Eric Chamberlain

Town gets closer look at $6.9 million tree inventory



By Ron Giofu


The town received an update on its tree inventory with the value of the trees in the right-of-ways being in the seven-figure range.

Arborist Bill Roesel and manager of public works Eric Chamberlain presented the tree inventory project to town council at the Aug. 21 meeting with Roesel telling council that 4,181 trees were examined over a six-week period. The value of the street trees was compiled based on size, species, health rating and location with Roesel adding that the value of the trees is estimated at just under $6.9 million.

“A lot of people don’t realize trees have a monetary value,” said Roesel.

One challenge that Roesel said the town faces is the number of Norway Maples planted in the municipality. He said many were planted 30-40 years ago and were the “tree of choice” but now there are issues.

“They were overplanted,” he said.

At least half of the trees in town in the public right-of-ways are Norway Maples and those trees face challenges such as verticillium wilt and girdling roots, the latter being defined as roots that grow around other roots or the main trunk of a tree.

Town council was also told there are 46 trees in town identified as “priority one,” meaning those trees require removal as soon as possible as they present a hazard to the public.

There are 71 trees that are “priority two” trees, meaning the trees require removal within the next four to six months before they become hazardous. There are 91 additional trees that are classified as “priority three” trees which means they are recommended for removal within the next 12 months before they become hazardous.

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Councillor Diane Pouget said she wanted it made public where the priority one, two and three trees are so people know what trees are slated to come down. She recalled a group of residents hiring their own arborist to save trees on Richmond St. several years ago and also recalled the Navy Yard Park tree debate of 2008, one that garnered major media attention.

“I don’t want a repeat of what happened (in 2008),” she said. “It’s better to be open and honest about it.”

CAO John Miceli said the town will replace trees that are cut down, if possible, and said the tree inventory project “is a very significant undertaking for the town.” Of the 4,181 trees studied, he said the ones needing immediate attention amounts to less than five per cent, something he believed was good news for the municipality.

Chamberlain said ten large trees have already been cut down due to them posing a danger to the public, with Miceli noting that $50,000 is included in the 2017 budget for tree maintenance. Councillor Jason Lavigne pointed out there are no new costs to cut down potentially hazardous trees.

“It’s business as usual,” he said.

Sidewalk repairs coming to Sandwich St. S.


By Ron Giofu


Town council has pre-committed $93,000 from its 2018 budget in order to replace sidewalks along Sandwich St. S. this year.

The decision came Monday night and will result in much of the interlocking brick sidewalks on both sides of Sandwich St. S. torn out and replaced with concrete sidewalks. Manager of roads and fleet Eric Chamberlain stated in a written report to town council that “the interlocking brick sidewalks were installed in the late 1980’s and are approximately 30 years old. The sidewalks are settling and have become a potential health and safety hazard thus attracting liability for the Town. The condition of the interlocking brick sidewalks has resulted in an increased number of trip and fall accidents and claims against the town. Council approved $50,000 in the 2017 capital budget for the sidewalk replacement

program. It is the intention of administration to continue the replacement of the interlocking stone sidewalks in subsequent years until all of the interlocking brick sidewalks were replaced throughout the town.”

The town has advanced $93,000 from its 2018 budget to fund sidewalk replacements on Sandwich St. S.

The town has advanced $93,000 from its 2018 budget to fund sidewalk replacements on Sandwich St. S.

Councillor Diane Pouget pointed out that downtown streets and King’s Navy Yard Park have interlocking brick pathways with the powers that be at the time thinking “interlocking brick was the way to go.” She said the thought process was it gave the town a heritage look.

CAO John Miceli pointed out there are no urban design guidelines in Amherstburg currently with such guidelines being useful to maintain a “look and feel” of the town. He backed up Chamberlain’s assessment, saying there are “a number of trip hazards” along the section of Sandwich St. S. between North St. and Park St.

With public safety a concern, Miceli said the town wants to replace those sidewalks. Thirty years is the approximate life cycle for interlocking bricks, he stated.

“What we’re trying to do is be proactive and take advantage of a really good price we got from the contractor,” said Miceli.

Additional works to the west side of the street will be done over and above what was originally planned. Giorgi Bros. Contracting put in a bid of $28,238, roughly 41 per cent lower than the next lowest bidder, Chamberlain stated in his report.

Councillor Rick Fryer said sidewalk maintenance was “a great topic” because “people like to use it against me because I was a victim of that,” referencing his 2006 injury that would result in him filing a lawsuit that has since been resolved.

Fryer questioned whether a student was sent out as there used to be to monitor and GPS any deficiencies and was told by administration that staff and students continue that process. Fryer also wondered if problems were actually being fixed in a timely fashion or whether problems have to wait for budgetary approvals. Fryer was told that once problems are identified they are dealt with.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale raised the issue of trees along Richmond St., noting that some are causing bricks to lift. Miceli said an arborist is coming in to examine those trees, adding his preference is to see trees in planters rather than in sidewalks.

The CAO added that by putting trees in planters, they could be removed in the winter allowing a more efficient operation of the town’s new sidewalk snow removal initiative.

Town to clear municipal sidewalks for the remainder of the 2016/17 winter season



By Ron Giofu


If it snows again this winter, the town will take care of the sidewalk in front of your house.

The town has embarked on a pilot project where it will clear all 58 kilometres of sidewalks that it owns. The cost of such an initiative is estimated between $30,000 and $60,000 as public works has rented two trackless machines at a cost of $18,600.

CAO John Miceli told town council during last Monday night’s first night of budget deliberations that by the town clearing the municipal sidewalks, it places the town in a better position to defend itself in cases of liability.

By the town being “proactive” in its snow removal, Miceli said the $30,000-$60,000 is a “minor cost to defend ourselves in the case of gross negligence.”

The town passed a bylaw in 2005, which requires residents to clear the sidewalks adjacent to their properties within 12 hours of a five-centimetre snowfall. A report from manager of roads and fleet Eric Chamberlain stated that administration attempted to utilize and enforce the council-approved sidewalk removal bylaw.

“There were inconsistencies in meeting the objectives of the bylaw due to lack of co-operation from residents in the effort to get the sidewalks cleared and salted.

Predominantly this became a significant concern with properties along Front Road as the amount of snow deposited by the County’s plowing operations was significant during snowfall events,” Chamberlain wrote in his report. “As a result of resident complaints, council opted to place a moratorium on enforcement of Bylaw 2005-04.”

(Photo taken from Town of Amherstburg advertisement)

(Photo taken from Town of Amherstburg advertisement)

The moratorium did not relieve residents of their duties under the bylaw, Chamberlain added, but it temporarily removed administration’s authority to enforce the bylaw and gain compliance.

There is also an inequity as residents of Front Road North get their sidewalks cleared while others were only being done on a complaint basis.

Miceli said more people were starting to realize that if they called the town to complain, the town would come out and clear their sidewalks.

“The town is liable for gross negligence in the case of a claim as a result of snow and

ice accumulation on sidewalks. Over the past five years, the town has not been involved in any slip and fall claims involving sidewalks during the winter snow removal season,” Chamberlain’s report added. “Most sidewalks are municipally owned; therefore to properly mitigate the risk to the town, the responsibility to clear them should fall with the town. Municipalities do have the authority under the Municipal Act to establish sidewalk snow removal bylaws in order to assist the town in this endeavor, however this does not transfer the risk to the adjacent property owner, it is used to assist in the safe travel of pedestrians during winter conditions.”