Diane Pouget

No relief for Rotary Club under town’s sign bylaw

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of the Amherstburg Rotary Club are disappointed after town council did not grant them any relief from the sign bylaw.

Three members, all of whom are also on the Rotary Ribfest committee, appeared before council asking that they be allowed to have mobile signs and signs on residential and commercial properties for a 28-day period prior to their eighth annual Ribfest, which is scheduled for July 7-9 this year. Ribfest committee chair Carl Gibb, Rotary president Laura George-Jurilj and Tony Ross appeared at Monday night’s meeting.

Currently, they can only put out signs 14 days in advance of their events and based on the lack of seconder for a motion by Councillor Leo Meloche asking for the 28-day period, those restrictions will stay in place. They are not allowed portable signs, with event signs only allowed on commercial properties.

“The Ribfest Committee is totally opposed to these regulations. They are too restrictive and they pose a problem in getting people to come to our event,” said Gibb.

Gibb said the Ribfest has not presented any problems and has brought thousands of people to Amherstburg.

“These signs that we put up are professionally made by a local business,” said Gibb. “Fourteen days is not long enough to properly advertise an event. It is a known fact that you have to pass a road sign three times to know what it actually says.”

The Rotary Club has spent “considerable money” in acquiring the signs “and now we cannot use them.” He said until last year, they have put up signs four weeks prior to the event and removed them the day after.

“Two years ago, we had 15,000 people. Last year, we had just over 10,000. Is this a result of your restrictions on our advertising? Quite likely, some of it,” said Gibb. “It is ironic that we can put up any of our signs in Harrow, Kingsville, Leamington, Cottam, Essex, Lakeshore, LaSalle and even Windsor. How many phone calls, how many complaints we’ve had? Zero.”

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Gibb said some businesses told him they make more money in sales during the Ribfest weekend than any other summer weekend. Banners over Sandwich St. S. may not be as effective, Gibb added, as some may not drive past it.

“Why do you want to restrict residents from showing their support for our event,” he asked, “with no signs on residential property?”

Signs are also placed strategically in high traffic areas.

“You allow roofing, siding and renovation companies from out of town to advertise for weeks but we can’t do it once a year,” said Gibb. “I don’t understand your concerns.”

The committee works year-round on the event and Gibb also pointed out the investment the Rotary Club has made in Amherstburg including the Miracle League field. He said they are also planning on supplying carbon monoxide detectors to homes at little to no cost this spring to low income families

“We are presently contemplating another new project that the town desperately needs. An announcement could come shortly,” he added.

Meloche questioned only allowing two weeks for the Rotary Club to put out signs and believed they are restricting their cause. He believed it is not up to government to put such restrictions in place and the signs are “a cost effective way of advertising.”

Meloche even quoted Supreme Court of Canada cases in similar matters.

“As far as I’m concerned, we are, in effect, being restrictive,” said Meloche.

“I am totally opposed to this request,” said Councillor Diane Pouget, adding she did support the Rotary Club in general.

Pouget said they went through a sign bylaw updating process for two years, and said they would be going backwards if they started allowing amendments to it.

“I believe in keeping it the way it is,” said Pouget.

The Communities in Bloom judges that came to Amherstburg last year also commented on the “sign pollution” matter when they were here, she said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said it is “a very difficult area of the law” and that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an ever evolving area of the law.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said there were two years of discussion and public consultation on the sign bylaw and then suddenly after it passed, “all these concerns are coming up.” Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli said the bylaw passed last year dealt with off-site portable signs and the bylaw that was being enforced in the Rotary Club’s case has been on the books since 2006.

“We do help,” Councillor Rick Fryer told the Rotary members, noting money is spent to help festivals advertise. “We are trying to help festivals as much as we can.”

George-Jurilj said they “are very disappointed by council’s decision in not working with us. The fact that this law has been in place since 2006 and never enforced until 2016 goes to show it has not been a real cause for concern for many of the residents in Amherstburg.”

She added the committee spends thousands of dollars on advertising for Ribfest in Amherstburg each year.

“We pay for billboards from Windsor to Chatham, radio, TV and newspaper ads, and lawn signs that we place in all our neighbouring communities. To spend this amount of time, energy and money bringing people and venue into the town of Amherstburg is something we are happy to do. We love this town and its people,” she continued. “But when I am told I can’t put a sign on my own front lawn supporting an event and organization that has done so very much for this town, I must say its extremely frustrating to say the least.”

George-Jurilj added: “This situation coupled with a few other factors has really made us re-evaluate our event. This may be ‘a sign of the times’ for us and our future here in Amherstburg.”

 

Town releases treasurer’s report detailing council and committee remuneration

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town has released its treasurer’s report detailing council’s remuneration for 2016.

The report shows that Mayor Aldo DiCarlo earned total remuneration from the town of $29,564.14. That figure is a combination of his $26,872.68 salary as mayor, his communication allowance of $1,374.54, his per diem of $103.98, $500 for public receptions and $712.94 for travel and mileage.

DiCarlo also $7,665 for being a member of the Essex Power board of directors including a $4,000, $3,500 for meeting fees and $165 for travel and mileage. He also received a $1,200 honorarium for being on the Amherstburg Police Services Board.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale earned $19,971.62 from the town including his salary of $18,413.40. DiPasquale’s communication allowance as $1,339 while his public receptions remuneration was $45. A total of $174.22 was listed as DiPasquale’s travel and mileage expenses.

Councillor Leo Meloche had a total remuneration figure of $20,194.29. In addition to the $15,936.12 salary he earned as a councillor, other expenses and remuneration included $1,223.33 for his communication allowance, $830.81 for his per diem, $342.86 for public receptions, $1000.18 for training and conferences and $860.99 for travel and mileage.

Town Logo Small-web

Councillor Joan Courtney’s total remuneration for 2016 was $19,015.16. Courtney’s communication allowance was $1,350.16 for 2016 while her per diem was $727.22. Training and conferences amounted to $890.40 for Courtney while her travel and mileage was $111.26. That remuneration was on top of her $15,936.12 salary.

Councillor Rick Fryer’s overall remuneration total was just slightly less than Courtney’s, coming in at $19,012.66. In addition to Fryer’s $15,936.12 salary, his communication allowance was $1,232.47 and his per diem was $830.81. Fryer’s training and conferences expenses were $843.64 while his travel and mileage remuneration amounted to $169.62. Fryer also received $650 on top of his remuneration from the town for being on the ERCA board of directors.

The total remuneration from the town for 2016 for Councillor Jason Lavigne was $18,957.07. The breakdown of that number included the $15,936.12 salary, his $1,393.83 communication allowance, $727.22 for his per diem and a travel and mileage expense of $111.26.

Lavigne also earned a $1,200 honorarium for being on the Amherstburg Police Services Board.

Councillor Diane Pouget’s remuneration for last year was $17,404. Her $15,936.12 salary was combined with a communication allowance of $1,268.06, a per diem of $103.59 and a training and conference total of $96.67.

Other Amherstburg Police Service Board members receiving a $1,200 honorarium were Pauline Gemmell, Bob Rozankovic and Patricia Simone.

A total of $4,350 in honorariums was paid to committee of adjustment members. Donald Shaw received an honorarium of $975 while Sherry Ducedre received $900. David Cozens, Michael Prue and Duncan Smith each received an honorarium of $825.

Accessibility committee honorariums included $100 for Kenneth Houston and $300 for William Whittal.

Ron Sutherland received $1,078 for being on the ERCA board and was also one of five drainage board members paid either for an honorarium or for a drainage course. The drainage board’s total amount for remuneration was $4,557.66 with other members including Gary Ayers, Robert Bezaire, Allan Major and Bob Pillon.

A total of $2,148 was paid to heritage committee members for their attendance at the Ontario Heritage Conference. Robert Honor received $1,073.52 while Paul Hertel received $1,074.64. Remuneration for economic advisory committee member John McDonald was $1,094.99 as he had attended the Think Smarter economic development forum.

Traffic committee dissolved due to town’s employee policy

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has voted to dissolve one of its committees and bring back a bylaw with appointments to another.

The traffic committee is no more with administration bringing back a bylaw with appointments to the emergency management program committee. The town will also reconsider the appointment it made to the drainage committee made at the Dec. 12 meeting.

In a report to town council, clerk Paula Parker pointed out that administration learned that the person appointed to the drainage committee Dec. 12 – Josh Mailloux – is also a volunteer firefighter with the Amherstburg Fire Department.

“As such, Mr. Mailloux falls into the definition of a part time employee because he is paid and on call for his volunteer status with the Town and must follow Policy C00-00 Code of Conduct for Staff/Employees.”

Section 7.0 of that policy states that “no full-time or part-time permanent municipal employee shall be appointed to serve on a Municipal Board, Commission or Committee unless appointed as an Administrative Representative.”

Mailloux was on the committee of adjustment for seven years and has been a volunteer firefighter for eight years, Parker’s report states.

Councillor Diane Pouget said the appointment of Mailloux was done “in good faith” without knowing he was employed by the town as a volunteer firefighter.

Town Logo Small-web

After learning of the clause in the policy relating to code of conduct for staff and employees, Parker stated “administration realized that there are two other committees with cause for concern.”

The traffic committee was identified as an issue as it has one council member, this term being Councillor Jason Lavigne, and five staff voting members. In its place, traffic and complaints will be filtered through one administrative member who will, in turn, consult with necessary departments and bring recommendations to council.

The emergency management program committee is mandated by the province under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The committee is to consist of employees appointed by council with each entitled to a vote. A bylaw will appoint the members of that committee with a similar procedure likely for the joint policing review committee.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the changes were due to the fact the town realized there was a problem and they wanted to take the necessary steps to correct the problem.

There were also additional members appointed to the economic development advisory committee. Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) president Carolyn Davies was appointed as the ACOC representative while council chose to expand the committee and appoint two more lay committee members. Councillor Rick Fryer put the names of Marta Leardi-Anderson and John Edwards forward, believing the experience of both on the committee will be “priceless.”

“I really look forward to them being on the committee,” said Fryer.

Pouget agreed with Fryer, believing an extra person on the economic development advisory committee would be a help rather than a hindrance.

Councillor Joan Courtney didn’t disagree with the choices made for the committee, but voiced concern on how the choices were arrived at. She said she would have liked more dialogue on the applicants before making a final selection.

“I disagree with the process of how we do this,” said Courtney.

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.