Bob Rozankovic

Rozankovic updates position on policing issue

 

Deputy Mayor candidate Bob Rozankovic has updated his position on the issue of the police switchover from Amherstburg police to Windsor police.

Rozankovic, who currently chairs the Amherstburg Police Services Board, noted he was limited in what he could say when profiled in May, but now that the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) has rendered its ruling, he has issued the following statement:

“With the OCPC ruling now having ben publicized I can answer the question on the much-debated policing issue with somewhat more detail.

My original answer was “as a member of the APSB I am limited in what I can say at this time. Ultimately it is the decision of council as to the direction the town takes. Certainly, there are both pros and cons and I have the ultimate respect for all councilors that voted on this difficult issue, no matter their individual preference.” Also “as a member of JPAC, I can say we attempted to address all concerns put forth by all stakeholders including residents, police officers, and administration. All facts were clearly presented without bias for council’s decision-making process.”

Whether to contract out policing or not is a generational issue and not simply an exercise in “what is cheaper”. The public meetings that were held fully showed the depth of emotional involvement by this community with its police service. Though, by far, most speakers at the meetings preferred to maintain police service in its current form, I know there were many who preferred the switch to Windsor. Whether the majority wished to switch, or not, no one can say with certainty. And therein lies the dilemma. As I stated previously, this is a generational issue. A “one-shot” deal to get the decision right because there will not be a chance to reverse the decision at a later date. Let’s be clear, the Amherstburg Police Service will never be reconstituted. At the end of the first five-year term Amherstburg will pay Windsor whatever they ask or Amherstburg will need to contract the OPP for service.

Though I am not a proponent of referendums in most cases, I believe a this is one of those rare times. If we had submitted a request to the province by March 1st, we could have had this issue on our ballots for the October 22nd election. This would have pushed the contract start date to July 2019. A very small delay to ensure a correct decision.

There are current councilors who feel that referendums are not worthwhile, that the general public isn’t knowledgeable enough to make these decisions. I beg to differ. The general public will be knowledgeable and will be intelligently engaged if they are provided with valid information. That is particularly true for an issue such as this one. Furthermore, there are times when emotional connection is more important than saving money.

I don’t profess to know whether the majority wanted a switch or not. I do know that in door to door campaigning I am getting many different opinions.

The fact that a three to two vote, with two abstensions, decided this important issue is so sad. How could a referendum have been any worse? At the very least, council would have known the will of the people.”

Amherstburg Police Services Board, council take no further position on WPS investigation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council took no position on an ongoing investigation into the Windsor Police Service and Windsor Police Services Board (WPSB) and the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) took a similar position or lack thereof.

The two hastily-called meetings in Amherstburg Thursday afternoon and evening were due to the investigation by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC), the same body that will be holding public hearings June 26 at the Libro Centre over the town’s proposed contracting out of policing services to Windsor.

According to a news release put out by Windsor police last Wednesday, Chief Al Frederick and the WPSB were notified that the OCPC has initiated an investigation under section 25 of the Police Services Act with Frederick and the WPSB advising they “intended to fully co-operate with this investigation.”

“The Ontario Civilian Police Commission initially advised the Windsor Police Service and the Windsor Police Services Board that the investigation should be kept confidential.  However, in view of the upcoming Public Hearing related to contract policing in Amherstburg, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission has now recommended that we disclose the fact that an investigation has been initiated relating to internal policies and promotional matters,” the release stated. “The Commission maintains a strict separation between its investigative and adjudicative functions.  Accordingly, the Windsor Police Service and the Windsor Police Services Board believe the fact that an investigation has been initiated is irrelevant to the Commission’s mandate, which is to determine whether the Windsor Police Service contract policing proposal will ensure the provision of adequate and effective policing services to the residents of Amherstburg.”

It was stated that from January 2018 to April 2018, the OCPC “received multiple complaints from members of the Windsor Police Service” and “these complaints raise serious concerns about the workplace environment of the WPS, the administration of the WPS, and the oversight provided by the Windsor Police Services Board.”

The OCPC decided to conduct an investigation May 4. Items being investigated include whether the promotional processes, particularly to administration rank positions, are fair and transparent and whether the Board exercises appropriate oversight of those promotional processes; whether the hiring processes relating to the potential hiring of relatives are fair

and transparent; whether the Board is appropriately informed about administration issues relating to its mandate, including the promotional processes involving candidates for senior administration; whether there has been improper interference in specific legal proceedings and whether any such interference has been initiated, encouraged, and/or sustained by the current administration of the WPS and/or the Board; whether a poisoned work environment has been created, encouraged, and/or sustained by the current administration of the WPS in relation to workplace policies and/or accommodation requests; whether the WPS has fair and transparent processes to address workplace harassment and human rights complaints; and whether the Board is fulfilling its statutory oversight role in relation to the latter two items.

Councillor Jason Lavigne, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) chair Bob Rozankovic listen to comments made by the public at last Thursday’s APSB meeting.

Bob Rozankovic, chair of the APSB, said he was tempted to cancel this meeting but decided to keep it scheduled to see if the board wanted to make any sort of resolution.

“The board has no say in the matter,” he said. “We have no say in the decision of council.”

Councillor Jason Lavigne, who joins Mayor Aldo DiCarlo as council representatives on the board, said the council meeting featured Frederick and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins and emphasized there have been allegations laid but no actual findings have been discovered.

“We are not part of Windsor, we are not part of the investigation. These are allegations at this point,” said Lavigne.

Lavigne said the OCPC didn’t want to come to Amherstburg June 26 and have the investigation become an issue if news of it were to leak out and wanted the town to know about it.

“They wanted to make sure no bombshells were dropped at the hearing,” Rozankovic added.

George Kritiotis, one of the residents at the meeting, raised various questions and comments including about body camera’s (“In general, they keep everyone in check.”), where new applicants would apply to and the investigation itself. New applicants, he was told, would apply to the Windsor Police Service, he was told. Questions raised over the investigation were met with the reply that the APSB can’t provide any comment anyway.

“Even if we did have the facts, it’s not up to us to judge the Windsor Police Service or the Windsor Police Services Board,” said Rozankovic.

Kritiotis questioned morale of the officers that would be joining Windsor and further asked whether the Amherstburg officers would be impacted should the OCPC grant the go-ahead for the service to be contracted to the city.

Denise Bondy added she wanted the town to show it cares “about the men and women who serve us” and also wondered about the collective agreements for the officers. The Amherstburg Police Service would officially dissolve Jan. 1, 2019 if contracting out the service is approved provincially and officers would work out of Amherstburg as Windsor police officers.

A number of the questions and concerns raised by members of the public at the APSB meeting dealt with other issues as well, including severance pay for Amherstburg officers, with Amherstburg Chief Tim Berthiaume stating that issue is still being worked on and that it could come up in arbitration if unresolved by Jan. 1, 2019.

Councillor Jason Lavigne speaks during the special Amherstburg Police Services Board meeting held June 14.

Nancy Atkinson questioned DiCarlo as to how he felt when he walked into the mayor’s job in a difficult work environment.

“That is what you are asking our police officers to do and I don’t understand,” said Atkinson.

DiCarlo, emphasizing that there are only allegations at this point against Windsor police, said he chose to enter the fray as mayor four years ago. He said Amherstburg had to endure a similar situation with the fire department and called in the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office to investigate. Recommendations were then adopted by the town and he said the same could hold true in Windsor if any issues are revealed or confirmed by the OCPC.

The town council meeting was made public about 30 minutes before the start of it, the mayor added, as it turned out no additional information was gained prior to the meeting to necessitate council going in-camera.

Rozankovic added there are over 600 employees with the Windsor Police Service and allegations have been raised by anywhere from 2-5 people.

Lavigne added the June 26 hearing is to decide whether Windsor police can provide adequate policing to the town.

“They don’t want to hear that you don’t like it,” he said.

More ideas come in on what to do with the Belle Vue property

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

More ideas have been floated as the town held a second public meeting on what to do with the Belle Vue property.

About 25 people attended last Tuesday night’s meeting at the Libro Centre with more people from the general public attending this meeting than the first one held seven days earlier.

Similar to the May 29 meeting, attendees were told that as of May 31, the Belle Vue Conservancy had raised $210,000 in cash, had nearly $18,000 in in-kind contributions and another $65,000 in future cash pledges.

“We are starting phase one, which is the repairing of the roof,” said CAO John Miceli. “We’re trying to make it water-tight.”

Miceli praised the conservancy, stating they have done a good job raising money. Renderings depicts such things as gardens, brick pathways, a greenhouse, conference meeting centre, lighting, a bandshell and other amenities but the door has been left open for other ideas. Miceli said nothing has been adopted by council.

“It is an incredible property to be placed here in Amherstburg,” said Miceli. “We took a blank canvas and created something our community could enjoy as well as our region.”

Historian Robert Honor, who is also a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy, gave a history of the 200-year-old home from the time it was built by Robert Reynolds in 1816-19 through its various private owners, to its time as a veterans’ home and then as St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. The church sold the property in 2000. The town bought it in 2016.

“Belle Vue seems to tell a story of people starting new adventures,” said Honor. “Belle Vue might be considered a symbol of new beginnings and new prosperity.”
Honor added that “as we speak, we are also part of the process of new beginnings as we discuss the future of Belle Vue.”

One of the renderings shown at the two recent public meetings shows the elevations of the historic building once Belle Vue is restored.

John McDonald said the fundraising process could be assisted if people could use the grounds. He suggested teaming with the Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society to spruce up the nine-acre site, with the first priority being to put in trees.

Use of the property could “build public momentum,” McDonald said, adding that such things as church picnics could be held on the grounds under a permit system.

The chief administrative officer replied that there are currently liability issues with Belle Vue as the site needs to be graded to make it safer. He did note that it is in the parks master plan. There is also no irrigation on the grounds to help water any plant materials at the current time.

The greenhouse that is proposed would allow the town to grown and maintain its own plant materials, he envisioned.

Councillor Leo Meloche spoke on the conference centre idea with Miceli indicating that the historic building could house smaller conferences while larger conferences could be held in a new building that could be built behind the home.

Meloche added the parks and gardens will take Belle Vue “to another level” but was hoping for minimal operating costs to run it, also hoping that would be self-sustaining.

Bob Rozankovic questioned whether the site could be self-sustaining with Miceli responding that the town would seek partnerships in running the site. He was confident it would be cost-neutral, envisioning that Belle Vue would be a destination that people from the region would want to book and attend.

A proposed look at what the Belle Vue property would look like.

Miceli added that a business model would have to be built but emphasized his belief Belle Vue could become a popular place in Amherstburg for residents and visitors alike.

“It’s a unique venue,” said Miceli. “There’s nothing like it.”

The CAO added it is “a totally different look and feel” than Willistead Manor in Windsor and believed there would be more amenities should Belle Vue be restored.

Treasurer Justin Rousseau agreed that there could be “a lot of uptake for bookings” at a restored Belle Vue and “that type of revenue stream” and that type of revenue could prove fruitful for the town.

Using the home as a bed and breakfast was floated but Miceli said they would have to work with a private operator to run it, should the town want to go in that direction. He said there could be an announcement soon as it relates to a hotel coming to Amherstburg.

Marc Renaud said relationships have to be built with the community to help get the site restored. He said the ongoing roof replacement shows there is activity at the site.

“It’s about donor. Money that will make the place run,” he said.

As for a timeline, Miceli said that is tough to give since the restoration depends on fundraising dollars. Should donors step up and grants come in, the actual construction process could take 18 months to three years on the home itself while the grounds could take approximately eight months to complete, according to the CAO.

Miceli said news about a federal grant could be coming soon.

“We are applying to every opportunity that comes along,” he said.

Paul Hertel, another member of the conservancy, recalled being on town council when King’s Navy Yard Park was created. He believed it is now a reflection of the community’s desire for growth, and that Belle Vue could turn into the same thing.

“I feel Amherstburg has great potential and energy to grow,” he said. “It takes a whole community to raise its collective conscience of who we are and the space we are blessed to occupy. I have great faith the process will be successful. It’s not a one-term project. It’s a life journey.”

An image of what a restored Belle Vue would look like, according to renderings by Architectura.

Miceli said the Belle Vue project and the project proposed for the Duffy’s property are among the most exciting he has dealt with in his 28-year municipal career.

“They are game-changers for the town,” he said.

The Belle Vue Conservancy’s next fundraiser is “All That Jazz for Belle Vue,” which is an event that includes a dinner and a show. It’s planned for June 25 at the Artisan Grill. Tickets are $80 per person and are available at the Artisan Grill, Amherstburg Freedom Museum or by calling Shirley Curson-Prue at 519-736-6947. The entertainment includes Renee King-Jackson and her Fabulous Foursome. It runs from 6-10 p.m.

For more information on future events or on the Belle Vue Conservancy, visit www.bellevueconservancy.com. To donate, people can visit www.amherstburg.ca/donate.

Belle Vue is located at 525 Dalhousie St. in Amherstburg.

Rozankovic aiming to be the next deputy mayor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Bob Rozankovic has his eyes on the deputy mayor’s position and believes the time is right to pursue it.

Rozankovic is running for that job in the Oct. 22 municipal election and has been accumulating a resume of municipal involvement over the last four years. He has been on the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB) and is the current chair. He has also chaired the former economic development committee.

Believing there is “going to be a lack of returning experience” on town council, Rozankovic cited that as a reason he is running for deputy mayor.

“I think the deputy mayor needs to be able to fill in for the mayor when the mayor is not available,” he said, “not just at council but at events around town as such.”

Rozankovic said he wants to see the growth of the town continue. He said a lot of open discussion and positive momentum came out of economic development committee’s “Mayor’s Breakfast” with local realtors three years ago.

“It goes to show how much can be achieved with honest and open discussion with as many stakeholders as possible,” he stated.

“There is so much work left to do and I feel that I have a lot to contribute to the process,” he stated. “I have a good working relationship with the current mayor and administration. Not always agreeing, but always having intelligent discourse.”

Rozankovic, a sales manager in the tool and die industry, believes finances have “turned around in the sense that we know exactly where we stand and we can plan ahead. We need to make decisions on solid business cases, always ensuring that residents get the maximum value for their tax dollars.”

Bob Rozaknovic is running for deputy mayor in the Oct. 22 municipal election

The next term of council will be critical, he said.

“I truly believe the next council is going to set the tone for the future of Amherstburg,” he said. “The last four years have been good but the next four years will be pivotal.”

Ensuring the town assists business startups, local organizations, and festivals is critical to developing a community that people want to live in and people want to move to, he added.

“We have to be branded as a community that is thriving, inviting, and progressive, while at the same time maintaining heritage that is at the core of who we are,” he said.

Rozankovic added: “We want to be the premier retirement community in Southwestern Ontario, and we can be just that. But we must commit to a strategic plan for this to be accomplished.”

Rozankovic would also sit on county council, if elected. He believes county council “does a fair job,” particularly with regards to infrastructure but also thinks the library strike “was mishandled badly.” His objectives would be to ensure Amherstburg’s concerns are lobbied for and also to help lobby the province for more infrastructure funding.

On the policing issue Rozankovic stated, “as a member of the APSB I am limited in what I can say at this time. Ultimately it is the decision of council as to the direction the town takes. Certainly there are both pros and cons and I have the ultimate respect for all councillors that voted on this difficult issue, no matter their individual preference.”

Rozankovic added “as a member of JPAC, I can say we attempted to address all concerns put forth by all stakeholders including residents, police officers, and administration. All facts were clearly presented without bias for council’s decision making process.”

There is a lot of “negative energy” around decision-making and Rozankovic said he will provide “leadership that addresses the root causes of voter dissatisfaction and redirect negative political energy into positive outcomes.”

Town council considering eliminating two committees, combining two others

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A motion to combine the parks committee with the recreation and culture committee as well to eliminate the economic development committee and audit and finance committee has failed.

However, it doesn’t appear the issue is dead.

The motion lost thanks to a tie vote at the most recent meeting of town council with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo voting in favour along with councillors Rick Fryer and Diane Pouget. Opposing the motion were Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Leo Meloche and Joan Courtney.

Councillor Jason Lavigne was not in attendance at the July 10 meeting.

The issue may be brought back for a reconsideration at a future meeting.

In a report to town council, clerk Paula Parker said her department was directed by CAO John Miceli to attend most committee and board meetings in 2016 to “for the purpose of providing procedural advice and to assess and address committee inconsistencies.”

Among the concerns they noted were that agendas were not posted to meet notice requirements as per the town’s approved procedural by-law, agenda templates are not consistent, agendas are not being published with supporting materials, chairs tend make motions, chairs tend to lead the meeting, there is no disclosure of pecuniary interest asked at the start of meetings, procedural rules are not being followed for delegates, no deferral motions, motions are too vague, minutes are not recorded as per Municipal Act requirements, minute templates are not consistent and recommendations/reports to council are inconsistent.

“The recent amendments to the Municipal Act add additional requirements and limitations to committees of council, if these concerns are not addressed, the town will be non-compliant with the Municipal Act and possibly the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act,” Parker stated in her report.

Town HallWEB

Training was conducted for committee chairs in March 2017 but concerns were raised that they volunteer their time and should not have the same knowledge of the Municipal Act as the clerk’s department.

Staff liaisons were also provided additional training.

The staff liaison is now required to understand and follow parliamentary procedure and its supporting legislation. It is important to note that the clerk’s department has specialized knowledge in this area and is current with all legislative changes, the clerk is also charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all procedural rules and legislation are followed at all times. With this said, it is difficult to expect all staff members of the administrative team to know all the nuances of this specific task and as a result increases the potential risk of non-compliance,” Parker added in her report.

Parker said information was requested from the staff liaisons with respect to the function of each committee in preparation of her report that went before town council July 10. Some concerns that were brought forward include cancellation of meetings due to difficulties achieving quorum, absence of council representation, cancellation of meetings due to failure to meet notice requirements, committees moving motions that do not comply with their mandate, committees moving motions to eliminate portions of their council adopted mandate, committees challenging council decisions and committees supporting initiatives that require additional staff time that is not available within the time allotted recently by council.

Pouget said people on the committees work hard and try to give the best advice they can to council. She was concerned about whether committee members had been notified.

Meloche questioned whether town council has worked with its committees enough.

“I don’t think council has really engaged the committees,” he said, adding he believes there has been some “disconnect” between council and the committees.

Meloche didn’t object to dissolving the audit and finance committee, noting it is difficult to get a quorum for those meetings, nor did he oppose combining the the recreation and culture committee with the parks committee. He did not want to see the economic committee meeting be disbanded, noting they meet regularly and try to further economic development in the town.

DiCarlo called it “an issue of resources for the town” and that the recommendation to dissolve the committees was not personal against the committee members.

“Administration is also having a pretty tough time keeping up,” said the mayor.

DiCarlo added after the meeting he didn’t recall the Deloitte report saying the town had to have the audit and finance and economic development committees, believing the report gave guidance on what to do and what the town should be doing. He said the town is now moving in the right direction and that momentum could be continued without the committees.

“As much as we brought the committees in to move the town forward with accountability and transparency, I think we’ve achieved that in a lot of areas,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo reiterated concerns over resources and quorum, noting there are no “extra bodies” in the clerk’s department.

Economic development advisory committee chair Bob Rozankovic said that committee has only had one instance in three years where they failed to have quorum and that it is run well in terms of policy and procedures.

“The sword of Damocles still hangs over our heads,” Rozankovic said after the meeting.

Rozankovic believes there are certain council members who don’t like the committee and the issue of dissolving the committee “is somewhat of a petulant reaction” by those members.

“We’ve challenged them and, personally, I don’t think they like that.”