Aldo DiCarlo

Essex Power makes annual $10,000 donation to the town

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex Powerlines has continued its “Youth in Community Fund” donations with Amherstburg getting its $10,000 share Monday night.

Essex Power Corporation is making a $40,000 donation through its Youth in Community Fund with it being shared among Amherstburg, Leamington, LaSalle and Tecumseh to “advance local, youth related investment.” To date, Essex Power says it has funded a total of $160,000 youth driven initiatives in the communities it serves.

Some of the proceeds will be going to the Essex Empowerment Group, a group of about 15 girls from across the area that meet Wednesday nights at the Libro Centre. The girls are mainly from Amherstburg at this point and range in age from 10-14.

The Essex Empowerment group is newly formed, said manager of recreation services Rick Daly and “focuses on mentorship and positive role modelling. This program is unique because it was created, developed and ran by youth, for youth.”

Daly added that “Essex Power has given us the opportunity to run a program that empowers young girls to be the strongest and most true version of themselves that they can be.’

“As a father of four girls, I am glad to see that a girls empowerment group thanks to my place of employment,” said Joe Barile, general manager of Essex Powerlines.

Essex Powerlines general manager Joe Barile presents a $10,000 cheque to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and the Essex Empowerment Group Monday night. The money is through the “Youth in Community” fund.

Essex Powerlines general manager Joe Barile presents a $10,000 cheque to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and the Essex Empowerment Group Monday night. The money is through the “Youth in Community” fund.

Essex Empowerment Group facilitators Elizabeth Di Paolo and Mackenzie Robson said the money their group will receive will help the group grow its programming and expand its membership. Such topics they discuss include self-esteem, bullying, relationships and being a positive role model.

“They all come from diverse backgrounds,” Di Paolo said of the membership.

Robson said the group “has really opened my eyes” and that was something Di Paolo agreed with.

Barile would also tell council about other works of Essex Power. He noted in 2005, the provincial control over hydro bills was at about 75 per cent while the provincial portion of a typical hydro bill is now 81 per cent.

Essex Power tries to keep the share of the rates near the rate of inflation and works with customers on how to save energy, said Barile. He said Essex Power is on pace to meet its conservation targets for the period of 2015-20.

As for outages, Barile said many are due to tree contacting power lines. Due to maintenance, that number has dropped from about 30 in 2005 to less than five in 2016, according to Barile. They have also developed in-house technology to better manage the grid, he added.
The town’s cumulative dividend over the last five years is over $1.1 million, he added, and that the company also continues to invest in infrastructure. They are the 16th most efficient distribution company in Ontario as opposed to Hydro One, which is 66th.

Essex Power has expressed interest in acquiring more Hydro One shares in Amherstburg, with Barile acknowledging that some streets see customers served by Essex Power on one side and Hydro One on the other.

Councillor Diane Pouget said the previous council made its share of mistakes but one mistake they didn’t make was selling their Essex Power shares.

Councillor Rick Fryer said many still have difficulty paying their bills, primarily due to the 81 per cent share of the bills controlled by the province.

“That 81 per cent is hurting a lot of residents,” said Fryer.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo pointed out the money that comes back to the town from Essex Power every year.

“I can honestly say Essex Power is a partner,” said DiCarlo.

Mayor said town seeks quicker timetable than proposed fiber optic plan

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Connecting Windsor-Essex’s SWIFT initiative isn’t swift enough for the town of Amherstburg.

Dan Circelli, representing Connecting Windsor-Essex, said SWIFT stands for Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology and received $190 million in July 2016 to help improve high speed internet in the region. An RFP process soon gets underway with the build across the southwestern Ontario region to start in 2018. Ultimately, every home and business would be connected in about 20 years to an open access internet network where there would be competition under multiple providers.

Circelli indicated there are limited providers now, which negatively impacts prices for consumers.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo questioned the timetable, with Circelli saying that municipal projects could be funded up to 70 per cent if they build a fiber optic internet through the SWIFT initiative.

“That doesn’t stop you from saying ‘we want to get ahead quicker,’” said Circelli. “I will help you move SWIFT more swiftly.

DiCarlo said following the meeting that he recalls seeing fiber optic internet tested in the 1990’s.

“This is not new technology,” he said.

Town Logo Small-web

DiCarlo added he understands the concerns of residents battling with internet problems.

“I’m just as frustrated as they are,” he said.

Amherstburg is “playing catch-up” with regards to getting such internet technology, but said they are not alone in Ontario or within Canada.

“Administration is trying to find a partner to bring Amherstburg into the 21st Century, for lack of a better term,” said DiCarlo.

The town may not be able to do it alone and may need the help of a third party, but the town is looking for a solution sooner rather than later, the mayor indicated.

“As soon as we have anything, (the residents) will be the second to know right after council,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo added “there’s fiber optic everywhere” but getting the internet and television conglomerates that own it to let the town use it has been difficult.

“We’ll be continuing to work for an Amherstburg solution as well as a provincial and national solution,” DiCarlo indicated.

Councillor Leo Meloche also voiced concern about the timeline.

“I have a big concern when you say 20 years,” he told Circelli. “With the speed of technology, 20 years is like 1,000 years. I think SWIFT’s mandate is to take 20 years and make it five years.”

Demolition firm authorized to bring down AMA Arena

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The AMA Arena will be coming down soon, with demolition likely to begin early next month.

The arena, located at 209 Victoria St. S., will be torn down by the Jones Group with town council agreeing to authorize the Jones Group Ltd. to complete the work in a 5-2 vote at the Feb. 13 meeting. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Jason Lavigne, Rick Fryer and Leo Meloche.

Total cost of the project was listed as $144,077 with the approved capital budget being $150,000.

Councillor Diane Pouget opposed the motion with Pouget having made an earlier motion that was defeated. Pouget was seeking further information including experience, pricing, methodology and any and all violations against the companies involved in the bidding

Pouget referred to the report from administration that was on that night’s agenda as “inadequate” and sought more information.

“We have nothing here but Jones Group coming in first,” said Pouget. “This is a very heavily populated area. We have to make sure the best group gets the job.”

Pouget added there were several concerns when the former École St.-Jean Baptiste building was torn down on Brock St.

Councillor Joan Courtney also opposed the motion and said there have been issues with the successful proponent in the past. She was concerned about crushing and removal of debris on site but CAO John Miceli said there will be no crushing on site and that it will be trucked away to an approved site.

Miceli noted the report ranks the bidders and noted it was an RFP and not a tender process. He said a committee evaluated experience, the proposed scope and methodology, price and timing.

The Jones Group has been authorized to tear down the AMA Arena. Demolition is expected to start in early March.

The Jones Group has been authorized to tear down the AMA Arena. Demolition is expected to start in early March.

The committee was made up of the manager of facilities, deputy fire chief, chief building official and the financial planning administrator.

Miceli said there was a $47,000 difference between the first and second place finishers and a $49,000 difference between the first and third place finisher. He said municipal bylaws will be followed during the demolition process.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo added he has not seen the level of detail Pouget was asking for in other similar projects.

“As long as I’ve been here, council has never received this level of detail,” said DiCarlo.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the process used “has integrity” and the report “speaks for itself as to what was factored into the decision.”

Old ArenaWEB

Miceli added the current schedule calls for the demolition to begin in the first week of March and is expected to last seven to eight weeks.

“They could take less but that’s what we requested in the RFP,” said Miceli, who added the residents will be notified.

The AMA Arena was originally built in 1970. It was in operation until 2011 when the Libro Centre opened and was used in recent years for storage.

Where should the excess library funds go?

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg town council has voted to send a letter to the County of Essex asking they get a portion of the unused money that accumulated during the Essex County library strike.

The county deposited a $790,000 surplus into reserves but Amherstburg is asking that money be instead returned to municipalities.

Councillor Diane Pouget said residents didn’t get the services that funding was intended for so she wanted it returned. She said Amherstburg could use it to maintain the current Carnegie library at the corner of Richmond St. and Sandwich St. S.

“We are in desperate need of funding for our library,” said Pouget.

Councillor Leo Meloche had suggested the $790,000 be put towards the fund the county has for its share of the proposed new mega-hospital.

“Maybe it’s the opportune time to drop three-quarters of a million dollars into that fund,” Meloche questioned.

The Amherstburg library re-opens to the public at 10 a.m. Feb. 16 with Amherstburg council wanting the surplus the county accrued during the strike returned to municipalities.

The Amherstburg library re-opens to the public at 10 a.m. Feb. 16 with Amherstburg council wanting the surplus the county accrued during the strike returned to municipalities.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the county is trying to put away as much money as they can for the proposed new mega-hospital. He added the motion, which passed, calling for the municipalities to get the money back was “a relevant position to take” so that the county knows what Amherstburg’s position is.

DiCarlo believed he is now cleared to speak on library matters due to the strike being over. He had been declaring conflict on the matter due to his wife Laura’s employment at the library.

DiCarlo stated that the town’s position was “pretty clear” that the money should come back to the municipalities, noting he was contacted by a lot of residents who believed a refund was in order.

“I heard from a lot of residents that we gave that money in good faith for library services,” the mayor said. “It wasn’t used the way it was intended.”

The mayor did add that a municipality can not have too much reserve funds and also understood the position of saving for a new mega-hospital, which is proposed for County Road 42 and Concession 9. The county has agreed, by a population split with Windsor, to fund 46 per cent – or about $92 million – of the hospital costs.

The Essex County library strike ended last week with the union ratifying last Thursday and the Essex County Library Board last Friday. The libraries re-open tomorrow with the Amherstburg branch being open from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

“We Own It” campaign presenting Family Day event with local politicians

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Three area politicians will be part of a Family Day skate with the aim of trying to fight privatization of public services.

The “We Own It” movement, an international movement that supports keeping public services in public hands, is in Ontario and is coming to Amherstburg Feb. 20. Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo will be part of the skate and will be listening to concerns about privatization during the afternoon event.

“We are about stopping privatization,” explained Rob Wilson, an OPSEU members and one of 30 “We Own It” organizers in Ontario.

essexskate

According to Wilson, studies have shown privatization is bad for the economy and the skate is to further their message with members of the public invited to express their issues. Petitions will be available to sign and Wilson said it is a message to the provincial government that “you need to stop the privatization of Hydro One and everything else, which is quite a bit.”

The free event will allow people to skate and speak with the local politicians.

“They are going to address any concerns of the residents,” said Wilson.

Wilson added that the petitions that are signed will be brought to Queen’s Park by the provincial politicians. He said the belief is that privatization is only for Premier Kathleen Wynne’s election gain next year and is a one-time influx of cash into the system.

The Family Day skate being put on by “We Own It” runs from 12-2 p.m. at the Libro Centre.