Essex Council Notes for Monday, April 16

Filed under: IN THE NEWS |
by Sylene Argent
Essex County cemetery outreach program
 
Geography teacher David Brian, of Academie Ste. Cecile International School, and students, approached Essex Council with a proposal for partnership that would launch a community outreach project to record and publish a digital map of cemeteries of Essex County, with a focus on black cemeteries.
 
Council received and supported the request.
 
This project was started at the school with the grade 12 history class and the grade 11 geography class. Students also created a website for the program and asked that its link be included on the Town’s website.
 
The students noted Essex County’s history is unique as escaped slaves from the US settled here, many in the southern-end of the municipality of Essex. There are many black cemeteries within Essex County, some they said have been overlooked, sadly.
 
The students are now in search of records and documents to tell the stories of African Canadians, they said, who lived and are buried in Essex County.
 
Many Council members applauded the students’ work. Councillor Randy Voakes suggested the students hold an open house, and that the Town waive the user-fee at the Shaheen Community Room, to better connect with the families of those they are trying to document.
 
The students’ program fits in well with the Essex Municipal Heritage Committee’s recent focus on opening the Town’s cemetery file, Rita Jabbour said, who is Essex’s Assistant Planner and liaison on that committee.
 
She invited the students to come listen to prominent local historian Elise Harding-Davis at the Heritage Committee’s meeting on April 26, which will have a similar topic. More information about the meeting will be found on the Town’s website, essex.ca.
 
 
Request for second driveway
 
A resident of Talbot Street South approached Council to request the allowance of adding a second driveway entrance to their property, which would exit onto Irwin Avenue. It was noted a lack of parking created the need for the additional driveway.
 
Chris Nepszy, the Town’s Director of Infrastructure & Development, said this type of request is not uncommon of corner lots, and it is not uncommon for Council to grant approval, pending any problematic issues, such as with interfering with traffic.
 
Council voted to allow the resident to consult with the Manager of Operations to ensure the entrance will have minimal impact to Irwin Avenue.
 
Union Water wants to become a Municipal Service Corporation
 
Rodney Bouchard, Manager of Union Water Supply System (UWSS), presented Essex Council with a proposed business case for restructuring the organization into a Municipal Service Corporation (MSC).
 
Nelson Santos, Kingsville’s Mayor, and Hilda MacDonald, Leamington’s Deputy Mayor, are on the UWSS Board. They joined Bouchard for the presentation that provided background on the organization and the benefits of restructuring it into a MSC.
 
Bouchard noted UWSS was established in 1960. Many changes have occurred since its inception, including that in 1997, the Municipal Water and Sewer Transfer Act required transfer of ownership of water and sewer systems from OCWA to municipalities. This transfer was completed in 2001.
 
Four municipalities have ownership of UWSS; Leamington (50.55 percent), Kingsville (40.73 percent), Essex (6.97 percent), and Lakeshore (3.15 percent). The percentiles are based on proportional consumption. Ownership is updated every four years.
 
Challenges with how the UWSS operates as it does today is that it has a lack of legal status, its debt is carried by municipalities, it cannot obtain financing on its own, it cannot apply or receive government grants on its own, and it has very little decision-making power over its own operations.
 
The proposed corporate ownership would have existing municipalities as shareholders, ownership shares would be based on water consumption, and ownership would be reviewed every four years. Existing assets would be transferred to UWSS.
 
A Board of Directors would manager UWSS, which would consist of municipal-elected councillors from the municipal shareholders. Each shareholder municipality will appoint one Board Director as a shareholder member, and each shareholder municipality will appoint an additional Director for each 10 percent of total UWSS water demand.
 
It was pointed out during the meeting this would not be a privatization and the Board would set water rates.
 
The change to a MSC “Allows us to do things we can’t do now,” Bouchard explained. It is hoped to get the affiliated municipalities on board.
 
Santos added the change would “take off the shackles” UWSS currently has on getting grants. Currently, municipalities have to apply for grants for UWSS.
 
Council received the presentation and further directed administration to review and report back with recommendations pertaining to the proposed business case.
 
 
Senior Citizen of the Year
 
The Ontario Minister responsible for Seniors Affairs invited Essex Council to participate in nominations for the 2018 Senior of the Year Award, via correspondence Council received at the April 3 meeting. The nomination was to be one outstanding senior, who after the age of 65 has enriched the social, culture, or civic life of the community.
 
Two names were forwarded from the community, and Council members believed both individuals were deserving of the award. Council, only able to forward one name, placed the names into a hat to pick one. Diana Dennis was chosen.
 
The nomination letter advocating for Dennis included that she has taught piano and vocal skills to people of all ages in her home for many years and used to work with students with special needs at Sun Parlor Junior Public School.
 
The writer of the letter called Dennis, “One of the sweetest, most patient and caring women I’ve ever met. She always has her little candy jar full for you to choose from after your lesson and is incredibly encouraging when you are struggling with a piece.”
 
Dennis is also involved with Essex United Church, where she serves in worship.
 
 
Communities in Bloom Week
Essex Council proclaimed Communities in Bloom Week to be week of May 7. This will annually recognize and celebrate the benefits derived from Communities in Bloom and the countless volunteers and individuals who make communities great places to live.
 
 
Colchester 2018 Summer Event
 
Councillor Larry Snively noted, thanks to local business support, he has been able to secure $38,000 for a 2018 summer event in Colchester.
 
After the success of the Colchester 225 celebration last year, there was a demand to host a similar event again this year, but not on the backs of taxpayers.
 
Council endorsed the event.
 
 
Day of Mourning
Essex Council supported Councillor Sherry Bondy’s request to recognize April 28 as the Day of Mourning in respect of workers who have been killed, injured, or suffered an illness as a result of work-related incidents across Canada.
 
Essex Council Notes for April 16, 2018 will be continued in the April 26, 2018 edition of the Essex Free Press.