Leo Meloche

Town releases treasurer’s report detailing council and committee remuneration



By Ron Giofu


The town has released its treasurer’s report detailing council’s remuneration for 2016.

The report shows that Mayor Aldo DiCarlo earned total remuneration from the town of $29,564.14. That figure is a combination of his $26,872.68 salary as mayor, his communication allowance of $1,374.54, his per diem of $103.98, $500 for public receptions and $712.94 for travel and mileage.

DiCarlo also $7,665 for being a member of the Essex Power board of directors including a $4,000, $3,500 for meeting fees and $165 for travel and mileage. He also received a $1,200 honorarium for being on the Amherstburg Police Services Board.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale earned $19,971.62 from the town including his salary of $18,413.40. DiPasquale’s communication allowance as $1,339 while his public receptions remuneration was $45. A total of $174.22 was listed as DiPasquale’s travel and mileage expenses.

Councillor Leo Meloche had a total remuneration figure of $20,194.29. In addition to the $15,936.12 salary he earned as a councillor, other expenses and remuneration included $1,223.33 for his communication allowance, $830.81 for his per diem, $342.86 for public receptions, $1000.18 for training and conferences and $860.99 for travel and mileage.

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Councillor Joan Courtney’s total remuneration for 2016 was $19,015.16. Courtney’s communication allowance was $1,350.16 for 2016 while her per diem was $727.22. Training and conferences amounted to $890.40 for Courtney while her travel and mileage was $111.26. That remuneration was on top of her $15,936.12 salary.

Councillor Rick Fryer’s overall remuneration total was just slightly less than Courtney’s, coming in at $19,012.66. In addition to Fryer’s $15,936.12 salary, his communication allowance was $1,232.47 and his per diem was $830.81. Fryer’s training and conferences expenses were $843.64 while his travel and mileage remuneration amounted to $169.62. Fryer also received $650 on top of his remuneration from the town for being on the ERCA board of directors.

The total remuneration from the town for 2016 for Councillor Jason Lavigne was $18,957.07. The breakdown of that number included the $15,936.12 salary, his $1,393.83 communication allowance, $727.22 for his per diem and a travel and mileage expense of $111.26.

Lavigne also earned a $1,200 honorarium for being on the Amherstburg Police Services Board.

Councillor Diane Pouget’s remuneration for last year was $17,404. Her $15,936.12 salary was combined with a communication allowance of $1,268.06, a per diem of $103.59 and a training and conference total of $96.67.

Other Amherstburg Police Service Board members receiving a $1,200 honorarium were Pauline Gemmell, Bob Rozankovic and Patricia Simone.

A total of $4,350 in honorariums was paid to committee of adjustment members. Donald Shaw received an honorarium of $975 while Sherry Ducedre received $900. David Cozens, Michael Prue and Duncan Smith each received an honorarium of $825.

Accessibility committee honorariums included $100 for Kenneth Houston and $300 for William Whittal.

Ron Sutherland received $1,078 for being on the ERCA board and was also one of five drainage board members paid either for an honorarium or for a drainage course. The drainage board’s total amount for remuneration was $4,557.66 with other members including Gary Ayers, Robert Bezaire, Allan Major and Bob Pillon.

A total of $2,148 was paid to heritage committee members for their attendance at the Ontario Heritage Conference. Robert Honor received $1,073.52 while Paul Hertel received $1,074.64. Remuneration for economic advisory committee member John McDonald was $1,094.99 as he had attended the Think Smarter economic development forum.

Mayor said town seeks quicker timetable than proposed fiber optic plan



By Ron Giofu


Connecting Windsor-Essex’s SWIFT initiative isn’t swift enough for the town of Amherstburg.

Dan Circelli, representing Connecting Windsor-Essex, said SWIFT stands for Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology and received $190 million in July 2016 to help improve high speed internet in the region. An RFP process soon gets underway with the build across the southwestern Ontario region to start in 2018. Ultimately, every home and business would be connected in about 20 years to an open access internet network where there would be competition under multiple providers.

Circelli indicated there are limited providers now, which negatively impacts prices for consumers.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo questioned the timetable, with Circelli saying that municipal projects could be funded up to 70 per cent if they build a fiber optic internet through the SWIFT initiative.

“That doesn’t stop you from saying ‘we want to get ahead quicker,’” said Circelli. “I will help you move SWIFT more swiftly.

DiCarlo said following the meeting that he recalls seeing fiber optic internet tested in the 1990’s.

“This is not new technology,” he said.

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DiCarlo added he understands the concerns of residents battling with internet problems.

“I’m just as frustrated as they are,” he said.

Amherstburg is “playing catch-up” with regards to getting such internet technology, but said they are not alone in Ontario or within Canada.

“Administration is trying to find a partner to bring Amherstburg into the 21st Century, for lack of a better term,” said DiCarlo.

The town may not be able to do it alone and may need the help of a third party, but the town is looking for a solution sooner rather than later, the mayor indicated.

“As soon as we have anything, (the residents) will be the second to know right after council,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo added “there’s fiber optic everywhere” but getting the internet and television conglomerates that own it to let the town use it has been difficult.

“We’ll be continuing to work for an Amherstburg solution as well as a provincial and national solution,” DiCarlo indicated.

Councillor Leo Meloche also voiced concern about the timeline.

“I have a big concern when you say 20 years,” he told Circelli. “With the speed of technology, 20 years is like 1,000 years. I think SWIFT’s mandate is to take 20 years and make it five years.”

Fifteen-minute parking spots on Richmond St. causes stir at council



By Ron Giofu


Town council has agreed to have two 15-minute parking spots on the north side of Richmond St. east of Sandwich St. S. after debate with numerous building and business owners.

Responding to a traffic committee recommendation for four 15-minute spots along the side of the Liberty Theatre building, business operators voiced objections to town council. Tony and Danielle Smith, owners of The Garage Gym, said they draw upwards of 120 people per day to their gym with some coming from across Windsor-Essex County.

“Every day, we rely on the parking,” he said.

Tony added that they were “appalled” by how the recommendation came about and that no one knew how it happened.

Ena Monteleone, owner/operator of Love it Yoga, said she has access to ten spots in an adjoining parking lot but when her studio holds larger events and programs, on-street parking is necessary.

“It is unnecessary to reduce the parking time to 15 minutes,” said Monteleone.

Monteleone further suggested that only one 15-minute spot was needed. She also said she wasn’t notified of a potential change beforehand.

Anthony Leardi, whose numbered company owns the building with The Garage Gym, Dan’s Roofing and an additional studio for the Catz Meow Dance Education Centre, reminded council of what he said they already knew.

“The town of Amherstburg doesn’t want vacant commercial property. The town of Amherstburg wants full commercial properties,” said Leardi.

Leardi said he took pictures from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 4, noting he chose a Saturday as it is the busiest shopping day of the week and the peak times of the week. Photos he showed council had very few, if any, vehicles in the spots.

“In short, no-one wants 15-minute parking,” he said.

One spot for 15-minute parking would be suitable between 10 a.m.-6 p.m., he suggested.

Town council reduced a recommendation from the traffic committee from four 15-spots on Richmond St. to two in the area just east of Sandwich St. S.

Town council reduced a recommendation from the traffic committee from four 15-spots on Richmond St. to two in the area just east of Sandwich St. S.

Gerry Theriault, owner of the Liberty Theatre property, said he has five commercial tenants and seven residential tenants. When he operated a business there and Wigle Home Hardware was across the street, there were no parking issues.

“People come, people go. That’s what retail is about,” he said.

Theriault said usage has changed and the town should better plan for that.

“What we are talking about is a little common sense,” said Theriault.

Theriault said people want to park close and noted people carrying water jugs or dry cleaning don’t want to walk a great distance, particularly in foul weather.

Councillor Jason Lavigne, chair of the traffic committee, said they deal with “hundreds of parking issues” and that if they notified everyone each time a parking issue arose, “we’d literally need a whole department” to do mailings and meet with residents.

“We weren’t trying to skirt you coming to meetings,” he said.

Lavigne, who made the motion to reduce the number of 15-minute spots from four to two, said they have police, fire, legal and public works officials on the committee. He said there are nearly 100 spots in that general area of town and “when we are discussing four, that concerns me a little bit.”

Councillor Leo Meloche recalled living in Montreal and Quebec City when he was happy to get a parking spot five blocks from his destination.

“Amherstburg doesn’t have a parking problem,” said Meloche. “People want to park in front of the door. This town provides a lot of parking and it’s free parking.”

Town council to pursue $1 million grant for Belle Vue restoration



By Ron Giofu


Town council voted to pursue up to $1 million in federal funding for the restoration of Belle Vue.

Council voted 3-2 to pursue funding under the National Cost-Sharing Program with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Councillor Joan Courtney voting in favour. Councillors Rick Fryer and Leo Meloche were opposed with councillors Jason Lavigne and Diane Pouget having declared conflict of interest.

The grant would provide matching funds with $1 million having to be raised locally in order to procure the grant. Meloche had concerns with that portion of the request and was also concerned about the condition that work had to be completed by March 31, 2018.

CAO John Miceli said he was confident the Belle Vue Conservancy would raise the $1 million necessary. He pointed out the heritage aspects of the building involve the exterior and that no interior work was involved at the present time. He added the first project is to protect the building structure.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has a new logo, designed and donated by local artist Elio Del Col.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has a new logo, designed and donated by local artist Elio Del Col.

“In the grant application, administration has taken a conservative approach in moving the grant application forward for submission. In an effort to capitalize on the program and the available funding and in light of the fact that public consultation on the programming of Belle Vue has not been completed, administration has not included the interior renovations as part of the grant submission,” the report from director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau and manager of tourism Anne Rota stated. “This was done in an effort to allow for public consultation to occur with the programming space. Administration believes that there is an element of risk associated with the interior renovation as modifications may be required to the interior space once the community has been consulted and that maybe outside the scope of the $2,514,814 estimate provided by Architecturra.”

Meloche added that no tax dollars were to be used on the project and was concerned that the taxpayers could be placed at risk.

Miceli said council had the authority to hold off on applying for the grant but he again voiced confidence in the ability to raise the necessary funds.

“We strongly feel we can meet the criteria of the grant and the eligibility requirements,” he said. “My position was we have a grant on the table and we have a group of committed citizens that will raise the money.”

Courtney said she didn’t see any reason not to pursue the grant funding.

“It’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned,” said Courtney.

Fryer said he was not comfortable with “fronting” the group any money and stated such methods were used in the past without achieving positive results in the end. He believed if the town were to do that, it would leave “a bad taste” in people’s mouths.

Fryer also complained he didn’t receive the report until 2:30 p.m. and suggested that the matter be deferred. DiCarlo replied that the report was posted the previous Friday.

Shirley Curson-Prue, president of the Belle Vue Conservancy, told town council the terms of the group’s partnership with the town includes the town seeking out and making grant applications for funding from all levels of government.

Curson-Prue said the group’s fundraising strategy is to raise $1 million with the expectation being that it would take “about a year.”

“If we are successful, and if you approve of making the Parks Canada application and if the application is approved, we have the potential to raise $2 million to secure the building, which is the phase one target.”

The Belle Vue Conservancy has also launched online fundraising, she added. Corporations and businesses have been contacted with follow-up meetings planned to gain donations for the 2017 tax year.

Curson-Prue told town council the group has raised $36,000 with in-kind contributions totaling an additional $20,000. She added those figures do not include any work on the building that may be completed pro-bono.

Future fundraising activities include a video with DiCarlo, an e-mail campaign, a mail-out with tax bills and the art fundraiser in which Peter Rindlisbacher will creating a painting of the historic mansion.

The Belle Vue Conservancy can be found online at www.bellevueconservancy.com.

Town council agrees to hire consultant to guide police costing process



By Ron Giofu


Town council has agreed to hire MPM Consulting to help guide the joint police advisory committee through the police costing and/or police amalgamation process.

Council voted 5-2 – with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Jason Lavigne, Joan Courtney and Leo Meloche in favour – to proceed with the hire.

Councillors Diane Pouget and Rick Fryer were opposed. Pouget said the cost of the hiring was being “kept secret” from the public and also voiced concern that Amherstburg Police Services Board and Amherstburg Police Association members on the committee were issuing “dire warnings” about the process and future public involvement in policing.

Lavigne, also the chair of the Amherstburg Police Services Board, explained that they are investigating amalgamations with such services as LaSalle and Windsor because a costing and takeover by another service like those two or the OPP would result in a loss of control by Amherstburg in the direction of its policing.

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Suggesting that people are trying to keep their seats on the board was a notion he didn’t agree with, noting he receives about $1,000 per year for his service on the APSB.

The town has to get an idea of what different policing models look like and MPM Consulting has the expertise to gather that information, Lavigne continued, adding he would rather go to the public later with a better understanding of what the future of policing would look like.

“We can’t put the cart before the horse,” he said. “We don’t know what it looks like.”

CAO John Miceli, who chairs the joint police advisory committee, said an amalgamation allows Amherstburg to talk about what policing they would like to see while accepting a costing and being taken over would see Amherstburg being told what kind of policing they would get.

“There’s a significant difference here,” said Miceli.

Miceli originally told council the consultant’s rates were in a private and confidential memo, but later stated that an average OPP costing is $35,000 to $50,000. He added the price for this consultation would likely be different due to the addition of the consultant considering the LaSalle and Windsor options.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale believed that the town will “only get one kick at the can” at this process and said while going through it without a consultant may save money, mistakes would be made.

“I think going in without a consultant who has expertise is silly,” he said.

Councillor Joan Courtney said she didn’t feel confident in making a decision on a costing or amalgamation without help and that the consultant would provide that help.

“There’s too much information we don’t have,” said Courtney.

It was also learned that the town can expect an OPP costing within the next five months.