News

PARC recommendations to be presented to public board next Tuesday night

 

GECDSB logoBy RTT Staff

The Greater Essex County District will receive two recommendations from the 2015 Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) next Tuesday night.

The board states the PARC reconvened after the final public meeting May 12 “and the scenarios previously presented to the community were revisited and amended.  The committee has decided that it will now provide only two scenarios to the Board of Trustees at their public meeting on Tuesday, June 2.”

The PARC’s final scenarios that will go to the GECDSB are, “in no particular order”:

SCENARIO:
a.      maintain Western Secondary School as a Special Education school and expand programming
b.      implement community hubs in Amherstburg, Harrow and Kingsville
c.      maintain Harrow District High School at present location until a JK-12 build is complete
d.     build a new JK-12 school in Kingsville
e.      maintain General Amherst High School
SCENARIO:
a.      move Western Secondary School and transition those students to General Amherst High School as a separate program in a newly built school in Amherstburg on a board and town approved site (possible school within a school)
b.      implement community hubs in Amherstburg, Harrow and Kingsville
c.      establish a JK-12 school in Harrow
d.     build a new JK-12 school in Kingsville

Administration will present its recommendations to Trustees Sept. 15 and they will vote on them Oct. 13, said board public relations officer Scott Scantlebury.

“At that time they may approve them or choose to disregard all previous recommendations and devise their own,” Scantlebury added.

Ministry of Labour conducting investigation into Amherstburg Fire Department

 

fire logoBy Ron Giofu

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is conducting an investigation into the Amherstburg Fire Department.

William Lin, spokesperson for the ministry, confirmed late Tuesday afternoon that a complaint was filed Feb. 4 with the Ministry of Labour regarding health and safety concerns. The concerns relate to personal protective equipment required by firefighters.

The complaint is still being investigated, said Lin. No orders have been issued as of yet, he said, but noted the investigation is still ongoing. He said he couldn’t characterize the severity of the investigation, simply stating they are looking into a complaint they received.

As for when it might be completed, Lin said that has not been determined.

“I don’t want to specify on timelines,” he said.

The town has held in-camera sessions about a report concerning the fire department but Lin suggested that is a different matter. He said Ministry of Labour investigations are independent of those conducted by municipalities.

Chief Administrative Officer John Miceli said the town was never notified of the investigation and learned of it late Tuesday afternoon when contacted by the media. He said the Ministry of Labour hasn’t contacted the town and it was the town who followed up with the ministry to learn details of the investigation.

“It’s in their court as to what the next steps are going to be,” said Miceli.

Miceli confirmed there is also a town review of the fire department and indicated health and safety matters are part of that investigation, but said he could go no further at this point. He said he could not say whether items that the Ministry of Labour looked at were connected to the review being undertaken by the town.

 

 

Legion, local restaurants assist Motorcycle Ride for Dad

 

Motorcycles ride along Dalhousie St. on their way to Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157. Proceeds will be donated to the Prostate Cancer Fight Foundation.

Motorcycles ride along Dalhousie St. on their way to Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157. Proceeds will be donated to the Prostate Cancer Fight Foundation.

By Ron Giofu

 

The Motorcycle Ride for Dad roared into Amherstburg Sunday morning with the ride’s efforts to eradicate prostate cancer getting a boost of $1,130.

The hundreds of riders made one of their first stops at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 after starting the ride in Windsor. While in Amherstburg, Motorcycle Ride for Dad organizers were presented a cheque for $1,130, money that was raised by the Legion along with neighbouring restaurants Lord Amherst and Artisan Grill.

As of press time, there was no official confirmation on the overall fundraising total nor the amount of participants, but early estimates have upwards of 1,000 bikes involved.

Kevan Carroll, who helped organize festivities at the Legion, said he was contacted by local Ride for Dad chair Paul Bridgeman and Bridgeman put his faith in Carroll to do a good job.

“I think it turned out really well,” said Carroll. “It’s good for the town and good for the cause of eliminating prostate cancer and wiping out that disease.”

Bridgeman said the town “has been absolutely spectacular” and thanked Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and town council, Chief Tim Berthiaume and the Amherstburg Police Service, the Amherstburg Fire Department and the Legion.

The Motorcycle Ride for Dad received a donation of $1,130 from Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 Sunday morning before heading out on the rest of their run. The money was raised at the Legion, Lord Amherst Public House and the Artisan Grill. From left: Ride for Dad board member Cecilia Gagnon, Legion Br. 157 president Dennis Purdie, Legion Br. 157 event  organizer Kevan Carroll and Ride for Dad Windsor chair Paul Bridgeman.

The Motorcycle Ride for Dad received a donation of $1,130 from Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 Sunday morning before heading out on the rest of their run. The money was raised at the Legion, Lord Amherst  and the Artisan Grill. From left: Ride for Dad board member Cecilia Gagnon, Legion Br. 157 president Dennis Purdie, Legion Br. 157 event organizer Kevan Carroll and Ride for Dad Windsor chair Paul Bridgeman.

“They’ve been really outstanding to us,” said Bridgeman. “There has been great communication and great enthusiasm, which makes the ride so much better. We’re really happy.”

Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson was the celebrity ride captain with the LaSalle native and St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School graduate stating he was happy to be there.

“It’s a cool event,” said Willson. “I’ve got some family connections with a few of the people organizing the run. A bunch of good people are part of it.”

Willson said he flew back into the area just to be part of the Motorcycle Ride for Dad.

“It’s fun,” he said. “Anything I can do to give back to the community is always great.”

Town council cool to second event proposed for Navy Yard Park on Art By The River weekend

 

Navy Yard ParkBy Ron Giofu

 

Town council has not given the go-ahead to a second event for the Aug. 28-30 weekend, one that would have been held in King’s Navy Yard Park.

An event known as “Fusion,” a blend of acoustic music, art, food and drink, was not approved by council with the elected officials merely receiving a report from administration on the subject after a debate which lasted over one hour. Event organizer Ian France was undeterred, stating he will return to council with other plans and noted he has other venues in mind.

Some of the stronger voices against the Fusion event came from the Fort Malden Guild of Arts and Crafts, which operates the Gibson Gallery. The gallery will present the 49th annual Art By The River that weekend.

David Cozens, president of the Fort Malden Guild of Arts and Crafts, said they only learned of the Fusion event Sunday and have “strong opposition” to the addition of a new event. They noted the guild is a non-profit event that has partnered with the town in the past to promote tourism and that the guild believes the new event would have a negative impact on Art By The River and the location where it is held, Fort Malden National Historic Site.

Cozens added the guild is “very disappointed” that the town’s economic development office or anyone else contacted them to get their input on another event that weekend.

“Are we not owed that courtesy?” Cozens asked.

Cozens also accused Fusion of piggybacking on Art By The River’s promotion of that weekend.

“Fusion will benefit from our extensive advertising, which will not cost them a dime,” he said.

The Fort Malden Guild of Arts and Crafts is self-sufficient, Cozens added, and do not receive money from the town.

“Do not sell us out,” he told council.

CAO John Miceli said town council was presented the Fusion proposal as a “pilot project” for council’s consideration, adding the Gibson Gallery is assisted by the town through a $1 per year lease. Cozens countered by saying the guild owns the gallery building and maintains it, with the lease for the property itself.

Lou Roth, another member of the guild’s board of directors, said “49 years of success deserves more respect.” Not being told of the possibility of another event that weekend was “disrespectful,” he believed, and said having sections of Navy Yard Park fenced off to accommodate alcohol sales would present a poor image.

“Do not allow that image to come into our town,” he said.

Councillor Diane Pouget believed administration made an error in not contacting guild officials and that she was disappointed by that. Pouget stated Navy Yard Park is “passive in nature” and that an event like Fusion would go against what the park was intended for.

“We have spent a great deal of money on the jewel of Amherstburg,” she said.

Pouget added that the parks committee, where she serves with fellow council appointee Councillor Joan Courtney, did not see the proposal.

Councillor Jason Lavigne noted he is on the recreation committee and that group didn’t see the proposal either. Lavigne believed having competing events wouldn’t work and suggested using Fort Malden National Historic Site on another weekend, noting the fort “took a huge hit” with the loss of the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival this year.

Lavigne added that he spoke with roughly 50 people on the weekend and all of them opposed having the event in Navy Yard Park.

Miceli said the bylaw reads that town council can authorize community events in Navy Yard Park. He added the dates selected were not chosen by the town, but rather by France. The CAO also showed photos of issues the Navy Yard Park faces, from uneven sidewalks to rusting light poles and unpainted railings. He believed having events in the town’s parks could create non-tax revenue needed to help maintain the parks.

Roth interjected, and said many people would likely volunteer to continue the upkeep of the park.

“We care about that park. It belongs to us,” he said. “We’re proud of that park. Just ask us. I can hold a paint brush. It’s not all about money. It’s about our park.”

Councillor Rick Fryer suggested other venues, such as the Libro Centre or Ranta Park.

“We have prime real estate right there,” he said of the latter.  “I don’t know why people don’t use Ranta Park. It’s a beautiful park. It’s right on the water and no one uses it.”

Fryer added that parking issues would be one of the reasons two events at once would be difficult.

“I don’t see it beneficial for both groups,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said previous events held the same weekend were resolved by meetings between the two groups. He believed more input from the public would be useful when looking at events in Navy Yard Park.

“Do people want this?” he asked. “We’ve got to get a clear picture of who wants what.”

“I think there was some lack of communication here,” said Courtney.

Courtney said she started reading over her agenda package Sunday and that is when she first realized the Fusion event was being proposed.

“I said, ‘I’ve never heard of this before’,” said Courtney.

Courtney was one of the members of council who thanked France for his initiative but believed it was the wrong event at the wrong time.

Councillor Leo Meloche said that based on living in Quebec City, Montreal and Toronto, “people want activity by the water.”

Meloche believed the town’s parks should be used more but believed the Fusion event should be moved to another time.

“I’m not saying have parties (in Navy Yard Park) every weekend but we should use our parks more,” he said. “I’d welcome this event on another day.”

Lavigne responded by saying “this is Amherstburg” and it shouldn’t be compared with Montreal, Quebec City or Toronto. He said it is already a tourist destination that draws people in from all over. Lavigne added that other events are “super successful” without having to use Navy Yard Park.

“I want the event but we have other facilities,” said Lavigne.

France also noted there was a lot of misinformation going around, and didn’t believe the event he proposed would conflict with Art By the River.

“I’m simply trying to bring events to town,” he said.

The Navy Yard Park would be perfect for the Fusion event and said he met with Fort Malden and Libro Centre staff already. He said there would be no bottle sales at Fusion and area restaurants would be invited to conduct off-site catering at the event.

As for the issue of communication, France said he wanted to get issues surrounding the park bylaw cleared up before he went out to Art By The River committee members or local businesses. He said he wanted to do something to benefit the town, adding that he had a chance to do the event on Bob-Lo but opted for the mainland.

“I definitely wasn’t trying to step on anyone’s toes,” said France.

Dorothy Kryworuchko Languedoc said she moved to town with husband David and they now operate two businesses that support the Fusion proposal. She said they had a vision for when they moved to town and that vision is falling by the wayside.

“This vision is very quickly falling apart,” she said. “I see infighting in this town. I see backstabbing in this town.”

She added that she has been in the park and has seen where people, including herself, were asked to get off the grass. David added more could be done in the park.

“We can do things right and with some class,” he said.

Others opposed using the park and going against Art By The River. Business owner Shirley Wigle said she gets good business during Art By The River weekend and she was “definitely against” Fusion.

Local resident Larry Amlin wanted the town to be more open to having events there.

“All I’m saying to council is don’t close your mind,” said Amlin. “Think outside the box.”

France told the media during a brief recess that he plans on approaching council soon with another plan for the event, pledging “the event will take place.” He said he would have held Fusion on the Friday and Saturday evening after Art By The River had closed for the day, and would have offered free space to artists to further promote the show.

There were cross-promotion ideas that he would have brought forward, he continued, but said he will press on with other ideas for the event in mind.

“Torpedo-shaped” device leads to Legion evacuation

 

By Jonathan Martin

Amherstburg police ordered staff and patrons of Legion Branch 157 to clear the premises Wednesday after what appeared to be a World War Two era ordnance was found in the electrical room.

Branch president Dennis Purdie said he received a call from colleague John Copland, who had been doing some routine cleaning.

 “He found something shaped like a little torpedo,” Purdie said. “It was about a foot-and-a-half tall and was heavy.”

Senior Const. Shawn McCurdy speaks with Legion Branch 157 president Dennis Purdie outside the building as officers deal with a potential explosive found in its electrical room last Wednesday.

Senior Const. Shawn McCurdy speaks with Legion Branch 157 president Dennis Purdie outside the building as officers deal with a potential explosive found in its electrical room last Wednesday.

Copland said neither he nor Purdie know enough about explosives to have been able to properly identify the object.  After some discussion, they decided the best course of action was to call the police and let them take over.

“I thought to myself, ‘Somebody must have been ticked off that we raised the price of beer,’” joked Copland.

Purdie said when he called the police he was told to evacuate the building. Before long, police had the perimeter taped off, closed the streets and had notified neighbouring businesses.

Senior Constable Shawn McCurdy said police contacted the Canadian Armed Forces for help identifying the object and began looking into how it ended up in the Legion.  As they did, groups of onlookers started gathering around the police tape.

Finally, they made some headway.

“We got information from the person who donated it to the Legion,” McCurdy said.  “It has been disarmed.”

Through electronic communication, the armed forces were able to determine that the object was harmless.  Later on in the day, McCurdy posted on the Amherstburg Police Service’s official Facebook page.

“It was determined that the ordnance was a deactivated World War Two aircraft modular practice bomb,” he wrote.  “This bomb was used by the air force for practicing dropping bombs. The ordnance would leave a smoke trail as it fell to the ground to determine the accuracy of the drop.”

Amherstburg police officers retrieved the bomb from the electrical room and took it away.  The Legion has since returned to business as usual, though Purdie jokingly said he would look into having something made to commemorate the “Bomb Scare of 2015.”