Diane Pouget

Developer to pay for cost of tree and its removal from construction site



By Ron Giofu


A town-owned tree will cost a local builder $8,500 plus removal costs.

Drew Coulson appeared before town council last Tuesday night regarding a tree located at the corner of Lowes Side Road and Sandwich St. S. He said his company was represented at the Committee of Adjustment several times on the matter and the original intent was to keep the tree.

The installation of storm and sanitary sewers was done in the area, but a letter to the town from Coulson stated “I am also submitting letters from 4 legitimate sources stating that the actions of building the new homes on the Lots, in no way initiated the decaying and subsequent dying condition of the tree. Therefore, I submit the following letters attesting to the fact that the tree was well-advanced in decay prior to the commencement of construction of the new homes.”

“I’m willing to pay to cut the tree down,” said Coulson. “I’m not one who likes cutting down trees.”

Councillor Diane Pouget said a report from the town’s arborist said the tree was formerly in good condition before construction began in the area.

A tree near the corner of Sandwich St. S. and Lowes Side Road was the source of controversy at the most recent town council meeting.

“Thank you for your letter although I don’t believe any of it,” Pouget told Coulson.

Pouget said the town’s tree bylaw “is very, very clear” in that it says that trees have to be protected if near excavation and that snow fence or another type of barrier has to be installed. She said she didn’t see any of that near the tree in question, a 36-foot silver maple.

CAO John Miceli said the tree bylaw is also very clear with regards to how to determine the value of trees with Miceli adding that he told Coulson that the cost of the tree is $8,500 and the builder is responsible for removing the tree. Miceli added that town arborist Bill Roesel said the tree is a danger and needs to be removed.

“I was not going to stop construction of three houses,” said Miceli.

Councillor Leo Meloche believed some of these types of issues are on the town, as trees are placed in “precarious positions.”

“We’ve created some of our own problems here,” said Meloche.

Councillor Joan Courtney said it “would have been nice” if the arborist was at the meeting. She questioned the tree having been fine one year and having to come down the next.

“If there are trees deteriorating that fast in one year, we should look at all of our trees,” said Courtney.

Report from fire chief on Sept. 25 tornado response displeases councillor



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone returned to town council with a report on the response to the Sept. 25 tornadoes but it did not satisfy the council member that requested it.

“I’m not happy with the report at all,” said Councillor Diane Pouget, who recalled her family being “hunkered in the basement” that night as WJBK-TV Channel 2 out of Detroit was broadcasting that Amherstburg was in the path of the storm.

“The Town of Amherstburg did not send out any warnings,” said Pouget.

Pouget maintained use of the emergency sirens would have helped and that council members heard from a number of residents unhappy that there was no notification. She said some people knew of the storm only through family members contacting them, something she found “disturbing.”

“This could have been a very, very dangerous storm,” said Pouget. “I just feel it could have been a very significant disaster.”

Councillor Joan Courtney said she saw the same U.S. broadcasts, which called for local residents to take cover.

Montone said they were challenged by the fact that no national or provincial authority warned of an immediate emergency or hazard for Amherstburg.

“Those are the authorities we are subordinate to,” said Montone.

The sirens reach about 260 homes in the “primary zone,” with that zone being the first to know about a nuclear incident. He added they do not reach further out into the community.

“I can’t provide information I don’t have,” said Montone.

The brick welcome sign was also destroyed during the Sept. 25 storm that hit Amherstburg.

The Amherstburg Fire Department did not receive any emergency calls for service Sept. 25, he stated.

In his report, Montone noted that “like many members of the public and media,” the National Alert Ready Message and provincial warning advised of the tornado warning for southwestern Ontario.

“No alert or credible information regarding an imminent event directly to the Town of Amherstburg was ever received,” Montone’s report stated. “The emergency siren system within the Nuclear Primary zone, which was designed specifically for the threat of nuclear exposure, does not provide the majority (primary zone contains approximately 260 households of a total of 8,951 households within the municipality) of the Amherstburg public with specific information about what type of emergency exists nor emergency instructions or appropriate actions to take during a weather event.”

Montone noted that “it is very important that the public be provided with accurate information and guidance” and that sources that are “partly accurate” could mean incorrect or non-effective guidance could be provided to the public “which could result in needless worry and panic, accidents and additional injury caused by inappropriate guidance.

The “probable tornado” that was determined to have hit as part of that evening’s weather event was the result of local information provided by the municipality, he said, as opposed to any scientific visit or investigation.

“This event was not a significant emergency requiring the Emergency Operation Centre to be opened,” Montone’s report stated. “There was not mass damage, no injury or worse, and no emergency calls for help were received. This event did not require the mayor to consider declaring a State of Emergency; this event did not require the Emergency Control Group or our Municipal ERP to be activated. There was extremely little damage to property.”

Messages were also sent via smart phone to those on the LTE network, he added.

Councillor Rick Fryer noted minor sports groups such as minor soccer have long asked for better notification at such places as the Libro Centre. He believed the U.S. has better radar systems.

Councillor Leo Meloche questioned whether American weather sources could be used by the town given the close proximity to that country.

“Can we not access the National Weather Service for a fee?” asked Meloche.

Councillor presses for information regarding police bill for festivals



By Ron Giofu


An issue relating to policing costs for non-town sponsored festivals came up again at the Oct. 23 town council meeting.

As she did two weeks previous, Councillor Diane Pouget pressed for information regarding money that the town may have to write-off for policing costs for two festivals. In an e-mail she later sent out to people in the community, she believes $17,000 is still owed for costs relating to the Mardi Gras and the Harvest Festival.

Pouget wanted more information and asked why DiCarlo was “stopping me from making my motion.”

DiCarlo responded that the information being requested could not be discussed in public session.

“It’s public money,” Pouget responded. “Why can’t I get a report? This has been going on for two years.”

CAO John Miceli said efforts to recover the money are still ongoing.

“We are following the collection policy the town has approved,” said Miceli.

Miceli maintained a position he took at the Oct. 9 town council meeting that efforts to collect the money will continue and that, if it is not successful, then consideration for writing it off will be brought tot town council.

Pouget indicated that the taxpayers should not be on the hook for such an expense, and that those responsible for the bill should be held accountable.

Councillor Rick Fryer believed it was an issue moreso for the Amherstburg Police Service Board and that “in a roundabout way,” the issue is due to an APSB decision that town council is not privy to.

Pouget made a motion to direct administration “to provide council with a report regarding the status of a significant amount of money owed to the Amherstburg Police Department for services rendered at a festival or festivals, that were not sponsored by the Town of Amherstburg. This report must be made available at our next council meeting.”

That motion was defeated in a 3-2 vote with Fryer, DiCarlo and Councillor Leo Meloche opposed. Pouget and Councillor Joan Courtney were in favour. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Councillor Jason Lavigne were not at the Oct. 23 meeting.

Recount issue becomes more complex in deputy mayor race



By Ron Giofu


The deputy mayor race saw the top two candidates finish within four votes of each other with a recount appearing to be more difficult than originally anticipated.

Leo Meloche finished with 2,579 votes while Diane Pouget ended up with 2,575 votes with Pouget’s route to a recount becoming more complex thanks to the Town of Amherstburg having no policy or bylaw pertaining on to how a recount would be addressed. Pouget said she requested a recount Tuesday morning but was told she could not have one as the town didn’t enact a policy or pass a bylaw regarding possible recounts before May 1.

Pouget said she was “very disappointed” to lose to Meloche by only four votes but understood it was the will of the people.

“I really respect my constituents. They voted in favour of Councillor Meloche to be deputy mayor,” said Pouget.

Pouget, also a current councillor, said she received a number of phone calls and e-mails suggesting she ask for a recount but was notified when she went to town hall Tuesday morning that a recount could not occur due to a new law that came into effect that called for the municipality having to have a bylaw or policy in effect by May 1.

“It appears my hands are tied,” she said, though noted she has two lawyers looking into the situation.

Regardless of the result, Pouget said she will still try and work on behalf of any resident that contacts her.

“I’m going to be there for anyone who needs help,” she said.

Should Pouget wish to pursue a recount, she would now have to go through the Superior Court and give reasonable grounds for a recount, said clerk Paula Parker. Election results became official Tuesday and Pouget would have 30 days from then to make her request.

Parker confirmed that Pouget did ask for a recount but an automatic recount is only available in case of a tie vote. As there is no bylaw or policy, the town has to rely on provincial legislation and that a recount has to be requested through the Superior Court.

There were no reports of issues with the process or the tabulators on election day, Parker added.

“Everything went very smoothly,” Parker reported.

Town encouraging residents to participate in flooding subsidy programs



By Ron Giofu


The Oct. 6 rain event caused flooding in town, much of which was in the Kingsbridge subdivision, and the town is hoping more people take part in the flooding subsidy program.

According to a report from the town’s public works department that appeared as a supplementary agenda item at last Tuesday night’s council meeting, 41 homes had reported flooding with 30 of them coming from the Kingsbridge area. Six incidents of flooding were reported from the Pointe West subdivision while five reports came from other areas.

As of mid-day Thursday, that number had grown to 54 homes across Amherstburg.

The town has stated that the storm water and wastewater systems were both fully functional “at all times, before, during and after the storm.”

“It is difficult to determine the exact cause of every home’s flooding as not all homes within the flooding areas were subject to basement flooding or the same underlying cause,” the report stated. “Protecting each home from basement flooding is the best defence.”

The report, signed by director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu, outlines work done to the Amherstburg sewer system since the 1970’s. Part of it notes the 2017 voluntary basement flooding protection subsidy program that council established, which sees the town subsidize such items as downspout disconnection, foundation drain disconnection, backwater valve installation and sump pump overflow programs. A portion of the 2018 Edgewater forcemain project also sees one of the Edgewater lagoon cells being converted into a temporary wet weather storage cell.

Approximately 40 residents have taken advantage of the voluntary basement flooding protection subsidy program, the town states. That was initiated after the 2017 rain event that hit McGregor.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he had an inch of water in his Texas Road basement and wanted to know how much water hit the area. In a 30-minute period between 7:20 p.m. and 7:50 p.m., the area experienced 36.4mm of rainfall at an average intensity of 116.9 mm/hr. A rainfall intensity of over 98.9mm/hr in a 30-minute period qualifies as a 1:100 year storm.

Fryer believed additional measures need to be looked at, noting 1:100 year storms are happening more frequently.

“It’s more like one in 10 year storms,” he said.

Fryer, who also chairs the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) board of directors, said “it is climate change. There’s no doubt about it.”

Citing the report, Councillor Diane Pouget pointed out that the town has been taking action to prevent flooding since the 1970’s. She asked if another garbage collection day could be added but was told by administration that Windsor Disposal Services (WDS) was contacted and they are going to try to stick to the same schedule, but add another date if one proves necessary.

CAO John Miceli said town council has taken a “leadership role” in trying to address the flooding matters and urged residents to take part in the basement flooding protection subsidy program. He said the town is trying to mitigate the issues but indicated more residents need to take part in the program.

“If you haven’t already notified the town, please do so,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “The key to fixing the problems is knowing where they are. We have been and continue to investigate. There are quite a few homes and we want to do it properly.”

DiCarlo said the system worked the way it is supposed to and that every municipality builds sewer systems to a 1:100 year storm standard. Storm totals “far exceeded” the 1:100 year standard, he said, and that there is no municipal system that could have handled that amount of rain that quickly.

DiCarlo also encouraged people to take part in the subsidy program, noting that some of the issues could have been avoided. New builds do not connect downspouts to the storm sewers and also have backflow valves, with DiCarlo adding that other residents are able to access the program.

For those residents who haven’t already reported flooding problems from the Oct. 6 storm to the town, they are asked to call the public works department at 519-736-3664.