Essex Council Notes for Monday, February 5

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

by Sylene Argent and Adam Gault

Council recognizes Fire Chief for earning Canada 150 Medal

At the Monday, February 5 Essex Council meeting, Fire Chief Rick Arnel was recognized for having earned a Canada 150 Medal.

Arnel joined Essex Fire & Rescue in January of 2015. He currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the Board of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and President of the Ontario Fallen Firefighters Memorial.

Arnel said the dedicated firefighters he has had the pleasure of managing over the past 25 years make the difference. “I give them the opportunity to ahead and do the great things they do and I want to thank them. They are the ones [who] make me look good,” a humble Arnel remarked. “It was a true honour to be there that night.”

Essex Council designates March as “Maple Month”

Council received a presentation from Kristin Ives, ERCA Curator and Education Coordinator, asking for March to be declared as “Maple Month” within the Town of Essex. In support of promoting the cultural and natural history of maple trees in the region, the motion was carried.


Bondy expresses frustration with previous meeting

Essex Councillor Sherry Bondy said she was a bit confused about how any Councillor is to get any work done. At the January 15 meeting, she presented a list she garnered from her ward, Harrow, to Council. She was hoping Council would direct administration to receive and review the Ward 4 Feedback items. If it was deemed necessary, she wanted to obtain Council’s endorsement for any further action as recommended by administration.

Bondy noted then that many of the concerns from residents she received through the survey regarded speeding issues, truck traffic through residential streets, and a lack of a police presence to enforce these issues.

Mayor Ron McDermott seemed to take issue with the number and type of complaints brought forward by the Ward 4 survey.

At which point, that meeting broke down with Councillor Randy Voakes and Mayor Ron McDermott going head-to-head.

Bondy and Voakes left the January 15 meeting, while the other Councillors returned after a recess period.

The motion regarding further review of the Ward 4 items was then defeated.

At Monday’s meeting, Bondy said the list was shot-down by the Mayor. She said she was looking for the Chairperson’s advice on how Councillors could bring their issues to Council. She claimed since that incident, Harrow residents have emailed the Mayor, and he has not gotten back to them. The Mayor denied that, saying he received one email regarding the incident, which he believed was from Bondy.

Bondy said the Mayor should apologize for calling businesses lazy at the last Council meeting, when discussing excess snow removal in the downtown core.

She said he should also apologize to the residents of Harrow for shooting down their rep at the municipal decision-making table.

“Ok, you opened this can of worms, young lady,” Mayor McDermott said to Bondy. McDermott said every time he starts talking in the Council Chambers, “All hell breaks loose as it did that night.”

He claims he said “We have some lazy business people.’ He claimed he said around 75 percent of businesses help the Town and that the other 25 percent are lazy. He claimed he started to give his side of the story, and didn’t get a chance to finish. He claimed it is typical for him to get cut off in the Council Chambers.

He said he had a problem with Bondy’s survey as he would prefer to see it completed municipal-wide, not just in one ward.

Moving forward, McDermott said when he does speak to something, he will give the gavel to Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche so he can get his “air time.”


Splash pad coming for Essex Centre

On Monday evening, Essex Council awarded the Request for Proposal for Design, Supply, and Install of the Essex Centre Splash Pad to Open Space Solution Inc.

The project, that will cost just over $256, 800, did come in under budget.
Director of Community Services Doug Sweet said the splash pad, which should be ready by June 1, will be located where the old Raven’s fieldhouse is, near the Essex Centre Sports Complex.


Report on Heritage Listings Received

Council received a report prepared by Assistant Planner, Rita Jabbour, regarding the addition of properties in the Town of Essex to be listed on the Essex Municipal Heritage Register under the Ontario Heritage Act. The OPP building in Harrow, designed by prominent architect, James Pennington, served as the first municipal building for Harrow back in the 1930s, was among the properties listed.

“What ‘listing’ is, is it gives protection to properties that might have cultural heritage value. We know all these properties have cultural heritage value, but we aren’t quite at the designation stage yet,” Jabbour explained of around one dozen properties added to the register listing.

The properties designated will receive certain protections from demolition and alteration, with any property owner who wishes to take action having to provide Council a 60-day notice of their intention, which in turn will be passed to the Heritage Committee to determine an appropriate course of action.


Harrow Development Potential

Essex Council received Assistant Planner Rita Jabbour’s report, “Harrow Development Potential,” which provided an overview of residential development potential there. The report also identified development constraints and outlined options Council could undertake to spur development.

In the report it notes that as of 2016, Harrow had a total of 1, 075 occupied private dwellings, with the majority being single detached houses. Harrow has a total population of 2,710.

To help encourage development in Harrow, the Committee of Adjustment discussed, in November of last year, the option of eliminating the imposition of the water buy-in fee as a condition of consent applications for the creation of new residential lots. The water buy in fee would continue to be applicable at the time of construction. Committee members voted in support of removing the water buy-in fee on all applications for new residential lot creations throughout the Town of Essex, the report notes.

Council has also provided a 100 percent discount on Development Charges for residential development in Harrow Centre. The Bylaw will be effective from January 1, 2018 until August 25, 2019.

Councillor Larry Snively thought hosting an open house with developers may help spur some interest there.

Councillor Sherry Bondy said if the Town keeps putting incentives out there, some uptake should be noticed.

Councillor Randy Voakes discussed how he wanted to waive Development Charges for the corner of Highway # 3 and County Road 8 to spur development there. “I was told ‘no’ by Council,” he said. He believes millions of tax dollars were lost there as a result of it sitting vacant. He said to alter development charges in one ward and not another may come across as being divisive.


Regulating fire services

Essex Council received Fire Chief Rick Arnel’s report “Updating Bylaw 1500, being a bylaw to Establish and Regulate Fire Services.” The report outlined the revised and updated Medical Tiered Response Agreement between Essex Windsor EMS and the Town of Essex Fire Rescue.

The agreement was further approved and updated.

Essex Fire and Rescue has operated under a Medical Tiered Response Agreement with the Essex-Windsor E.M.S. for a number of years.

The recently updated tiered agreement is between the Essex-Windsor E.M.S. and the eight fire departments and is administered by the Central Ambulance Communications Centre.


Report on Incentives for Vacant School Properties in Harrow

Council received a report from Economic Development Officer, Nelson Silveira, providing Council with recommended changes to the Harrow Community Improvement Plan (CIP) to include vacant school properties in Harrow as eligible properties under the CIP.

This would include a larger demolition grant, up to $25,000, and a potential conversion grant toward future projects, including residential.
“(The grant) is $25,000 if the demolition costs more than $250,000,” Silveira explained.

Councillor Sherry Bondy asked if additional funding had been made available for the CIP, noting that Council was considering expanding the CIP to include Colchester County Rd. 50, and if it would be possible to split the Colchester and Harrow CIP fund.

Essex CAO, Donna Hunter, explained additional funding has been look at being set aside in the event the County Rd. 50 CIP takes off, and if a change occurs in the status of both schools.

The expanded CIP boundary would include both junior schools.


Harrow Storm and Sanitary Optimization Study

Council received a report from Director of Infrastructure and Development Services, Chris Nepszy, regarding a study pertaining to Harrow storm and sanitary optimization, in addition to the appointment of Stantec Consulting to provide engineering services to design, procure, and administer the subject optimization study for Harrow Centre.

Councillor Sherry Bondy questioned if the items were budgeting through storm and sanitary funding, or an urban levy, and how it compared to the similar study which was implemented in Ward 1.

“It’s funded through both sanitary and storm, and it’s already captured in the budgets in 2018 and moving forward,” Nepszy explained.


Operating and Capital Forecasts

Essex Council moved the bylaw to adopt the 2019-2022 Operating and Capital Forecasts.

Councillor Sherry Bondy said good conversations were had during the special meetings held where Council discussed this document. She was in favour of adopting it, but thought a few things needed to be added, like a Harrow Streetscape Plan.


Several Notice of Motion put forward

Council guidelines for dealing with media: Councillor Randy Voakes brought forward his Notice of Motion from the previous meeting. He wanted to discuss the guidelines used when communicating with media.

The Town was planning a workshop for Council on March 5, which would outline policies and procedures.

Voakes said that is not what he intended with the motion. He said he doesn’t want to tip-toe around issues and wants changes implemented to allow for more transparency.

RFP process: Councillor Randy Voakes brought forward the Notice of Motion he made at the previous meeting regarding having administration come back with the procedure on how Requests for Proposals are accepted. He had concerns that the Town is sometimes gouged on projects because it is views as a municipality or a corporation. He thought perhaps a third-party consultant could help the Town determine if proposals are fair.

He said he would bring this issue up again at the next meeting as he was told during the meeting his original Notice of Motion does not match what he brought up at the meeting.

Municipal Services to Maidstone Avenue: At the February 20 meeting, Councillor Larry Snively will put a Notice of Motion forward that could have administration provide a report that sets out costs of bringing municipal services where they end on Maidstone Avenue, east of Highway 3, to the lands west of Highway # 3, along County Road 8 to the future intersection of Pinkerton and County Road 8.

Harrow Streetscape project: Councillor Sherry Bondy put a Notice of Motion forward for Council to consider at the February 20 meeting. She would like administration to provide a report on how the Harrow Streetscape project could be funded so it could be undertaken this year.

Naming Colchester Park: Councillor Ron Rogers put a Notice of Motion forward to have Council consider naming the Colchester Lakefront Park McCoy Park, in recognition of Colchester-born inventor, Elijah McCoy, at the February 20 meeting.


Wages and Benefits agreement for Firefighters

Essex Council adopted Bylaw 1675 to enter into a wages and benefits agreement between the Town of Essex and its 60 firefighter employees, who are on-call.
This is a four-year agreement, which lays out wages, benefits, uniform allowances, reimbursements for medical and DZ license renewals. It also describes the new probationary firefighter program. The agreement will be operational between December 1, 2017 to November 20, 2021.