Rick Fryer

Council keeping policing meeting at town hall

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Despite talk that the policing decision would be made at another, larger venue, town council has ultimately decided to keep the meeting at town hall.

The town will vote on whether to keep the existing Amherstburg Police Service or contract out policing to the Windsor Police Service Monday night but the decision will be made in the council chambers. While the idea had been floated to move the meeting to a larger venue, town hall was decided by council members to be the place to hold the meeting.

Councillor Leo Meloche raised the issue at the Feb. 12 council meeting as to whether the town was considering an alternate location. CAO John Miceli said administration was not looking for another location and that it would be up to town council to make that decision.

Meloche made a motion to have the meeting moved but Councillor Rick Fryer stated that while he understood the concern, he believed town hall would still be the best location.

“This is where decisions are made,” Fryer said of the council chambers.

Fryer added that he believed the meeting would be “much easier” to control if it were held at town hall rather than moving the meeting elsewhere.

“At the Libro Centre, it would be very hard to (control the meeting),” stated Fryer.

Meloche withdrew his motion and the town decided to keep the Feb. 26 meeting at town hall. The meeting is scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m.

Town receives funding to add more bike lanes

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg is hoping to add one, or perhaps two, new bike lanes thanks to funding it has secured from the province.

Amherstburg has secured $97,259.51 from the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling (OMCC) program and town council has authorized administration to enter into a transfer payment agreement with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to obtain the funding.

Both projects identified qualified for OMCC funding, manager of engineering Todd Hewitt stated in his report to town council, with those projects being the installation of paved shoulders on Alma St. from Meloche Road to Fryer St. and the installation of a second bike lane along County Road 20 from Dalhousie St. to Front Road South (Amherst Pointe).

“There is currently no budget dollars assigned to either of the eligible projects and one or both of the projects will be included in the future budgets for council consideration,” Hewitt said in his report to council. “The project(s) must be completed by December 30, 2020 to utilize the OMCC funding.”

Hewitt said the Alma St. project carries an initial estimate of $487,500 with 40 per cent of that project eligible for CWATS funding from the County of Essex.

A paved shoulder/bike lane on the other side of County Road 20 – that stretch has a bike lane on the east side of the road – has an initial estimated cost of $500,000, said Hewitt. That project would also be eligible for 40 per cent funding through CWATS.

Unless the CWATS committee expands the number of identified projects they wish to pursue, this would be it for Amherstburg’s share of projects.

“Once these two programs are done, from a CWATS perspective, we’re done,” advised Hewitt.

Councillor Leo Meloche said more needs to be done in the McGregor area, believing there is a need for more paved shoulders and trails to allow McGregor residents better walking access to parks. Councillor Rick Fryer agreed, saying there are areas of McGregor that need to be connected to ERCA’s Cypher Systems Greenway. That greenway trail runs through McGregor.

Essex Region Conservation Authority confirms 2018 priorities

 

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority confirmed its priority projects and programs to create a healthier and more sustainable environment for 2018 as it unanimously passed its annual budget Feb. 15.

Initiating a regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, improving floodline mapping in response to a changing climate, creating over 100 acres of new habitat including an innovative wetland project and continuing to tackle phosphorus loadings in Lake Erie are just a few of the projects it has planned for the coming year.

“A robust suite of high priority projects and programs to protect and restore the natural environment of the region will be undertaken,” said Richard Wyma, ERCA’s general manager. “These include programs to increase habitat and forest cover, maintain and expand conservation areas and trails, aid our member municipalities in protecting people and infrastructure from the dangers of flooding and erosion particularly in the era of a changing climate, and to provide meaningful education and engagement opportunities for our residents.”

The 2018 budget totals $9,271,600, which includes a proposed levy contribution of $3,148,752. This represents an increase of $101,019, or $0.09 per household.

Of that, $51,000 is allocated for operations, and $50,000 for future asset replacement. ERCA states that this levy funds less than 30 per cent of its operations, placing ERCA in the bottom five of all conservation authorities, and well below the provincial average of approximately 45 per cent.

“ERCA is unlike any other agency, board or commission in that it generates tremendous revenue for the region,” Wyma adds. “Between 2007 and 2017, ERCA received $26.5 million in total levy contributions, and generated $35 million in new outside funding to the region in support of regional environmental programs and projects. This is in addition to the significant value of ERCA’s programs and services it provides to municipalities.”

“The knowledge and skills that ERCA provides is a cost effective way to manage regional environmental priorities,” added ERCA board chair and Amherstburg Councillor Rick Fryer. “Without the technical expertise that ERCA is able to offer from a regional perspective, each municipality would have to fund this expertise on its own. This relatively small contribution is an excellent investment in ensuring that our region is the Place for Life.”

Town council moving forward with LED lighting program

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s street lights in the public right-of-ways are changing over to LED fixtures with the project to begin this year.

Town council awarded a tender valued at over $1.18 million to Anchor Hydro, an Amherstburg-based company with the amount to be budgeted over seven years. Administration hopes that the savings produced from the LED lights will also help pay for the project even quicker.

“Hallelujah. To get the LED program going for the town is fantastic,” said Councillor Rick Fryer, who had long championed the conversion of the street lights to LED fixtures.

“It’s gratifying to see the town is saving money, saving energy and looking for future generations,” he added after Monday night’s meeting.

Town council also will see what the cost will be to complete the lighting of Front Road North as an RFP will be put out to see what the cost will be to illuminate the stretch between Ranta Marina and Malden Road. Fryer called that unlighted stretch “dangerous” and that putting lights on that remaining stretch would mean the highway would have street lights from Amherstburg to Windsor.

LED lights will be installed this year all over Amherstburg, many similar to the LED lights currently on Meloche Road (pictured).

Councillor Leo Meloche didn’t oppose the LED lighting program, but had questions as it pertained to cost. He said $450,000 was earmarked in the 2018 budget for the project but said after the meeting he accepted administration’s explanation, though, added he wished the explanation would have come sooner.

Meloche stated during the meeting that he wondered how the Front Road North was “slid into” the proposal, believing it was a separate project.

“I think it should have been split up,” he said.

Meloche added after the meeting he was satistifed with the explanation there as well, as it could be discussed in future budget sessions.

CAO John Miceli said the motion was to issue an RFP and that would give council a better gauge on what the project would cost.

“What we are doing is fact-finding to see how much it would cost,” added Miceli.

Miceli stated the town projects that the savings from the LED program would help pay for the entire project.

“We confidently believe the operational savings we are going to have through the LED program will fund the LED program,” the chief administrative officer stated.

According to a report from manager of engineering Todd Hewitt, Amherstburg paid $228,573.69 in streetlight utility costs

“Converting the Town’s streetlights to LED will reduce this cost significantly,” Hewitt stated in his report.

Hewitt told town council he believes it is a “win-win” for the town to convert, noting they are saving energy and money in the long run by doing so.

“The new cobrahead lights will be manufactured by LED Roadway Lighting (LRL) and come with a 20 year limited replacement warranty. All components are covered for full replacement for the first 10 years with a pro-rated replacement on some components in years 11 to 20,” Hewitt added in his report. “The decorative fixtures will be manufactured by King Luminaire and come with a 10-year full replacement warranty. Anchor Hydro has included a five-year warranty to cover all labour involved with the replacement of faulty fixtures.”

Councillor Diane Pouget said the town will increase safety for the residents and achieve a cost savings with the LED program.

“As Todd said, it’s a win-win situation,” she stated.

As for the illumination of the stretch of Front Road North, she added “if the RFP comes back too high, we can reject it. It’s a request.”

Councillor Joan Courtney indicated she is hopeful that the Front Road North stretch will be lit up.

“I have travelled there at night when it is raining. You can’t see the lines,” she said. “It’s a liability. It’s a wonder there haven’t been more accidents.”

Fryer’s attempt to discuss busing in bad weather with officials fails

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Councillor Rick Fryer was vocal over the past week about the decision last Wednesday to have buses run in snowy weather.

His attempt to bring student transportation officials before council for some questions, however, failed.

Fryer said the decision to run the buses “should not have been made” and that he was disappointed that his town council colleagues didn’t agree with his request.

“It’s a decision of council and I’ll have to live with it,” he said after the meeting.

Fryer also had questions over the timing of busing announcements, noting that decisions are made many times around 6:20 a.m. and that can “cause havoc” with families who may have to make alternate arrangements. He pointed out a decision was made earlier last Friday when that winter storm rolled through.

A school bus sits on its side after going in the ditch Feb. 7. Councillor Rick Fryer has questioned why the buses were allowed to run that day. (Submitted photo)

Multiple buses went into the ditch last Wednesday and Fryer believed others would be feeling differently if someone had been injured.

Councillor Joan Courtney, a former Catholic school board trustee, said there are spotters in all parts of the county. She noted that weather conditions could be different in various parts of Essex County and that parents could be upset if a decision is made based on weather conditions they may not be experiencing in their area.

“It’s a very difficult call to make,” she said.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said it wasn’t town council’s issue, noting school boards don’t have town officials at their meetings questioning town decisions.

“I’m not on the school board, I’m on town council,” said Lavigne. “I don’t feel pulling them here for an inquisition is in our best interests or theirs.”

“I agree with Councillor Lavigne,” said Councillor Leo Meloche. “It’s not our decision.”

Councillor Diane Pouget agreed with Fryer, stating safety is a concern and that the goal was to see if there was a better way to make busing decisions. She said the goal would not have been to chastise anyone, but to have a discussion on the matter.