News

Voters hear mayoral candidates talk about the issues

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg’s two mayoral candidates went toe-to-toe in last weeks’ “Meet the Candidates” night at Western Secondary School.

Incumbent Aldo DiCarlo and challenger Glenn Swinton traded viewpoints in the second of two “Meet the Candidates” nights, presented by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC). It was moderated by Patty Handysides of AM800.

The discussion was scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m. that evening, following the deputy mayor debates, but DiCarlo was late entering the auditorium due to an apparent illness. When things finally got underway, DiCarlo said he was “very proud of what we accomplished” in the last four years, stating they worked with everyone for the good of the town.

The town’s financial position has greatly improved, he said, noting four years ago “people wanted the town turned around and turned around for the better.” He said the town got its “house in order” and completed all of the recommendations from the Deloitte report in less than 18 months.” Reserves have grown from $2.2 million to $15.8 million, he said.

The debt has also decreased from $44 million to $36 million, DiCarlo stated.

Swinton vowed to review and release all documents pertaining to the policing issue. One item he pointed out was that the town will still have to pay for costs to run the existing Amherstburg police station.

There will also be a review of the role of upper management with the town and the flow of information to council and the public.

“Currently it appears that the tail is wagging the dog and that’s not acceptable,” he said.

Staffing and salary levels will also be looked at as well as the Belle Vue property, the latter of which should have no tax dollars going to it. Swinton said he wants more public input into the Duffy’s site as well.

Swinton also believed in holding off on development charges for builders, the possible formation of a BIA and to better include areas such as Anderdon, Malden, River Canard and McGregor. Bringing on an economic development officer to go after business was also suggested.

Swinton said the town would be “open and honest like you’ve never seen before” if he were elected.

The first question pertained to the policing contract and DiCarlo stated he supported the switch and that if he were re-elected, he would want to ensure that everything that was told to the community at the public meetings came to fruition.

Swinton contended that promises are not being kept, stating he learned the deputy chief is not being retained. He said he wants to bring things out into the open.

“It’s your tax dollars. Why is it so secret?” he asked.

DiCarlo said once the contract is completed, the hope is to bring it out publicly and “instill confidence that we will get what we said we’d get out of the deal.”

Aldo DiCarlo and Glenn Swinton went back-and-forth discussing issues at the second of two “Meet the Candidates” Nights that were presented by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce last week.

On the issue of transparency and accountability, Swinton believed the same issues are around as when he first ran eight years ago. He said unless there is a legal requirement, council should not go in-camera.

If people take time to come to a meeting, they should be able to watch and hear what is going on, Swinton said.

DiCarlo said accountability is justifying the reasons behind a decision while transparency is acting with no hidden agendas.

“I believe I have acted in good faith this entire term of council,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo added that if the public hears something they should not legally be hearing, it could come back to cost taxpayers money.

Swinton indicated there are Ombudsman reports which show violations and that people still aren’t being told everything they need to be told regarding the policing issue, and re-iterated the news about the deputy chief.

On the matter of town purchases, DiCarlo said he supported Belle Vue and suggested it ties into plans for a hotel. There is a need for more year-round activities, he said, and that there is a plan to use Belle Vue as a conference centre. It is an 8.3-acre property next to a creek, he added.

“It is not the HMS Detroit all over again, as some would say,” said DiCarlo.

Swinton called Belle Vue “a horrible investment” and that it is limited as to what could be done there. Tax dollars being collected by the former owner were traded for “a liability,” he stated.

“No one was purchasing the property for a reason. It’s worth nothing,” said Swinton.

Duffy’s is also “a liability,” he believed, and now the town has to figure out what to do with it. The seniors hub at the former St. Bernard School is “going to cost your tax dollars to make it happen.”

Meanwhile, Swinton said levies were increased to 2.75 per cent.

“I don’t know what you want to do with the property but we’re going to have to figure it out because you own it now,” said Swinton.

Closing streets in the downtown core on a regular basis would limit access to local businesses, Swinton said in response to the next question, but DiCarlo said “a big rubber duck brought 80,000 people to the Town of Amherstburg when we closed the streets.” He added the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival drew 35,000 people and added he supported more closures.

Swinton responded that “a half-inflated rubber duck did bring substantial crowds, I’m not sure why” and that he was not in favour of shutting down access as he wants to treat all businesses equally.

DiCarlo said he supported the re-branding efforts and said that more feedback is still being gathered. He disagreed with the suggestion that high school students could do the work.

“If we are going to compete on a provincial and national level, we have to do so in a professional manner,” he said.

“Before we can brand the town, it has to have a product,” said Swinton. “If there is nothing to put the brand on, you are wasting money. We need something to put the brand on.”

Swinton added: “You can say Coca Cola, but if there isn’t anything in the can, there’s nothing.”

DiCarlo stated it is more than just a logo, but a new website and a greater focus on tourism. He said the town has “a considerable amount to offer” and that a way has to be figured out to use the brand to attract more people to town.

On the issue of a retail outlet for cannabis, Swinton was supportive stating it will be a legal product.

“It is another business, another product. I say bring it in. It’s a legal product,” he said.

DiCarlo did not answer, instead asking for another break and again stepping out due to illness.

In closing arguments, Swinton urged people to get out and vote as it is up to the voters to decide who they want on council to get the results they are looking for. DiCarlo continued with his opening remarks, adding that while more work is needed on roads, the town has invested millions this term on them. He touted the “Talk the Burg” online engagement platform and the new Community Strategic Plan.

Development, including a new high school, is rising and DiCarlo added that an announcement on a hotel could come soon.
“I expect to announce a location in the very near future. It will likely be sooner than you think,” he said. “Stay tuned.”

DiCarlo also spoke about engaging seniors and youth as well as the ongoing fibre optic internet project being done by Bell.

Deputy mayor candidates square off

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The candidates for deputy mayor went head-to-head last Thursday evening in the second of two “Meet the Candidates” nights organized by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC).

Held at Western Secondary School, the event featured Rick Fryer, Diane Pouget, Leo Meloche and Bob Rozankovic making opening and closing statements with questions also being posed by moderator Patty Handysides of AM800. Many of the questions were the same as the previous night’s councillor debates and had been sent in by members of the public.

“Infrastructure is a need, not a want,” said Fryer.

Fryer added that jobs are also needed and that the mayor and chief administrative officer (CAO) are already doing “a great job” in bringing new investments to Amherstburg.

“We definitely need jobs,” he said. “Amherstburg is ready for new innovation and jobs.”

Fibre internet coming to town will assist in bringing jobs to town, Fryer believed, and that the town needs to go after employment for such lands as the former General Chemical property and other areas.

“I’m always looking after the ratepayers,” said Fryer.

Fryer said infrastructure is the top item on his to-do list and that council was saddled with a lot of infrastructure needs when they took office in Dec. 2014. He said the town has to expand its tax base.

Meloche said his late wife grew to love Amherstburg and that he found time to take care of her plus look after his other obligations when she was ill.

“I did what needed to be done,” said Meloche. “I fulfilled my commitments.”

Meloche said he brings sound financial accountability and business analysis to the table and that the current council was able to make “substantial improvements” in town.

While noting there are issues like Belle Vue, Duffy’s and the roads still left to be resolved, Meloche said the town has to “keep the momentum” and continue to make progress.

“Progress doesn’t just happen,” he said. “We need to keep working at it.”

Meloche said the problems relating to roads have been “20 years in the making” but the town now has an asset management plan and levies to help pay for projects.

“Unfortunately, what taxpayers didn’t pay 20 years ago is going to be put on their shoulders in the next four years,” he said. “There’s no way around it. We will have to continue to pay for the errors of the past.”

Pouget outlined her past experiences, dating back to the 1990’s when she headed up the Parent-Teacher Council (PTA) at General Amherst High School. She said they fought to preserve the school from being lost by the public board and they were successful in keeping it as General Amherst after some struggles. She said she was sued at the time, adding “Glenn, I know what you’re going through,” in reference to mayoral candidate Glenn Swinton’s ongoing defamation suit filed against him by CAO John Miceli.

Pouget said efforts to save the school included blocking off streets, meeting provincial officials and gaining national headlines. The lawsuit against her was eventually dropped. That led to the start of her career in municipal politics. She said they had to save General Amherst again earlier this term when it was part of a PARC process, along with Western Secondary School and other schools in the area.

Town council hired local lawyer Anthony Leardi to represent them in the matter and Pouget called the $12,000 expenditure some of the best tax dollars ever spent.

“I believe my 14 years of municipal experience will assist me in becoming your next deputy mayor,” she said.

Pertaining to roads, Pouget said they now have a roads needs study and that the town has to follow it and the advice of its engineers. She said they have to proceed carefully pertaining to roads but added they have made other successful investments including ones to combat flooding.

The debt will be $35 million by the end of the year, she said, with $15 million in reserves. Much of the debt, she added, is tied up long term.

Rozankovic said “the next council will be pivotal in determining the future of Amherstburg for many years to come. Moving forward we need to make decisions ensuring that residents get the maximum value for  their tax dollars.”

Rozankovic wondered where the $24-30 million will come from to update and replace the Amherstburg water treatment plant and said other issues include roads, plans for both Duffy’s and Belle Vue, a new outdoor swimming pool and a decision on the remaining 12 acres at Centennial Park.

The policing issue has become the focal point of this election, Rozankovic added, and that people were actually wondering four years ago whether the town was getting value for the money they spend on policing.

“Whether to contract out policing or not is not simply an exercise in ‘what is cheaper.’ There is the emotional attachment of residents to consider,” he said.

Rozankovic said a referendum could have been on the ballot and would have pushed the contract start date to July 2019.

“So where do we stand today on the policing issue?” he asked. “The residents were told that every employee of the Amherstburg Police Service Board would be offered employment with the Windsor Police Service. That was not the case. The residents were told that there would be no severance payouts attributed to the contracting out of police services. While we do not have solid numbers yet, we can say that the total possible exposure exceeds $2.5 million.”

Rozankovic said he will, if elected, ask the new council “to hit the pause button” and re-evaluate the situation.

The $1.41 million committed annually for roads will likely lead to the town falling further behind, said Rozankovic, and that “we have to find money somewhere in the system.” He suggested maybe it wasn’t such a good move to buy the Duffy’s property and Belle Vue.

Leo Meloche, Rick Fryer, Diane Pouget and Bob Rozankovic discuss issues during the Meet the Candidates Night presented by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce Oct. 4 at Western Secondary School.

On the subject of economic development, Meloche believed small business is the key for economic development. That will be aided by further residential development with the new force main to lead to over 700 new homes coming to town.

Commercial development will spur job growth, Meloche added, and the town has to look at helping small businesses and “build from the ground up.”

The town “sells itself,” Pouget believed, and that the local real estate industry does a good job in promoting the town. The tourism department also does a great job, she said, and touted the General Chemical site for future development.

Pouget also noted the need for a hotel in Amherstburg.

“We have so much to offer,” she said.

Rozankovic said he travels through China, Mexico and the southeastern United States through his employment and questioned the ability to attract industry to town.

“Everyone is chasing industry,” he said. “Amherstburg doesn’t have anything to sell to industry. This is a reality.”

Rozankovic suggested promoting commercial and residential growth, including more distilleries and microbreweries. He said there is a reason there are not takers for the former General Chemical site and that the future is residential and commercial development.

Fryer said he would want to set up a “task force” for economic development and touted the area’s workforce. There should be incentives offered to companies, Fryer suggested, and that such a proposal is happening in Windsor.

The town has “turned the corner,” said Fryer, but now a “revival” is needed. He suggested streamlining the application and permit processes.

“We need to go after jobs,” he said, adding he voted in favour of the Wendy’s proposal.

One of the questions was about policing. Pouget said she could not answer because of a conflict of interest. Going against the advice of her lawyer would be “very, very serious” and potentially end up in a court of law.

“I can’t put the residents of Amherstburg at risk or my family at risk,” she stated.

Rozankovic said should the deal be finalized, Windsor would do “a fine job” but believes a referendum should have been held. He reiterated that more information should be obtained before any deal is finalized.

Fryer said it has been referred to in the media as a “takeover” but it is not. He said the same officers will patrol the streets of Amherstburg and that the only thing to change will be the uniforms.

“Our officers are still going to be there,” said Fryer. “That’s not going to change.”

Rick Fryer, Leo Meloche, Bob Rozankovic and Diane Pouget took turns presenting their cases and answering questions last Thursday night at a “Meet the Candidates” event at Western Secondary School. The four are running for deputy mayor.

Meloche described himself as a “numbers guy” and that at the end of the day, he believed switching to the Windsor Police Service would result in “significant savings.” In 2014, he said, policing costs were the number two issue he heard and that he compared services to Essex and Amherstburg currently pays $1.9 million more. Municipal policing is also a hot topic at conferences, he added.

“The only thing that’s going to change is the boss,” said Meloche “The employees will still stay the same.”

Relating to taxes and funding local government, Rozankovic said there are costing pressures for such things as roads so needs have to be focused on. He stated that police severance payouts could eat up the first five years of savings “so be careful there.”

Fryer quoted a figure of $2 million to purchase Belle Vue and said he was “totally against it.”

“That’s a (heck) of a lot of roads we could have done,” he said.

Meloche said growth will take some pressures off of tax bills but stated the Libro Centre is built to the size of a 40,000 person town while the wastewater treatment plant is built to accommodate 50,000 people.

“21,000 are paying for it,” he said. “How we address it is growth.”

Pouget called for the reinstatement of the finance committee. She said that committee warned against hiring nine new staff members at the beginning of the term and that she is opposed to positions as plumbers and electricians as the town contracted those services out to “excellent people.”

In closing arguments, Rozankovic stated public trust needs to be regained and that people need to know all the facts before moving forward on projects. Pouget said she has served in every committee imaginable and that she will “continuously work” if elected deputy mayor. Meloche said both the senior and youth populations have to be consulted going forward while Fryer indicated his black and white campaign signs are keys to his campaign as “the answers I give you are in black and white.”

Councillor candidates try to differentiate themselves at “Meet the Candidates” night

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The first of two “Meet the Candidates” nights was last Wednesday evening at Western Secondary School with all 14 councillor candidates trying to separate themselves from the pack.

Each candidate was given a chance to make opening and closing statements with questions posed at random in between. The evening was moderated by Teresinha Medeiros from AM800. The event was hosted by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC).

Frank Cleminson noted he has been an Amherstburg resident since 1997 and “I’ve been very involved with a lot of activities in town” during that time. Cleminson has coached minor sports and served on the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB).

“I really enjoy giving back to the community in different ways,” said Cleminson.

Asked about his vision for the Duffy’s site, Cleminson said the town needs a transient marina, parking and a ramp for boaters. However, he said he was not willing to put the town in debt to achieve it.

“I’m listening to the people,” he said. “It’s not just me.”

Cleminson added there is a need for grant funding as well to develop the site, but it is important to have access to the water.

Relating to the sign bylaw, Cleminson believes “a total review” was needed and that the needs of the business community have to be met as well. He suggested possibly streamlining the process but reiterated the bylaw should be reviewed.

The town has upwards of 287 km of roads, he added, and that liabilities must be addressed.

Cleminson said he will address every issue with the same passion that he approached the policing issue with, and that he wants to get things accomplished for the town.

Peter Courtney described himself as “hometown proud” and that he has spent his entire life in Amherstburg. Courtney said he has coached minor sports in the community and wants to take giving back “to the next level.”

Questioned about the policing decision, Courtney said the Joint Police Advisory Committee (JPAC) did its job and took it to the people. He noted that many at the public meetings said there was “too much grey area” in the Windsor police proposal. If it becomes reality Jan. 1, “we need to be on board” but believed the issue has divided the town.

Regarding Belle Vue, Courtney said Amherstburg may have “missed the boat” because the home is “so far gone.” He supported not having tax dollars go towards the building and while it could make for a wedding or conference venue, he questioned how many millions would have to go into the building before that vision is realized.

Courtney said projects have to be done right the first time and that “it’s all about budgeting” and ensuring needs are taken care of before wants.

Courtney added that he wants residents to be kept informed and that “your gains are my gains.” He said he will answer every call and e-mail, if elected.

Pauline Gemmell believes she has skills that are useful to the town, noting the town is a large corporation. Gemmell is the executive director of the Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic and that efforts are being made to expand it to Amherstburg. She added she submits financial statements to her board of directors and the auditing of her statements show them to be correct. She said she has a collaborative leadership style and tries to gather input from others before a decision is made.

The public needs people who know how to work with large budgets, she added.

On the issue of Centennial Park and its remaining 12 acres, Gemmell believed it should remain recreational and used to benefit children in the community. She didn’t like the idea of relocating a pool at the Libro Centre.

“As a taxpayer, I don’t think we could take services away from children,” said Gemmell.

Marijuana will come to Amherstburg “no matter what” and she is in favour of establishing legal retail outlets.

“It’s going to be here anyway,” said Gemmell.

More mid-range housing is needed in Amherstburg, she added.

Libby Keenan said she has served on numerous boards of directors in addition to her teaching riding and dressage for 35 years.

“I believe I can help the town with a lot of new ideas,” she said.

There are many different communities within Amherstburg and Keenan added she wants everyone to feel a part of Amherstburg.

Keenan said it is fine to have healthy debates and arguments on issues, but there has to be a willingness to compromise. People are entitled to their views but the will of the majority has to be respected.

Keenan was supportive of street closures for downtown festivals, saying vendors could be brought in and sidewalk sales could be had.

“The biggest question is if people come in, where are you going to put them?” she asked, suggesting a shuttle service from other points in the municipality.

Keenan also promoted an economic development officer and that someone is needed to go on the road and “sell” the municipality.

Emphasizing she has a lot of new ideas, Keenan added she will give “150 per cent” to the job.

Jason Lavigne, the only incumbent running for re-election as a councillor, said the last four years have been “quite a ride.”

“I can honestly say we did our best,” said Lavigne, of the current council.

Lavigne said he has “changed dramatically” since his first election – the 2018 race actually being his third election – and that being a councillor has shown him “there’s more to this than meets the eye.”

The legalization of marijuana and the location of retail outlets in Amherstburg was something that can’t be ignored, Lavigne stated.

“It’s coming whether we like it or not,” he said. “It’s here and we have to deal with it.”

Council can’t be left in the dark on the issue and people don’t have to like it or don’t like it.

Lavigne said transparency and accountability have improved over the last four years, where people can now be recognized from the gallery instead of always having to go through a process to get on the agenda. He added council was “closed for a long time.”

In order to get involved in politics, people have to be ready to be open and transparent, he added.

Council is already trying to promote economic development, he said, and that the General Chemical lands have been with a licensed broker for many years.

Lena Lazanja noted she has lived in Amherstburg for 12 years and that she has worked as general manager of the ACOC, worked at Amherstburg Community Services, is a current employee at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 and is a former Rotary Club of Amherstburg president.

Lazanja said she outlined her experiences to let the public know “I’ve had my toe in every pool in Amherstburg” and that she has dealt with people at various levels in the community.

Lazanja believed a pool could be of use at the Libro Centre to draw more people there. She said Rotary looked at the issue but “the cost was insurmountable for our club.”

Property taxes have risen $1,200 over six years in her neighbourhood alone and that needs must be looked after before wants.

“I don’t think there’s a simple answer to fixing our property tax rate,” she said.

Lazanja also promoted a strong downtown core, stating those businesses are helping to sustain the town with new businesses also welcome. She added she is a single mother who is no stranger to scrubbing toilets so she knows how to work and wants to be a voice for the taxpayers.

Donald McArthur said he wants “to be a voice for all of Amherstburg” and that while campaigning has been gruelling, he also said it has been rewarding.

“We have so much momentum,” he said.

McArthur said he is a “fresh voice” and the former journalist said he will “do things differently” by being as open as possible. He also wants to engage youth and have a seniors’ advisory committee.

McArthur was asked about high water and sewer rates and he offered that expanding the tax base could be a solution. He believed an economic development officer was necessary and believed the current council “inherited a grim situation” but they “turned things around.” He said he wants to make smart decisions with money.

As for his vision for General Amherst High School after it moves to a new building, McArthur said there is a need for affordable housing, to improve residential density not to mention a hotel.

McArthur said he will speak out for constituents and that he will never disparage the town, adding he wants to be positive.

“It’s OK to have disagreements,” he said. “It’s not always pretty.”

McArthur added he wants to be “honest, open and transparent” and that Amherstburg is “a beautiful town with an amazing story to tell.”

John Menna believed tax dollars need to be managed better and that the current council spends like a big city. Roads are terrible, Menna added, and that Concession 2 North needs more than patchwork and that Angstrom Cr. “looks like it belongs in Afghanistan.”

Menna said the downtown core is beautiful and that water and hydro rates need to come down. He said economic development is a tough issue, noting that the former General Chemical site has been vacant for about two decades.

“It’s going to be a tough go,” he said.

Too much money was spent on rebranding and “I don’t think that was the way to go.” He proposed a “think tank” on the matter.

Menna also said there are other issues to fix, including lighting on Front Road North and a light at Alma St. and Howard Ave. He was also supportive of Centennial Park staying as parkland, but thought the new public high school should be on the north side of the park. He also voiced concerns with “red flags” that related to the Belle Vue property.

The town can’t say no to projects like Wendy’s, Menna added, and that “for the future of Amherstburg it means better choices. It means being open for business.”

Gregory Moore said he has a “common sense” approach that he feels people can relate to, including not purchasing things that aren’t needed.

“You don’t spend money you don’t have,” said Moore, noting he comes from a background where he didn’t have a lot of fancy things.

Moore noted he is a volunteer at his church as well as a musician.

Moore said many of the roads “look like Detroit” and that the town has to stop spending money on its wants and focus more on its needs. He believed businesses owners need to come together and gather ideas and advise council.

Moore also disagreed with spending $75,000 on rebranding, suggesting high school students could have been utilized.

“We could have saved ourselves a bunch of money,” said Moore.

Moore believed that more attention also has to be made to the former Anderdon and Malden townships. He added that he wants Amherstburg to be the best and “I’m a winner because I choose to win. Amherstburg can choose to win too.”

All 14 councillor candidates were on stage last Wednesday night at Western Secondary School. It was the first of two “Meet the Candidates” nights that were presented by the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce.

Michael Prue said he has a lot of experience in politics in the Toronto area but noted he is a “transplant” to Amherstburg.

“If anyone knows about politics in Ontario, it’s me,” said Prue.

Prue said he knows how to fix roads, deal with upper levels of government and work with council members and staff. He believes economic development is the key to this election.

Prue said meetings should not always be held at town hall, as there are many who don’t live in the downtown core. Decisions should be made with everyone taken into account and that people have to be shown their tax dollars are being used fairly.

There is “absolutely no question” the town needs a new pool, as children should have the opportunity to learn to swim in a safe environment. He suggested getting service clubs involved with such a project.

Asked about Belle Vue, Prue noted he is treasurer of the Belle Vue Conservancy and voiced his belief that it could be used as a conference centre with the ability to draw people to town, which in turn would help with a hotel.

Prue said as mayor of East York, he removed a lot of red tape and that led to industrial growth. They also got fibre internet and grew the municipality without growing taxes and believed that can be done in Amherstburg.

Marc Renaud said he has served extensively in the community and through his union, Unifor Local 200. The minor hockey president said he believes council could be more accountable and responsible to residents. If the “math doesn’t add up” or if a project doesn’t benefit all residents, he said he would say no to such things.

“I believe council can serve the people better,” said Renaud.

Renaud said he believes in tourism and supports a strong downtown core. A strong downtown helps provide jobs and aids economic development.

There is still a need for levies, Renaud added, as they focus money on where it needs to go such as road projects.

Renaud was one of the candidates who spoke in favour of live streaming council meetings. He said he attends most meetings and it is different to watch a meeting in person and see reactions and discussions among council members.

Working with recreational stakeholders is also key, he said, and that they can work together to benefit themselves and to keep costs down.

Patricia Simone said she is prepared to make a positive impact on the community and believes she has the experience to do the job well.

“I want to help make a difference in my community,” she said. “I am a problem solver and hard worker. I will fight hard for the residents of Amherstburg.”

Fixing roads and growing the local economy are two items on her list of priorities. She added that the town gave away its police force and “this is a big loss for our town.”

Simone said a further review of whether boats and trailers should be allowed long-term on residential properties and while she said it is fine to enjoy recreational activities, “if it’s impacting your neighbours, it does need to be looked at.”

The town has to be promoted as a place to live, work and play and she added the “future is bright for Amherstburg” and that she has ideas that will “put us on the right track.”

As for her vision for Duffy’s, she said the taxpayers are the ones that need to make a decision.

Ron Sutherland said his platform is about “common sense, not endless politics” and “that is what Ron Sutherland stands for.”

Sutherland touted his background, which includes chairing the Amherstburg drainage board and being one of the town’s two representatives on the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s board of directors. He was also deputy mayor from 2010-14.

Sutherland said “taxes are a necessary evil” but collaboration has to be held and the new council has to take a strong look on how tax dollars are spent. Sutherland said he is open to suggestions from residents on what they want.

Sutherland said “we don’t know what the final costs are going to be” with regards to policing and that people were allowed to choose the car designs, but not who is actually going to deliver the service. He said he heard few that were in favour of switching to Windsor.

As for a ward system, he said he has never lived in a municipality with a ward system and wondered if it would be useful everywhere. He also wanted a more humane program for the treatment of animals and supported getting rid of a $180 portable sign tax.

Lori Wightman said her job at the Essex County Library is where she learned that listening is a strong tool. Wightman, who has served as unit chair for CUPE Local 2974.0, said that role has taught her how to compromise, negotiate and move forward.

“If we can find common ground, we can move forward. If we move forward, we can find success,” she said.

Wightman spoke against a ward system as council members should be considering the needs of all residents. She said she is “leery” about a ward system and that believes it could divide the community.

Regarding the sign bylaw, there needs to be fewer “barriers” for businesses and that she also recognizes the need to have an aesthetically pleasing community.

The town needs to attract business and industry to town and that they need to work with developers. Infrastructure needs to be taken care of and the town must be accountable and transparent in the process, added Wightman.

 

(EDITOR’S NOTE – In the original version of the story, we inadvertently said Peter Courtney stated that the town should put wants before needs. We have corrected the online version to reflect that he said that needs should be placed before wants. The RTT apologizes for this error.)

 

Amherstburg Farmers Market to relocate downtown

 

 

By Christian Bouchard

 

After nine years, the Amherstburg Farmers Market will have a new location to call home.

The market has been held at the Malden Community and Cultural Centre – a.k.a. “The Little White Church” – at the end of Howard Avenue and County Road 20 and opened in 2010. It has hosted local vendors every Saturday to sell a wide variety of local produce to baked goods and handmade crafts.

“Mr. D” of Mr. D’s Produce takes cover from the downpour of rain on the last day of the Amherstburg Farmers Market. The final day of the 2018 season was last Saturday.

The 2.5 acre lot, deemed a historical building is currently for sale with an asking price of $184,900, forcing the market and its vendors to find a new home.

“I’ll miss it and people will miss it,” said Hope Bailey, a first-year market vendor. “They’ll drive by and talk about the memories.”

According to market manager Rita Casagrande, the vendors enjoyed the “Little White Church” location as it was a central location attracting people from Windsor off Howard Ave. and the local cottagers as well as people from Kingsville and Leamington. Despite being sad to see the market go, Casagrande is looking forward to the markets new home in downtown Amherstburg.

“Our permanent spot will be where Duffy’s used to be,” said Casagrande.

Due to construction at the new downtown location, the market will likely have to relocate to Toddy Jones Park before making a permanent move to the downtown location at Duffy’s.

Hope Bailey was one of the vendors last Saturday at the Amherstburg Farmers  Market (left) while Amanda Haggert, Chanel Bouchard and Christina Bouchard from Bouchard Gardens were also selling goods during the market’s final day of the season.

The market has had several trial attempts at Toddy Jones Park throughout the years, however it has struggled to attract customers.

Casagrande stated the location at Toddy Jones Park was great but being a Tuesday afternoon with people at work made it difficult to entice customers.

“We just want to thank our customers who did come and supported us. We enjoyed having them and hope they will follow us to our new location,” said Casagrande.

Big things on the horizon for Smashed Apple catering

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Just because Smashed Apple closed its doors to its restaurant doesn’t mean Bill Deslippe and Patricia Acosta haven’t been busy.

In fact, it’s been the opposite.

Smashed Apple, who won the people’s choice and the critic’s choice awards at the recent United Way Battle of the Hors D’Oerves, has been very busy not only with their catering end of the business but with their other company, Smashed Apple Trade Co. The latter oversees their YouTube channel and other special events, including an Oct. 26 Live Chef Demonstration in which Deslippe will be preparing a four-course meal at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery with every member of the audience being allowed to sample it.

Smashed Apple, which includes owner/chef Bill Deslippe (left), did well at the recent Battle of the Hors’ Doerves in Kingsville.   (Special to the RTT)

“A lot of people are still wondering why we closed the restaurant,” said Deslippe. He noted a shortage of staff made it “a daunting effort” to keep it open as well as the catering end of the business.

As of last week, Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering had catered 55 weddings with festivals and events also being on their schedule.

Acosta noted they try and showcase what Windsor-Essex County has to offer and that includes using local products.

“Essex County has an abundance of awesome products,” said Deslippe.

Smashed Apple is also looking to launch products of their own and using their social media channels such as Instagram to promote them. The YouTube channel sees not only cooking videos uploaded to it, but also videos on trips they take. A video company is coming in to help produce a video at the upcoming Life Chef Demonstration.

They are hoping the YouTube Channel, found by searching “Smashed Apple Trade Co. Kitchen,” will help promote their brand globally. More videos are anticipated to be posted in the winter, though Deslippe and Acosta will be busy with holiday parties, events and the food truck.

“We want to funnel people into the YouTube channel,” said Deslippe. “The YouTube channel will push us into bigger markets.”

Smashed Apple Trade Co. is hosting a Live Chef Demo at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery later this month. Chef Bill Deslippe will be preparing a four-course meal as part of the event.

Deslippe has also been hired as the corporate chef with Highline Mushrooms and will be travelling to Orlando, Florida for them in October. He was also in Grand Rapids, Michigan recently for an event as well, with videos anticipated to come from those types of events.

“We’re all on the same page of pushing Windsor-Essex County to the world,” said Acosta.

Deslippe noted he started Smashed Apple Catering in 2013 with three or four festivals and a handful of weddings. Now, they are booming with regular bookings for events.

“The growth has been crazy,” he said. “The response we’ve been getting for the food we put out and the service we provide has been crazy.”

“It’s a very supportive community,” said Acosta.

Smashed Apple also wants to help people eat healthier and come together as a family, Deslippe added.

“It’s all about healthier lifestyles and families being families,” he said.

For more information, the contact information is www.smashedapplecatering.com , Smashed Apple Trade Co. (which is Youtube and Event site is www.smashedapple.net