Open House hears concerns of Ward 1 and 2 residents

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

by Adam Gault

The Town of Essex held a public open house on Monday evening at the Essex Centre Sports Complex to field any questions or concerns from residents on issues pertaining to Wards 1 and 2.

Members of Essex town council and administration were in attendance at the public event. Questions from constituents were fielded by the elected representatives of Wards 1 and 2 (Councillor Randy Voakes,  Councillor Steve Bjorkman, and Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche) on a variety of subjects, including sidewalks, property taxes, and the prioritization of municipal infrastructure projects.

Those who attended the meeting received a booklet which contained a synopsis of the 2018 budget, and a breakdown of several municipal initiatives and infrastructure projects from the past year, which included plans for 2018 and beyond.

One of the concerns raised during the open house regarded speeding vehicles on residential streets and a perceived lack of enforcement for speed violators.

Councillor Voakes said the town had an electronic speed limit sign in storage at the moment that could be better used to help deter speed violators and that he could see if there’s an opportunity for a larger police presence in the area.

While some constituents were pleased with the continued development of parks and recreational facilities, many felt that core infrastructure projects like sidewalks and roads were falling by the wayside, and being push too far down the “queue” of priority.

“The 1.7% tax increase that specifically Ward 1 is going to be looking at this year based on a $183,000 home, that’s really just enough to cover what we didn’t have the money to cover for. It doesn’t do anything extra,” explained Voakes of the incoming property tax increase for 2018. “You’re going to throw rocks at me, but I’d like to see taxes be about 4.5% this year. Then we get our downtown revitalized, we get our sidewalks fixed. We create a community environment that’s enhanced.”

Councillor Bjorkman added that maintaining recreational programs and facilities are important to the overall living experience of the Town of Essex and are important when it comes to bringing and attracting families to living in the town.

One resident raised concerns that the Town’s current tethering law, allowing dogs to be tied to a tree or a post outdoors for a ten-hour period, was too great an allowance, and that it should be decreased to a more reasonable amount.

“When we decided to support it (the current limit) we also said that if you’re tethering your dog outside you also have to provide shade, water, food, so that the dog can’t just be out there tied to a tree in the middle of nowhere,” Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche explained of the current regulation. “Absolutely, I would say that I agree that it’s terribly inhumane (to not provide food, water, shelter) to do something like that.”

The Mayor was absent from the Ward 1 and 2 Open House due to a previously scheduled engagement.