Jason Lavigne

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.

Duffy’s demolition to start shortly

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Demolition of the former Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn should start within the next week or two.

Town council approved the tender during its meeting Monday night with the winning bid going to the Jones Group Ltd. The total amount quoted by the Jones Group was just over $280,000 to complete the work, with that dollar figure being over $172,000 less than the next lowest bidder.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

In his report to town council, CAO John Miceli stated that the firm that performed the environmental assessment on the Dalhousie St. property provided a designated substance survey (DSS) of the property.

“The DSS confirmed asbestos, lead, mercury and silica present in different areas of the former tavern building. The abatement requirements were included in the tender specifications for all proponents,” said Miceli in his report.

The town used the firm Golder Associates for the assessment, Miceli stated, adding the town was able to renegotiate the purchase price down to $1.115 million.

If all goes smoothly and according to plan, Miceli said the demolition could start either next week or the week after.

Councillor Jason Lavigne wondered if the Amherstburg Fire Department was finished with the building, as it was being used for training purposes.

“We have pretty much used it for as much as we could,” replied deputy fire chief Lee Tome.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she appreciated the thoroughness of Miceli’s report, noting she was a critic when the report came several months ago regarding the demolition of the former AMA Arena.

Pouget noted the price difference between Jones Group Ltd. and the rest of the bidders.

“It’s such a big, big difference,” she said. “With all of the savings, we’ll be able to fix up the property much quicker than we originally anticipated.”

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Councillor Joan Courtney asked if the town had applied for any grant money for the project, including the redevelopment of the lands. Miceli said there has been one application submitted thus far, and that pertained to the removal of gas tanks from the property.

Courtney also questioned whether there had been any meetings with stakeholders. The CAO said the next steps are to meet with the community and stakeholder groups to discuss the proposals for the property. The town has floated such ideas as an amphitheatre, marina, and food truck parking among other amenities.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Miceli added he knows of one party that is interested in sponsoring riverfront development in that area.

Council had been made aware of Miceli’s concerns that the site could further decay and become a target for vandalism. He also stated in his report that demolition could have become more complex if delayed due to the ongoing construction of the neighbouring Queen Charlotte Residences.

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.

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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.

Fifteen-minute parking spots on Richmond St. causes stir at council

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has agreed to have two 15-minute parking spots on the north side of Richmond St. east of Sandwich St. S. after debate with numerous building and business owners.

Responding to a traffic committee recommendation for four 15-minute spots along the side of the Liberty Theatre building, business operators voiced objections to town council. Tony and Danielle Smith, owners of The Garage Gym, said they draw upwards of 120 people per day to their gym with some coming from across Windsor-Essex County.

“Every day, we rely on the parking,” he said.

Tony added that they were “appalled” by how the recommendation came about and that no one knew how it happened.

Ena Monteleone, owner/operator of Love it Yoga, said she has access to ten spots in an adjoining parking lot but when her studio holds larger events and programs, on-street parking is necessary.

“It is unnecessary to reduce the parking time to 15 minutes,” said Monteleone.

Monteleone further suggested that only one 15-minute spot was needed. She also said she wasn’t notified of a potential change beforehand.

Anthony Leardi, whose numbered company owns the building with The Garage Gym, Dan’s Roofing and an additional studio for the Catz Meow Dance Education Centre, reminded council of what he said they already knew.

“The town of Amherstburg doesn’t want vacant commercial property. The town of Amherstburg wants full commercial properties,” said Leardi.

Leardi said he took pictures from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 4, noting he chose a Saturday as it is the busiest shopping day of the week and the peak times of the week. Photos he showed council had very few, if any, vehicles in the spots.

“In short, no-one wants 15-minute parking,” he said.

One spot for 15-minute parking would be suitable between 10 a.m.-6 p.m., he suggested.

Town council reduced a recommendation from the traffic committee from four 15-spots on Richmond St. to two in the area just east of Sandwich St. S.

Town council reduced a recommendation from the traffic committee from four 15-spots on Richmond St. to two in the area just east of Sandwich St. S.

Gerry Theriault, owner of the Liberty Theatre property, said he has five commercial tenants and seven residential tenants. When he operated a business there and Wigle Home Hardware was across the street, there were no parking issues.

“People come, people go. That’s what retail is about,” he said.

Theriault said usage has changed and the town should better plan for that.

“What we are talking about is a little common sense,” said Theriault.

Theriault said people want to park close and noted people carrying water jugs or dry cleaning don’t want to walk a great distance, particularly in foul weather.

Councillor Jason Lavigne, chair of the traffic committee, said they deal with “hundreds of parking issues” and that if they notified everyone each time a parking issue arose, “we’d literally need a whole department” to do mailings and meet with residents.

“We weren’t trying to skirt you coming to meetings,” he said.

Lavigne, who made the motion to reduce the number of 15-minute spots from four to two, said they have police, fire, legal and public works officials on the committee. He said there are nearly 100 spots in that general area of town and “when we are discussing four, that concerns me a little bit.”

Councillor Leo Meloche recalled living in Montreal and Quebec City when he was happy to get a parking spot five blocks from his destination.

“Amherstburg doesn’t have a parking problem,” said Meloche. “People want to park in front of the door. This town provides a lot of parking and it’s free parking.”