Aldo DiCarlo

Finances improving, but town “not out of the woods yet”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town received its 2016 consolidated financial statements and the town’s auditor is giving a “clean audit” opinion.

That said, the town is quick to point out there is still some more work to do.

Cynthia Swift from the firm KPMG appeared before town council Monday night and said the clean report is due in large part to the town’s administration following the Deloitte report’s recommendations. The Deloitte report was issued in 2014 during the town’s financial struggles and helped the town regain some of its financial footing.

“We did not find any serious deficiencies,” Swift said, regarding her firm’s review of the financial statements. “Management is doing a good job following the Deloitte report, reducing debt and increasing revenue.”

Swift said she was satisfied with the town’s handling of the employee future benefit liability, noting that can increase or decrease annually.

Councillor Rick Fryer commented that the finances were in “disarray” when the current council was sworn into office.

“I feel the report is a report card of our treasury department,” said Fryer, adding his belief that town financial staff have helped restore public trust in the finances of the municipality.

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Fryer added that he regularly hears positive feelings about Amherstburg when he meets with people from outside the town.

“All I hear are really good things about Amherstburg,” he said. “(People say) Amherstburg is the place that has got its finances on a fabulous track.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said it wasn’t a big surprise that the town is starting to straighten itself out financially. He said if people look at the direction council and administration have taken to address its issues, “it’s not so surprising.

“If nothing else, it’s great news.”

Administration is keeping a “watchful eye” on the finances and the town is also working closely with developers and construction companies with contracts coming in under-budget rather than over-budget, DiCarlo said, adding this is leading to surpluses.

However, the mayor cautioned they can’t get too excited about the good news.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said DiCarlo.

The KPMG audit shows management is being prudent but there are still areas the town has to work on.

“We still have to keep building reserves,” said DiCarlo, using that as an example. “We are pointed in the right direction but we have to stay pointed in the right direction.”

Director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau said the town has reduced its long-term debt from $50 million to $39.5 million and is doing a better job of collecting its receivables.

“We are building reserves and cash flow is in a good position,” he said. “We’ve been able to do it with good financial reporting to council.”
Rousseau added “we’ve got a ways to go” but said the turnaround has been gratifying for administration. He believes the town is the first municipality in the region to have its 2016 consolidated financial statements passed by council, a contrast to when the town was behind several years in presenting them to the elected body.

The town is able to make investment decisions, he added, now they have some reserves built up and that was not possible just a few years ago.

CWATS celebration tour comes to Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

An annual celebration of Essex County’s trail and paved shoulder network ended with a bang in Amherstburg.

Amherstburg was one of the stops on the County-Wide Active Transportation (CWATS) celebration tour with every municipality in Essex County participating. The celebration in Amherstburg occurred last Thursday afternoon in Toddy Jones Park with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, members of both county and town administration and Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) officials helping to lead the walk. The walk left Toddy Jones Park, went through Fort Malden National Historic Site, proceeded south on Laird Ave. and returned to the park.

Const. Steve Owen instructs local students on bicycle safety as part of the County-Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS) celebration. It started and ended at Toddy Jones Park with a walk through Fort Malden in between.

Const. Steve Owen instructs local students on bicycle safety as part of the County-Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS) celebration. It started and ended at Toddy Jones Park with a walk through Fort Malden in between.

“It’s great to be here to reinforce active transportation through CWATS,” DiCarlo told the crowd of roughly 300 students that participated.

Students came from both Amherstburg Public School and General Amherst High School.

DiCarlo outlined paved shoulders and trails that have been installed in Amherstburg in recent years, including paved shoulders on County Road 5 (the portion of Concession 2 North between Middle Side Road and Texas Road), County Road 18 and the launch of the Cypher Systems Greenway.

“All of these will support cycling, walking and more active transportation in Amherstburg,” said DiCarlo.

Jane Mustac, manager of transportation planning for the County of Essex, said it was a chance to celebrate with their partners including the seven county municipalities, ERCA, the WECHU, Ministry of Transportation and others.

Students from General Amherst High School walk through Fort Malden during the June 8 CWATS celebration in Amherstburg.

Students from General Amherst High School walk through Fort Malden during the June 8 CWATS celebration in Amherstburg.

There are approximately 150 kilometres of trails in Essex County, said Mustac, noting that it took since 2012 to create that much. The widening of County Road 18 from Meloche Road to Concession 6 South to include bike lanes means people can get from the Willowood campground to Fort Malden on bicycle, Mustac pointed out.

The County of Essex dedicates about $1 million per year towards CWATS and partners also contribute. Not only does it go towards infrastructure, but education and outreach are included. The celebration in Amherstburg was the largest, Mustac added.

Students participating in the CWATS celebration walk along the Detroit River inside of Fort Malden National Historic Site last Thursday afternoon.

Students participating in the CWATS celebration walk along the Detroit River inside of Fort Malden National Historic Site last Thursday afternoon.

“We went out with a bang,” she said. “This is our last stop and they made it count.”

Mustac encouraged people to get out and use the trails.
“Try them out,” she said. “Let us know what can be improved. We are looking forward to the next phase.”

For more information on the County-Wide Active Transportation System, visit www.cwats.ca.

Motorcycle Ride for Dad hits Amherstburg as one of its stops

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The fight against prostate cancer continued Sunday thanks to the Motorcycle Ride for Dad.

The ride saw hundreds of motorcycles come into Amherstburg as Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 was an early stop after it left Windsor. After it left the Festival Plaza in Windsor, the riders stopped at Brews & Cues near LaSalle before coming to Amherstburg. After that, it went to the Colchester Bar & Grill, Freddy’s in Leamington and Mr. Biggs in Lakeshore before returning to Windsor.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was the ride captain of the 2017 Motorcycle Ride for Dad and leads the bikes along Dalhousie St. to Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was the ride captain of the 2017 Motorcycle Ride for Dad and leads the bikes along Dalhousie St. to Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157.

Ride captain Aldo DiCarlo, also Amherstburg’s mayor, said everything was “so far, so good” when the riders hit Amherstburg.

“I think the numbers are good,” he said. “I know people were watching out to see what the weather was like but I think we did pretty good.”

DiCarlo admitted there was “a little bit of pressure” leading the ride, particularly into Amherstburg, but was still happy to do it.

“There’s still nothing like that feeling to see all those lights in your rear-view mirror,” he said.

The ride was a bit more laid back for him once it left Amherstburg, he added.

Motorcycles lined Dalhousie St. the morning of May 28 as the Motorcycle Ride for Dad hit Amherstburg and made Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 one of its stops.

Motorcycles lined Dalhousie St. the morning of May 28 as the Motorcycle Ride for Dad hit Amherstburg and made Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 one of its stops.

DiCarlo’s father survived prostate cancer several years ago and the mayor gets checked regularly due to it being in his family’s history. It is something he encourages others to do too, noting it is a simple test.

“If you are 40 or older or if it runs in your family, go get checked,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo wasn’t the only politician in the ride, noting Windsor city councillor Bill Marra was also involved and also shared his story about how prostate cancer impacted his family.

The mayor added that he starts looking for ways to help the Motorcycle Ride for Dad every year and is thrilled to see so many people in town for the event.

Legion Br. 157 president Laurie Cavanaugh said it is a big event and that the Legion does its part by selling food and drinks to the riders.

“It’s a good thing for the community,” she said. “We’re going to do it every year.”

Cavanaugh said they were told 500 registered for the ride. She said the hope was that riders come back and go to other businesses and stay longer in Amherstburg.

The estimated fundraising total is $30,000.

Memorial Cup trophy visits Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup will be decided at the WFCU Centre in Windsor but the trophy itself is visiting several areas of Windsor-Essex County while it is in the area.

Amherstburg was the Memorial Cup trophy’s stop last Sunday afternoon, as it came to the Libro Centre. The colour guard from Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 escorted the trophy into the main ice pad with the fans in attendance lining up to have their photograph taken with the cup.

The Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 colour guard pose with the Memorial Cup and the staff that brought junior hockey’s top prize to Amherstburg.

The Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 colour guard pose with the Memorial Cup and the staff that brought junior hockey’s top prize to Amherstburg.

“The Memorial Cup’s history is iconic to Canadian values,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

DiCarlo pointed out the trophy was originally dedicated in memory of Canadians killed in World War I, but was rededicated in 2010 to all soldiers who were killed in action. Legion Br. 157 president Dave Lauzon said they were pleased to have the opportunity to bring the trophy into the building and echoed DiCarlo’s statements about the history of the trophy.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo pose with the Memorial Cup while the trophy was at the Libro Centre May 21.

The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo pose with the Memorial Cup while the trophy was at the Libro Centre May 21.

Lauzon added it is the Legion’s honour to pay tribute to those who paid the supreme sacrifice.

“Further, we honour Canadian soldiers of today who partake in all conflicts globally,” he said.

The Memorial Cup trophy was originally donated by the Ontario Hockey Association in 1919 to honour the champions of junior hockey. It is considered by some the toughest trophy to win in sports.

Brandi Sieber brought her family and said they had been at the Libro Centre since noon. The kids said the best part was getting their picture with the trophy. Another fan, Josh Fex, said he is hoping to win the Memorial Cup and noted goalie and Amherstburg native Michael DiPietro is his idol.

Rex Bullard, Koheri Sieben, Brie Sieben and Macy Bullard stand beside the Memorial Cup during the trophy's visit to the Libro Centre May 21.

Rex Bullard, Koheri Sieben, Brie Sieben and Macy Bullard stand beside the Memorial Cup during the trophy’s visit to the Libro Centre May 21.

DiCarlo added the town was proud to host the Memorial Cup trophy.

“I think people learned about the history of it, which was very important,” he added.

The 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup runs through Sunday when the championship game will be played in Windsor at 7 p.m. The Spitfires’ last round-robin game is May 24 against the OHL champion Erie Otters.

To see a photo album of the Memorial Cup’s visit to Amherstburg, click here.

Town gets update on condition of Boblo dock

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town has received an update from the federal government as it pertains to the former Boblo dock on Front Road South.

CAO John Miceli brought a report to council which stated that he was advised by William Ariss of the Real Property Division of the Central & Arctic Region of Fisheries and Oceans Canada advising the Boblo dock would not be declared surplus at this time. Miceli reported that Ariss advised the town that the department is undertaking “a review of the various wharfs in the Sarnia to Amherstburg corridor” and that upon the completion of that review, “the department will determine whether the wharf is to be repaired, removed, divested or some combination thereof.”

According to Miceli’s report: “Should the Coast Guard determine that the department no longer has an interest in the wharf, then divestiture of the site will be considered. Mr. Ariss has advised that the divestiture process of the wharf requires DFO to offer a site first to other Federal Departments and then to the Province. Mr. Ariss has also advised that it would be difficult at this point (to say) whether the wharf would be transferred to the municipality with monies associated for repairs or if the Department would look to demolish it.”

Cost to repair the pier is estimated at $579,546 with the cost to demolish the pier, including the piles, estimated at $524,807. To demolish the dock, excluding the piles, would carry an estimated cost of $337,488.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council.

“It is important for council to note that the estimates were developed on a Class D level which should not to be considered final and must continue to be refined through the design process. Class D estimates are indicative of a project being considered for budget development and place holder purposes,” Miceli stated in his report.

The CAO added it “would not be unreasonable for one to conclude” that the cost to demolish and replace the dock could be in in excess of $1 million.

Miceli said a decision is not expected before late summer or fall. He added the town is continuing to negotiate with the federal government, saying $337,000 “is the floor. I just can’t tell you what the ceiling is.”

Councillor Rick Fryer believed the dock is a great location for an outlook and for birding opportunities, adding his hope would be for the town can start putting money aside for a project involving the dock so the community can use it.

“I think this is a great opportunity for tourism for the town and for eco-tourism and sports tourism,” he said.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo questioned whether the town had public access to the dock but Fryer believed access could be looked at as part of the town’s negotiations into the site. Fryer, also chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority, said ERCA is looking at a possible lookout trail in that area.