Leo Meloche

Town council chops two committees, combines two others

 

By Ron Giofu

 

With very little debate on the subject last Monday night, town council eliminated two committees and combined two others.

Town council originally discussed the matter July 10 with the motion failing due to a 3-3 tie vote. The full council was on hand for a special meeting last Monday night and, after an in-camera meeting regarding “committee structure review,” they followed up by going through with the recommendations originally put forth for the July 10 meeting.

The recommendations were to combine the parks committee and the recreation committee into one committee and eliminate the audit and finance committee and the economic development committee.

Town HallWEB

In a recorded vote, council voted 6-1 to move forward with those recommendations. Councillor Leo Meloche was the lone holdout, as Meloche did not want to see the economic development advisory committee abolished.

Meloche has championed the committee, stating they meet regularly to try and stimulate economic development.

In a report that appeared on the July 10 agenda, administration cited numerous concerns with committees, noting that agendas were not posted to meet notice requirements as per the town’s approved procedural bylaw, agenda templates are not consistent, agendas are not being published with supporting materials, chairs tend make motions, chairs tend to lead the meeting, there is no disclosure of pecuniary interest asked at the start of meetings, procedural rules are not being followed for delegates, no deferral motions, motions are too vague, minutes are not recorded as per Municipal Act requirements, minute templates are not consistent and recommendations/reports to council are inconsistent.

 

Town council waives fees for Rotary Club’s Ribfest

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Rotary Club’s eighth annual Ribfest is this weekend and organizers received some financial relief thanks to town council.

The town has waived $2,035 in fees for the Ribfest, with $1,352 being parks fees and the rest for equipment rentals. The Ribfest committee was represented by chair Carl Gibb and Rotary Club past president Lena Lazanja.

“We are a charitable organization and all the funds we receive continue to be funneled back into town,” Lazanja told town council.

Councillor Leo Meloche stated he supported the Ribfest and didn’t have any problem with waiving the parks fees but was concerned about waiving the equipment fees. He said equipment suffers wear and tear and wanted to ensure the town has the resources to replace equipment when need be and believed “at some point we have to draw the line.”

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.

The Amherstburg Rotary Club’s 2017 Ribfest is July 7-9.

“Unfortunately, the equipment – we use it and we have to replace it.”

Waiving the fees was an easy decision for Councillor Rick Fryer, pointing out that the Rotary Club has undertaken many projects that have benefitted the residents of Amherstburg. Fryer thanked the Rotary Club for its efforts over the years.

“If it was up to me, we can approve the waiving of the fees every single time,” said Fryer.

The Ribfest runs 12 p.m.-11 p.m. July 7 and 8 and 12 p.m.-7 p.m. July 9 at Centennial Park.

Water and wastewater rates to rise slightly in Amherstburg

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Water and wastewater rates are on the rise two per cent and one per cent respectively in Amherstburg but the town is stating that sounds worse than what it is.

The water budget of nearly $9.4 million will be funded through $638,000 from working capital, a $3.7 million grant and $5 million in new debentures with the $1.369 million wastewater budget being funded through $542,000 in operating capital, $348,150 in grant funding and $479,350 from the wastewater capital reserve.

The water and wastewater rate increases will translate into the average user paying an extra $9 more this year, said director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau.

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

In his written report to council, Rousseau stated: “The projected two per cent increase in water would result in an average annual billing increase from $450 to $456. The projected one per cent increase in wastewater would result in an average annual billing increase from $772 to $775. The combined effect to the average consumer of both water and wastewater in the town will see an annual household effect of $9 a year, or two cents a day.”

Rousseau indicated the coming years will call for the replacement of the water treatment plan, a $30 million expenditure. The town has to take steps to bolster reserves to mitigate the impact of that expenditure, he stated.

Wastewater plantWEB

The reason for the proposed increases is to provide long term stability to building both water and wastewater capital programs as well as lifecycle replacement funding that will help ensure the replacement and expansion of both the water and wastewater systems. The increases agree to the long-term financial stability plan outlined in the Town’s draft asset management plan,” he added in his report to town council.

Councillor Leo Meloche questioned the timing of the budgets, noting that it is late June and that “it’s after the fact” for council to have more extensive dialogue on it.

“At this point, it’s difficult to have any input. We’ve already spent the money,” he said.

Rousseau called it “a fair observation” but said it was delayed due to the town’s desire to bring the budgets forward with the asset management plan. He said after the meeting the consultant the town is using on the plan is tied up with other municipalities so the plan was unable to be presented at the same time as the budgets.

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.

Town council to consider 12-year-old’s request for chickens in urban neighbourhoods

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local 12-year-old is hoping the town can help him in achieving his goal of having chickens in residential areas so that his family can eat a bit healthier.

William Brush, a Grade 7 student at Amherstburg Public School, appeared before town council Monday night asking that the zoning bylaw be revised so that it can allow for chickens in residential areas. He believed it will not only allow people to eat healthier by providing organic eggs for the owners, but it will also help teach people where chickens come from.

While eating breakfast with his family one morning, they started talking about the subject and the residents of the Monopoly subdivision thought it was a good idea.

“The topic of chickens came up and we just decided we wanted them,” said Brush. “I just think organic things are better for you.”

Brush said accommodations can be made to allow chickens and neighbours to co-exist, including not putting the coop near fences and to ensure the area is clean. He said they hope to have three or four chickens and keep them in a coop in their yard.

Town hall signWEB

“If I were to have chickens, they would be in the middle of my yard, away from the fence,” he told town council.

Manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger said the current zoning bylaw permits three pets, but all have to spend time in the house at some point. Councillor Rick Fryer countered by saying that a chicken coop is like a house and they do go inside.

“It might not be a house people are living in but they do go in a coop at night,” said Fryer. “I’d be all for administration coming back with an amendment (to the bylaw).”

Councillor Leo Meloche worried about coyotes coming into town if chickens were allowed in residential areas. Fryer said coyotes already do come in as there are a lot of feral cats in town.

Council agreed to have a report brought back on whether an amendment to the bylaw is feasible and that should be back before council by the end of the summer. Brush said he is ready to go if council gives the go-ahead.

“I was hoping to do it over the summer but any time is good,” he said.