Leo Meloche

Town council debates re-opening yard waste depot temporarily

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

The leaves are falling from the trees and that has meant the return of the debate on whether or not to re-open the yard waste depot on Thomas Road.

The yard waste depot was closed in 2014 as a “budgetary matter,” said director of public works and engineering Antonietta Giofu, but Councillor Rick Fryer wondered if it could be re-opened at least temporarily to allow residents to drop off leaves and other yard waste. Fryer said there are some people with a lot of leaves on their yards and there aren’t enough collection dates to accommodate those people.

People with large yards and a lot of trees have to store their leaves until the next collection day, Fryer added.

“I’m always getting calls about this,” he said.

Giofu said that the public works department gets called regularly about the matter, but point people to the three other public drop-off points in the region. Those include the Windsor Garbage and Recylcing Depot at 3560 North Service Road, the Kingsville Garbage and Recycling Depot at 2021 Albuna Townline (County Road 31) and the Regional Recycling Depot, located at the Regional Landfill at 7700 County Road 18 in Essex.

When the depot was closed, it carried an annual operating cost of $131,000 and she added that it was “very rare to have two options for the residents.” It was re-opened after big storms to accommodate storm damage.

Councillor Diane Pouget suggested having the matter looked at budget time. Councillor Leo Meloche leaned towards a possible re-opening of the landfill for seasonal purposes, stating there are limitations on burning and that people want to keep their yards clean and not have leaves blow onto their neighbours’ yards.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said he was in favour of calling Windsor Disposal Services (WDS) if another collection date was needed rather than having to pay an employee to staff the yard waste depot.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, believed if the Thomas Road depot were to be re-opened, the town should proceed with caution.

“We have opened the depot a few times on an emergency basis,” said DiPasquale. “We were getting a lot of misuse.”

Administration told council they always have the option of whether or not to re-open the depot and decide how long it will be open.

Dentists seek closer look at parking limits in downtown lot

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Local dentists Chad Denomme and Stefano Storey are hoping the town can take a closer look at time limits for parking near their recently-purchased building.

The owners of Storey and Denomme Family Dentistry recently bought the building at 79 Richmond St. and are currently renovating it so it becomes their new home. They had originally requested that a few spots in the adjacent public parking lot at the corner of Richmond St. and Ramsay St. be dedicated for their business, but modified their request and instead wanted council to take a closer look at time limits in that lot.

“As soon as we discussed (having dedicated spots) as a team, we thought that may open up a can of worms for other businesses,” said Denomme.

However, they have noted that many vehicles park there all day and suggested that putting time limits on spaces could produce a better flow of vehicles in the lot and increase availability of the spots.

“It’s the same cars there for eight or nine hours a day,” said Denomme.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin suggested that spots in that lot could be designated for two-hour limits but “the question is the mix.” He said they could look at best practices and come up with something with regards to what percentage of spots could be on a time limit.

Councillor Jason Lavigne opposed any idea of another parking study but did say the municipal lot across the road in back of the Heritage Plaza building is “empty all day.” Amherstburg is a tourist destination, Lavigne continued, and that “if we switch lots to two-hour parking, it’s going to create issues across the board.”

Dentists Stefano Storey and Chad Denomme are asking the town to take a closer look at some time limits for some of the spots in the lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St.

Lavigne said there has been debate with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce on the matter over the years but believed there are enough spots downtown.

“There is a ton of parking down there,” said Lavigne. “Some is a stone’s throw from businesses.”

One of the issues with the parking lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St. is nearby residents, such as those in the Navy Yard condominium building, parking there.

Councillor Rick Fryer also pointed out the parking behind the Heritage Place and that people can “park here and walk a little bit.” He said something has to be done to alleviate parking concerns, and wondered if a “pay for parking” scenario would work though admitted people would be “up in arms” at first. He believed such a plan could force residents who use public lots while at home to move their vehicles out of the lot.

“There’s got to be something done,” said Fryer.

Councillor Leo Meloche stated that short-term parking has to be closer to businesses and that those who park downtown for eight hours or so should be “pushed out to the outlying areas.” That said, he maintained his belief that “Amherstburg doesn’t have a parking problem.”

Lavigne cautioned that if parking limits are placed in the Richmond St./Ramsay St. lot, there could be more funding requested by the bylaw enforcement department. He also pointed out the traffic committee could have looked at the matter but it was dissolved several months ago.

Councillor Rick Fryer’s motion to deny dedicated spots, allow administration to enter into an encroaching agreement for a sign over the sidewalk and to have administration come back with suggestions for the Richmond St./Ramsay St. parking lot was approved.

“We’re going to have to do something to help the businesses,” said Fryer. “We can’t have spots tied up by those in the apartments next door.”

Most town roads will require rehabilitation within ten years

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s roads are OK now, but a lot of work looms on the horizon, according to a consultant.

Kyle Edmunds from Dillon Consulting appeared before town council last Tuesday night and presented an updated roads needs report and while that report deemed the roads to be in “fair” condition, it was also determined that 83 per cent of the town’s roads need to be rehabilitated within ten years.

To combat that problem, the town agreed to a plan that would see $1.41 million committed annually over ten years to road work to help combat the deteriorating road system and get some of the more urgent projects completed.

Of the 226.48 kilometres of roads the town controls, about 30.5 per cent need work now while 23.3 per cent need work in the next 1-5 years. About 29 per cent need work within 6-10 years while the remained don’t need work for beyond a decade.

Less than four per cent of Amherstburg’s roads are considered to be in “excellent” condition, as compared to 20.16 per cent in LaSalle and 15.6 per cent in Tecumseh. As for roads in “good” condition, there are 23.38 per cent of roads in Amherstburg in that category as compared to 45.82 per cent in LaSalle and 29.7 per cent in Tecumseh.

Amherstburg has 16.75 per cent of its roads classified in “fairly good” condition with just over 22 per cent of LaSalle’s roads in that category. Tecumseh has 25.5 per cent of its roads classified as “fairly good.”

As for roads in “fair” condition, 27.72 per cent of Amherstburg’s roads fall in that category, as compared to 11.31 per cent in LaSalle and 23.9 per cent in Tecumseh. Amherstburg has nearly 29 per cent of its roads classified as “poor,” as compared to less than one per cent in LaSalle and 5.3 per cent in Tecumseh.

Tecumseh has 181.4 kilometres of road while LaSalle has 187.56 kilometres. They were used by Dillon Consulting as comparators as the firm did roads needs studies in those two municipalities as well over the last few years.

Expect to see more construction signs over the next decade as the town’s road system requires a lot of work. Meloche Road (pictured here, earlier this summer before the road re-opened) is one of the more recent projects the town has undertaken.

Councillor Leo Meloche wondered why the entire focus was on repairing roads that need it now as he said some priority should be put on some of the roads in the 1-5 year category. The poor roads are already poor but the roads in the 1-5 year category will soon join them if not tended to quicker.

“We’re always chasing our tail,” said Meloche.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she didn’t want residents to think it was a “doom and gloom” situation, and added Amherstburg has more roads than Tecumseh and LaSalle.

“That does make a difference,” she said.

Provincial downloading also made a difference, she suggested.

“I think the municipalities started getting into trouble when the province started downloading to us,” she said.

Councillor Rick Fryer pointed out chunks of cement are coming off of Angstrom Dr. and Victoria St. S. is also deteriorating. There are heavily travelled roads like Concession 2 North that are also in disrepair, calling that road “a thoroughfare to LaSalle. It’s one of the worst roads but people use it.”

Traffic counts should not be the only factor in choosing where road projects should be done, Fryer added, as smaller roads need attention too. He said the town should focus on roads instead of “not needed purchases.”

CAO John Miceli called an increase to $1.41 million annually “significant” and said challenges will be ensuring there are enough contractors to do the work and what prices the town gets when projects are put to tender.

“I would suggest the market will indicate where we are going to be,” he said.

Miceli added he would like to see $120,000 in the crack seal program budget to prolong the life of some of the roads.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said the current council has done a lot of road repairs in its first three years.

“I think this council spent more on roads than the last four councils combined,” he said, noting Texas Road and Meloche Road have been upgraded.

Lavigne wanted to know “what will keep politics out of this” when choosing where and when projects get done. Edmunds said all roads have been classified based on a pavement condition index (PCI) and that shows what roads are in the worst condition.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale also stated that more roads have been repaired this term whereas “in the past, we didn’t do so much.

“Everyone has seen the number of roads that have been fixed in the last little while,” said DiPasquale.

The last complete roads needs study was done by Dillon Consulting in 2003 with a condition assessment update done in 2013.

Town to draft budget with maximum of two per cent increase

 

By Ron Giofu

The town of Amherstburg is going ahead with its 2018 draft budget, with that budget to contain up to a two per cent tax increase.

Council authorized administration to move forward with that plan, with the budget to be tabled Nov. 6. Bill 148, the “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act” that will, in part, increase minimum wage and allow for equal pay for part-time and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time staff will also impact next year’s budget.

“Although 2016 saw surpluses, administration is requesting council to consider a tax increase. The surpluses of 2016 can be explained by circumstances we do not believe will exist in 2018 as well as the continuing infrastructure needs of the municipality. The recommendation for presentation of up to a two per cent increase to the mill rate is reasonable when considering the consumer price index in Ontario trend, which for the first eight months of 2017 is at 1.2 per cent,” stated director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau, in his report to town council. “The forecasted growth on the roll return from MPAC from 2017-2018 is forecasting out a 2.4 per cent increase to the town’s assessment base. This coupled with a two per cent increase to the mill rate will provide additional revenue to the town of 4.4 per cent or approximately $880,000. It should be noted the new asset management plan requires an additional $300,000 to be spent on capital, in order to narrow the infrastructure funding gap that currently exists. This request is part of the council approved 20-year financial strategy to replace and repair the town’s infrastructure.”

Councillor Leo Meloche said the two per cent recommendation was higher than the rate of inflation, and the town had a “nice increase” last year when factoring in property values increasing as well.

“I think it would be prudent to stay with the inflation costs,” said Meloche, who advocated for a 1.5 per cent target.

CAO John Miceli said two per cent is a “target that allows administration to weed through the management issues” and is a “general guideline for the treasurer and myself.” It “establishes the ceiling, and not the floor,” he added.

“Council can always reduce that,” said Miceli.

Rousseau said Bill 148, if passed as it currently stands, would impact the town to the tune of $1.6 million. He predicted it will be a challenging budget due to that piece of provincial legislation.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she wants to keep the budget low, but acknowledged there are bridges, culverts and water plant infrastructure that needs to be addressed.

Under the current timetable, a public information session would occur Nov. 18 and council will deliberate the 2018 budget Nov. 28-30. If all goes according to plan, the budget could be approved Dec. 11.

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.