Aldo DiCarlo

Town council votes to opt in to allow for retail cannabis outlets



By Ron Giofu


Town council has voted to opt in and be open to allowing cannabis retail outlets in Amherstburg.

The vote at Monday night’s meeting saw only Councillor Peter Courtney vote in opposition. Courtney said while he wasn’t necessarily opposed to the idea of retail cannabis shops in town, now is not the time to do it.

There are stigma concerns, Courtney stated, but he also had issues with a lack of control the municipality would have over location and how many stores the town could receive. Courtney said he would have been open to possibly opting in during the second phase of the roll-out, assuming there was additional controls given to municipalities.

“I’m opting out to opt in later if more control is given to municipalities,” he said.

Even though Amherstburg has opted in, the town is not eligible for a store authorization due to the town’s populating being under 50,000. There will be 25 licenses issued across the province to those municipalities eligible in the first phase. Amherstburg would not be eligible until at least the second phase, meaning it would be no earlier than December 2019.

“The province has committed to provide $40 million in funding over two years to municipalities to help with the implementation costs of recreational cannabis legalization. Through the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund, the first round of payments was received by the Town Jan. 9 in the amount of $11,733,” manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli stated in her report to town council.

Additional revenues could be obtained if the provincial excise duty revenues were to exceed $100 million, she stated, as “municipalities that permit retail cannabis stores will receive a share of 50 per cent of the surplus. The province will also set aside a contingency fund in the amount of $10 million to assist municipalities that permit retail stores.”

Councillor Donald McArthur expressed confidence that the $100 million mark in excise revenues would be exceeded. He was in favour because it would “clamp down” on the black market for cannabis.

McArthur added be believed a cannabis retail shop could aid commerce in the town by creating spinoff revenue for other businesses within Amherstburg.

“I don’t think you can underestimate the spinoff benefits,” he said, adding that if people can buy recreational cannabis in Amherstburg, it could boost tourism as well.

Councillor Michael Prue agreed that it could negatively impact drug dealers and that regulated cannabis would be safer for users than cannabis from a dealer that could be laced with other drugs. Councillor Marc Renaud noted he was voting to opt in based on the experiences of a co-worker and the impact the drug had on the person’s family through being bought on the street.

The vote to opt in went against the recommendation of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), as the WECHU encouraged council to opt out. Health promotion specialist Melissa Valentik and director of health promotion Nicole Dupuis outline the health risks surrounding recreational cannabis use and regulations surrounding the issue, including that shops can’t be within 150 metres of a school. The rationale for the recommendation to opt out was that it would give more time for formal public and stakeholder engagement, integrate lessons learned from other Ontario municipalities, learn more about provincial regulations and to mobilize stakeholders to respond within the 15-day consultation window.

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche said the county is “borderless” in many ways and that people regularly travel through other municipalities on a daily basis. Meloche remarked that he lives on Walker Road and could potentially cross the road into Essex and go to a cannabis shop should one ever be situated there.

Meloche noted there are billions in revenue generated in tobacco, gaming and alcohol sales and believed the same could hold true for cannabis. He said “the people want it” and it could translate into “pretty significant revenue” that he hoped would be shared with municipalities.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo agreed that “the residents want it” and “we’re here to represent them.” He said he was in favour of opting in but noted he was surprised the vote was as one-sided as it was.

“The vote surprised me,” he admitted. “I thought it would have been a little bit closer.”

Town agrees to 10-year lease with nurse practitioner-led clinic


By Ron Giofu


The Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic is one step closer to reality.

Town council agreed to a ten-year lease with the clinic with the motion to approve the lease coming after an in-camera meeting Jan. 14. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said they had a plan in mind for the former St. Bernard School after the town purchased it and the clinic is part of it.

The former St. Bernard School building is located at 320 Richmond St.

There are a number of renovations that are required before the Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic can use their share of the building, but the mayor hopes it will be done in a few months.

The clinic is a reality in large part thanks to $650,000 in provincial funding.

“We hope to have them in there for residents to use by late-spring, early summer,” said DiCarlo. “Everybody wanted that clinic open as soon as possible. They have two options, – either they go somewhere else or they wait what most people would say is an unreasonable amount of time for health care. We’re trying to reduce that wait time and make sure that they don’t have to leave town.”

The Amherstburg clinic is expected to have three full-time nurse practitioners, a registered dietitian, a health promoter, physiotherapy services, a full-time registered practical nurse, an office administrator and a full-time receptionist. It could accommodate as many as 2,400 patients.

The mayor stated many towns like Amherstburg could use additional health care options.

“I don’t think I’ve talked to a community that said we’re flush with health care,” he said. “There’s a number of ways to provide health care and so what we’ve done is find an alternative model and these nurses and basically do just about anything a doctor can do.”

The former Catholic elementary school has been described as a potential “seniors hub,” but DiCarlo said it will be more of a community hub as there is the possibility for youth amenities as well.

“There’s a lot of room in that school. The (Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board) left it in really good shape,” he said.

The “general concept” of the site is health care, seniors care and seniors activities, he noted, but youth will be incorporated.

“It should be a great plan for young and old all in one convenient location in town,” said DiCarlo.

Swimming community wants pool, council indicates it is still on town’s radar



By Ron Giofu


A pair of local parents spoke up about the lack of a public swimming pool in Amherstburg, but town council indicated the matter is still being considered.

Tiffany Cote and Yvette Erickson, joined by a group of local young swimmers, stated their concerns to town council Monday night. The last town council sold the southern 15 acres of Centennial Park to the Greater Essex County District School Board for the construction of a new public high school, meaning the current Lions Pool will be removed. Erickson said that was a “great disservice to our youth.”

“Selling off Centennial Park which was donated land given to the children of Amherstburg so they had a place to play and call their own without replacing what is lost is detrimental to our children. Such cuts at a time of great concern about child obesity are very short sighted and will cost more in the long run,” said Erickson. “We are asking this new town council to look again at the proposals to replace everything lost to this sale including the pool and consult widely with the people of Amherstburg on these proposals. Centennial Park has been a hub for sports for our youth. The park is always busy with baseball, swimming, track and field over the summer and football in the fall. The skate park and park equipment are also used year round for local youth in the area. The beauty of this park with all its wonderful amenities is that it is centrally located.”

Erickson said the idea of moving a pool to the Libro Centre is “short sighted” as many families believe it is too dangerous to walk there. She championed the idea of a centrally located pool in a location such as the former St. Bernard School site or Jack Purdie Park with fundraising ideas such as the parkland dedication fund, the Amherstburg Community Foundation and working with service clubs.

“There are very limited things for our youth to do and the previous council has gotten rid of a major hub. The pool provided families with low cost access to a sport and as it was a public pool those who needed (Canadian Tire) Jumpstart funding were able to use it, something a private pool cannot offer. Our children deserve more not less. We live along a river community, therefore our community should focus on water safety and how to swim,” said Erickson.

Local residents, including those with the Amherstburg Sharks swim team, are looking for a new pool to be built in Amherstburg now that the Lions Pool is closed. The Amherstburg Sharks swim meet is pictured.

Cote expressed concern over families leaving Amherstburg to find a place to swim.

“The current pool was built on donated land and the money to build the pool was raised by the community. Therefore, money made from the sale should have been earmarked to relocate all amenities lost,” she said. “If a 25m pool is built, provincial swimmers can use their times from swim meets towards provincial meets. It could also be made into a fully accessible pool, one that no other municipality has.”

“I think it’s safe to say we have not forgotten about a pool,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, stating that it is still under consideration by the town.

Councillor Peter Courtney said he supports the idea of a new pool in Amherstburg and that the community supported the Lions Pool.

“It should be replaced,” said Courtney, adding that they should “fast track” the plan.

“I think our kids need a pool,” added Councillor Donald McArthur. “I think we need to find a way to make that happen.”

Councillor Michael Prue said he was intrigued by the parkland dedication fund and wondered how much money was in it. Treasurer Justin Rousseau said it currently has over $2.1 million.

CAO John Miceli said costings have been done with a new outdoor pool estimated at $1-2 million while an indoor pool would be $7-8 million. An indoor pool, should council approve one, would be at the Libro Centre to take advantage of the mechanical systems there, he added.

Miceli added that he and DiCarlo “have had discussions with a third party provider” about a new Amherstburg pool.

Glass making plant possible for Amherstburg?



By Ron Giofu


Could Amherstburg be the home of a Chinese glass making plant?

According to a report from the Stratford Beacon Herold, Amherstburg is one of four Ontario municipalities in the running for “a $450-million, 186,000-square-metre plant that will be home to 400 workers.” The other sites for the Xinyi Glass Canada plant reportedly are London, Stratford and Welland, that newspaper stated.

Xinyi would use more than 1.2 million litres of water a day, need a “tremendous amount of energy” and need to construct a 100-metre smokestack, the Beacon Herold’s report stated.

However, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo is tight-lipped about any talks with the company, stating he was shocked to see media reports on the matter. DiCarlo stated that like other developments that the town has talked about, they don’t want to leak any information.

“Like many private developments we’ve dealt with in the last few years, these people don’t want anything given out unless something comes of it,” said DiCarlo. “All I can say is that the Town of Amherstburg hasn’t shared any information.”

While stating he is unable to give specifics, the mayor indicated that all municipalities in Ontario are seeking to attract new industry and new business.

“Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to thinks anything we can attract here would pretty much help the town,” said DiCarlo.

This isn’t the first time that developers and companies have approached the town about investing in Amherstburg, DiCarlo added, and while some haven’t worked out, he said he still will not disclose any information in those cases either as he wants to respect the confidentiality that was asked of the municipality.

“When it comes to private business, I’m not at liberty to discuss anything,” he said.

Lana Drouillard, director of marketing and communications with the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC), said they have been involved but also couldn’t add much.

“I can confirm that we have met with the company, the province and the town to pursue this,” she told the River Town Times via e-mail. “All other details are confidential at this time.”

CBC reported that the company had hoped to locate a plant between Cambridge and Guelph but hopes were dashed by Township of Guelph/Eramosa council, as that municipality wanted to have their site maintain a dry use, meaning industries there can’t use significant amounts of water for its production.

Royal LePage Binder real estate officially opens Amherstburg office



By Ron Giofu


Royal LePage Binder Real Estate has officially opened its new branch office in Amherstburg.

Located at 65 Sandwich St. N. at the corner of St. Arnaud St., this new office will, according to a press release, “enable us to provide comfortable and efficient services to our sales representatives, clients and customers in the community as well as new team members.”

Royal LePage Binder Real Estate first opened an office in Amherstburg Aug. 1, 2011 with their Amherstburg team having grown to 12 sales representatives.

“We’re thrilled with it,” franchise founder and broker of record Frank Binder stated. “It’s been a work in progress. We’re excited to be here.”

Renovations took roughly two months to complete and Royal LePage Binder Real Estate is happy to be in the north end of town.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Royal LePage Binder real estate office at 65 Sandwich St. North.

“We are excited about the prospects of growing in Amherstburg as the town grows,” said Binder. “It’s a great community. We want to be part of that. We felt we had to be here.”

Royal LePage Binder is the sole occupant of its new building and has parking for its customers, he added.

The real estate company has offices in Windsor, Tecumseh, Kingsville and Leamington and total sales team of 150 sales representatives and brokers.  Binder has been in the real estate industry for 43 years.

Royal LePage is a Canadian real estate franchise serving Canadians for over 100 years and now have over 17,000 sales representatives coast to coast. The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation is dedicated to raising funds to assist women’s shelters across the country. Locally, Royal Lepage Binder Real Estate has raised over $400,000 over the past 17 years for the foundation. Their 2018 Golf Tournament raised $30,000, at Pointe West Golf Club with 100 per cent of the funds directed to the Hiatus House.

“We are proud of the services our sales team provides, and our involvement in the various communities we serve in Windsor Essex County.  This expansion speaks to our confidence in the local real estate market and to our continued commitment to serve the great community of Amherstburg,” said Binder.