Ken Antaya

LaSalle not to give Amherstburg a bid on police services

 

By Ron Giofu

 

And then there were two.

Should Amherstburg town council vote to switch policing services away from the existing Amherstburg Police Service, the choices will be between the Windsor Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). That is because LaSalle has opted not to submit a bid to police Amherstburg.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya noted that there was a large discrepancy between Windsor and the rest of the field on dispatching and that showed “we don’t have the economy of scale” to match up.

Windsor’s dispatching bid came in at $653,000 over a five-year period with LaSalle police’s bid being over $1.48 million over that time frame. Owen Sound police and Strathroy-Caradoc police also submitted bids with those bids being just under $1.48 million and $1.54 million respectively.

“It’s difficult for smaller municipalities to match that,” said Antaya.

When it comes to bidding for the overall service, Antaya indicated that LaSalle believes they couldn’t offer up the cost savings Amherstburg is looking for.

“We recognize the economic scales involved here. Amherstburg is looking at saving costs and we are not sure we can give them the savings they are looking for,” Antaya said.

The LaSalle mayor added his community is happy with the policing they receive and there were some concerns about “watering down” the LaSalle Police Service should resources have been necessary to include Amherstburg. With it now being possible that municipalities are non-contiguous can get to police one another, it now means LaSalle doesn’t have to be part of the equation, Antaya added.

Safety is the most important thing to LaSalle residents, Antaya added.

LaSalle council will discuss possibly giving Amherstburg a police costing Jan. 26.

LaSalle council will discuss possibly giving Amherstburg a police costing Jan. 26.

The news that LaSalle wasn’t going to submit a bid wasn’t the best news Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo has heard, but he was understanding of why it happened.

“Overall, my biggest reaction is disappointment more than anything else,” said DiCarlo. “With no disrespect to other mayors or other municipalities, they have to do what is best for the interests of their municipalities.”

DiCarlo indicated he is a fan of municipal policing, but believed a regional policing model would be cost-effective for those municipalities involved.

“As was stated when we first started this process, this council is the first one to do its due diligence in getting the numbers,” said DiCarlo.

An advisory committee has been set up and DiCarlo believes they have done a good job articulating what Amherstburg wants in a police force. He said Amherstburg has gotten used to a level of service and doesn’t want to lose it, adding that bidders will have to provide a similar method of policing to what exists currently.

The town issued an RFP and the deadline is mid-October. While DiCarlo anticipates there will be some savings, “if Windsor or the OPP can’t do it cheaper, that’s not a bad thing.” He said that is affirmation that the Amherstburg Police Service is providing a good service for a good price.

Saving are in the resources, he added, noting police salaries are roughly the same across the board.

DiCarlo emphasized that retaining the existing Amherstburg Police Service is an option council will have as well. Even though he anticipates a savings from bids from Windsor police and the OPP, DiCarlo said the question then would be whether those savings are enough to not keep the Amherstburg Police Service.

“That is ultimately up to council.”

Essex County celebrates Canada 150 by burying time capsule, dunking politicians

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The County of Essex celebrated Canada 150 last Friday and hopes that people 100 years from now will remember what 2017 was like.

An outdoor celebration took place at the Essex Civic Centre with one of the main attractions being the burying of a time capsule that isn’t supposed to be opened for another 100 years.

Warden Tom Bain (left) buries a time capsule with the help of Essex County council members and county CAO Brian Gregg (bottom right) on the grounds of the Essex Civic Centre. The capsule will be opened in 100 years.

Warden Tom Bain (left) buries a time capsule with the help of Essex County council members and county CAO Brian Gregg (bottom right) on the grounds of the Essex Civic Centre. The capsule will be opened in 100 years.

The event was funded by the Windsor-Essex Community Foundation.

County CAO Brian Gregg said in addition to it being Canada 150, it is also the 225th anniversary of the formation of Essex County. When it is opened, the county will be celebrating its 325th anniversary, he noted.

“The contents of this capsule features artifacts from all seven of the county’s municipalities,” Gregg pointed out.

Gregg said the capsule was buried on the grounds of the civic centre under a “symbolic maple tree” and will give a “snapshot” of the past when it is eventually opened. Gregg, who is retiring later this year, said he has spent over 30 years with the County of Essex and has seen it grow.

Members of Essex County council, administration and general public tried to form a Canada 150 logo on the grounds of the Essex Civic Centre last Friday. The celebration was funded by the Windsor-Essex Community Foundation.

Members of Essex County council, administration and general public tried to form a Canada 150 logo on the grounds of the Essex Civic Centre last Friday. The celebration was funded by the Windsor-Essex Community Foundation.

“I can only imagine what is in store for the next 100 years,” he said.

Warden Tom Bain said the Canada 150 event was “about honouring our history, relishing our present and looking forward to our future.”

Bain, who would later be one of the politicians and administration members to get wet in the dunk tank, also pointed out the 225th anniversary for the county. Bain stated Essex County has a rich history as he said it was the first county in Ontario to be formed prior to Confederation and the road that is now County Road 20 was the first road to be laid out in Ontario.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya reacts as he gets dunked during the County of Essex’s Canada 150 celebration last Friday afternoon.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya reacts as he gets dunked during the County of Essex’s Canada 150 celebration last Friday afternoon.

A number of children attended the Canada 150 celebration and the warden told them to learn from both successes and failures.

“Do not forget the words collaboration, communication, kindness, and my favourite word, teamwork,” said Bain.

Brian Gregg, CAO for the County of Essex, shows the time capsule that has now been buried on the northwest corner of the Essex Civic Centre grounds.

Brian Gregg, CAO for the County of Essex, shows the time capsule that has now been buried on the northwest corner of the Essex Civic Centre grounds.

The event also featured children’s activities, the formation of county officials into a human Canada 150 logo, a barbecue and the appearance of the Memorial Cup, the junior hockey trophy captured by the Windsor Spitfires.

Essex County council defers EMS report regarding Amherstburg concerns

 

By Ron Giofu

Town council wanted Essex County council to review Essex-Windsor EMS and to provide funding necessary to improve the areas that are “in need.”

However, Essex County now wants more information from the town and find out what was presented to Amherstburg council.

Essex County council deferred a recommendation at its June 7 meeting that would have county administration provide an information report to county council regarding funding and cost distribution of EMS services as well as tiered response and service levels.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya sought clarification on the request from Amherstburg.

“They’re suggesting increasing regional funding and identifying areas in need?” he asked.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said “the concerns that were raised by some members of Amherstburg council were there may not be enough coverage for the amount of calls we have.”

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DiCarlo also pointed out the concerns over tiered response and the fact firefighters go out on medical calls when ambulances were tied up. Town council discussed the matter in April when Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter appeared before them with Councillor Rick Fryer wondering why all municipalities don’t use firefighters at calls, citing Leamington as an example. Fryer said during the April meeting that if there is a fee for service, all municipalities should be equal. Councillor Diane Pouget added she was “very, very concerned” about the issue and said she “didn’t think it is fair” that some municipalities are not paying for the same service Amherstburg is paying for.

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos made the motion for the deferral, noting the county didn’t know exactly what Amherstburg council heard.

“It may not be an Amherstburg issue,” said Santos. “It may be a county-wide issue.”

ACS thanks its “stars” at volunteer appreciation dinner

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) rolled out the red carpet to thank its volunteers.

ACS held its annual volunteer appreciation dinner last Wednesday night at the K of C Hall with this year’s event being dubbed “A Night of a Hundred Stars.” It’s 124, actually, as that’s how many volunteers ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo said the agency has.

Those volunteers put in over 7,000 hours of service during 2016, she added.

The Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) volunteer appreciation dinner had a Hollywood theme this year with people able to pose next to cutouts of famous entertainers. Getting in on the fun last Wednesday night were ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, Essex MP Tracey Ramsey and ACS board of directors president Terri Barrette.

The Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) volunteer appreciation dinner had a Hollywood theme this year with people able to pose next to cutouts of famous entertainers. Getting in on the fun last Wednesday night were ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo, Essex MP Tracey Ramsey and ACS board of directors president Terri Barrette.

“Just as Hollywood recognizes its stars, we wanted to recognize (the volunteers) the same way,” said DiBartolomeo.

The 124 volunteers was a figure that impressed DiBartolomeo.

“That is amazing,” she said. “That is our highest amount ever. We continue to grow every day.”

DiBartolomeo outlined the lengthy history of volunteerism and told the ACS volunteers that “you carry on a centuries old tradition and we see you as stars in our community.”

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale brought greetings from the town. DiPasquale, a former ACS board member, said the people with ACS were those he was close to.

“I enjoy working in Amherstburg. I enjoy the people,” DiPasquale said. “I feel the people are part of my family.”

ACS also serves LaSalle and Harrow with LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya also being a Meals on Wheels driver when his schedule permits.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (left) receives a gift from ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo for attending the ACS volunteer appreciation dinner.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey (left) receives a gift from ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo for attending the ACS volunteer appreciation dinner.

“The service you provide to the community is immeasurable,” Antaya told the volunteers. “You can’t put a price on it.”

Antaya said it was more than just delivering a meal, but it is also spending time with seniors and those who may need just someone to visit them.

“Never underestimate your importance,” he said. “Continue giving. There’s nothing better than giving to your community.”

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey praised the commitment of the volunteers, adding the government can only do so much. Ramsey said those who serve their community make major impacts and that is what makes Essex County so unique.

“Thank you for your continuing service,” Ramsey told the crowd.

Bryan Dzombak (left) receives one of the door prizes offered at the ACS volunteer appreciation dinner last Wednesday night. Making the  presentation is ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Bryan Dzombak (left) receives one of the door prizes offered at the ACS volunteer appreciation dinner last Wednesday night. Making the
presentation is ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo.

Terri Barrette, president of ACS’ board of directors, recalled learning about giving back from her grandmother and told the volunteers they were special and stars.

“What all of you provide to the community is invaluable,” said Barrette.

In many cases, Barrette said volunteers are allowing people to have choices and freedoms through such factors as the ability to stay in their own homes.

“You are not only their saving grace, you are inspiring the next generation to be leaders,” said Barrette. “In more ways than one, the community is stronger and richer because of you.”

Essex County council begins process of redefining road network

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

What is likely to be a long, arduous process of redefining what the Essex County road network is has gotten underway.

A special meeting of Essex County council took place last Wednesday night with the meeting being somewhat out of the ordinary as it was facilitated by Roger Bryan, a retired partner with KPMG whom the county has engaged as a consultant.

The roughly 90-minute “visioning session” saw county council members asked to answer what they consider the purpose of the county road network and what factors and influences should be contemplated when developing the criteria to determine whether or not a road is a county road.

“I’m very pleased with how the meeting went,” said Warden Tom Bain. “I think there were a lot of various opinions.”

Bain said no solid conclusions were reached, nor were any expected to be reached as this was the first of what is likely to be many meetings to hash out what is a county road and what isn’t.

“I feel strongly that we got the ball rolling,” said Bain. “There was a lot of meat put on the table.”

One of the issues was financial inequity, as some members of county council believe their towns pay too much in assessments for what they receive back in road funding. Bain believes that will be an area that will be looked at further as the process progresses.

“It’s going to be a long, slow, tedious job but I feel we’ll come up with a solution,” said Bain, noting he has a goal of having it completed if not by the end of 2017, by the 2018 municipal election.

County CAO Brian Gregg told county council members at the start of the meeting that no criteria was expected to be developed by the end of the first meeting but “we want you to tell us what you want that criteria to look like.”

Consultant Roger Bryan speaks to Essex County councillors last Wednesday night during a meeting on the county’s road network. The county has started a process to review its road system.

Consultant Roger Bryan speaks to Essex County councillors last Wednesday night during a meeting on the county’s road network. The county has started a process to review its road system.

Many elected officials said county roads are roadways that connect municipalities and high traffic areas with one another. Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said he understood that to be the definition and that if that is the case, the county has to be careful on how it designates its roadways. County roads can’t be determined so that a higher amount of dollars will flow to individual municipalities for projects.

“You can’t just designate a street just because you want to give a municipalities more percentage,” said DiCarlo.

Bain suggested that county roads also have to be roads that see a lot of goods transported with Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche suggesting connecting areas of tourism also should be considered for county road status. Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti believed the county should look at the road network as a way to connect rural settlement areas.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara believed there should be “a clear outline for this process” and that open discussion should be had with the lower tier municipalities. Decisions should be made on based on such issues as traffic counts and future growth projections.

“There’s got to be more input,” agreed Essex Mayor Ron McDermott.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya wanted a “fair process” and didn’t think his town was getting its share of the county’s road dollars.

“As partners, we should all be concerned about each other. (LaSalle) doesn’t feel like partners,” said Antaya. “I feel we’re just a source of money because we’re not getting a lot.”

Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Al Fazio believed a lot of how county roads are funded has to do with the geographic size of the municipalities.

“It’s not our fault the government shoved (amalgamation) down our throats,” said Fazio.

Fazio said ideally each municipality should be funded equally “but the reality is it’s never going to be equal.”

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (left) gives feedback during a meeting on the county road system Jan. 25. Consultant Roger Bryan (right) listens to DiCarlo's comments.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (left) gives feedback during a meeting on the county road system Jan. 25. Consultant Roger Bryan (right) listens to DiCarlo’s comments.

DiCarlo indicated that the most effective routes to move people or goods should be looked at for designation and questioned whether the meeting was to look at what the definition of county roads are or whether it was a meeting to discuss assessment costs.

“To me, it’s almost two different issues,” said DiCarlo.

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale suggested some roads may need changing but viewed county roads as the most important transit routes in Essex County. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said standards were developed when there were 21 county municipalities instead of the current seven and that maybe there are roads that need to have their designations changed.

Meloche believed “there’s always going to be disparity” and that looking at specific issues could pit municipalities against each other.

“The next thing you know, we’re not county council,” said Meloche.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson believed municipalities like Tecumseh, LaSalle and his own are overpaying when looking at assessments versus their percentage of the road network, adding that Amherstburg is slightly underpaying. He said Amherstburg has 12.7 per cent of the road network but pays 11.6 per cent of the assessment.

Paterson suggested that the assessment dollars be kept by each municipality and that they look after their own roads.

“So far, no one has convinced me we need county roads,” he said during the meeting.

Fazio disagreed.

“We all need each other. Pulling out is not the way to go.”