Gary McNamara

Essex County councillors get committee appointments for 2018-22 term

 

By Ron Giofu

Members of Essex County council have had their committee appointments approved for the 2018-22 term.

At county council’s final meeting of 2018, they approved recommendations from the striking committee which established as to which county council members will sit on each of the County of Essex’s committees.

The Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) will be well represented by the county’s two elected officials from Amherstburg. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo will become a member for the full four-year term after spending last year as an alternate member, serving one-year terms every other year. The latter position now falls to Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche, who will serve one-year terms in 2019 and 2021.

Other Essex County members of the EWSWA board of directors will include Warden Gary McNamara, LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy and Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald.

Leo Meloche and Bondy will also sit on the Windsor-Essex Community Housing Corporation with Meloche and MacDonald also representing the county on the Windsor-Essex County Environment Committee (WECEC).

Essex County council has decided on their committee appointments for the 2018-22 term.

The Essex County Library Board will have representation from each of the seven county municipalities – four county council members and three lay appointments from each of the other three towns. Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche and Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos return to the board and will be joined by Leamington Deputy Mayor Larry Verbeke and Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Tracey Bailey. The lay appointments include Ron Sutherland from Amherstburg, Andrew Dowie from Tecumseh and Terry Burns from LaSalle.

Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen returns to the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee (ECAAC). He will be joined by lay appointees Debbie Alexander, Christine Easterbrook, Brad Frenette, Diana Kirkbride, Therese Lecuyer and Fern Walsh.

McNamara, also the mayor of Tecumseh, will be one of the county officials on the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) board with Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti, Essex Mayor Larry Snively and Bailey. McNamara will also represent the county on the Windsor-Essex County Housing Advisory Committee and the Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) board, the latter also including LaSalle Deputy Mayor Crystal Meloche and Santos.

Bailey will also serve on the 911 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) while Verbeke will sit on the Food Policy Committee. Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain will serve on the Windsor-Essex Opioid Strategy Leadership Committee.

McNamara new Essex County warden, Santos acclaimed as deputy warden

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County council held its inaugural meeting for the 2018-22 term last week and selected a new warden to lead them.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara was chosen as the warden, which is the head of county council, for this term. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos also sought the position, but he didn’t leave without a new title either, as Santos would be acclaimed as deputy warden.

“I’m honoured,” said McNamara. “It’s always a privilege to be recognized by your peers around the table.”

McNamara said he first joined Essex County council about 20 years ago and served as deputy warden from 2000-03 and 2010-14. It was his third time seeking the warden’s position.

“I would say the third time is a charm,” he remarked.

Newly-elected Essex County Warden Gary McNamara (right) accepts the gavel from former warden Tom Bain. Bain served as warden from 2010-18 with McNamara being elected by his colleagues to be the new head of county council at the inaugural meeting Dec. 12.

McNamara said he hopes to continue the work done by his predecessors, two of which remain on county council. Santos was warden from 2006-10 and Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain was warden from 2010-18.

“The county is in a tremendous place. It’s because of the leadership we’ve had in the past,” he said.

With questions hanging overhead about how the Progressive Conservative government will deal with the province’s debt, McNamara said the county and lower-tier municipalities have to work collectively and deal with any potential impacts.

“We are going to have to be vigilant that they don’t balance the books on the backs of municipalities,” he said.

Working with all seven Essex County municipalities is important, McNamara indicated, but so too is working with the City of Windsor. He added that they have to continue to promote the fact that Essex County “is a great place to do business and raise a family.”

Investing into infrastructure was cited as a priority, including dealing with busy roads in Tecumseh, LaSalle and Lakeshore as well as roads in the southern half of the county as well. Continuing to work on the County Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS) is important, he added, as is completion of a roads needs study.

Members of Essex County council for the 2018-22 term were sworn in last Wednesday night. Top row (from left): Essex Mayor Larry Snively, Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche, Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti, LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy, Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche, Kingsville Deputy Mayor Gord Queen and Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain. Bottom row (from left): LaSalle Deputy Mayor Crystal Meloche, Deputy Warden and Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos, Warden and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara, Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Tracey Bailey, Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald and Leamington Deputy Mayor Larry Verbeke. Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was absent.

The mega-hospital that the County of Essex is committing about $100 million towards has to be completed, with the site for that being the corner of Concession 9 and County Road 42, near Windsor Airport.

“It has to come to fruition,” added McNamara.

McNamara, recently retired from Hiram Walker, is also a former president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). He hopes those contacts will help him in his new role as warden.

“It’s given me an opportunity to connect with the upper levels of government,” he said.

Santos said “it’s great to start a new term of Essex County council” and that “I’m really excited to be a part of the team.”

The Kingsville mayor stated continuing to reduce EMS wait times at hospitals is another priority, noting that while they have gotten better, there is still room for improvement. Santos also noted there is a strategic plan for Essex County being developed and that will “lay out a game plan” for the future. He added that will map out what the county can strengthen.

Santos said that “it will be a good one-two punch” with McNamara as the warden and himself as deputy warden, noting they both have a lot of experience and can help the new members.

“I think it’s a positive for the region,” he said.

County council decided also decided its striking committee that will help determine which members sit on what committees. Bain, Santos, Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald and LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy were elected to that committee.

Essex County council is comprised of the seven mayors and seven deputy mayors from around the county.

Essex County council ratifies EWSWA budgets

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2017 and 2018 budgets for the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) are one step closer to being finally completed.

Essex County council has given its approval to the two years worth of budgets, with the 2017 budget calling for a zero per cent increase and the 2018 budget calling for a two per cent increase. EWSWA general manager Eli Maodus pointed out that the process calls for approvals from both county council and Windsor city council.

In his report, Maodus noted that a $447,480 contribution from the authority’s rate stabilization reserve was required to balance the 2018 budget. He stated that “this reserve is used to smooth out any large increases to the total waste management fee.”

The rate stabilization reserve is projected to be $16.6 million at the end of 2018.

County CAO Rob Maisonville said a ten-year plan is being created knowing that reserve is in play. The new plan, he noted, would use reserves but “find a balance” in order to maintain them as much as possible.

“Those reserves aren’t going to last,” cautioned Warden Tom Bain, who had multiple meetings with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins, Maisonville and city CAO Onorio Colucci.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said the $16 million reserve may look like a lot, but there is debt and a reduction in tonnage that has to be considered as well. He said there has to be a grasp on what costs will be in the future.

“That $16 million will disappear in a hurry,” he said.

The landfill debt is reportedly $65 million.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott questioned procedure, stating that the budget problems were started when two years worth of budgets tried to be passed at once. McDermott was concerned that county council was doing the same thing last Wednesday, but each budget was eventually passed.

Essex County council approves early release of $5.7 million worth of road projects

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County council has approved the early release of $5.7 million worth of road projects, four of which will impact Amherstburg.

The remainder of the $11.2 million worth of road projects will be debated during next month’s budget deliberations.

Director of transportation services/county engineer Tom Bateman said the practice of releasing funds early has been one that has worked out well for the county.

“We’ve met with excellent success over the years,” Bateman told county council, “and we’re looking for similar success in 2018.”

In his report to county council, Bateman noted “an increase from 2017 in the expenditure level of the overall rehabilitation program in the amount of $579,200 has been included for 2018 providing a total funding of $11,221,400.” The increased funding is supported through a $320,000 annual incremental increase, a $156,280 Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) increase and a gas tax agreement of $102,920.

The four projects planned for Amherstburg, all designated for early release, include structural deterioration rehabilitation for the Canard River bridge on County Road 20, a culvert replacement on County Road 20 at Concession 7 South, pavement rehabilitation on County Road 8 between Howard Ave. and Walker Road and pavement rehabilitation on County Road 18 between Concession 6 South and Howard Ave. The latter project will also include paved shoulders, which is also part of the County-Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS) plan.

County Road 18 between Concession 6 South and Howard Ave. is scheduled to be repaved, including paved shoulders, in 2018.

The estimates on those projects are $190,000, $675,000, $500,000 and $510,000 respectively.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson questioned the 25-year capital expansion plan, which he said sees only nine per cent of $322 million in roadwork proposed for Leamington, Kingsville, Essex and Amherstburg. According to Paterson, 91 per cent of it is planned for Tecumseh, LaSalle and Lakeshore.

“It certainly doesn’t seem very equitable across the county,” said Paterson. “I’m not looking for answers tonight. I just want to bring it up because I think it’s important.”

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara indicated the issue dates back to when a portion of what is now Tecumseh was given over to Windsor. McNamara said Tecumseh has been “very patient” as it awaits resolution to some of its roadway issues.

“The amount of traffic that goes through our community is very high,” said McNamara. “Obviously you’ve got to take a bus tour to the north end of the county to see how traffic really moves.”

Bateman said there are capacity issues in the northern part of the county, stating there isn’t the same level of capacity issues in the southern portions of Essex County that need addressing.

As it relates to the capacity expansion program, Bateman wrote in his report: “County Council has adopted a financial forecasting tool to address the roadway expansion requirements as identified in the Essex Windsor Regional Transportation Master Plan, updated for inflationary considerations, along with estimates, based on recent reports, for the expansion costs of selected high volume highways. The model is premised on 1.5 per cent levy increases through 2018 to accommodate the approximate $400 million of infrastructure. In 2012, the financial model was amended to identify and prioritize expansion requirements exclusive of senior government funding and grade separations. In order to accommodate 100 per cent municipal funding, the schedule has been elongated to 2040 to manage the financial burden within reasonable limits of the county levy.”

 

Economic Development Centre funding proposal for Smart and Connected Borders approved

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

During an overview of the economic development activities for Windsor and Essex County, the CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation also brought forth their $10 million project for Smart and Connected Borders.

The five-year project is in two parts. The first part is the connected and automated vehicle infrastructure integration, and the second is the smart borders information system.

In CEO Stephen MacKenzie’s proposal to county council Nov. 1, they explained the Smart Borders portion of the project is being submitted to Transport Canada’s National Trade Corridors Fund, which involves multiple collaborators in Canada and the U.S. It will “draw on available and emerging technologies, and facilitate information exchange among key players with the goal of improving the speed and efficacy of the customs, immigration and security functions.”

The idea is to improve traffic flow, while complementing the marine domain awareness proposal by Accipiter Radar Technologies Inc.

The connected and automated vehicle infrastructure Integration (CAVBII) portion of the project, will “establish a demonstration site to develop, test and spur networking and information exchange on the application of connected and automated vehicles (CAV) technologies in relation to border crossings.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to seize the moment in particular with the autonomous vehicles moving forward,” said Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. “There are some companies that are certainly going to take advantage of the electric vehicles and all of that new technology. It’s not just about the automobiles, but it’s the automation in the industry as a whole and I’m glad to hear that we’re not going to wait until we’re an afterthought. In the future I think it’s boundless in terms of opportunities that could bring to our region because of our geographical positioning in North America. I certainly want to commend your efforts and staff in bringing this forward and there’s no doubt that this should be supported unanimously in that particular regard.”

MacKenzie’s proposal was approved with unanimous support.

During his deliberation, he also spoke about their satellite small business center, which was opened up in Essex on Maidstone Ave., co-located in the business resource center of Essex County. He went through a number of metrics gathered for the 2017 year, until the end of September. He said they have provided services to 1,808 clients, 595 of which were in the county.

The small business center also assisted entrepreneurs to start 188 businesses as of September, 42 of which are located in the county. They also track the start ups from the previous year to see if any of them have made expansions. As of September, MacKenzie reported they had 100 companies which they previously assisted in starting up expand, 41 of which were in the county.

The job creation totals, which are self reported by the businesses, came in at 429 jobs, 172 of which were in the county.

“We also had the small business expo in October at the Caboto Club,” said MacKenzie. “It was very successful, we had about 75 small businesses from the county and from the city, and we had over 500 folks from the public come in, learn about the companies, buy purchases right there.”

For more information on the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, visit their website choosewindsoressex.com