Jason Lavigne

Town council debates re-opening yard waste depot temporarily

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

The leaves are falling from the trees and that has meant the return of the debate on whether or not to re-open the yard waste depot on Thomas Road.

The yard waste depot was closed in 2014 as a “budgetary matter,” said director of public works and engineering Antonietta Giofu, but Councillor Rick Fryer wondered if it could be re-opened at least temporarily to allow residents to drop off leaves and other yard waste. Fryer said there are some people with a lot of leaves on their yards and there aren’t enough collection dates to accommodate those people.

People with large yards and a lot of trees have to store their leaves until the next collection day, Fryer added.

“I’m always getting calls about this,” he said.

Giofu said that the public works department gets called regularly about the matter, but point people to the three other public drop-off points in the region. Those include the Windsor Garbage and Recylcing Depot at 3560 North Service Road, the Kingsville Garbage and Recycling Depot at 2021 Albuna Townline (County Road 31) and the Regional Recycling Depot, located at the Regional Landfill at 7700 County Road 18 in Essex.

When the depot was closed, it carried an annual operating cost of $131,000 and she added that it was “very rare to have two options for the residents.” It was re-opened after big storms to accommodate storm damage.

Councillor Diane Pouget suggested having the matter looked at budget time. Councillor Leo Meloche leaned towards a possible re-opening of the landfill for seasonal purposes, stating there are limitations on burning and that people want to keep their yards clean and not have leaves blow onto their neighbours’ yards.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said he was in favour of calling Windsor Disposal Services (WDS) if another collection date was needed rather than having to pay an employee to staff the yard waste depot.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, believed if the Thomas Road depot were to be re-opened, the town should proceed with caution.

“We have opened the depot a few times on an emergency basis,” said DiPasquale. “We were getting a lot of misuse.”

Administration told council they always have the option of whether or not to re-open the depot and decide how long it will be open.

Dentists seek closer look at parking limits in downtown lot

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Local dentists Chad Denomme and Stefano Storey are hoping the town can take a closer look at time limits for parking near their recently-purchased building.

The owners of Storey and Denomme Family Dentistry recently bought the building at 79 Richmond St. and are currently renovating it so it becomes their new home. They had originally requested that a few spots in the adjacent public parking lot at the corner of Richmond St. and Ramsay St. be dedicated for their business, but modified their request and instead wanted council to take a closer look at time limits in that lot.

“As soon as we discussed (having dedicated spots) as a team, we thought that may open up a can of worms for other businesses,” said Denomme.

However, they have noted that many vehicles park there all day and suggested that putting time limits on spaces could produce a better flow of vehicles in the lot and increase availability of the spots.

“It’s the same cars there for eight or nine hours a day,” said Denomme.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin suggested that spots in that lot could be designated for two-hour limits but “the question is the mix.” He said they could look at best practices and come up with something with regards to what percentage of spots could be on a time limit.

Councillor Jason Lavigne opposed any idea of another parking study but did say the municipal lot across the road in back of the Heritage Plaza building is “empty all day.” Amherstburg is a tourist destination, Lavigne continued, and that “if we switch lots to two-hour parking, it’s going to create issues across the board.”

Dentists Stefano Storey and Chad Denomme are asking the town to take a closer look at some time limits for some of the spots in the lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St.

Lavigne said there has been debate with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce on the matter over the years but believed there are enough spots downtown.

“There is a ton of parking down there,” said Lavigne. “Some is a stone’s throw from businesses.”

One of the issues with the parking lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St. is nearby residents, such as those in the Navy Yard condominium building, parking there.

Councillor Rick Fryer also pointed out the parking behind the Heritage Place and that people can “park here and walk a little bit.” He said something has to be done to alleviate parking concerns, and wondered if a “pay for parking” scenario would work though admitted people would be “up in arms” at first. He believed such a plan could force residents who use public lots while at home to move their vehicles out of the lot.

“There’s got to be something done,” said Fryer.

Councillor Leo Meloche stated that short-term parking has to be closer to businesses and that those who park downtown for eight hours or so should be “pushed out to the outlying areas.” That said, he maintained his belief that “Amherstburg doesn’t have a parking problem.”

Lavigne cautioned that if parking limits are placed in the Richmond St./Ramsay St. lot, there could be more funding requested by the bylaw enforcement department. He also pointed out the traffic committee could have looked at the matter but it was dissolved several months ago.

Councillor Rick Fryer’s motion to deny dedicated spots, allow administration to enter into an encroaching agreement for a sign over the sidewalk and to have administration come back with suggestions for the Richmond St./Ramsay St. parking lot was approved.

“We’re going to have to do something to help the businesses,” said Fryer. “We can’t have spots tied up by those in the apartments next door.”

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 council approves basement flooding protection subsidy program

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

Town council has approved a new basement flooding protection subsidy program, but not all residents are impressed by it.

Under the new program, the town will provide a downspout disconnection service to residents on the Amherstburg wastewater collection system free of charge. The town will also provide a financial subsidy to residents on the Amherstburg wastewater collection system to disconnect foundation drains from the sanitary sewer for up to 50 per cent of the cost, to a maximum of $1,000.

The town of Amherstburg has also committed to providing a financial subsidy to residents on the town’s wastewater system for installing backwater valve devices on the internal sanitary plumbing system in existing homes for up to 100 per cent of cost to a maximum of $1,000.

The town will also provide a financial subsidy to residents on the wastewater collection system to install a sump pump overflow to discharge outside to the surface for existing sump pumps. That also can cover up to 100 per cent of the cost to a maximum of $300.

Administration was also directed to develop a program for the mandatory disconnection of downspouts and improper cross connections and report back to council.

. The program is retroactive to Aug. 28, the day McGregor was pounded as part of a heavy rain storm that hit Windsor-Essex County.

McGregor resident Tom Welsh, who has been the victim of multiple floods, didn’t believe $1,000 was enough, saying “this is a band-aid, in my opinion. You are stating you are going to help us, but we are still going to have to fork out $2-3,000.”

Welsh believed the residents should be able to apply for total funding of costs incurred.

Director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu said the town’s program is similar to a program offered in Windsor, and that comparisons were made to other local municipalities as well. The public works department also called plumbers in the area and the estimates were similar as well.

CAO John Miceli said that it’s a voluntary program and that the plan is to ask for funding requests during budget time, if needed, to ensure the flooding issues are addressed.

“Members of the community have to apply for the subsidy,” Miceli pointed out.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he wanted more information about water coming from other municipalities and what the entire region is doing to address the flooding problems. He believed a report was necessary on what all municipalities are working towards.

Fryer also suggested better infrastructure to deal with the issue once and for all, and not yearly subsidy programs.

“We’ve got to start taking care of the hamlet of McGregor,” he said.

Giofu countered that studies into the area have shown that major issues in the McGregor area are on private property but the town is willing to work with residents.

Councillor Leo Meloche, a McGregor resident himself, said there are subdivisions in McGregor with small lots and that water is often just drained to neighbouring yards during storms.

“Planning has to address the issue of elevations before we get to the issue of disconnections,” said Meloche, who also expressed concerns about the mandatory disconnections of downspouts.

Welsh reiterated what he and fellow neighbours believe, and that is not enough money is spent in areas like McGregor as opposed to the “core” of Amherstburg.

“I see it as a band-aid. It’s frustrating,” he said of the program. “Something has to be done. I’m not going to finish my downstairs ever again.”

Councillor Jason Lavigne said money was spent by the current council to fix flooding in the urban part of Amherstburg due to a design flaw with a previous project. He said there are no design flaws in McGregor and that Mother Nature “wreaked havoc” with heavy rain.

“To suggest we are doing more for the core than the county, I blatantly disagree with that,” said Lavigne. “I don’t believe it’s neglect. All we can do is offer a subsidy program. We hear you. It might not be enough. We are doing everything we can and we’ll do more if we can.”

“My whole community thinks this way,” Welsh responded. “We get nothing. We pay more taxes than some people on Boblo.”

Miceli indicated more could be done on the infrastructure front.

“What my team is doing is trying to increase design standards for the town. We are not going to wait,” he said. “We want to make sure we have the highest standards in the region.”

The CAO added that while he won’t guarantee that will eliminate flooding, “we are going to take the highest standards to prevent it.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said after the meeting that numbers contained in the program “seem to compare with actual costs” and called it “a good starting point for the town.” He said the town wants to work with individual residents to resolve flooding issues and those requests could come immediately.

“I fully expect residents will contact public works and they will get on it as soon as they can,” said DiCarlo.

The mayor added the new program “may not fix the problems but we have to look at mitigating them as best we can.”

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.