Diane Pouget

Council agrees to waive Amherstburg Farmers Market fees, but for only one year



By Ron Giofu


Fees have been waived for the Amherstburg Farmers Market, but for only one year.

The market opens this Saturday at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre with Steeve Bouchard representing the market at the most recent meeting of town council. Bouchard outlined the many markets in the area and said those markets pay nothing in fees.

“I’m wondering if we could avoid me having to come back every year and waive the fees for the life of the market?” asked Bouchard.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale wondered how much the fees amounted to with manager of licensing Nicole Rubli stating that waiving the fees could amount to the town not receiving as much as $3,000 in revenue.

Amherstburg Farmers Market

Councillor Rick Fryer was in favour of waiving the fees for as long as the market was there.

“If we are going to do it one, two or three years, let’s do it as long as the market exists,” said Fryer.

Councillor Diane Pouget disagreed with waiving the fees in perpetuity, believing council doesn’t have the right to do that. She said the financial situation can change every year.

“A new council might feel different about this,” said Pouget.

Councillor Leo Meloche agreed with Pouget, also noting financial conditions can change.

“If the situation changes and we desperately need $3,000, I’m sure the council of the day will find a way to charge residents $3,000,” said Fryer.

CAO John Miceli noted there are many fees that the town charges and that can add up to “significant revenue.” He said every time fees are waived, the town needs to be on top of the situation.

“In my opinion, we need to keep track of this,” said Miceli.

Miceli added that “in perpetuity is a very long time” but added that it is “just a word” that could be changed if the council of the day saw fit.

Councillor Jason Lavigne questioned whether the town should just scrap fees for the farmers’ market if Amherstburg is the only municipality charging them. His motion to waive the fees for one year and get a report back from administration on the subject.

The Amherstburg Farmers Market runs 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. every Saturday from May to September.

Town wants enhancements to Essex-Windsor EMS



By Ron Giofu


Town council is asking Essex County council to help enhance EMS service in the town.
Councillor Joan Courtney’s motion calls for the county to review Essex-Windsor EMS and to provide funding necessary to improve the areas that are “in need.” That same letter will be sent to all municipalities and members of Parliament.

Essex-Windsor EMS chief Bruce Krauter attended town council’s April 10 meeting outlining what the service does. The 24-hour-per-day, 365-day-per-year service responded to over 103,000 requests for service in 2016 with roughly 58,000 patient contacts and approximately 39,000 patient transports. It has 12 stations, including the Simcoe St. base in Amherstburg, 38 ambulances, 12 emergency response vehicles and other support vehicles and trailers.

Amherstburg amounted for roughly five per cent of the call distribution in 2016 with Krauter adding that the town has seen an 8.6 per cent rise in call volumes. That is consistent with the region, with Krauter citing an aging population, increased residential development and retiree recruitment as factors in the rise.

Recruiting retirees to the area is great, he stated, but pointed out it is a “double-edged sword” due to the need for EMS services.

Off-load delays at area hospitals continue to put pressure on Essex-Windsor EMS, Krauter noted. As paramedics have to stay with the patients at the hospitals until they can be admitted, it ties up ambulances and resources that could otherwise be deployed elsewhere.

The recently introduced vulnerable patient navigator (VPN) program is producing “exceptional results,” said Krauter. The concept behind the VPN program is that it will alleviate calls for service and allow patients to receive the care they need without having to go to the hospital.

EssexWindsor EMS logo

Courtney said she appreciated Krauter coming to town council but questioned him over how ambulances are deployed. He noted that ambulances often go to the nearest call regardless of municipal boundaries and that municipal fire services often assist EMS at calls.

Councillor Rick Fryer wondered why all municipalities don’t use firefighters at calls, citing Leamington as an example. Fryer said if there is a city-county fee for service, all municipalities should be equal.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she was “very, very concerned” about the issue and said she “didn’t think it is fair” that Leamington isn’t paying for the same service Amherstburg is paying for.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said Leamington is paying for EMS with fire chief Al Reaume stating that Amherstburg has a tiered response agreement with the Essex-Windsor EMS which allows firefighters to attend calls while an ambulance is unavailable or a fair distance away.

Reaume said all municipalities except Leamington have a tiered response and that agreements are arrived at between Essex-Windsor EMS and each respective council. Amherstburg paid $61,000 through that program last year and Reaume suggested that if council is looking to recover costs, they should seek money from the Ontario government.

Councillor Leo Meloche said his belief is that it is up to each municipality on how much service they wish to provide, adding that the area is on the “front wave of the baby boom.”

Pouget believed the town should show it is not satisfied with the level of service and needs to show upper levels of government that fact.

“We want them to know we expect better for the citizens of Amherstburg,” she said.

Boblo dock continues to cause concern for council members



By Ron Giofu


The condition of the former Boblo Island dock on Front Road South continues to be of concern to members of town council.

Councillor Diane Pouget brought forth concerns from residents in the area, noting the decaying dock was of particular issue during recent wind storms.

“During the last wind storm, they couldn’t believe the roof didn’t come off,” said Pouget.

Pouget, also a member of the town’s parks committee, said the dock is of interest to that group as well. She said both residents were willing to come before town council with their concerns if that would be of any assistance to getting the problem resolved and that the parks committee is willing to help as well.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council. The town will reach out to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to explain the issues the town has with the dock.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council. The town will reach out to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to explain the issues the town has with the dock.

CAO John Miceli said he received an e-mail from the Department of Oceans and Fisheries prior to the April 10 council meeting but did not have time to read it prior to the meeting that night. He said he would read what was stated and report back to town council.

A meeting is needed on the subject, believed Councillor Rick Fryer, and suggested the Ministry of Natural Resources be involved as well. He said material and debris is going upstream.

“It’s circling back in the bay there and landing on people’s properties,” he said.

Fryer, also the chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), said that agency is looking to construct a “viewpoint” and also said it could make a good fishing pier for Amherstburg residents. He wondered if council would be interested in working towards such a project.

Miceli said the dock is failing due to neglect by the federal government and questioned whether using town money was a solution. He suggested consulting further with the federal government to see what they will do to repair the former Boblo dock.

Verdi Club looking to work with the town to assist with club events



By Ron Giofu


The Verdi Club may have sold its building, but the club is still in operation.

And those operations may be based out of the Libro Centre.

Verdi Club board member Tino Riccio and treasurer Joe Capaldi appeared before town council Monday night seeking a partnership with the town that would see bocce courts installed on town property and the use of a room at the Libro Centre for the Verdi Club’s card games and social activities.

Riccio said the building on Texas Road, now known as the Fort Fun Centre, was sold after “60 glorious years” and now the Verdi Club is looking to go elsewhere for its activities. He suggested placing the bocce courts on land next to the Amherstburg Community Services building or at the Libro Centre, adding the club’s membership has the expertise to take care of the courts.

“We’d like to introduce the game to the population at large,” said Riccio.

Verdi Club signWEB

The club formerly had card games and activities six nights per week, he said, but would be willing to reduce that to three nights per week.

Councillor Joan Courtney said the Verdi Club “has been good for the town” over the past six decades and directed administration to come back with a report on the club’s requests.

“I hope we can do something to help,” said Courtney.

CAO John Miceli said he has had preliminary discussions with Riccio and waited to see what direction he received from town council before progressing any further.

“I think we will be able to bring a report back to council in short order,” Miceli said, believing it will either be before council April 24 or the first meeting in May.

Councillor Diane Pouget agreed that the Verdi Club has been an asset to the community and thanked them for the club’s involvement. She added the Fort Malden Golden Age Club has also been an asset to the town, and wanted to ensure there were not any conflicts between the two organizations at the Libro Centre.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he was glad to see the passion from the club and was pleased with the members sharing the sport of bocce with the community.

Riccio added they are currently renting a room in the Amherstburg Community Services office on Victoria St. S. for a month as they wait to see what they do in the future.

Business plan completed for Amherstburg Police Service


By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Police Service’s business plan has been completed and presented to town council.

The report came before town council at the March 20 meeting and received praise from town council members with Chief Tim Berthiaume telling the River Town Times last week they took different measures this time around to get public input for the three-year plan.

“We’ve always had a difficult time getting people to come to advertised meetings,” said Berthiaume.

While they still had advertised public meetings, the Amherstburg Police Service also went to the public to meet in different settings as well.

“We targeted groups. We targeted service clubs. We targeted organizations and we targeted seniors centres,” said Berthiaume. “We basically went to them.”

The police service was greeted well at the meetings and Berthiaume said Amherstburg police learned a lot as well. There were even some issues addressed that weren’t thought of by police going in, including timing of street lights and crosswalk signals.

“The elderly residents appreciated the visit to their buildings,” he said. “They described to us they have a hard time getting out. We received wonderful feedback. We learned a lot from all of our site visits.”

The Amherstburg Police Service performed well in the various criteria they were scored on with the lowest scores being 95 per cent and 91 per cent for how the service handles damage to property and traffic complaints respectively.

Aburg Police Logo Rev-web

“Traffic, year after year, is a concern for residents of the town of Amherstburg,” said Berthiaume.

Noting that the business plan “is about how we are going to police the town over the next three years,” the chief said they have goals of maintaining a high level of service to the community, continuing to seek feedback from the public, continuing to identify the public’s needs and expectations and to maintain good response times.

Preventing property crime is a target over the next three years, he added. Thefts from vehicles continues to be a major issue and “target hardening” neighbourhoods is what police will push for. That includes simple measures as encouraging residents to lock their doors and secure their property.

“This is where we need the community to help us and the rest of the community by simply locking your doors,” said Berthiaume. “As long as people get something by stealing, they will continue to do so.”

With spring arriving, Amherstburg police expect a rise in thefts from vehicles as thieves will also be taking advantage of the warmer weather.

Berthiaume said the Amherstburg Police Service is committed to being open and providing an efficient police service. They acknowledge not only the input from the community in making up the plan, but from officers as well.

“Their feedback was crucial in the development of this,” he said.

Councillor Diane Pouget thanked Berthiaume at the March 20 meeting for the report. She called it “a very good and detailed report” and pointed out the majority of residents believe Amherstburg police is doing a good job.

Pouget noted the increase in property crime, but acknowledged much of that can be attributed to people leaving their vehicles unlocked.

Much of the feedback from the community was about the OPP costing, he added. Berthiaume noted a business plan has to be created by Amherstburg police every three years and the two issues weren’t interconnected.

“A lot of residents want to talk to us about the OPP costing,” said Berthiaume, noting he was glad to have Amherstburg Police Services Board members at the meetings to help with such questions. “The Amherstburg Police Service and OPP costing are two different things but the OPP costing appears to be on everyone’s mind.”