Paula Parker

Fire chief enthused after meeting minister regarding nuclear program

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s fire chief and emergency management co-ordinator is pleased after leading a delegation to Queen’s Park last week to discuss Amherstburg’s nuclear plan.

Bruce Montone, deputy fire chief Lee Tome and town clerk Paula Parker travelled to Toronto last Wednesday evening to meet Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Marie-France Lalonde and Montone came away happy with the meeting.

“It was awesome,” Montone told the River Town Times last Friday. “She was attentive and kind. She challenged some of our issues and that gave us an opportunity to provide additional information, which she seemed to appreciate.”

Montone said he was encouraged by the meeting and the Amherstburg delegation was told that if they don’t hear anything from the province within three weeks, they can contact the minister’s office. He said the town wants to be on a level playing field as any other Ontario municipality that has a nuclear plant nearby.

“Our meeting focused on five specific areas,” said Montone. “The overarching message is that we want to be treat equitably.”

Funding was “at the top of the list” with discussions taking place on the types of assistance that could be available to the town. Montone added they spent “a great deal of time” discussing the roles and responsibilities the province and town will have under the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP).

“There’s quite a lot of changes in who is responsible for what,” he said.

There will also be work on a new “concept of operations” with the province and they  also will be working with the Ontario government on a revised Fermi II implementation plan. The latter has not been updated since 2009, said Montone.

The Town of Amherstburg’s nuclear plan was the subject of a recent meeting with Minister Marie-France Lalonde.

Amherstburg’s public alerting system was also spoken about as enhancements are required, the fire chief added, and public education was also raised during the meeting in Toronto. The Ontario government will also enter into a new agreement with Fermi II, Montone stated.

“The province is going to undertake a new agreement between the State of Michigan, DTE (the owners of Fermi II) and the province,” said Montone. “We talked about how we can collaborate and be involved in the process.”

The word “collaboration” was emphasized by Montone on how the relationship with the Ontario government will be going forward.

“I’m really happy,” Montone said of the meeting. “We covered a lot of ground.”

The meeting had been scheduled for 45-60 minutes but lasted over two hours, he added, and Lalonde was “extremely patient” and gained “a robust understanding of all the challenges” that Amherstburg faces.

“I’m very comfortable when I tell you that the province and her ministry are going to work closely in the near future to get us where we need to be,” Montone stated. “I’m very, very optimistic going forward.”

While there could be movement to resolve some of Amherstburg’s outstanding issues, Montone cautioned that fixing them completely will take time.

“We can’t fix this overnight,” he said. “It’s been this way since 1998.”

While Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and CAO John Miceli were unable to join them for the meeting, Montone said the group that did go to Queen’s Park had their full support. He added there was a debriefing of the meeting with Miceli last Thursday.

County, town making new arrangements regarding integrity commissioners

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The County of Essex is looking at obtaining a new integrity commissioner in light of requirements from the province’s Bill 68.

The bill mandates that municipalities shall have an integrity commissioner by March 1, 2019. Prior to that, according to a report from the county’s director of council services/clerk Mary Birch, integrity commissioners are optional.

“The County of Essex currently contracts the services of an integrity commissioner, however that contract expires in 2018. A joint RFP with some of the local municipalities has recently closed and submissions are being reviewed by a joint evaluation committee,” Birch stated in her report. “Administration will be providing a subsequent report recommending the appointment of an integrity commissioner and propose some amendments to the Council Code of Conduct.”

County council also resolved to continue to prohibit electronic meeting participation, pending further clarification of the definition of “participation” and improvements to technology available; to develop parental leave policy for members of county council and to approve proposed rules for temporary replacement members of county council.

This comes shortly after the Town of Amherstburg voted to continue its relationship with integrity commission Bruce Elman.

Elman, who first began doing work on Amherstburg’s behalf midway through last year, could become the town’s integrity commissioner should a cost sharing agreement be finalized with Windsor.

“All we really did was reappoint him and put in for cost sharing with the City of Windsor to make it more affordable,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “We agreed to renew him and see about cost sharing with the city.”

Clerk Paula Parker noted that the previous integrity commissioner was Robert Swayze but that contract was terminated early at the direction of council May 8, 2017.

“On June 12, 2017, administration was directed to seek the expertise of the city’s integrity commissioner to investigate two outstanding integrity complaints and any further complaints that may arise until a new integrity commissioner could be appointed,” said Parker.

“At the time, I believe the city was using Bruce Elman,” added DiCarlo. “We came across him, he’s got a good reputation, so we switched.”

Parker stated that “the new amendments to the Municipal Act and Municipal Conflict of Interest Act brought on by Bill 68, make the appointment of an integrity commissioner mandatory, whereby the municipality has to appoint its own or share the services of another. His/her scope of responsibilities will also increase upon being proclaimed into force on March 1, 2019. In light of these changes and the town’s recent dealings with Professor Bruce Elman, administration recommended that his services be shared between the town and the city.”

Town to offer civil marriage ceremonies starting in 2018

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town of Amherstburg will be offering couples the chance to tie the knot in civil marriages starting next year.

Town council officially approved a report recommending that the town be allowed to perform civil ceremonies. That means that, starting Jan. 1, people can get married by clerk Paula Parker, deputy clerk Tammy Fowkes or manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli.

The services would take place either in the council chambers or in Navy Yard Park, with the latter being contingent on availability and the couple securing it in a rental agreement.

The town has been issuing marriage licenses since 2011.

“Since that time, the Town of Amherstburg has issued approximately 110 marriage licenses per year based on a six year average from 2011-2016,” Rubli said in her report to town council. “Administration in the licensing and enforcement division has received numerous requests asking to have marriages solemnized by the municipality.”

Amherstburg will be the sixth municipality in the region to offer marriage services, joining Lakeshore, LaSalle, Leamington, Windsor and Kingsville.

“This is an opportunity for the Town to provide this additional service for residents and visitors where there is a known demand,” Rubli stated in her report.

The marriage services will be offered during regular office hours at town hall, with those being 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Rubli noted that Saturday services would be offered upon the availability of staff with a premium rate charged for a service outside of regular office hours.

The cost that was recommended for marriage services is $250 plus HST, which Rubli said “is consistent with what other municipalities charge.” An additional $100 would be charged for having the ceremony outside of regular office hours. An additional $117 would also have to be paid by the couple for the marriage license.

Should the parties involved wish to have an off-site ceremony, they would be responsible to pay for mileage at the Consumer Price Index rate, Rubli noted.

“A cost benefit analysis has been undertaken to examine the impact of such services and administration has concluded that such an endeavour will provide a positive return for the municipality,” Rubli stated in her report. “In addition, only non-union/management staff will conduct these ceremonies to reduce payroll cost.”

Rubli added that “based on data collected from the surrounding municipalities that currently offer civil marriage services, the Town anticipates that there will be approximately 25 marriage services per year requested.”

Based on the town’s estimates, an additional $6,250 in revenue could be collected for ceremonies conducted during regular business hours.

Two staff members will be trained at a cost of $1,110 with two others expected to receive training in 2018.

“Administration will work within its budget to prioritize training dollars in 2018 to ensure these cost are within the current budget envelope,” Rubli stated.

Flooding victims still being asked to report matter to public works

 

(NOTE: This story is an updated version to the one that was posted online last Thursday.)

By RTT Staff

 

Those in Amherstburg who sustained damage thanks to heavy rain Monday night are being encouraged to call the Amherstburg Public Works Department to report it.

Clerk Paula Parker noted as of Thursday afternoon that no insurance claims had been filed to that point with the municipality but people were being asked to report damage to public works. Director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu said her department has had 19 calls as of approximately 2 p.m. Thursday.

“We’ve had some flooding in the McGregor area,” she said.

The calls have been mainly due to basement flooding though some calls late Monday evening were due to roadways flooding in the Canard Valley Estates subdivision and Middle Side Road (County Road 10), she stated.

All systems and pumps were functioning properly, said Giofu, but “it was just a massive amount of rain.”

By calling it in to public works, it helps the department document the issue and track what exactly happened. She said representatives from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will be in the region Tuesday and that reports of damage would be shared in case relief could be provided.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo posted on his Facebook page that residents are encouraged to call public works.

“If you experienced any flooding from the past heavy rainfall, please contact Public Works at 519-736-3664 to report your damage,” the mayor stated. “I have been notified by the Minister of Municipal Affairs that they should have representatives in the region next week to assess the situation and coordinate possible relief. The Town would like to submit all related information so please let us know. Thank you.”

Damaged goods sit in front of a McGregor home after the storm that hit the area Aug. 28.

DiCarlo told the RTT Tuesday morning that he was told the amount of flooding calls had grown to 33. He said the ministry was coming to the region to get an extent of damage and not to investigate individual homes, so people are still encouraged to call in flooding damage from the storm to the town even if Ministry officials are gone.

“It won’t hurt for us to know who is flooded,” he said. “The more information we have, the better it is for the town.”

The town is awaiting to see how the relief flows from the province, but DiCarlo said any compensation to residents will come from the province.

“Other than being the in-between, the town does not offer any relief as far as flooding goes in the way of compensation,” he said, saying Amherstburg will turn over all information it has to the province.

Amherstburg is looking at a cost sharing program with residents on such things as back water valves and other similar equipment and the mayor said that will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

 

(THURSDAY UPDATE: The Ontario government has notified the City of Windsor and the Towns of Amherstburg, Essex, Lakeshore, LaSalle and Tecumseh in Essex County that it has activated the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program in flood-affected areas.

The province advised during the late afternoon Sept. 7 that affected individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations that have experienced property damage or loss as a result of this disaster may be eligible to receive help with emergency and recovery expenses.

The program applies to a primary residence and its basic contents, or to a main small business, farm or not-for-profit organization. Damage from sewer backup is not eligible under the program except under special provisions for low-income households.

The government states it “is closely monitoring other areas experiencing flooding across the province. It may activate the program in these areas as flood impacts continue to be assessed in the coming days and weeks.”

More information and detailed program guidelines are available at http://ontario.ca/DisasterAssistance or call toll-free 1-844-780-8925.)

Flooding victims encouraged to report it to public works

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

Those in Amherstburg who sustained damage thanks to heavy rain Monday night are being encouraged to call the Amherstburg Public Works Department to report it.

Clerk Paula Parker noted as of Thursday afternoon that no insurance claims had been filed with the municipality to that point but people were being asked to report damage to public works. Director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu said her department has had 19 calls as of approximately 2 p.m. Thursday.

“We’ve had some flooding in the McGregor area,” she said.

Flooding

The calls have been mainly due to basement flooding though some calls late Monday evening were due to roadways flooding in the Canard Valley Estates subdivision and Middle Side Road (County Road 10), she stated.

All systems and pumps were functioning properly, said Giofu, but “it was just a massive amount of rain.”

By calling it in to public works, it helps the department document the issue and track what exactly happened. She said representatives from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will be in the region Tuesday and that reports of damage would be shared in case relief could be provided.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo posted on his Facebook page that residents are encouraged to call public works.

“If you experienced any flooding from the past heavy rainfall, please contact Public Works at 519-736-3664 to report your damage,” the mayor stated. “I have been notified by the Minister of Municipal Affairs that they should have representatives in the region next week to assess the situation and coordinate possible relief. The Town would like to submit all related information so please let us know. Thank you.”