Rick Fryer

Town council puts two-hour limit on downtown parking lot

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A two-hour parking limit is coming to the lot at the corner of Richmond St. and Ramsay St.

Town council voted to implement a parking limitation at that lot during Monday night’s meeting and to support the concept of a downtown parking study after the development of the Duffy’s property is complete.

The issue stemmed from an Oct. 23, 2017 request from Storey and Denomme Family Dentistry to have two dedicated spots in that lot. That request was denied but it sparked the investigation into options for that lot. The parking limitations would be Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Councillor Joan Courtney spoke against the two-hour limit, stating that it could deter people from eating out and enjoying the downtown area.

“Everything is two hours,” said Courtney. “I find that unreasonable.”

Courtney cited an example of a family eating at a restaurant and going for a walk in the summer with an ice cream only to have to keep checking their wristwatches in order that they don’t violate a two-hour parking limit.

“My wish will be no time limit from May until late August,” she said.

Two-hour parking is coming to the lot at the intersection of Ramsay St. and Richmond St.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the town has dealt with complaints that people park in the lot downtown all day and said issues related to downtown parking in any municipality is a tough one.

“Finding the right mix of short-term versus long-term is something municipalities struggle with,” he said. “You will never make everyone happy.”

Galvin added he has seen four-hour parking limits on occasion, but “not that often.”

Councillor Rick Fryer said he was fine with introducing a two-hour parking limit in the lot. He said there are spots available in a town-owned lot east of the Heritage Square lot.

“From the downtown core to Heritage Square, it’s not that much of a walk,” said Fryer.

Fryer believed the issue for downtown businesses is “convenience over what is available.” He added a major issue is people parking in public spots for days without moving their vehicles.

“How do we move cars that have been there for days upon days?” he asked. “I hope the bylaw is strong enough so we’ll be able to tow.”

Courtney questioned where downtown employees will park. Manager of licensing and enforcement said there was material sent to downtown businesses showing there were a lot of spots just out of the core area and suggested that strategy could be used again.

“A report to council on March 9, 2015, identified that a parking review was conducted for the downtown in the area of Rankin Avenue to Park Street, and Dalhousie Street to

Sandwich Street. Through this exercise, administration reviewed all town-owned parking lots within this area and completed an inventory of available parking spots. Further, administration reviewed and created an inventory of all on street parking within the identified area along with time limits where applicable,” Rubli stated in her written report. “In 2015, it was identified that the town has a total of 97 parking spots available for use in town-owned parking lots and approximately 373 on street parking spots within the identified area.”

 

Cost of police clearances becomes a concern of council members

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg town council lent its voice to the issue of volunteers having to pay for multiple police clearances.

The matter arose due to a letter that was included on the agenda as part of Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) minutes on the matter. Amherstburg St. Vincent de Paul Society member Dan Laing wrote the board with concerns about the organizations volunteers having to repeatedly pay for police clearances.

Long-time volunteers have had to obtain clearances and, with those volunteers also having to be fingerprinted, it brought the cost to $85 for one clearance, the letter stated.

“It is a common theme that most of our male members should now be fingerprinted like common criminals to prove their identity,” Laing’s letter stated. “I think this is ridiculous and no way to treat volunteers who are doing their best to keep Amherstburg the safest community in Canada.”

Laing wrote that volunteers from other organizations have been experiencing similar issues.

“Our SSVP conference is composed of single ladies and 15 couples ranging in age from 60 to 92. Most of the couples who go out on calls together, never alone, have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary,” the letter added. “As well most of us have lived in this community our whole lives and if we were law breakers it would be well known to the local police. I would appreciate it if we could be excused from the fingerprinting requirement at this time or at least the cost of this pointless exercise.”

Laing added: “A new policy concerning the treatment of volunteers who are requesting police clearance would also be most helpful.”

Councillor Joan Courtney raised the issue, noting such volunteers don’t get paid for what they do and are “trying to make life better for residents of Amherstburg.”

Chief Tim Berthiaume said that it is employers and insurance companies who are the ones that seek police clearances and the rules are governed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

“We are working on a policy to help these groups out,” said Berthiaume.

Councillor Rick Fryer called for the fingerprint policy to be changes, stating “once you have the fingerprints once, you have the fingerprints on file.”

Not so, stated Berthiaume.

The police chief stated the fingerprints are not kept in town and are sent electronically to the RCMP. The RCMP doesn’t retain the fingerprint copies, he added.

“It’s not our rule, it’s an RCMP rule,” said Berthiaume. “That’s what leads to the frustration.”

Councillor Jason Lavigne said the RCMP isn’t allowed by law to keep the fingerprints and said the APSB may be able to absorb some of the costs. Fryer voiced concern with that possibility, stating “it’s going to come out of our budget.”

 

Town passes new open burn bylaw

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A process that resulted in three public meetings late last summer has concluded with a newly passed open burn bylaw.

Town council passed the new open burn bylaw thanks to a 5-1 vote Monday night. Fire chief Bruce Montone said the bylaw is “reasonably close” to what was presented last year.

Voting in favour of the new bylaw was Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and councillors Jason Lavigne, Rick Fryer, Joan Courtney and Leo Meloche. Councillor Diane Pouget was opposed while Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale was not at Monday night’s meeting.

Properties will have to be inspected before a permit is granted. The bylaw also contains other provisions depending on the type of fire set, the setting (urban vs. rural) or if a device such as an outdoor fireplace or chiminea is being used. Montone said firefighters will assess each lot before a permit is granted and that an inspection has to be passed before a permit is issued. Some lots may be too small for a campfire but that will be determined through inspection.

“The biggest challenge we had in the community were bonfires,” he said.

A frequent request was to have small campfires so that people could enjoy each others’ company and enjoy outdoor cooking, he added, though noting all fires have to be properly extinguished and will not be allowed to burn out on its own.

A hotline will be established so that people can call in and see if they can have a fire that day, he noted, with the Amherstburg Alert system being another way to notify residents.

“I’m hoping we found a happy medium between those in the community who wanted open burns and those were against it,” said Montone.

Another challenge will be the volume of inspections in the first year, he noted, though that is expected to subside in subsequent years. Upwards of 1,000 people could ask for a permit, he estimated.

DiCarlo said the bylaw was very well thought out and said it won’t amount to Amherstburg being a “pollution zone” as not every resident will be eligible for open burns will be allowed to do it or will want to have a fire.

“It will come down to a property by property basis,” the mayor stated. “There will be things to learn. Now we have put the fire department in a position to educate people.”

Pouget voiced numerous concerns, including the possibility that smoke could infringe on other people’s property and negatively impact seniors, children and those with disabilities.

“(Smoke) contains many of the same toxins as tobacco smoke,” she said. “I can’t play Russian roulette with the health and safety of our residents.”

The bylaw could also “pit neighbour against neighbour,” she believed, as some neighbours won’t be able to have a fire while others will depending on their lot size.

“It will tax our fire department’s resources,” she added.

Courtney admitted she was on the fence until speaking with Montone earlier in the day Monday but was satisfied with what she heard. Fryer said outdoor fires can do such things as uplift a person’s spirit and provide “joyful experiences,” adding that ancestors spent years cooking over open fire.

“Many of us experience more smoke over a barbecue or a stove than a campfire,” added Meloche. “Education is going to be a big part of how you manage smoke from campfires.”

ERCA holds AGM, honors Conservation Award winners

 

 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) held its annual general meeting (AGM) last Thursday night with a number of people from the region honoured during the evening as well.

Eight organizations and individuals were honoured with Essex Region Conservation Awards for their efforts in making the Windsor/Essex/Pelee Island region the “Place for Life.”

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) honoured its Conservation Award winners Jan. 18 in Essex. (Special to the RTT)

“It’s always inspiring to learn more about those who have made tangible contributions to our regional environment,” said ERCA chair Rick Fryer, who is also an Amherstburg town councillor.  “There are so many actions being taken to sustain our region as the Place for Life, and it is a privilege to celebrate them.”

Among the winners were Jerome Deslippe, who posthumously received the Conservation Farm Award for the use of conservation farming practices and a lifetime of dedication to agriculture in the community.

“He was very passionate about being a steward of the land,” said daughter Rochelle, who accepted the award on her father’s behalf.

Rochelle said her father was “very, very active in the community” with his biography indicating that he was past president of the Essex Soil & Crop Improvement Association and was also a director with that organization for over 30 years. He was described as “a proud supporter of his community” through many agricultural projects such as the Essex County Plowing Match, the Essex County Steam and Gas Engine Museum and the Ontario Plowman’s Association.

Jerome was also described as being “instrumental” in the establishment of the Essex County Demonstration Farm at Holiday Beach in 1996 and was an early adopter of conservation tillage practices on his own farm and member of the Essex Conservation Club.

Jerome Deslippe was inducted into the Essex County Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1997.

Rochelle Deslippe (centre) accepts the Conservation Farm Award on behalf of her late father Jerome. Making the presentation were ERCA chair Rick Fryer (left) and vice chair Irek Kusmierczyk. (Special to the RTT)

Other winners included:

  • the Iler Family – John R. Park Homestead Award for her preservation of local agricultural history in our community.
  • Peter Berry – Education Award for educating and engaging the community to improve the health of the Detroit River and the lands that surround it.
  • Darlene Burgess – Volunteer Award for protecting, raising and releasing Monarch butterflies.  As a volunteer citizen scientist, she tracks and reports on the monarch migration.
  • Dr. Doug Haffner – Environmental Achievement Award for decades of mentoring students, teaching the next generation of scientists, and conducting significant research which continues to support the management of Canada’s Great Lakes.
  • Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) – Volunteer Organization Award to celebrate a century of service, including tree plantings, stream cleanups, global sanitation and water initiatives, support of ERCA’s outreach program and creating the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub.
  • Town of Tecumseh – Robert Pulleyblank Award for Municipal Environmental Achievement recognizes the Town’s leadership in protecting Fairplay Woods, tree planting efforts, creating Lakewood Park, innovative solar use and leadership in trail development.
  • Vivian Kennedy – Dennis Chase Staff Award for two decades of dedication, conscientiousness, kindness and compassion to colleagues, customers and partners.

ERCA also reviewed the accomplishments of the past year, including the creation of the Place for Life policies, opening the Cypher Systems Group Greenway and the Rotary (1918) Centennial Hub, restoring over 92 acres of habitat and engaging over 12,000 students in outdoor education, and strengthening organizational resilience.

Fryer also highlighted the planting of “many trees” this year, with the annual report showing that number to be 92,500 trees.

“I continue to say that this is the ‘Place for Life’,” Fryer stated.

Among the other 2017 accomplishments that ERCA touted were aiding municipalities in responding to the significant rainfall event that occurred in late August, initiating steps to develop a regional climate change strategy, the opening of the new cottage at Holiday Beach, initiating a feasibility study with Ducks Unlimited to design and operate a new 70-acre controlled wetland adjacent to the Canard River and assisting five member municipalities with their Official Plan updates.

Town to consider its own surcharge recommendation for Libro Centre

 

By Ron Giofu

Town council has opted to consider its own recommendation for a new surcharge to be assessed to Libro Centre users.

In the process, they spurned a different proposal submitted by the building’s three main user groups – the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA), Skate Amherstburg and the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals.

According to a report from manager of recreation services Rick Daly, “administration proposed a capital surcharge outlined in the user fee bylaw” and “this capital surcharge is set at $6 per rental unit of time for sport facilities and park bookings and $3 per rental unit of time for room rentals.”

That option would see an estimated $25,350 collected in a year, as opposed to the other option, presented Monday night by AMHA president Marc Renaud. That option is estimated at collecting $26,648.

“We believe non-residents should pay more and adult users should pay more,” Renaud told town council. “Kids in sport stay out of court.”

Renaud said the option created by the three major users would require all three principal users to contract ice hours at a minimum100 hours per year. The principal rate user surcharge would have been $4 per hour to all hours rented on all ice surfaces from Sept. 1-April 30 annually and $10 per hour for all pads from May 1-Aug. 31.

For Amherstburg resident users that book ice rentals for a minimum of 12 hours per month would be set at $6 per hour for all pads. Casual non-resident users would pay a surcharge of $13 per hour of ice rentals.

Under the town’s proposal, Renaud said it would translate into a $21.82 cost per AMHA player and $13.50 for every Skate Amherstburg participant. Under the proposal he presented, Renaud said the numbers drop to $14.54 per player in AMHA and $9 per Skate Amherstburg participant.

According to the administrative report: “Administration recommends that Option #1 (the town’s recommendation) be approved as it is the most equitable and easiest to implement. The users would pay into the reserve equally based on rental levels.” The report added that “the fundamental difference in the structure of the reserve in Option 2 (presented by the primary users) is problematic, in that it doesn’t allow the town to deal with global building issues and only ice specific issues. Secondly, it creates inequality, as it doesn’t allow the users who are paying a disproportionate share much representation at the time the replacement is needed. In this case, you would have non-primary users subsidizing the future replacement of infrastructure to the benefit of the primary users.”

Councillor Rick Fryer said he supported the town’s recommendation, believing the $6 surcharge across the board is “fair” and that the people who use the Libro Centre most would pay a greater share of the surcharge.

“I don’t see this being a big issue with the user groups,” said Fryer.

Renaud reiterated his position that adult users should be paying more in order to keep youth in sports.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said he has three children who have played travel hockey and regardless of whether it is children or adults playing, the adults still pay the costs.

“You are kind of wishy-washy here,” Lavigne told Renaud.

Lavigne said the Libro Centre is the envy of the area but there are costs to keep it that way.

“We have to realize it costs money and we’re having issues here,” said Lavigne.

Councillor Leo Meloche believed the user groups’ options were “a burden to the non-primary users” and that the general taxpayers were paying “a pretty good share already” to maintain the Libro Centre. He said he didn’t find the user groups’ option to be unreasonable. Councillor Diane Pouget said “we try to be fair to everybody” and noted Daly’s report where it said the primary users had 54 per cent of the ice time in 2016 but would only pay 38 per cent of the total surcharge under their proposal.

Councillor Joan Courtney noted she has children and grandchildren who play hockey and believed that if a person can play hockey, they can afford to pay a little more. She noted there is money for hats and jackets and that “somehow they find the money” and didn’t believe the surcharge was unreasonable.

“To keep the Libro Centre a great facility, I don’t think it’s too much,” said Courtney.