News

Town receives $100,000 grant for Belle Vue roof

 

By RTT Staff

The Town of Amherstburg will be receiving funding of up to $100,000 from Parks Canada towards the conservation of Belle Vue National Historic Site of Canada.

The town stated the funds, which come from Parks Canada’s National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places, are slated for Belle Vue’s roof restoration.

An employee from Robertson Restoration works on the roof at Belle Vue. (Photo by Paul Hertel/Belle Vue Conservancy)

The town announced the grant via a press release issued Tuesday morning.

Robertson Restoration was awarded the tender bid and has begun the refurbishment. The house dates back to 1816 with the roof made of copper and cedar shingles.

The roof project is estimated at $283,400 which includes architectural consultation and drawings.

The remainder of funds have been raised by the Belle Vue Conservancy. For more information on that group, visit www.bellevueconservancy.com.

“Belle Vue is an important symbol of Canada’s identity and traditions, says CAO John Miceli. “Conserving this treasured place benefits not only the immediate community, but all Canadians.”

 

Canada Day festivities ramping up as holiday approaches

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Canada’s 151st birthday is coming up and there are a number of festivities planned again this year to celebrate.

The Canada Day activities return to Fort Malden National Historic Site with a number of new and familiar events for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Jennifer Ibrahim, tourism co-ordinator with the Town of Amherstburg, said this year’s Canada Day will feature a lot of the same family-friendly activities as in previous years.

“It starts at 9 a.m. with the most patriotic run in our nation,” said Ibrahim, in reference to the Canada D’Eh run/walk that is presented by Running Flat. “I hope our community comes out and cheers on the Canada D’Eh runners. It’s so much fun.”

Opening ceremonies for the Canada Day festivities is scheduled for 11 a.m.

Fireworks annually thrill the thousands of people that attended the Canada Day event at Fort Malden. This is an image of “stacked” photos of several fireworks. (PHOTO BY ADRIAN HARTE)

Ibrahim said St. Peter’s ACHS College School will be joining the Amherstburg Admirals in field hockey games all day with a kids’ activity centre also to be featured throughout that Sunday.

Among the entertainment will be performers from the Kerri Brown Vocal Studio and the Rivertown Dance Academy with singers and bands to include Red and the Barron, Kerri & Joseph and Fresh Breath.

“Our headliners this year are Ashley Lynn & the Spurs,” said Ibrahim. “They are a crowd favourite.”

Ashley Lynn & the Spurs take the stage at 8 p.m.

There will also be children’s robotics activities featuring A-Team Robotics, pony rides courtesy of Sarah Parks Horsemanship and Zumba, the latter scheduled for 7 p.m.

Fort Malden National Historic Site will also offer its own programming throughout the day.

“Not to be missed is the fireworks finale,” added Ibrahim.

 

Catholic Women’s League’s “High Tea” popular with local ladies

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

Columbus Community Hall was filled to the brim with tea, music and very fancy hats thanks to a recent sold out event.

The St. John the Baptist Catholic Women’s League’s (CWL) annual high tea was once again held at the hall, and, as in previous years, the event sold out.

According to CWL president Sharon Barron, all 150 tickets were gone “almost immediately.”

Bernice Deslippe listens to her friends chat at CWL’s high tea event. (Photo by Jonathan Martin)

“That (ticket number) is really all we can handle,” she said.  “We make all of the food ourselves.  We were here until late last night and were back early this morning preparing it.”

The menu featured a variety of sandwich types, scones, desserts and, of course, tea.  Between the wide assortment of refreshments and the incredible variety of hats, the afternoon was certainly one of heterogeneity.

While the women munched, sipped and chatted, Lauren Baillargeon and Allison Brown provided entertainment in the way of country fiddle, ukulele, mandolin, guitar and vocal tunes.

In addition to playing music, 13-year-old Baillargeon does a little bit of fund raising of her own.  Along with her mother, brother and sister, she has raised around $40 thousand in the fight against cancer.  She and her siblings have even earned themselves a nickname.  Together, they make up the Kids Curing Cancer (KCC).

“All of the money I’m making today will be going towards that,” she said. “The money they will be giving me tonight, the CD sales and the tips from the (instrument) case will all be going to it.”

By the end of the night, Baillargeon had added another $778 to KCC’s list of raised sums.

Carol Laing poses for a photo at the Columbus Community Hall. The Amherstburg Catholic Women’s League used the venue to host their annual high tea. (Photo by Jonathan Martin)

All the CWL’s proceeds were donated to Saint John the Baptist Parish and to local charities.  Its revenue came from ticket sales and purchases from an “accessories table,” where attendees could pick up wearable baubles, purses and the like.

“The generosity of our women is amazing,” said Barron.  “They’re very involved both within the church and in the larger community.  They have very big hearts.”

If the recent event was any indication, they also have very big hats.

Local bed and breakfast getting recognition for their efforts

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Bondy House Bed & Breakfast is gaining recognition for their efforts.

The Dalhousie St. business, owned by Merv Richards and Carolyn Davies, was awarded a 9.5 ranking by the website Booking.com, a ranking that is considered prestigious within the industry. They have also been scored five out of five by AirB&B and four out of five by the Ontario Federation of Bed and Breakfast Accommodations.

“We were really happy to get the recognition,” said Davies.

Davies noted while there is no major hotel in Amherstburg at the moment, there are still places to stay.

“A lot of times, there is kind of a view that there is no place to stay in Amherstburg,” she said. “B&B’s have been serving the community for the last 20 years. There’s a cluster of us here.”

Bed and breakfasts help keep tourism dollars local, she said, adding that local restaurants and shops appreciate it when the Bondy House sends business their way.

Richards agreed, saying they give out a lot of referrals not just to shops and restaurants, but to wineries and other locations as well. Richards said they had guests from Texas “who fell in love with the (town)” and hired a taxi to take them around.

The Bondy House Bed and Breakfast, owned by Carolyn Davies and Merv Richards, has been gaining recognition within the industry including a 9.5 ranking by the website Booking.com.

“We’ve gotten great testimonials from people who have stayed here and who were happy for the time they spent here,” added Davies.

Davies added medical students have stayed at the Bondy House and received a chance to experience what it’s like to live in a small town. That could lead to doctors locating in smaller communities, she believed.

“We have had four to six people that have stayed here for a while and they ended up buying a house here,” added Richards.

Davies said they try and make people feel at home and they have had people from various walks of life stay there, including knights, poets, authors and songwriters.

Both Richards and Davies stated that they are in full support in bringing a hotel to Amherstburg. Richards said the support is “absolutely unconditional.”

“Anything we can do to improve traffic flow to the downtown and other areas is a tremendous help to all of us in the entire town,” he said.

Davies believed bed and breakfasts will still thrive if a hotel comes to town, as she believes there will be more people staying locally, more people eating and more people purchasing goods in town.

“It’s going to be a positive for everyone,” she said. “We see it as enhancing the sector we’ve been accommodating all along.”

The Bondy House Bed & Breakfast is located at 199 Dalhousie St. and can be reached at 519-736-9433 or www.bondyhouse.com.

Duffy’s plans spur petition

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A group from the AMA Sportsmen Association have made it clear – they want a fishing wharf, marina and boat ramp at the site of the former Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn.

The Town of Amherstburg, owners of the property, seem open to keeping at least two of those amenities.

Brian Beattie and Kevin Sprague from the AMA Sportsmen Association appeared before town council Monday night to request input into the design process of the site and to ensure the wharf, marina and boat ramp were included.

Beattie believed more input and consideration was needed. He recalled an amphitheatre being built just south of the Duffy’s lands near the Caldwell Towers area years ago and “residents complained so much they had to tear it down.”

Sprague said he gathered 558 signatures on a petition that states “that a boat launch with an appropriate number of parking spaces for vehicles with boat trailers, a wharf and lookout with sufficient space that can be used for shoreline fishing and transient marina slips being incorporated into the final design of the Duffy’s lands.”

The town’s decision to purchase the Duffy’s site was an “awesome” one, Sprague believed.

“It’s a large piece of valuable property in the downtown core with huge potential that will be a popular future public asset,” he said. “Properties like this don’t come around very often and may never come around again anywhere even close to the downtown core.”

The majority of residents he spoke with said they want a boat launch, wharf for shoreline fishing and a small marina, stated Sprague. He said more feedback is needed and that the town’s “Talk the Burg” website, an online questionnaire and a public consultation with 25 people in attendance “is not properly providing anywhere close to an accurate representation of what the community needs and wants.”

“Amherstburg is the only municipality in Essex County with the exception of Tecumseh that has no public boat launch,” he said. “We have a few privately-owned boat launches but what happens when these private boat launches no longer exist, close or are sold for development or other uses? This could easily occur and there is zero guarantee that this won’t become a future reality. Residents who require a boat launch shouldn’t be force to drive to another municipality to launch a boat when our town is surrounded by water. Amherstburg needs an insurance policy to prevent this from ever becoming a reality.”

Sprague added that Amherstburg “has by far” the smallest public place for shoreline fishing in Essex County at “an embarrassing 53-foot long space. It’s sometimes so overcrowded that tourists drive for hours to fish in Amherstburg and leave with tickets because they are fishing outside of the permitted area. When parents, grandparents and children of our town have 53-feet of overcrowded and completely insufficient area to fish from, that’s wrong and the town’s fault for not addressing this problem many years ago.”

Residents don’t want the amphitheatre on the Duffy’s site, he added, and that a parking lot should be built on the site that could be used year-round. He acknowledged that it’s not as nice as trees or grass, but parking could be used by residents and tourists alike. He said the amphitheatre doesn’t have the support the town thinks it does.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the wharf and marina are still part of the concept plan with the boat launch being the only thing in question.

“The issue is really the boat launch,” agreed CAO John Miceli. “The question is what do we do with parking for the boat launch?”

Councillor Rick Fryer said he agreed with the concept for Duffy’s but believed there should still be a boat launch at the site.

“The town should look at other places to park boat trailers and vehicles,” he said, even floating the idea of a valet service where someone could assist boaters by driving their trailers to a different site for them.

Fryer said he is hearing yes to a festival area at the site but no to an amphitheatre. He added there needs to be more room for people to fish.

“I’m a firm supporter of getting fisherman downtown,” he said.

DiCarlo said the Duffy’s project is currently in the environmental assessment stage and that funding will have to be secured for the project since there is a desire not to have it totally funded by the taxpayer. Optimistically, he hoped for shovels to be in the ground early next year.

The mayor said he did hear from people who signed the petition and believed there are some misconceptions. He said some he talked to thought a marina or boat ramp was being sacrificed for an amphitheatre and that he explained to them that all are still in the concept.

“The only thing left is the boat ramp,” he said.

Overall, DiCarlo said the Duffy’s concept has been “well received” and that people are anxious to see it get started. He said there will be future opportunities for people to comment on the project.