Rick Fryer

Town to donate $100,000 of $738,000 surplus to Cypher Systems Greenway

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town finished 2016 with a surplus of $738,000 and $100,000 of that will be donated to the Cypher Systems Greenway.

Town council heard from Susan Stockwell Andrews, president of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF), who told the elected officials that the ERCF is the one who raises the money for the greenways, such as the Cypher Systems Greenway and the Chrysler Canada Greenway. While the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) operates them, no money comes from the ERCA levy to develop them, said Stockwell Andrews, and that the foundation pays acquisition and development costs.

Stockwell Andrews said they ran into unexpected costs in Amherstburg with that including drainage. Councillor Leo Meloche voiced concerns with people parking on the shoulders of roads near entrances to the Cypher Systems Greenway with ERCA general manager Richard Wyma indicating that the plan is to develop community entrances – which include parking areas – much like there are along the Chrysler Canada Greenway.

Cypher Systems GreenwayWEB

Councillor Rick Fryer, who is also chair of the ERCA board of directors, made the motion to give the donation and said this region is “a place for life” and healthy living. The surplus, he noted, was administration showing its due diligence.

Many are already enjoying the Cypher Systems Greenway, Fryer added, noting the official grand opening doesn’t take place until Thursday morning.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the $783,000 surplus is “big news” and that “we spread it around.” In addition to the donation to the greenway, $15,000 went into an economic development reserve while $20,000 went into a Gordon House working capital reserve. The Libro Centre reserve will receive $100,000 while $292,291 goes into a police reserve. Debt reduction to the Texas Road project covers the rest, amounting to $255,711.

DiCarlo pointed out the importance of reserves and that the surplus “translates very well for Amherstburg’s financial situation.” The town’s financial standing has improved and he is confident of the town’s direction, but noted there is still outstanding debt that is currently locked in.

Council approves 14-day extension for Rotary Ribfest signs

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Rotary Club’s Ribfest will get 28 days to display signs after all.

After originally being turned down a month ago, town council did an about face and voted 5-1 to allow a 14-day extension for Ribfest signs. Instead of the ten signs the Rotary Club has for Ribfest going up for 14 days, they will now go up for 28 days.

A delegation request from economic development advisory committee chair Bob Rozankovic was refused, with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo citing information learned at an in-camera training session about already having dealt with the matter as the reason. However, council waived rules of order and Councillor Leo Meloche made the motion to allow the extension.

Meloche said the Rotary Club has been “very good to the community” and that they bring value to the community. He said council regularly grants variances and similar requests and believed there was a “humanitarian aspect” that had to be considered in the Ribfest’s case.

Councillor Rick Fryer wanted administration to study what other municipalities do and how long they allow similar signage. He said there was “no slight to Rotary” but if every group were to have the bylaw waived, there was no point to having a bylaw.

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.

“We do have obligations we do need to adhere to,” said Fryer.

Fryer said he ultimately voted in favour of the request due to timing issues, as there wouldn’t be enough time this year for administration to bring back the information he requested and allow the Ribfest committee to proceed with their plans.

Fryer added he was in favour of seeing what other municipalities do and being consistent. He did like the fact there were ten locations with the signs professionally done, adding it will be aesthetically pleasing for people like Communities in Bloom judges.

DiCarlo believes the signage issue will keep coming up, noting there will be a balancing act between promoting events and keeping the community “clean and uncluttered.” He said the Ribfest request was for a specific type of signage and that the town knows where and how many signs will be erected.

“We’re obviously pleased with the outcome,” added Amherstburg Rotary Club president Laura George. We appreciate council taking the time to hear our concerns again.”

Having the support of the economic development advisory committee helped keep the issue in the forefront, she added, and said “it’s with their support we feel we’re successful.”

George also said the backing of Meloche “has been extremely powerful and greatly appreciated.

“We hope our efforts have opened council’s eyes and they will look into this bylaw further,” George added. “As for us, we’ll be focusing our efforts and attention on this year’s Ribfest July 7, 8 and 9.”

Sidewalk snow removal gets passing grade from council members

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

The initial year of the town’s sidewalk snow removal program has received positive feedback from council members.

Councillor Rick Fryer, the liaison to the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee, believe the program went well since it was initiated with the committee also being “very, very supportive” of the initiative.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo agreed, saying he also heard “very little negative feedback” on the sidewalk snow removal program. He noted it is a positive program for seniors and those with disabilities.

“It’s a welcome service,” added Councillor Leo Meloche.

(Photo taken from Town of Amherstburg advertisement)

(Photo taken from Town of Amherstburg advertisement)

However, it was noted that in some areas of Amherstburg, there was damage to some lawns as the snow removal machine chewed up strips of grass and dirt on residents’ properties.

CAO John Miceli pointed out the sidewalk snow removal project was a pilot project and said they will find ways to try and make it better. He urged the public to bear with the town and allow for further enhancements to be made.

The town agreed to institute the pilot project in January. In all, Amherstburg has 58 kilometers of public sidewalks with the goal being to allow the town to be in a better position to defend itself in case of liability.

The town had previously been clearing sidewalks along Front Road North while others areas were done on a complaint basis.

Boblo dock continues to cause concern for council members

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The condition of the former Boblo Island dock on Front Road South continues to be of concern to members of town council.

Councillor Diane Pouget brought forth concerns from residents in the area, noting the decaying dock was of particular issue during recent wind storms.

“During the last wind storm, they couldn’t believe the roof didn’t come off,” said Pouget.

Pouget, also a member of the town’s parks committee, said the dock is of interest to that group as well. She said both residents were willing to come before town council with their concerns if that would be of any assistance to getting the problem resolved and that the parks committee is willing to help as well.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council. The town will reach out to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to explain the issues the town has with the dock.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council. The town will reach out to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to explain the issues the town has with the dock.

CAO John Miceli said he received an e-mail from the Department of Oceans and Fisheries prior to the April 10 council meeting but did not have time to read it prior to the meeting that night. He said he would read what was stated and report back to town council.

A meeting is needed on the subject, believed Councillor Rick Fryer, and suggested the Ministry of Natural Resources be involved as well. He said material and debris is going upstream.

“It’s circling back in the bay there and landing on people’s properties,” he said.

Fryer, also the chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), said that agency is looking to construct a “viewpoint” and also said it could make a good fishing pier for Amherstburg residents. He wondered if council would be interested in working towards such a project.

Miceli said the dock is failing due to neglect by the federal government and questioned whether using town money was a solution. He suggested consulting further with the federal government to see what they will do to repair the former Boblo dock.

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.

Town hall signWEB

“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.