Diane Pouget

Amherstburg to spend upwards of $75,000 to devise new “branding strategy”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council is moving ahead with a new branding strategy that could cost upwards of $75,000.

Council authorized administration to proceed with an agreement with Cinnamon Toast New Media Inc. at cost not to exceed $75,000 plus HST to develop a “branding strategy” for the town. Council approved up to $80,000 for such an initiative in the 2018 capital budget.

According to a report from manager of tourism and culture Anne Rota, the proposed branding strategy “will guide Amherstburg into a successfully integrated marketing and promotions plan that will be competitive with current and developing market trends. This will include a strong online and social media communications program with campaigns to raise the profile of Amherstburg.”

Key project deliverables for the Amherstburg branding strategy include development of a “comprehensive research paper” that will deal with perceptions of internal and external audiences, the source of the perceptions and suggestions for changing them through branding and marketing. Another goal that will be delivered through the strategy includes development of a new town logo and communications “for print and digital for the purpose of incenting visitation and targeting high yield consumer segments.”

Might we be seeing less of this logo in the future? A new branding strategy has been approved with a new logo part of that strategy.

The branding strategy will also lead to a new tourism website, a communications strategy and a “brand identity manual” and communications plan.

“Currently, Amherstburg has fallen behind in marketing and promotion in comparison to other municipalities in the region,” Rota said in her report. “Through the enhanced branding strategy, Amherstburg will build a competitive and sustainable tourism and economic vehicle attracting high yield consumers, maximizing the potential for growth as a destination of choice to visit and invest in.”

The strategic plan that council approved identified marketing, promotion and economic development as needs and goals for the community.

Not all council members were sold on the idea, however. Councillor Diane Pouget said she was opposed to the idea at budget time and remains opposed. She called it a “total waste of taxpayers’ money” and said the town’s logo and colours are not “tired,” but reflected the town’s military history.

The town’s ability to attract festivals and the possibility of a hotel announcement soon shows the town is gaining attention, she believed. The town must “live within its means” and the money could be used for other things, including infrastructure as it is “crumbling in rural areas.”

Town gathering input on new parks master plan

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s process towards a new parks master plan continued last week.

Part of the process was a public meeting last Wednesday night at the Libro Centre, which manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger said drew about 30 people. Belanger said consultants Steve Langlois and Joannah Campbell went over the process and the recommendations that are in the report.

In all, there are 71 recommendations. Some deal with upgrades and expanded services at some parks, while other recommendations deal with how repairs and maintenance should be funded.

Among the recommendations are adding baseball diamonds to the Libro Centre, adding a soccer shelter to the Libro Centre, remove deteriorated backstops at Anderdon and Warren Mickle Parks, investigate outdoor fitness equipment at an existing park, upgrade playground surfacing to meet current accessibility standards, continue to replace traditional playground equipment with “creative and challenging” play structures and providing playgrounds within 500 metres of residents within urban areas.

The replacement of the track at Centennial Park is not recommended.

“The plan has provided an audit of the condition of all of our parks,” Belanger told the RTT Thursday morning. “It maps out the locations and comes forward with over 70 recommendations.”

Moving more sports fields and features to the Libro Centre is a possibility under the plan, she stated, with additional amenities to possibly include a second splash pad, basketball courts and a relocated skateboard park.

Belanger noted that “there are recommendations that are park specific but there are overarching recommendations also.”

Under the plan, parks would be classified as destination, athletic, leisure, heritage, civic, natural and linear, the latter including trails and greenways. A natural park is described as municipal open space and “natural properties used for conservation and passive recreational activities.”

A public survey was taken with 120 responses, Belanger added, and there were six organizations that were met with. There are opportunities for redevelopment of existing assets, she continued.

Belanger said the full draft of the parks master plan is on both the town’s website and the town’s “Talk the ‘Burg” site and public feedback is encouraged. The town hopes to have people respond by May 23 with a final draft plan to go before town council June 11.

Consultants from Monteith Brown Planning Consultants conduct a public meeting May 9 at the Libro Centre regarding the draft parks master plan. (Submitted photo)

There are also recommendations that deal with the Belle Vue property and the former Duffy’s location, but Belanger noted there will be more public consultation on those projects.

Pertaining to Belle Vue, the town is hosting two public consultation meetings on consecutive Tuesday nights regarding the future of the Dalhousie St. property. Those meetings “will be held to assess future opportunities, identify potential uses and solicit public input on proposed concepts for the renowned heritage site.”

The Belle Vue meetings are May 29 and June 5 at the Libro Centre, both scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Councillor Diane Pouget brought up the future of Centennial Park at Monday night’s council meeting, specifically the 12 acres that was not purchased by the Greater Essex County District School Board for the new public high school.

According to Pouget, the park was removed from the town’s inventory of parkland and questioned

agreements with the public school board to use the site. She also pointed out the park is named for former mayor Murray Smith, calling him “a great mayor” and stating he made many contributions towards the park’s development.

CAO John Miceli and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo disagreed with Pouget’s assessment of the status of the 12 acres. Although listed as “N/A” in the study, Miceli said when the draft plan was being written, it was not known by the consultants how much of the park would be sold.

“It does not mean it has been removed,” said Miceli, adding that council wants “opportunities” for the site explored.

Miceli doubted the public board would challenge the previous agreement about park usage, since the board is the purchaser of the adjoining lands, adding that a football field is no longer planned for the remaining acres anyway.

Pouget pressed on, stating the public has a right to know what is going on with that land and whether the town is going to get rid of it. Miceli repeated that nothing has been removed from the town’s parks inventory and that “it’s always up to council to do something with parkland. If anything does happen with the 12 acres, council will make that decision and make a responsible decision.”

DiCarlo questioned how many past bylaws Pouget was going to read, adding that issues surrounding the 12 acres was addressed in-camera.

“It will be addressed by council at a later date,” the mayor said of the 12 acres, adding Pouget was starting to get into issues that were discussed in-camera.

Councillor explains vote over St. Bernard School debate

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A town councillor is explaining her vote as it pertains to the issue of purchasing the former St. Bernard School.

After the in-camera portion during the April 23 town council meeting, council approved a motion to buy the former school building from the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board for $550,000.

Councillor Diane Pouget opposed the motion, but it was the second part of the motion that she disagreed with. Pouget said she supports the purchase of the school, and states she wants to see a “seniors hub” developed there.

The former St. Bernard School.

Pouget also introduced a separate motion last November to pursue grant funding for a Master Aging Plan.

“I fully support the acquisition of the former St. Bernard’s School as a seniors hub,” Pouget said. “In fact, I was the councillor who initiated the motion to apply for a grant for a Seniors’ Master Plan. However, I am adamantly opposed to the remainder of the (April 23) motion, that is to ‘authorize administration to move forward with the proposed plans as identified in the confidential report.’”

Pouget said she could not elaborate further but noted she is “very concerned” about the second part of the April 23 motion.

“Unfortunately, because it was one motion, I felt compelled to vote against it,” she said. “Further to that, I am not allowed to explain my position, because it was in-camera.”

Food truck gets exemption, town to examine bylaw

 

By Ron Giofu

A local food truck operator is getting relief from a licensing bylaw pertaining to refreshment vehicles with the town to further examine that bylaw.

Bill Deslippe, owner of Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering, will be allowed to operate his food truck within 25 metres of other restaurants this year, down from the 200 metres the bylaw states. The town will look at lowering that limit for others, likely on a case-by-case basis, but the full bylaw will come back later this year for review.

Deslippe appeared before town council April 9 asking for relief from the bylaw. He said his intention is to operate his food truck one day per week as the catering end of his business keeps him busy the other days of the week. He is looking for a space, likely on Sandwich St. S., and has had discussions about locating his truck in existing store parking lots.

“We all know 200 metres is pretty far,” he said, referring to the existing bylaw. “I’m just asking for a shorter distance.”

Manager of licensing services Nicole Rubli said a preliminary look at bylaws from other municipalities show anywhere from 25-250 metres as setbacks.

Councillor Jason Lavigne, a former restaurant owner himself, said Smashed Apple is “wildly popular” and that Deslippe is “really well established” within Essex County. Lavigne said that Deslippe has set up shop in places like Toddy Jones Park and he hasn’t heard of one complaint.

Rubli did note she has heard from businesses about food trucks not abiding by setback requirements, however.

Deslippe told council that while he is shutting down his storefront on Sandwich St. S., he will continue catering, operating the food truck and will also launch a YouTube channel to promote the Smashed Apple brand as well as the town. He added that he wants to push local tourism and CAO John Miceli encouraged town council to take a full look at the bylaw so that tourism opportunities could be explored.

Deslippe added that competition is great and drives people to the streets, something Councillor Leo Meloche agreed with.

“Competition is not a bad thing. Competition is a good thing,” said Meloche. “People love options.”

The vote to allow the exemption and to also further study the bylaw passed by a 5-1 recorded vote. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Lavigne, Meloche, Rick Fryer and Joan Courtney were in favour while Councillor Diane Pouget was opposed. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was absent.

Pouget said she wants Deslippe to succeed, but she was concerned about other restaurants, particularly if an exemption was passed on short notice.

“The problem is I don’t want to blindside other restaurants,” she said.

Boblo dock still a cause for concern for town council

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The condition of the former Boblo Island dock on Front Road South continues to be a cause for concern from the town.

Councillor Diane Pouget addressed the matter at the April 9 town council meeting, adding that she has received reports from nearby residents about its deteriorating condition. The dock became further damaged due to recent wind storms, she said, as residents were reporting debris coming from the dock.

“They said sheets of metal were actually blowing off the roof,” said Pouget.

Pouget said the dock is “getting dangerous” and that “those sheets of metal are wreaking havoc.” With boating and Sea-Doo season approaching, Pouget voiced concern that there could be hazards in the water if material keeps blowing off the dock.

Material is also washing up on people’s property as well, she added.

“It’s in deplorable condition,” Pouget said, of the dock.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale agreed, saying winds have continued to damage the dock and caused debris to blow around the surrounding area. He added that he “hopes no one gets hurt” due to material continuing to be blown free from the dock.

CAO John Miceli said he will continue to follow up with the federal government, and see what their latest plans are.

The condition of the former Boblo dock has been a concern of the town for the last number of years, with an asset condition report planned as of two years ago. In 2016, Rosaleen O’Mahony, communications advisor with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said that “should any safety concerns be identified, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will take the appropriate mitigation steps and notify the community.”

The River Town Times contacted Fisheries and Oceans Canada and relayed the town’s most recent concerns. In an e-mail response sent Monday afternoon, the federal department says they are looking into it.

“The structural deficiency of the Boblo Dock is a concern to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. We are looking at different options to remedy the detaching metal roof tiles as soon as possible,” stated Holly Foerter, regional director of communications with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “We will notify town council once a plan is in place to address the immediate concern of the tiles.”

There still is the possibility the Coast Guard could have a use for the dock, she suggested.

“The Canadian Coast Guard still has an interest in the Boblo Wharf and is determining possible future uses of the site,” said Foerter. “The results of this study will decide if the dock will be repaired, removed, or divested.”