funding

Town to use share of library surplus funds on repairs to building

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The County of Essex has released some of the surplus funding accumulated during the library strike.

For Amherstburg, it means getting the full share as allotted by the county.

There was roughly $790,000 saved by the county during the Essex County Library strike of 2016-17 with Amherstburg’s share being calculated at $92,396. The calculation was based on Amherstburg having 11.7 per cent of the county levy.

Library CEO/chief librarian Robin Greenall said that the surplus funding was originally kept in the county’s rate stabilization reserve.

Essex County council decided last summer to place the surplus funding in a reserve with the funding to be distributed in the form of grants to the lower tier municipalities “who apply to use their proportionate share of the $790,000 towards capital improvements or enhancements to libraries located within their municipality.”

Five municipalities, including Amherstburg, applied to the Essex County Library Board for funding with the board making their recommendations to county council.

Greenall said Amherstburg will use its $92,396 to help fund a capital project to help repair damage to the lower level of the branch. The lower level of the Amherstburg library has experienced damage due to water seepage but Greenall’s report to county council states that the estimated cost, pending an RFP/RFQ process, is expected to exceed $93,000.

Julie Feher, a resource assistant at the Amherstburg library, stands at a recent “pop up” library at the Libro Centre. As construction will close the library for five weeks starting Feb. 20, the Essex County Library will provide a ‘pop-up’ library at the Libro Centre (3295 Meloche Rd.), where library staff will be available for limited hours, with a selection of books and resources to check out, beginning Feb. 17. A detailed schedule of the ‘pop-up’ hours and service details will be available by visiting www.essexcountylibrary.ca.

The Municipality of Leamington will receive its full allocation of $98,951 and will use its funding towards a full renovation project at its John St. branch. Greenall’s report indicates the cost of that renovation is projected to be between $750,000 and $1 million.

Essex will be receiving its full share of the funding – $75,013 – to help support capital projects at its Gosfield Townline branch. The funds will be put towards a new roof that is estimated at $100,000, a new canopy roof at the library entrance estimated at $7,000 and the installation of three new HVAC units, estimated at $23,000.

The Town of Kingsville will receive $40,000 of its allocated $94,150 for work at two of the branches. The branch on Main St. West will have three accessible door operators installed at a cost of $6,000. The remaining $34,000 will be put towards replacement of all windows and doors at the Ruthven branch.

Lakeshore will receive $32,000 of its $186,266 share for work at two branches. A concrete walkway at its Toldo Branch, located within the Atlas Tube Centre, estimated at $27,000 will be installed to reduce a tripping hazard and vandalism while the remainder will be used on another concrete walkway at its Stoney Point branch.

The remaining shares of the $790,000 in funding sees LaSalle in line to receive $123,385 and Tecumseh allocated $119,839. Those two municipalities have yet to request their shares of the surplus.

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said it was “positive to see the response from member municipalities” in terms of wanting to enhance their branches. He suggested that the member municipalities follow up with a letter upon the completion of the works to show that the money was used and what it was used for.

(UPDATE: After the publication of the Feb. 14 print edition, the Essex County Library issued the following press release:

“The Essex County Library (ECL)’s Amherstburg Branch (232 Sandwich St. South) will be closed to the public as of Tuesday, February 20, 2018. The closure is anticipated to last approximately five weeks, in order to repair the water-damaged lower level of the library.

During the construction period, the Essex County Library will provide a ‘pop-up’ library at the Libro Credit Union Centre (3295 Meloche Rd.), where library staff will be available for limited hours, with a selection of books and resources to check out, beginning on Saturday, February 17. A detailed schedule of the ‘pop-up’ hours and service details will be available by visiting www.essexcountylibrary.ca. Updates will also be provided via ECL’s social channels at www.facebook.com/EssexCountyLibrary and @EssexCountyLib on Twitter.

In addition, home mail delivery service will be available for Amherstburg residents who would like to continue to receive their requested/reserved items. Residents are also welcome to visit any other ECL branch location. Residents requesting more information are encouraged to ECL Administration at (519) 776 5241.”)

Town updating nuclear plan, hopes for more help

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town of Amherstburg is updating its nuclear response plan but is trying to overcome issues, some of which revolve around funding, due to the town’s unique situation on the subject.

The plan hadn’t seen major updates since its creation in 1998 and deputy fire chief Lee Tome said there had to be “a significant number of changes” to it. He said the province put out a proposal for updates to its Ontario-wide nuclear plan and the town is trying to get in line with that.

“Amherstburg is an anomaly because the nuclear facility is in the United States,” Tome said, in reference to the Michigan-based Fermi II nuclear plant.

Work continues with the province on getting the necessary funding for Amherstburg with Tome adding that the town doesn’t have the luxury of having a nuclear facility that can send resources to Amherstburg in case of an emergency. That differs from other municipalities with nuclear plans as those municipalities are near plants that are also in Ontario.

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Tome said the town is looking at increasing funding to ensure the appropriate equipment and training is obtained.

“We’re hopeful once the changes to the provincial plan are made we’ll be able to then solidify our plan,” said Tome.

There has been no full nuclear exercise since 2004, he added.

Fermi II does contribute $25,000 annually for the town’s nuclear plan but more is needed, so the town is seeking other funding sources – including senior levels of government – to help. Tome said they did receive nearly $40,000 in funding for monitoring equipment from Health Canada.

Local taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the plan, he believed.

“We are slowly making progress,” said Tome. “The issue is who is going to pay for the program on a go-forward basis.”

The town is also working with the medical officer of health on the issue of potassium iodine (KI) pills for those in the “primary zone,” the zone that would be within 16 kilometres of Fermi II. Talks are underway with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care as to who will fund the pill distribution. KI pills would assist those who take them in preventing their thyroid gland in absorbing radioactive material.

Residents of Amherst Pointe would be in the primary zone with Tome adding Boblo Island will also be included as to the island’s unique access circumstances.

“What we’re looking at here is having the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care fund KI pill distribution,” said Tome.

Tome added that it is not mandatory that Amherstburg residents receive KI pills, but they want to be proactive and ensure residents stay as safe as possible. Anyone else who requests a KI pill should be able to get one, Tome believes.

“We feel our residents deserve KI pills,” he said.

The primary zone would be reduced from 23 km to 16 km, Tome added. He said no one he or anyone else at the fire department has spoken to can find where the 23 km figure came from. The 16 km limit would align with the U.S. plan, he said.

Essex County council unanimously supports funding model for mega-hospital

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County council has unanimously approved a new funding model to pay for its share of the proposed new mega-hospital.

Administration from both the county and the city of Windsor agreed to bring a funding model back to their respective councils with county council getting their look at it last Wednesday night. The model calls for a split based on population with 54 per cent coming from Windsor and the remaining 46 per cent coming from the county.

The county’s share, as it stands now, would amount to roughly $91.5 million. County CAO Brian Gregg said when population growth is looked at, that number isn’t expected to change much when the hospital is ready to open.

Essex County council had already approved a multi-year plan to pay for its share of the hospital but the new agreement spells out the actual arrangement for how much gets paid. Gregg estimated the hospital funding would add 0.5 per cent to the county levy “but not necessarily to the tax rate.”

Windsor Regional Hospital president and CEO David Musyj was clearly impressed by what he saw in the county council chambers.

“Today is a phenomenal day,” he declared shortly after the vote. “It showed true leadership.”

Musyj said the mega-hospital project has been four years in the making already and that efforts are continuing to make it a reality, but cautioned there is still much to do yet.

“It’s going to be a lot of work but we’ve seen the city and county rally behind an issue,” he said. “It showed true leadership here tonight.”

While the estimated time of completion is seven to ten years, Musyj said they have to move on to the next phase and can’t go backwards or delay the project in any way. That could mean it would take 15-20 years for the project to be completed.

“It’s time to move this project forward,” said Musyj.

Musyj said county council’s unanimous vote sends a “huge message” to the Ministry of Health.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya said the county has supported the mega-hospital project since the beginning.

“I trust the approach both administrations have taken,” he said, in relation to the funding model.

Antaya stated whatever site that was chosen was going to be criticized but said the process has to move ahead.

“We’re together in this and we intend to see it through,” said Antaya.

“It is now time for us to really unite and get behind this project,” added Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara.

The site selection process is over, he suggested, and that efforts have to move on from that.

“It’s done,” said McNamara. “Get over it. We need to move on.”

McNamara pointed out the other amenities proposed for the new hospital system, including the redevelopment of Ouellette campus of Windsor Regional Hospital into a facility with outpatient mental health services and chronic disease management. He also pointed out the new urgent care facility at the location of the former Grace Hospital.

County residents “deserve better access to that hospital,” he added, and that while no one likes to raise taxes, this area needs a “centre of excellence” for health care. Taxpayers in this region have paid for new hospitals in other areas of the province, he continued, and that it’s now time that a new hospital system is funded for the residents of this region.

“I think the basic funding concept is great,” added Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen, adding “thousands will benefit from the new hospital site.”

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo told the River Town Times that he agreed with McNamara’s assessment that while it not easy to raise taxes, this is a necessary project and one that is easy to support for the region. It has been a project that has been a long time coming, he added, and that he was happy that a community meeting was held in Amherstburg.

“I was ecstatic I didn’t hear a single negative comment,” said DiCarlo. “I’m just hoping (the new hospital system) becomes a reality for the region.”

County council also heard from those in the community supporting the project. Charlie Hotham, representing the Heavy Construction Association and the Windsor Construction Association, said those groups represent 440 construction firms.

Hotham voiced support of the County Road 42 mega-hospital site and also called for the region to come together.

“It’s time to unite the region,” said Hotham. “We have to move forward with a state-of-the art facility for our region. We can not let this project slide away from our grasp.”

Diane Marley, who lives in Kingsville, also appeared as a delegation to support the project. She expressed appreciation for the treatment she received while battling an aggressive form of breast cancer and thanked the county for supporting the project.

“There is no doubt we need this new hospital system,” she said.