News

MADD to have signs installed around Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

In case there are those who still need reminding that it is not OK to drive impaired, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Windsor-Essex is launching a new initiative to report those who are possibly under the influence.

MADD Windsor-Essex community leader Chaouki Hamka received approval from town council to have ten signs erected within the municipality as part of MADD’s “Campaign 911” initiative. The signs will be placed in high traffic areas within the town and encourage motorists to call 911 if they spot a possibly impaired driver on the road.

“There is no easy fix to the issue of impaired driving,” he said.

Hamka noted that impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada and thanked the public for helping take impaired drivers off the road.

“They prevented an injury or a death,” he said.

Most signs are 24”x30” signs while 4’x8’ signs would be placed at the entrances to the town. He noted the signs are funded through Caesars Windsor Cares.

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche said he was supportive of the program and that there are still “far too many cases of impaired driving” in society. He voiced surprise that people still attempt to drive while impaired given the education and enforcement of the issue.

Councillor Marc Renaud and Councillor Michael Prue both wondered if the signs complied with the town’s sign bylaw, noting the matter was a contentious issue. However, Meloche believed that if a sign could lead to getting an impaired driver off of the road, he wasn’t concerned with the bylaw.

“We’re protecting our own,” said Meloche.

Hamka there are 45 such signs in Windsor and said 911 calls increased to an “extraordinary” degree. He believed it to be a “win-win” scenario for the town.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about saving lives,” said Hamka.

Town expands audit committee, includes two more with financial background

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council rounded out more of their committees last week, including the audit advisory committee.

Council, at the request of Councillor Michael Prue, expanded the audit advisory committee from three to five members, with three of those members now being laypersons. Prue noted that it was structured to have two members of town council and one member of the community and that was “not appropriate.”

“The audit committee should belong to the people,” said Prue. “The town needs to feel confident that council is doing everything it can to safeguard and spend their money properly. What better way than to have some other people on that committee who are not councillors who can have input and who can assuage the fears of the people who think money is not being spent right?”

Prue will be one of the council members on that committee with Councillor Patricia Simone being the other. Other committee members will be John Purdie, Gillian Heisz and Gordon Moore.

“They all have CPA after their names. They are all auditors,” said Prue.

Councillor Michael Prue asks a question of administration during budget deliberations Feb. 14.

Noting that residents have questioned the town’s finances in the past, Prue believes there will be an extra layer of accountability with a committee.

“I know that the money is not always spent the way everyone wants it to be, but when there is an audit committee that can say ‘you should have used this process, you should have spent the money this way as opposed to that way,’ then people will start to believe what they are reading rather than what they are reading on a blog,” said Prue.

While the committee was not in place in time for the 2019 budget, Prue noted that it will be in place long before November when the 2020 deliberations are likely to begin.

Other committees that were rounded out during the most recent regular meeting of town council included the seniors advisory committee, which will feature Pauline Gemmell, Heather Vandenham, Kathy DiBartolomeo, Karen Gyorgy, Jan Ouellette, Jack Edwards, Kent Williams, Nancy Atkinson and Frank DiPasquale as members. Councillor Marc Renaud had already been appointed as the council representative to that committee.

The Co-An Park committee will have Amherstburg representation from Richard Lawrence, Jennie Lajoie and Murray Sellars with Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche already having been appointed as the council representative.

Members of the fence viewers committee include Chris Drew, Murray Sellars and Tony Pietrangelo. Livestock valuers will be Sellars and Roxanne Qussem.

Laypeople to the property standards committee will be Stephanie Thomson, Drew, Anthony Campigotto, Dino Gobbo and Jim Gorski.

The town is still looking for members for the accessibility advisory committee and the mayor’s youth committee. Application forms for those committees are available at town hall or through the town’s website at www.amherstburg.ca.

Town council divides $35,000 between seven community groups

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Seven community groups within Amherstburg came to town council looking for help and council, in some fashion, agreed.

As part of the town’s 2019 budget deliberations, the groups came to council looking for community grants that totalled just over $42,000. Not all groups got the amount they wanted as council approved just over $35,000 worth of funding.

Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) sought $10,000 in total as they asked for a $5,000 grant towards their programming and an additional $5,000 towards their vehicle replacement fund. The Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission requested $3,500, up $2,000 over 2018.

Town council deliberates the 2019 budget Feb. 13.

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum requested $8,000 to help with its operations, an increase of $1,500 over last year. The Amherstburg Historic Sites Association, the organization the runs the Park House Museum, asked for the same amount as 2018, which was $8,500.

The Amherstburg Fort Malden Golden Age Club requested $3,136.50, which was a new request. That request wasn’t so much for cash donation as it was for a waiver of the Libro Centre user surcharge. An $8,250 request from Skate Amherstburg was to help them stage a Skate Ontario Synchro Series event at the Libro Centre March 23 that over 800 skaters from around the province are expected to attend.

Christ Anglican Church asked for $750 to help maintain its historic cemetery as the church celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.

Town council would give fund ACS to the tune of $7,000 – $3,000 and $4,000 per respective grant request – while the mission received $2,500. The Amherstburg Freedom Museum received $6,500 while the Amherstburg Historic Sites Association received the full $8,500 for the Park House Museum. The Golden Age Club’s fees were waived amounting to the $3,136.50 they had wanted while Skate Amherstburg received $6,613.50. Christ Church received the $750 they had asked for.

Town to keep some ice at the Libro Centre in May

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Thanks to an impassioned plea from a representative of the user groups, town council has agreed to keep at least one ice pad operational at the Libro Centre in May.

Wes Ewer represented the Amherstburg Admirals Jr. C hockey team as well as the Big Creek Hockey League, Skate Amherstburg and the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) at Wednesday’s budget deliberations. Keeping ice at the Libro Centre in May is “extremely paramount” to the organizations, Ewer noted, as it impacts tryouts and other activities and events the organizations run.

Registration to the various sports organizations could also be negatively impacted if there is no ice in May, said Ewer, noting the organizations he was involved with are willing to pay the higher winter ice rates in order to keep ice at the arena during that month.

“May ice removal will not work for our user groups,” said Ewer.

There is talk of a merger between Amherstburg and LaSalle minor hockey associations, he added, and that could lead to a future increase in demand down the road, Ewer noted. He added they could also have camps at the Libro Centre to further use the ice.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” said Councillor Peter Courtney. “I know Wes will come through.”

CAO John Miceli apologized for not communicating better with the user groups and indicated a willingness to work with them. However, Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche voiced concern with the facility losing money though welcomed the opportunity to try and “turn it around.”

“For the last four years, we keep seeing declining revenue,” said Meloche.

Councillor Marc Renaud, also the president of AMHA, said they are losing players and that the potential partnership with LaSalle’s travel program could lead to more usage in Amherstburg.

“I think there is future growth coming,” said Renaud.

Having ice completely out of the Libro Centre in May, June and July would save approximately $85,000 but keeping some ice in at the facility would trim those savings to $63,000. Council also voiced interest in waiting until the middle of August before ice returned in order to save on utility costs.

Stella Maris students weigh in on possible glass factory

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Students in Maria Morrison’s Grade 5 class at Stella Maris School have weighed in on the possible glass plant that has been talked about for the former General Chemical lands.

The students recently learned about the environment, including fossil fuels, pollution and renewable sources of energy. When news of the possible glass plant coming nearby broke, they took the initiative to talk about the pros and cons of such a development.

Stella Maris Grade 5
students show the letters they wrote regarding the proposed glass plant. (Submitted photo)

Students cited property taxes, jobs and the possibility of attracting more people to Amherstburg as pros while pollution, water usage, noise and environmental issues were cited as cons.

Of the 24 students in the class, 19 of them raised their hands in opposition to the plant while three were in favour. Two students were undecided.

Morrison said the students wrote letters to Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and she delivered all of them to town hall.

“The mayor promised he’d read them,” said Morrison. “We’re awaiting a response from the mayor.”