Diane Pouget

Town seeing grant funding for new Master Aging Plan

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council is pursuing provincial funding to help support a plan geared towards senior citizens.

Council authorized and supported administration to submit a grant application for funding under the Seniors Community Grant Program to the Ministry of Seniors Affairs for the preparation of a Master Aging Plan and implementation program. Council also agreed to support the required in-kind contribution to fund the preparation of the Master Aging Plan and implementation programs through the 2018 budget sessions.

Councillor Diane Pouget introduced the motion, and pointed out the town’s growing senior population.

“According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 data for the town, adults 55-and-over represent 34 per cent of the town’s population,” said Pouget. “In fact, adults between the ages of 55-64 represent 16 per cent of the town’s population alone. Due to the current and increasing number of seniors in our community, the town has proposed the development of a Master Aging Plan to be initiated in 2018.”

Pouget pointed out that the town has embarked on initiatives in the past year that include the community strategic plan. She said the town is currently undertaking studies towards enhancing the settlement areas and ensuring quality of life for Amherstburg residents.

The Master Aging Plan will assist the town in identifying what types of services and programs should be offered locally. That includes what seniors need and could also include what type of infrastructure could be necessary.

“It is something that is really required,” Pouget said of the plan. “It is very important.”

Most town roads will require rehabilitation within ten years

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s roads are OK now, but a lot of work looms on the horizon, according to a consultant.

Kyle Edmunds from Dillon Consulting appeared before town council last Tuesday night and presented an updated roads needs report and while that report deemed the roads to be in “fair” condition, it was also determined that 83 per cent of the town’s roads need to be rehabilitated within ten years.

To combat that problem, the town agreed to a plan that would see $1.41 million committed annually over ten years to road work to help combat the deteriorating road system and get some of the more urgent projects completed.

Of the 226.48 kilometres of roads the town controls, about 30.5 per cent need work now while 23.3 per cent need work in the next 1-5 years. About 29 per cent need work within 6-10 years while the remained don’t need work for beyond a decade.

Less than four per cent of Amherstburg’s roads are considered to be in “excellent” condition, as compared to 20.16 per cent in LaSalle and 15.6 per cent in Tecumseh. As for roads in “good” condition, there are 23.38 per cent of roads in Amherstburg in that category as compared to 45.82 per cent in LaSalle and 29.7 per cent in Tecumseh.

Amherstburg has 16.75 per cent of its roads classified in “fairly good” condition with just over 22 per cent of LaSalle’s roads in that category. Tecumseh has 25.5 per cent of its roads classified as “fairly good.”

As for roads in “fair” condition, 27.72 per cent of Amherstburg’s roads fall in that category, as compared to 11.31 per cent in LaSalle and 23.9 per cent in Tecumseh. Amherstburg has nearly 29 per cent of its roads classified as “poor,” as compared to less than one per cent in LaSalle and 5.3 per cent in Tecumseh.

Tecumseh has 181.4 kilometres of road while LaSalle has 187.56 kilometres. They were used by Dillon Consulting as comparators as the firm did roads needs studies in those two municipalities as well over the last few years.

Expect to see more construction signs over the next decade as the town’s road system requires a lot of work. Meloche Road (pictured here, earlier this summer before the road re-opened) is one of the more recent projects the town has undertaken.

Councillor Leo Meloche wondered why the entire focus was on repairing roads that need it now as he said some priority should be put on some of the roads in the 1-5 year category. The poor roads are already poor but the roads in the 1-5 year category will soon join them if not tended to quicker.

“We’re always chasing our tail,” said Meloche.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she didn’t want residents to think it was a “doom and gloom” situation, and added Amherstburg has more roads than Tecumseh and LaSalle.

“That does make a difference,” she said.

Provincial downloading also made a difference, she suggested.

“I think the municipalities started getting into trouble when the province started downloading to us,” she said.

Councillor Rick Fryer pointed out chunks of cement are coming off of Angstrom Dr. and Victoria St. S. is also deteriorating. There are heavily travelled roads like Concession 2 North that are also in disrepair, calling that road “a thoroughfare to LaSalle. It’s one of the worst roads but people use it.”

Traffic counts should not be the only factor in choosing where road projects should be done, Fryer added, as smaller roads need attention too. He said the town should focus on roads instead of “not needed purchases.”

CAO John Miceli called an increase to $1.41 million annually “significant” and said challenges will be ensuring there are enough contractors to do the work and what prices the town gets when projects are put to tender.

“I would suggest the market will indicate where we are going to be,” he said.

Miceli added he would like to see $120,000 in the crack seal program budget to prolong the life of some of the roads.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said the current council has done a lot of road repairs in its first three years.

“I think this council spent more on roads than the last four councils combined,” he said, noting Texas Road and Meloche Road have been upgraded.

Lavigne wanted to know “what will keep politics out of this” when choosing where and when projects get done. Edmunds said all roads have been classified based on a pavement condition index (PCI) and that shows what roads are in the worst condition.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale also stated that more roads have been repaired this term whereas “in the past, we didn’t do so much.

“Everyone has seen the number of roads that have been fixed in the last little while,” said DiPasquale.

The last complete roads needs study was done by Dillon Consulting in 2003 with a condition assessment update done in 2013.

Town to draft budget with maximum of two per cent increase

 

By Ron Giofu

The town of Amherstburg is going ahead with its 2018 draft budget, with that budget to contain up to a two per cent tax increase.

Council authorized administration to move forward with that plan, with the budget to be tabled Nov. 6. Bill 148, the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act” that will, in part, increase minimum wage and allow for equal pay for part-time and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time staff will also impact next year’s budget.

“Although 2016 saw surpluses, administration is requesting council to consider a tax increase. The surpluses of 2016 can be explained by circumstances we do not believe will exist in 2018 as well as the continuing infrastructure needs of the municipality. The recommendation for presentation of up to a two per cent increase to the mill rate is reasonable when considering the consumer price index in Ontario trend, which for the first eight months of 2017 is at 1.2 per cent,” stated director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau, in his report to town council. “The forecasted growth on the roll return from MPAC from 2017-2018 is forecasting out a 2.4 per cent increase to the town’s assessment base. This coupled with a two per cent increase to the mill rate will provide additional revenue to the town of 4.4 per cent or approximately $880,000. It should be noted the new asset management plan requires an additional $300,000 to be spent on capital, in order to narrow the infrastructure funding gap that currently exists. This request is part of the council approved 20-year financial strategy to replace and repair the town’s infrastructure.”

Councillor Leo Meloche said the two per cent recommendation was higher than the rate of inflation, and the town had a “nice increase” last year when factoring in property values increasing as well.

“I think it would be prudent to stay with the inflation costs,” said Meloche, who advocated for a 1.5 per cent target.

CAO John Miceli said two per cent is a “target that allows administration to weed through the management issues” and is a “general guideline for the treasurer and myself.” It “establishes the ceiling, and not the floor,” he added.

“Council can always reduce that,” said Miceli.

Rousseau said Bill 148, if passed as it currently stands, would impact the town to the tune of $1.6 million. He predicted it will be a challenging budget due to that piece of provincial legislation.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she wants to keep the budget low, but acknowledged there are bridges, culverts and water plant infrastructure that needs to be addressed.

Under the current timetable, a public information session would occur Nov. 18 and council will deliberate the 2018 budget Nov. 28-30. If all goes according to plan, the budget could be approved Dec. 11.

Town to investigate transit system

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Inspired by the recently launched transit system in LaSalle, Amherstburg will investigate the idea of bringing one here.

However, one local service agency is reminding people about their own services in that regard.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she has been approached by residents about the possibility of bringing a transit service to Amherstburg.

“Years ago, council tried to work with other municipalities to get public transit. At that time, it was not feasible,” explained Pouget. “Now that LaSalle has it, our residents want us to look at it again and that is why we directed administration to begin discussions as to whether or not it is feasible.”

Pouget said it would be a help to seniors and students get where they need to go. With LaSalle on board, Pouget believes it could make things more feasible for Amherstburg but Pouget added council still needs to know the financial implications before a final decision is rendered.

“I think it’s a good fit for us to join,” she believes. “At least we’re going to look into it.”

It could be one more step to a regional transit service, she added.

“If Amherstburg gets on board, then another municipality might,” said Pouget.

However, Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) is pointing out their own services and the fact they already assisting local residents with transit. ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo was respectful of council’s decision, and noted that ACS is always interested in solutions to transit issues.

“It’s exciting to see council take this issue seriously. There are plenty of people in Amherstburg who don’t drive for a variety of reasons and we’re glad to see council take notice of their unique challenges,” said DiBartolomeo. “We hope that council explores every possibility and considers the tools that are already available to them.”

DiBartolomeo pointed out that ACS has provided accessible transportation for seniors in Amherstburg since 1984.

“If council decides that we should be part of the conversation, we would be happy to help wherever we can,” said DiBartolomeo.

ACS is also part of a team that offers local residents a student shuttle service.

“We do provide transportation to students at St. Clair College and we are looking at ways we can improve this service to better match the needs of Amherstburg’s youth,” she added.

Town seeking solutions to McGregor flooding, municipal subsidy program to come soon

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

A McGregor resident appeared before town council regarding the late August flood and the town is stating they are coming up with answers for him and every other resident.

Tom Welsh, who lives on Middle Side Road, said his home was damaged by flooding in the Aug. 28 storm as seven inches of rain hit that area, including five inches between the hours of 7-11 p.m. He told council it’s not the first time that it happened.

“Two times in two years we’ve flooded,” said Welsh. “It’s enough. There’s more people in town that just the core.”

Welsh said he had 18 inches of water in his basement, including human feces. He noted he has even spent $3,000 on a generator trying to fix the problem.

“I don’t know what else to do. It’s got to stop. Things have to be done,” said Welsh. “I put a whole lot into (my home). It’s a nice area. Our community is awesome.”

Welsh wanted to see more investment in that area.

“Everything you see in town is for the core,” he said. “We should get something.”

The town said there is, in fact, investment happening there and work is being done to address the issues in McGregor. An $80,000 investigation was conducted and “no smoking gun” was found in the public system. Director of public works and engineering Antonietta Giofu stating “our focus shifts to the private side.” She added a report regarding a subsidy program is currently scheduled to come before council Sept. 25.

“It will definitely include McGregor and be a town-wide program as well,” she said.

Councillor Diane Pouget told Welsh “we have spent quite a bit of money” in trying to solve the problem, with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo agreeing.

“We are spending money and we will continue to spend money until we find a solution,” said DiCarlo. “This council is very committed to it. We’re going to keep working in this area to alleviate the problem.”

DiCarlo said this council is sympathetic to residents who continuously flood but said $400,000 has been budgeted this year to try and fix the problem as quickly as possible. He noted the forthcoming report will address issues as downspout disconnections and backflow valves, among other things, and that they will work with private homeowners to address issues.

The Ontario government has released this map detailing where in Amherstburg disaster relief is available stemming from the Aug. 28 rain event.

“We have not forgotten about anybody,” he said. “I think council has shown we know where the town’s boundaries are.”

One in 100 year storms are not one in 100 year storms anymore and DiCarlo added large rain events can be expected so action is needed.

“Every time it rains, if there is a mayor that doesn’t sweat, I don’t know who they are,” he said. “The hardest part is to tell people we’re working on it as I can only imagine how that has been received.”

CAO John Miceli said administration is doing its part to try and find a resolution to the problem, believing the subsidy program is a step in the right direction.

“We understand your concerns,” said Miceli. “We’re providing a program that I think will go over and above what other municipalities are offering.”

Miceli also said until a solution is found to the flooding issues, “we’re going to keep trying.”

Welsh also expressed concern with the number of power outages the area experiences, with DiCarlo stating that Essex Power has tried to work with Ontario Hydro to take over all of Amherstburg but “they have flat out denied us over and over.”

The town would be happy to facilitate a meeting between Welsh and Ontario Hydro, said DiCarlo, as he believed that would do more than the municipality trying to get involved. He added that Ontario Hydro “is all but ignoring infrastructure in rural areas.

“We’re fighting the province on this,” said DiCarlo. “If they are going to provide hydro, they have to do so reliably.”

In all, roughly 34 homes in the McGregor area have reported flooding to the town of Amherstburg.

The Ontario government notified the City of Windsor and the Towns of Amherstburg, Essex, Lakeshore, LaSalle and Tecumseh last Thursday that it has activated the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program in flood-affected areas.

The province advised that affected individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations that have experienced property damage or loss as a result of this disaster may be eligible to receive help with emergency and recovery expenses.

The program applies to a primary residence and its basic contents, or to a main small business, farm or not-for-profit organization. Damage from sewer backup is not eligible under the program except under special provisions for low-income households.

The government states it “is closely monitoring other areas experiencing flooding across the province. It may activate the program in these areas as flood impacts continue to be assessed in the coming days and weeks.”

More information and detailed program guidelines are available at http://ontario.ca/DisasterAssistance or call toll-free 1-844-780-8925.