Paula Parker

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.”

Town to stick with traditional method of voting for the 2018 municipal election

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Residents can expect to go back to the polls next year for the municipal election rather than mailing it in, phoning it in or going online.

The town of Amherstburg has chosen to stick with the traditional method of voting for next year’s election, scheduled to be held October 22, 2018.

Town council passed a motion to use the traditional method of voting for next year’s election, but rejected an administrative recommendation to allow Internet voting for advance polls.

A report from municipal clerk/returning officer Paula Parker listed advantages being that electors are familiar and comfortable with the traditional method; privacy is ensured during the casting of votes; accuracy in the counting of ballots; election results are prompt, timely and accurate; the ballot is tabulated immediately, notifying the voters of any errors on the ballot, reducing the possibility of rejected ballots; there is a paper trail should a recount be necessary; the municipality maintains care custody and control of the election process including but not restricted to the safeguarding of ballots and the counting thereof and candidates are able to campaign up to the close of polls on election day.

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Disadvantages listed to the traditional method were that it limits the flexibility of the voter as they cannot vote anytime and are provided parameters, there may be difficulty in finding accessible voting locations in that previously used voting locations present barriers which negatively affect the ability of electors to access the facility; the weather may have a negative effect on voter turnout; the town may be deemed by some as “old school and non-progressive” and it is more labour intensive and thus increases workload and staffing.

“No one method has proven to be superior to another with respect to voter turnout. Those wishing to vote will do so despite the method chosen. Those that do not wish to vote will not, no matter the issues or the candidates running for office,” Parker stated in her report. “The method of voting will have no effect on those individuals who choose not to vote. It is up to the council of the municipality to choose the method which in its opinion best suits the needs of the electors.”

Parker added: “The statistical data for Amherstburg however, shows that in the 2010 election, Amherstburg used vote by mail as its alternative voting method and received a 67 per cent voter turnout using this method. In the 2014 election, Amherstburg used the traditional method of voting with optical scanning tabulators and received a 47 per cent voter turnout.”

Parker pointed out that the vote by mail method used in 2010 saw “numerous complaints” from both the public and the candidates over the validity of some of the ballots cast, delays in reporting the results and value for dollars spent on the election.

While Amherstburg will use traditional polls with electronic tabulators in 2018, Essex, Windsor and Chatham-Kent also propose similar methods. Kingsville, Lakeshore, LaSalle, Leamington and Tecumseh propose Internet and telephone voting.

“The 2014 municipal election was run as traditional method with optical scan vote

tabulators. In 2014, the cost to run the election was $93,902.80. In preparation of the upcoming 2018 election, the approved 2017, 2016 and 2015 budgets currently incorporate additional funding to adequately manage the considerations identified by the 2014 election,” Parker’s report states. “The election reserve will have $120,000 set aside for the 2018 election to cover cost by election time, should the current budgeting process be followed in 2018. To add internet voting as an additional option for electors in the 2018 election, additional funds of $112,500 will be required in the election reserve budget for 2018.”

As the RTT reported in February, there will be a reduction of the nomination period for next year’s election. Candidates used to be able to file from the first business day in January to the second Friday of September, but new legislation sees the 2018 nomination period lasting from May 1-July 27, 2018. Another change is that candidates now have to be endorsed by 25 people before they can officially get on the ballot.

Parker said that now that the decision has been made on how the electorate will vote in 2018, planning will now commence for the election.

Traffic committee dissolved due to town’s employee policy

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has voted to dissolve one of its committees and bring back a bylaw with appointments to another.

The traffic committee is no more with administration bringing back a bylaw with appointments to the emergency management program committee. The town will also reconsider the appointment it made to the drainage committee made at the Dec. 12 meeting.

In a report to town council, clerk Paula Parker pointed out that administration learned that the person appointed to the drainage committee Dec. 12 – Josh Mailloux – is also a volunteer firefighter with the Amherstburg Fire Department.

“As such, Mr. Mailloux falls into the definition of a part time employee because he is paid and on call for his volunteer status with the Town and must follow Policy C00-00 Code of Conduct for Staff/Employees.”

Section 7.0 of that policy states that “no full-time or part-time permanent municipal employee shall be appointed to serve on a Municipal Board, Commission or Committee unless appointed as an Administrative Representative.”

Mailloux was on the committee of adjustment for seven years and has been a volunteer firefighter for eight years, Parker’s report states.

Councillor Diane Pouget said the appointment of Mailloux was done “in good faith” without knowing he was employed by the town as a volunteer firefighter.

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After learning of the clause in the policy relating to code of conduct for staff and employees, Parker stated “administration realized that there are two other committees with cause for concern.”

The traffic committee was identified as an issue as it has one council member, this term being Councillor Jason Lavigne, and five staff voting members. In its place, traffic and complaints will be filtered through one administrative member who will, in turn, consult with necessary departments and bring recommendations to council.

The emergency management program committee is mandated by the province under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The committee is to consist of employees appointed by council with each entitled to a vote. A bylaw will appoint the members of that committee with a similar procedure likely for the joint policing review committee.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the changes were due to the fact the town realized there was a problem and they wanted to take the necessary steps to correct the problem.

There were also additional members appointed to the economic development advisory committee. Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) president Carolyn Davies was appointed as the ACOC representative while council chose to expand the committee and appoint two more lay committee members. Councillor Rick Fryer put the names of Marta Leardi-Anderson and John Edwards forward, believing the experience of both on the committee will be “priceless.”

“I really look forward to them being on the committee,” said Fryer.

Pouget agreed with Fryer, believing an extra person on the economic development advisory committee would be a help rather than a hindrance.

Councillor Joan Courtney didn’t disagree with the choices made for the committee, but voiced concern on how the choices were arrived at. She said she would have liked more dialogue on the applicants before making a final selection.

“I disagree with the process of how we do this,” said Courtney.