John Miceli

Uncle’s love of history, roots at Belle Vue led to $100,000 donation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The contracts have been officially signed and the cheque has been officially turned over.

The $100,000 cheque presentation from the Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy took place on the front porch of Belle Vue last Friday morning. The donation was made by brothers John and Joe Gatfield, nephews of the late Father Ted Gatfield, and trustee with the BMO trust Lisa Mazurek with a main floor dining room to be named for the foundation.

It was originally announced last week.

“This is something that meant a lot to our uncle,” said John.

John added that one of the missions of the foundation is to preserve Amherstburg’s history, adding there is also a family connection to Belle Vue through Father Ted’s great-great grandfather.

The Gatfield Family Foundation made its $100,000  donation official last Friday morning. From left: CAO John Miceli, trustee with BMO Lisa Mazurek, John Gatfield, Belle Vue Conservancy director of  corporate outreach Linda Jackson and Joe Gatfield.

The Gatfield Family Foundation made its $100,000
donation official last Friday morning. From left: CAO John Miceli, trustee with BMO Lisa Mazurek, John Gatfield, Belle Vue Conservancy director of
corporate outreach Linda Jackson and Joe Gatfield.

“The Gatfield family has been in Amherstburg forever, so it seems,” he said. “We, as a family, are very pleased to help out.”
Noting that Father Ted would tell stories of playing as a child at Belle Vue, John said “we think he’d be very pleased that we are doing this.”

Members of the Belle Vue Conservancy and town administration were smiling before, during and after the presentation and John said their uncle would be pleased with that.

“He’d be happy to see the smiles on everyone’s faces here,” said John. “He’s smiling as well.”

John said they heard about Belle Vue and the goal of restoring it and the foundation discussed helping out. That led to a meeting with conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue, treasurer Michael Prue and corporate outreach chair Linda Jackson. That meeting led to the Gatfield Family Foundation wanting “to do our part” to help save the 200-year-old town-owned Dalhousie St. mansion.

John Miceli, Amherstburg’s chief administrative officer (CAO), said that town council adopted a community strategic plan in the summer of 2016 which provided strategic direction for the town based on a community shared vision.

“Belle Vue was a key consideration identified by our residents in developing that shared vision,” said Miceli. “The historical and cultural significance of this tremendous property was recognized by our community and identified as a pillar of investment going forward.

The CAO stated that Belle Vue is “part of our past, our present and our future” and expressed thanks to the Gatfield family for the $100,000 donation.

John Gatfield, Joe Gatfield and trustee Lisa Mazurek sign the contracts which officially transferred $100,000 from the Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy. The conservancy raises funds on behalf of the town of Amherstburg to restore Belle Vue, the historic home at 525 Dalhousie St.

John Gatfield, Joe Gatfield and trustee Lisa Mazurek sign the contracts which officially transferred $100,000 from the Gatfield Family Foundation to the Belle Vue Conservancy. The conservancy raises funds on behalf of the town of Amherstburg to restore Belle Vue, the historic home at 525 Dalhousie St.

“We are writing a new chapter in the story of Amherstburg and Belle Vue will play an important part in this novel to come,” said Miceli. “This partnership between the Gatfield Family Foundation, the Belle Vue Conservancy and the town of Amherstburg is just the beginning. This partnership emphasizes that. I am extremely excited as together, we continue to write the story of how this once endangered significantly historical property in Amherstburg was saved by a community that was unwilling to let it go and how we came together with the help of groups such as the Gatfield Family Foundation to restore this national treasure for the benefit of generations to come.”

The hope is that the $100,000 donation will lead to more donations with Michael Prue stating the town is doing well in the “This Place Matters” competition. Donations are also being accepted at www.amherstburg.ca/donate. Prue added they continue to seek donations from organizations and businesses.

A gala is also being planned as a major fundraiser Sept. 24.

The Belle Vue Conservancy, which is raising money on the town’s behalf for Belle Vue, is awaiting word whether the federal government will give them a grant for up to $1 million, a figure that would have to be matched.

“All of us together can do it!” Prue stated.

Demolition resumes at Duffy’s site after delays

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Delays have occurred in the demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn but the town’s chief administrative officer states the goal is still to be able to use the site during the Canuck It Up Festival.

Crews could be seen at points last week working at the site as demolition appears to have resumed.

CAO John Miceli said there were issues that caused the demolition to be delayed. One of the issues was a motorcycle crash that injured Jones Group owner Terry Jones.

A Jones Group excavator was seen working at the site of the former Duffy’s Motor Inn Monday morning. Demolition had been delayed at the site but has now resumed.

A Jones Group excavator was seen working at the site of the former Duffy’s Motor Inn Monday morning. Demolition had been delayed at the site but has now resumed.

“We are working with the Jones Group to provide us with a revised schedule as there was a couple of things that did delay the project,” said Miceli. “The first was Terry’s untimely accident and the second was an order that was issued to the Jones Group by the Ministry (of Labour) which has subsequently been lifted.”

Miceli pointed out the Ministry of Labour “has some overarching powers and on this project was seeking written protocols on the demolition process. Unfortunately this  was complicated from a timing perspective with Terry’s untimely accident and has caused some delays.”

The CAO added: “I have been advised by the Jones Group that they will be working diligently to make up time so that we can have access to the site in time for Canuck it Up. I know that the Jones Group knows how important this festival is for the Town and they want to deliver for us.”

The Canuck It Up Festival is Aug. 5-6.

Town lands $3.7 million in funding for water treatment plant upgrades

 

By Ron Giofu

The town of Amherstburg has received some good news as it relates to upgrades at the water treatment plant.

The town has received over $3.7 million for upgrades to the reservoir at the water treatment plant. The funding was received under the federal government’s Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF).

According to a report from director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau: “The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant currently only has one water storage in-ground reservoir. Water storage reservoirs are required to ensure that adequate supply of water is maintained to meet peak water demands or emergencies such as fires, water main breaks, power outages and pump failures. The existing reservoir is old and showing extensive deterioration. In 2003 and 2010, the town performed emergency reservoir repairs due to excessive leaking of treated water from the reservoir. Further failures and repairs are anticipated as the structure ages.”

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

Rousseau noted the construction of reservoir would take place in two phases, with the first being the construction of a new 14,800 cubic meter reservoir and the second phase being two 7,400 cubic meter cells being built within the existing reservoir footprint. The cost of the second phase is not known at the present time, he added, with an assessment of infrastructure to be undertaken after the first phase.

While the grant is good news, there is still more money needed in the future.

“The town’s Long-Term Strategic Financial Plan and Water Model identify the need to invest over $30 million in water infrastructure in the next ten years,” stated Rousseau. “Furthermore, the town presently has little in reserves in the water division and has one of the higher rates in the region for water. This successful grant application will assist the town in securing future development and providing water at a reasonable rate thus assisting the town’s long term sustainability.”

CAO John Miceli pointed out that town council received a private and confidential memo about other projects needed at the Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant. He indicated administration is “examining all options for the delivery of clean water” in Amherstburg.

Miceli said a new plan might come before council on how to deliver clean water to the residents.

“I want to be very clear that we are looking at all options,” said Miceli.

Town agrees to increase non-unionized and management staff salaries

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Non-unionized and management staff with the town will be seeing a pay increase soon.

Town council voted to compensate staff at the 65th percentile, meaning that over the next six years, those salaries will have a budgetary impact of $368,683. Councillor Diane Pouget advocated for compensation at the 55th percentile level, or a budgetary impact of $257,012, as she didn’t feel the town was ready financially for a larger increase.

Pouget said the town still has “significant debt,” quoting a figure of $40 million, unfunded liabilities, $30 million in upgrades needed for the Amherstburg water treatment plant, roads and sewers that are “crumbling,” and significant upgrades needed at the Libro Centre.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) John Miceli said the town’s unionized staff members are among the highest paid in the region but the non-unionized staff rank among the lowest. In his written report to town council, Miceli stated “staff is presently compensated below market comparisons within the region and will continue to fall below compensation levels of comparator municipalities without an appropriate compensation adjustment. This decision may lead to challenges for the Town with the retention and recruitment of staff. It is important to note that the majority of our comparator municipalities are within minimal daily traveling distance and with the imminent number of retirements coming in the near future there will be a number of job opportunities available for staff.”

Town Logo Small-web

There are problems looming in the municipal sector as it relates to staffing with thousands eligible to retire in the next five years.

“We have a significant crisis with respect to municipal employees,” said Miceli. “All I can say is that I know what is coming.”

Miceli said there are challenges in municipal departments as some only have one person holding a position. While the training budgets are slowly increasing, he said the town can’t be a “training ground” as there are not enough people to conduct training and believed raising compensation at the 65th percentile is a “minimal investment” in the town’s future.

Local municipalities are also limited in their abilities to attract people from outside the region, the CAO added, and that they will have to look at one another to attract staff.

“We will be pilfering from ourselves,” said Miceli.

Miceli said the town isn’t out of the woods yet financially but administration has done a good job to turn things around.

Councillor Leo Meloche agreed with Miceli but added that training of staff is also key.

“Performance is dependent on quality people,” said Meloche.

Pouget wasn’t buying the arguments, stating student placements could be used where knowledgeable and eager college and university graduates are utilized.

“Why aren’t we giving people a chance to coming in and learn?” she asked. “I don’t think we should keep bringing in retirees.”

Pouget added they had options between the 50th and 65th percentile to choose from and she thought the 55th percentile was fair.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo noted there has been a wage freeze for the non-unionized and management staff for two years.

“This is always a tough decision when you are talking about taxpayers’ money,” he said. “In simple terms, I had to support (the compensation at the 65th percentile) based on what the CAO said.”

DiCarlo added that “as much as people think we have a lot of people at town hall, we really don’t” and that they are training people as best they can.

“We do have to remain competitive,” he said. “We’re in a good place now and a lot of that is because of the people we have.”
DiCarlo also pointed out the increases will occur over a six year time frame.

Council members not impressed with county over not returning library funds

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of Amherstburg town council are not impressed that the county won’t be returning any funds collected during the eight month long library strike.

Amherstburg had sought a refund of money paid during the library strike with Councillor Diane Pouget wanting an update during Monday night’s council meeting. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the county chose to reallocate the funds into reserves with no money being returned to municipalities.

“Other than that, we have no authority per se other than our votes,” the mayor stated.

Pouget asked if the town has any legal recourse in the matter.

“Taxpayers paid the money,” she said, “and we didn’t get the service.”

Amherstburg town council is upset with the county over not returning funds collected during the Essex County library strike. One of the strikers is pictured in this August 2016 photo.

Amherstburg town council is upset with the county over not returning funds collected during the Essex County library strike. One of the strikers is pictured in this August 2016 photo.

Pouget added the town could have used the money to put in a reserve of their own to maintain the library building itself.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the town can look into the agreements between upper and lower tier municipalities with CAO John Miceli stating that library services fall into the county’s jurisdiction.

“Our residents pay a significant amount of money in taxes for a service they didn’t get,” Pouget pressed. “I do think we have to take a stand on this.”

DiCarlo said Amherstburg was one of the municipalities that wanted the money returned and “to the best of my recollection,” there was one other. Councillor Jason Lavigne wondered why no other municipality was concerned about “ripping off” the residents.

Lavigne added his belief that there is a “black mark” on the county for failing to return the funds collected during the strike.