Leo Meloche

Council keeping policing meeting at town hall

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Despite talk that the policing decision would be made at another, larger venue, town council has ultimately decided to keep the meeting at town hall.

The town will vote on whether to keep the existing Amherstburg Police Service or contract out policing to the Windsor Police Service Monday night but the decision will be made in the council chambers. While the idea had been floated to move the meeting to a larger venue, town hall was decided by council members to be the place to hold the meeting.

Councillor Leo Meloche raised the issue at the Feb. 12 council meeting as to whether the town was considering an alternate location. CAO John Miceli said administration was not looking for another location and that it would be up to town council to make that decision.

Meloche made a motion to have the meeting moved but Councillor Rick Fryer stated that while he understood the concern, he believed town hall would still be the best location.

“This is where decisions are made,” Fryer said of the council chambers.

Fryer added that he believed the meeting would be “much easier” to control if it were held at town hall rather than moving the meeting elsewhere.

“At the Libro Centre, it would be very hard to (control the meeting),” stated Fryer.

Meloche withdrew his motion and the town decided to keep the Feb. 26 meeting at town hall. The meeting is scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m.

Town receives funding to add more bike lanes

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg is hoping to add one, or perhaps two, new bike lanes thanks to funding it has secured from the province.

Amherstburg has secured $97,259.51 from the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling (OMCC) program and town council has authorized administration to enter into a transfer payment agreement with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to obtain the funding.

Both projects identified qualified for OMCC funding, manager of engineering Todd Hewitt stated in his report to town council, with those projects being the installation of paved shoulders on Alma St. from Meloche Road to Fryer St. and the installation of a second bike lane along County Road 20 from Dalhousie St. to Front Road South (Amherst Pointe).

“There is currently no budget dollars assigned to either of the eligible projects and one or both of the projects will be included in the future budgets for council consideration,” Hewitt said in his report to council. “The project(s) must be completed by December 30, 2020 to utilize the OMCC funding.”

Hewitt said the Alma St. project carries an initial estimate of $487,500 with 40 per cent of that project eligible for CWATS funding from the County of Essex.

A paved shoulder/bike lane on the other side of County Road 20 – that stretch has a bike lane on the east side of the road – has an initial estimated cost of $500,000, said Hewitt. That project would also be eligible for 40 per cent funding through CWATS.

Unless the CWATS committee expands the number of identified projects they wish to pursue, this would be it for Amherstburg’s share of projects.

“Once these two programs are done, from a CWATS perspective, we’re done,” advised Hewitt.

Councillor Leo Meloche said more needs to be done in the McGregor area, believing there is a need for more paved shoulders and trails to allow McGregor residents better walking access to parks. Councillor Rick Fryer agreed, saying there are areas of McGregor that need to be connected to ERCA’s Cypher Systems Greenway. That greenway trail runs through McGregor.

Town council moving forward with LED lighting program

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s street lights in the public right-of-ways are changing over to LED fixtures with the project to begin this year.

Town council awarded a tender valued at over $1.18 million to Anchor Hydro, an Amherstburg-based company with the amount to be budgeted over seven years. Administration hopes that the savings produced from the LED lights will also help pay for the project even quicker.

“Hallelujah. To get the LED program going for the town is fantastic,” said Councillor Rick Fryer, who had long championed the conversion of the street lights to LED fixtures.

“It’s gratifying to see the town is saving money, saving energy and looking for future generations,” he added after Monday night’s meeting.

Town council also will see what the cost will be to complete the lighting of Front Road North as an RFP will be put out to see what the cost will be to illuminate the stretch between Ranta Marina and Malden Road. Fryer called that unlighted stretch “dangerous” and that putting lights on that remaining stretch would mean the highway would have street lights from Amherstburg to Windsor.

LED lights will be installed this year all over Amherstburg, many similar to the LED lights currently on Meloche Road (pictured).

Councillor Leo Meloche didn’t oppose the LED lighting program, but had questions as it pertained to cost. He said $450,000 was earmarked in the 2018 budget for the project but said after the meeting he accepted administration’s explanation, though, added he wished the explanation would have come sooner.

Meloche stated during the meeting that he wondered how the Front Road North was “slid into” the proposal, believing it was a separate project.

“I think it should have been split up,” he said.

Meloche added after the meeting he was satistifed with the explanation there as well, as it could be discussed in future budget sessions.

CAO John Miceli said the motion was to issue an RFP and that would give council a better gauge on what the project would cost.

“What we are doing is fact-finding to see how much it would cost,” added Miceli.

Miceli stated the town projects that the savings from the LED program would help pay for the entire project.

“We confidently believe the operational savings we are going to have through the LED program will fund the LED program,” the chief administrative officer stated.

According to a report from manager of engineering Todd Hewitt, Amherstburg paid $228,573.69 in streetlight utility costs

“Converting the Town’s streetlights to LED will reduce this cost significantly,” Hewitt stated in his report.

Hewitt told town council he believes it is a “win-win” for the town to convert, noting they are saving energy and money in the long run by doing so.

“The new cobrahead lights will be manufactured by LED Roadway Lighting (LRL) and come with a 20 year limited replacement warranty. All components are covered for full replacement for the first 10 years with a pro-rated replacement on some components in years 11 to 20,” Hewitt added in his report. “The decorative fixtures will be manufactured by King Luminaire and come with a 10-year full replacement warranty. Anchor Hydro has included a five-year warranty to cover all labour involved with the replacement of faulty fixtures.”

Councillor Diane Pouget said the town will increase safety for the residents and achieve a cost savings with the LED program.

“As Todd said, it’s a win-win situation,” she stated.

As for the illumination of the stretch of Front Road North, she added “if the RFP comes back too high, we can reject it. It’s a request.”

Councillor Joan Courtney indicated she is hopeful that the Front Road North stretch will be lit up.

“I have travelled there at night when it is raining. You can’t see the lines,” she said. “It’s a liability. It’s a wonder there haven’t been more accidents.”

Residents state rumble strips causing negative impact to their lives

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council will look at what to do about rumble strips on rural roads, some that have recently been maintained.

Melissa Gidillini said that her and her parents have been negatively impacted by rumble strips that were re-cut in front of their Concession 3 North home. Gidillini said her parents purchased the home four years ago and the noise from vehicles passing over the rumble strips have decreased their property value and impacted their lives.

The noise affected her mother’s health and well-being and her father’s ability to get a good night’s sleep, she said, and wondered if there are other ways to alert motorists to the nearby intersection rather than rumble strips. She hoped something could be done “to preserve the sanity of the citizens.”

Councillor Diane Pouget said council members have received many e-mails about the issue and asked whether administration could do something to reduce the noise but allow drivers to stay safe as well. She was told that rumble strips give notice to drivers that an intersection is coming in case they are driving while distracted or if visibility is poor.

Councillor Leo Meloche said he has also received e-mails and has heard from people crying on the phone, adding that council agreed to rumble strips near Howard Ave. and Alma St. as a way to “mitigate loss of life.” Public works re-cut some of the other rumble strips as a maintenance measure, CAO John Miceli believed, with Meloche and Councillor Rick Fryer wondering if the cuts to the roadway were too deep thus increasing the level of noise.

Meloche added that, based on his research, some municipalities have scrapped rumble strips altogether due to noise complaints.

“I wouldn’t want them in front of my bedroom. My kids and my wife would be going nuts too,” he said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin noted that the rumble strips were put in due to council motions. He said that accidents at intersections can be traced to a variety of factors and that administration would have to look at particular instances. Removal of the rumble strips at this stage could expose the town to liability concerns due to other councils passing motions to install them.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said he was in favour of taking a look at the issue, but stated people have gotten used to the noise over time.

Amherstburg police chief Tim Berthiaume said there have been three fatalities in recent years and believed they could have been possibly been prevented with rumble strips. He said the accidents involved people who know the area.

“We have to ask ourselves as a police department, why are they blowing stops if they are from here?” said Berthiaume.

Meloche added that if people walk into a door, would the door be removed?

“We have to stop this B.S. and say a mistake was made,” said Meloche. “Should people in the community pay for their mistakes?”

Local resident Greg Nemeth believed that lowering and enforcing speed limits could make a difference.

“Slow them down and we’re going to save a lot of lives,” said Nemeth.

The report will come back to council and is expected to detail options on what council can do to properly address the issue.

Town officially passes 2018 budget

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2018 budget is now officially passed.

Town council, who had discussed the budget in detail during Nov. 28-29 budget deliberations, formally approved the document with no changes to the previously discussed rates. That means Amherstburg taxpayers will see their taxes go up 2.29 per cent this year, meaning a home assessed at $200,000 will see a $43.29 increase. The tax rate increase itself is 0.83 per cent with the two per cent levies being increased by 0.75 per cent increase.
The increase to the levies will allow for an additional $300,000 to be placed into the town’s reserves for capital infrastructure projects.

When school board and county taxes are factored in, the tax increase would be 1.69 per cent, or $54.31 on a $200,000 home.

Changes to assessments were factored in via a 2.37 per cent within the budget for a growth rate, but individual MPAC assessments could vary depending on homeowner.

Discussion of the budget was limited, with Councillor Leo Meloche questioning some costs pertaining to the Belle Vue property. While $75,000 was inserted as “seed money,” CAO John Miceli said he was confident that the Belle Vue Conservancy had raised enough money to have roof repairs done early in 2018. Meloche said while he would like to see Belle Vue restored, council was told no taxpayer money would be used.

“I want to see this happen but we’ve got to get significant money up front,” said Meloche.

Meloche added he is involved in another capital project and appreciates that raising donations is difficult, but hoped that Belle Vue fundraising efforts aren’t “petering out.”

CAO John Miceli said those efforts are not “petering out” and that the conservancy paid for roof and window evaluations. The windows are the next scheduled project, he said.

Miceli noted that both he and treasurer Justin Rousseau get regular updates from the conservancy and praised the conservancy for taking on “yeoman’s work on behalf of the town.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the budget passed without much further discussion as the issue had been discussed in detail during deliberations.

“This budget really stood out to me,” he said. “It is an amazing evolution from where we started.”

The budget was very detailed, DiCarlo added, and credited administration for their work.

“Everything is accounted for, everything is explained,” he said. “I can’t see any major changes in how this is presented.”

Residents can refer to the budget should they have questions on anything, he added.

“We do listen, we do act when we can and these are the results that come from it,” said DiCarlo. “We’re better now than we were three years ago.”

Councillor Rick Fryer also praised administration publicly, stating “things went smoothly this year” and that residents appreciate the effort that went into the budget.