Rick Fryer

Building developers looking for relief from town’s development charges

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Developers of an affordable housing project proposed for Pickering Dr. are hopeful the town will give them some relief from development charges.

Steve Newman represented the group aiming to build an affordable housing apartment building at 182 Pickering Dr., a building that will be known as South Pointe Apartments. It would be a 32-unit apartment building for seniors and Newman said the roughly $170,000 in relief from the town would help offset $300,000 in upgrades to the proposed building to make it more energy efficient.

Other municipalities assist in relieving or offsetting development charges and if Amherstburg were to do so, Newman believed it would send a “clear message” that the town is embracing affordable housing.

Newman stated that according to the central housing registry in Windsor, there are 3,504 people on the waiting list for affordable housing in the region with 520 – or 15 per cent – being in Amherstburg. Town council has asked administration to come back with a report on the subject including a development agreement incorporating the request.

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“We’re about to start construction. We’re in the design phase,” said Newman. “We hope to be open for business in a year.”
The proposed energy efficient additions are over and above the Ontario Building Code requirements, he said, as he and his partners are looking to provide a high quality of life for residents.

CAO John Miceli called Newman’s request “commendable,” noting that electricity is a key concern of many, including seniors

“They want to demonstrate to council they are going to offer further savings for the community if we help them offset the costs,” said Miceli.

Miceli called the 520 people in Amherstburg on the affordable housing list “staggering.”

Some councillors questioned how they would satisfy the request, with Councillor Leo Meloche suggesting a letter of credit for the value of the development charges. The letter of credit would be held until all conditions are satisfied, he offered, calling it a “safeguard” for taxpayers. Councillor Rick Fryer said there has to be a development agreement, with Newman replying the proponents would be prepared to give the town whatever assurances they would need.

Newman said the original plan for the site was for an apartment complex but they were originally denied an affordable housing project during an RFP process. An effort to turn the site into a condominium development was shelved with another application made during another round of affordable housing submissions, with the latter application being accepted.

No relief for Rotary Club under town’s sign bylaw

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of the Amherstburg Rotary Club are disappointed after town council did not grant them any relief from the sign bylaw.

Three members, all of whom are also on the Rotary Ribfest committee, appeared before council asking that they be allowed to have mobile signs and signs on residential and commercial properties for a 28-day period prior to their eighth annual Ribfest, which is scheduled for July 7-9 this year. Ribfest committee chair Carl Gibb, Rotary president Laura George-Jurilj and Tony Ross appeared at Monday night’s meeting.

Currently, they can only put out signs 14 days in advance of their events and based on the lack of seconder for a motion by Councillor Leo Meloche asking for the 28-day period, those restrictions will stay in place. They are not allowed portable signs, with event signs only allowed on commercial properties.

“The Ribfest Committee is totally opposed to these regulations. They are too restrictive and they pose a problem in getting people to come to our event,” said Gibb.

Gibb said the Ribfest has not presented any problems and has brought thousands of people to Amherstburg.

“These signs that we put up are professionally made by a local business,” said Gibb. “Fourteen days is not long enough to properly advertise an event. It is a known fact that you have to pass a road sign three times to know what it actually says.”

The Rotary Club has spent “considerable money” in acquiring the signs “and now we cannot use them.” He said until last year, they have put up signs four weeks prior to the event and removed them the day after.

“Two years ago, we had 15,000 people. Last year, we had just over 10,000. Is this a result of your restrictions on our advertising? Quite likely, some of it,” said Gibb. “It is ironic that we can put up any of our signs in Harrow, Kingsville, Leamington, Cottam, Essex, Lakeshore, LaSalle and even Windsor. How many phone calls, how many complaints we’ve had? Zero.”

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Gibb said some businesses told him they make more money in sales during the Ribfest weekend than any other summer weekend. Banners over Sandwich St. S. may not be as effective, Gibb added, as some may not drive past it.

“Why do you want to restrict residents from showing their support for our event,” he asked, “with no signs on residential property?”

Signs are also placed strategically in high traffic areas.

“You allow roofing, siding and renovation companies from out of town to advertise for weeks but we can’t do it once a year,” said Gibb. “I don’t understand your concerns.”

The committee works year-round on the event and Gibb also pointed out the investment the Rotary Club has made in Amherstburg including the Miracle League field. He said they are also planning on supplying carbon monoxide detectors to homes at little to no cost this spring to low income families

“We are presently contemplating another new project that the town desperately needs. An announcement could come shortly,” he added.

Meloche questioned only allowing two weeks for the Rotary Club to put out signs and believed they are restricting their cause. He believed it is not up to government to put such restrictions in place and the signs are “a cost effective way of advertising.”

Meloche even quoted Supreme Court of Canada cases in similar matters.

“As far as I’m concerned, we are, in effect, being restrictive,” said Meloche.

“I am totally opposed to this request,” said Councillor Diane Pouget, adding she did support the Rotary Club in general.

Pouget said they went through a sign bylaw updating process for two years, and said they would be going backwards if they started allowing amendments to it.

“I believe in keeping it the way it is,” said Pouget.

The Communities in Bloom judges that came to Amherstburg last year also commented on the “sign pollution” matter when they were here, she said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said it is “a very difficult area of the law” and that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an ever evolving area of the law.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said there were two years of discussion and public consultation on the sign bylaw and then suddenly after it passed, “all these concerns are coming up.” Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli said the bylaw passed last year dealt with off-site portable signs and the bylaw that was being enforced in the Rotary Club’s case has been on the books since 2006.

“We do help,” Councillor Rick Fryer told the Rotary members. “We are trying to help festivals as much as we can.”

George-Jurilj said they “are very disappointed by council’s decision in not working with us. The fact that this law has been in place since 2006 and never enforced until 2016 goes to show it has not been a real cause for concern for many of the residents in Amherstburg.”

She added the committee spends thousands of dollars on advertising for Ribfest in Amherstburg each year.

“We pay for billboards from Windsor to Chatham, radio, TV and newspaper ads, and lawn signs that we place in all our neighbouring communities. To spend this amount of time, energy and money bringing people and venue into the town of Amherstburg is something we are happy to do. We love this town and its people,” she continued. “But when I am told I can’t put a sign on my own front lawn supporting an event and organization that has done so very much for this town, I must say its extremely frustrating to say the least.”

George-Jurilj added: “This situation coupled with a few other factors has really made us re-evaluate our event. This may be ‘a sign of the times’ for us and our future here in Amherstburg.”

 

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.

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.

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.