Infrastructure, composition of council discussed at Ward 3 and 4 open house

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

by Adam Gault

The Town of Essex held its second open house in as many weeks on Tuesday, November 28 at the Harrow and Colchester South Community Centre. Members of Council and administration hosted the event to hear questions and concerns from residents of Wards 3 and 4.

Dozens of residents filled the meeting room at the centre to near capacity for a chance to hear and speak to Ward 3 and 4 representatives Councillor Larry Snively, Councillor Ron Rogers, and Councillor Sherry Bondy and members of the administration on a variety of issues impacting Ward 3 and 4, and the town at large.

As with the earlier Ward 1 and 2 open house, hosted the previous week, residents in attendance 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. It also included a small breakdown of the Town’s new five-year financial plan that extends into 2022.

In the southern wards, the Town as removed development fees for residential properties to attract more housing in that part of the municipality.

Also highlighted were recent infrastructural and industrial improvements, including the improved Erie Street North and the completion of the new Sellick plant and industrial park off Roseborough Avenue.

Councillors also spoke of the many improvements made to Colchester Harbour over the last year, calling it the “crown jewel” of the town.

The success of the Colchester 225 celebrations earlier this summer have Council members open to the suggestion of future summer events and festivals in the harbour and park area on an annual basis. Funding, however, could be an issue in terms of making something on the scale of this year’s fireworks display a regular feature of any potential event.

One of the primary concerns residents made at the meeting was the issue of frequent blackouts and power flickers in and around the Harrow area.

CAO of Essex Donna Hunter said they have been told by E.L.K. Energy that the issue is a concern with supplier Hydro One. E.L.K. has been working with them in an attempt to solve the ongoing issue.

Councillor Sherry Bondy added should the problem persist, it may be an issue that needs to be raised to Essex MPP Taras Natyshak to have it addressed at the provincial level.

Those in attendance also raised the issue of the addition of an eighth council seat for the upcoming 2018 election, and keeping the current ward boundaries even after a third-party consultation process. Some argued that the process was just another costly misstep that had amounted to nothing, and the addition of an eighth council seat was too many for a municipality with the population of Essex.

Councillors justified the need for an additional councillor due to an increased workload in terms of the town’s administration and to ensure the continued growth of the town.

There were compliments to be had as well, with one resident praising the work of Council in removing the property development fees, and the “healing” of the perceived north and south divide, which some feel has been lingering since the amalgamation of the Municipality of Essex in 1999.

The Councillors in attendance stressed they feel they are representatives for the town-at-large, in addition to their respective wards.

With this, they encourage anyone with any questions or concerns to reach out to them via email at councilmembers@essex.ca. By sending an email to this address, it will ensure that the message is received by every member on council.