, regarding members of Council using electronic devices during Council meetings.

The Mayor raised concerns that cellphones being used while Council is in session are a sign that Councillors are not paying attention to proceedings.

Councillor Sherry Bondy stated the Mayor’s concerns stem from a Facebook post she made during a previous Council meeting and said that if members of Council take issue with personal electronic usage, it should be addressed in a private manner.

“I think it’s less disruptive to send a text than leave for a phone call,” Bondy said regarding the Mayor’s comments. “The residents do like my Facebook posts, they like what I do.”

The Mayor then stated that Bondy was given the opportunity to speak with him during the evening in question, but instead posted another message on Facebook regarding the incident.

“You didn’t talk to me that night, you put it on Facebook, and everyone was down my throat that night,” McDermott said.

The motion to limit iPhone/iPad usage carried.


Plan for Ward 4 development

Councillor Larry Snively put forward a motion to prepare a report on initiatives the Town could put forward to encourage further development in the Harrow area.

“The Town of Harrow itself is hurting. I heard from different people about condos, I read an email today that there’s no demand for condos in Harrow, but we’ve lost lots of senior residents going east,” Snively said.

Although developer fees have been dropped to 50%, Snively said it isn’t enough to stay competitive with municipalities like Leamington.
He proposed a report to examine the costs associated with potentially dropping developer fees to 0%.

The motion carried.


Budget meetings rotation put forth

Councillor Sherry Bondy recommended that going forward, budget meetings should rotate through all the Town centres of Essex, including McGregor, Harrow, Essex Centre, and Colchester once the new recreation centre at the Colchester Harbour is complete.

“This is for transparency and to bring budget meetings closer to all our residents in our municipality,” Bondy explained.

The motion carried.


Feasibility study for annual summer festivals

Councillor Larry Snively proposed Council should consider the feasibility of annual summer festivals in the wake of the successful events “Colchester 225” and “Get Your Red and White On.”

Snively stated that the feedback from these events has been extremely positive from local businesses and constituents, but also recognizes that some of the costs associated with hosting these events can be steep.

“I’d like to do it through fundraising,” Snively said, regarding the costs associated from potential future events. “I’m sure we could do it, but I need some help from Council.”

Councillor Steve Bjorkman said Essex should create a committee in conjunction with Town Councillors and members of the public from Colchester in determining a future course of action.


Demographic survey

Councillor Sherry Bondy put forth a motion that the Town’s surveys include information on demographics, such as age and sex of the respondents so the Town can collect information from all segments of the population.

Bondy said the Town might discover that certain opinions are only coming from one specific demographic.

“I want diversity in opinions and I want to represent everyone,” Bondy said of the motion.

The motion was carried.


Deputy Mayor and Councillor Voakes absent

In the absence of Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche and Councillor Randy Voakes, motions regarding the clean up costs on federal lands, property development on Highway 3, and potentially moving the train caboose to downtown Essex as a tourist info centre were moved to the next meeting.