Jason Lavigne

Town council approves basement flooding protection subsidy program

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

Town council has approved a new basement flooding protection subsidy program, but not all residents are impressed by it.

Under the new program, the town will provide a downspout disconnection service to residents on the Amherstburg wastewater collection system free of charge. The town will also provide a financial subsidy to residents on the Amherstburg wastewater collection system to disconnect foundation drains from the sanitary sewer for up to 50 per cent of the cost, to a maximum of $1,000.

The town of Amherstburg has also committed to providing a financial subsidy to residents on the town’s wastewater system for installing backwater valve devices on the internal sanitary plumbing system in existing homes for up to 100 per cent of cost to a maximum of $1,000.

The town will also provide a financial subsidy to residents on the wastewater collection system to install a sump pump overflow to discharge outside to the surface for existing sump pumps. That also can cover up to 100 per cent of the cost to a maximum of $300.

Administration was also directed to develop a program for the mandatory disconnection of downspouts and improper cross connections and report back to council.

. The program is retroactive to Aug. 28, the day McGregor was pounded as part of a heavy rain storm that hit Windsor-Essex County.

McGregor resident Tom Welsh, who has been the victim of multiple floods, didn’t believe $1,000 was enough, saying “this is a band-aid, in my opinion. You are stating you are going to help us, but we are still going to have to fork out $2-3,000.”

Welsh believed the residents should be able to apply for total funding of costs incurred.

Director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu said the town’s program is similar to a program offered in Windsor, and that comparisons were made to other local municipalities as well. The public works department also called plumbers in the area and the estimates were similar as well.

CAO John Miceli said that it’s a voluntary program and that the plan is to ask for funding requests during budget time, if needed, to ensure the flooding issues are addressed.

“Members of the community have to apply for the subsidy,” Miceli pointed out.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he wanted more information about water coming from other municipalities and what the entire region is doing to address the flooding problems. He believed a report was necessary on what all municipalities are working towards.

Fryer also suggested better infrastructure to deal with the issue once and for all, and not yearly subsidy programs.

“We’ve got to start taking care of the hamlet of McGregor,” he said.

Giofu countered that studies into the area have shown that major issues in the McGregor area are on private property but the town is willing to work with residents.

Councillor Leo Meloche, a McGregor resident himself, said there are subdivisions in McGregor with small lots and that water is often just drained to neighbouring yards during storms.

“Planning has to address the issue of elevations before we get to the issue of disconnections,” said Meloche, who also expressed concerns about the mandatory disconnections of downspouts.

Welsh reiterated what he and fellow neighbours believe, and that is not enough money is spent in areas like McGregor as opposed to the “core” of Amherstburg.

“I see it as a band-aid. It’s frustrating,” he said of the program. “Something has to be done. I’m not going to finish my downstairs ever again.”

Councillor Jason Lavigne said money was spent by the current council to fix flooding in the urban part of Amherstburg due to a design flaw with a previous project. He said there are no design flaws in McGregor and that Mother Nature “wreaked havoc” with heavy rain.

“To suggest we are doing more for the core than the county, I blatantly disagree with that,” said Lavigne. “I don’t believe it’s neglect. All we can do is offer a subsidy program. We hear you. It might not be enough. We are doing everything we can and we’ll do more if we can.”

“My whole community thinks this way,” Welsh responded. “We get nothing. We pay more taxes than some people on Boblo.”

Miceli indicated more could be done on the infrastructure front.

“What my team is doing is trying to increase design standards for the town. We are not going to wait,” he said. “We want to make sure we have the highest standards in the region.”

The CAO added that while he won’t guarantee that will eliminate flooding, “we are going to take the highest standards to prevent it.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said after the meeting that numbers contained in the program “seem to compare with actual costs” and called it “a good starting point for the town.” He said the town wants to work with individual residents to resolve flooding issues and those requests could come immediately.

“I fully expect residents will contact public works and they will get on it as soon as they can,” said DiCarlo.

The mayor added the new program “may not fix the problems but we have to look at mitigating them as best we can.”

Town gets closer look at $6.9 million tree inventory

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town received an update on its tree inventory with the value of the trees in the right-of-ways being in the seven-figure range.

Arborist Bill Roesel and manager of public works Eric Chamberlain presented the tree inventory project to town council at the Aug. 21 meeting with Roesel telling council that 4,181 trees were examined over a six-week period. The value of the street trees was compiled based on size, species, health rating and location with Roesel adding that the value of the trees is estimated at just under $6.9 million.

“A lot of people don’t realize trees have a monetary value,” said Roesel.

One challenge that Roesel said the town faces is the number of Norway Maples planted in the municipality. He said many were planted 30-40 years ago and were the “tree of choice” but now there are issues.

“They were overplanted,” he said.

At least half of the trees in town in the public right-of-ways are Norway Maples and those trees face challenges such as verticillium wilt and girdling roots, the latter being defined as roots that grow around other roots or the main trunk of a tree.

Town council was also told there are 46 trees in town identified as “priority one,” meaning those trees require removal as soon as possible as they present a hazard to the public.

There are 71 trees that are “priority two” trees, meaning the trees require removal within the next four to six months before they become hazardous. There are 91 additional trees that are classified as “priority three” trees which means they are recommended for removal within the next 12 months before they become hazardous.

Town HallWEB

Councillor Diane Pouget said she wanted it made public where the priority one, two and three trees are so people know what trees are slated to come down. She recalled a group of residents hiring their own arborist to save trees on Richmond St. several years ago and also recalled the Navy Yard Park tree debate of 2008, one that garnered major media attention.

“I don’t want a repeat of what happened (in 2008),” she said. “It’s better to be open and honest about it.”

CAO John Miceli said the town will replace trees that are cut down, if possible, and said the tree inventory project “is a very significant undertaking for the town.” Of the 4,181 trees studied, he said the ones needing immediate attention amounts to less than five per cent, something he believed was good news for the municipality.

Chamberlain said ten large trees have already been cut down due to them posing a danger to the public, with Miceli noting that $50,000 is included in the 2017 budget for tree maintenance. Councillor Jason Lavigne pointed out there are no new costs to cut down potentially hazardous trees.

“It’s business as usual,” he said.

Council members not impressed with county over not returning library funds

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of Amherstburg town council are not impressed that the county won’t be returning any funds collected during the eight month long library strike.

Amherstburg had sought a refund of money paid during the library strike with Councillor Diane Pouget wanting an update during Monday night’s council meeting. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the county chose to reallocate the funds into reserves with no money being returned to municipalities.

“Other than that, we have no authority per se other than our votes,” the mayor stated.

Pouget asked if the town has any legal recourse in the matter.

“Taxpayers paid the money,” she said, “and we didn’t get the service.”

Amherstburg town council is upset with the county over not returning funds collected during the Essex County library strike. One of the strikers is pictured in this August 2016 photo.

Amherstburg town council is upset with the county over not returning funds collected during the Essex County library strike. One of the strikers is pictured in this August 2016 photo.

Pouget added the town could have used the money to put in a reserve of their own to maintain the library building itself.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the town can look into the agreements between upper and lower tier municipalities with CAO John Miceli stating that library services fall into the county’s jurisdiction.

“Our residents pay a significant amount of money in taxes for a service they didn’t get,” Pouget pressed. “I do think we have to take a stand on this.”

DiCarlo said Amherstburg was one of the municipalities that wanted the money returned and “to the best of my recollection,” there was one other. Councillor Jason Lavigne wondered why no other municipality was concerned about “ripping off” the residents.

Lavigne added his belief that there is a “black mark” on the county for failing to return the funds collected during the strike.

Council agrees to waive Amherstburg Farmers Market fees, but for only one year

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Fees have been waived for the Amherstburg Farmers Market, but for only one year.

The market opens this Saturday at the Malden Community & Cultural Centre with Steeve Bouchard representing the market at the most recent meeting of town council. Bouchard outlined the many markets in the area and said those markets pay nothing in fees.

“I’m wondering if we could avoid me having to come back every year and waive the fees for the life of the market?” asked Bouchard.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale wondered how much the fees amounted to with manager of licensing Nicole Rubli stating that waiving the fees could amount to the town not receiving as much as $3,000 in revenue.

Amherstburg Farmers Market

Councillor Rick Fryer was in favour of waiving the fees for as long as the market was there.

“If we are going to do it one, two or three years, let’s do it as long as the market exists,” said Fryer.

Councillor Diane Pouget disagreed with waiving the fees in perpetuity, believing council doesn’t have the right to do that. She said the financial situation can change every year.

“A new council might feel different about this,” said Pouget.

Councillor Leo Meloche agreed with Pouget, also noting financial conditions can change.

“If the situation changes and we desperately need $3,000, I’m sure the council of the day will find a way to charge residents $3,000,” said Fryer.

CAO John Miceli noted there are many fees that the town charges and that can add up to “significant revenue.” He said every time fees are waived, the town needs to be on top of the situation.

“In my opinion, we need to keep track of this,” said Miceli.

Miceli added that “in perpetuity is a very long time” but added that it is “just a word” that could be changed if the council of the day saw fit.

Councillor Jason Lavigne questioned whether the town should just scrap fees for the farmers’ market if Amherstburg is the only municipality charging them. His motion to waive the fees for one year and get a report back from administration on the subject.

The Amherstburg Farmers Market runs 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. every Saturday from May to September.

Duffy’s demolition to start shortly

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Demolition of the former Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn should start within the next week or two.

Town council approved the tender during its meeting Monday night with the winning bid going to the Jones Group Ltd. The total amount quoted by the Jones Group was just over $280,000 to complete the work, with that dollar figure being over $172,000 less than the next lowest bidder.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

In his report to town council, CAO John Miceli stated that the firm that performed the environmental assessment on the Dalhousie St. property provided a designated substance survey (DSS) of the property.

“The DSS confirmed asbestos, lead, mercury and silica present in different areas of the former tavern building. The abatement requirements were included in the tender specifications for all proponents,” said Miceli in his report.

The town used the firm Golder Associates for the assessment, Miceli stated, adding the town was able to renegotiate the purchase price down to $1.115 million.

If all goes smoothly and according to plan, Miceli said the demolition could start either next week or the week after.

Councillor Jason Lavigne wondered if the Amherstburg Fire Department was finished with the building, as it was being used for training purposes.

“We have pretty much used it for as much as we could,” replied deputy fire chief Lee Tome.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she appreciated the thoroughness of Miceli’s report, noting she was a critic when the report came several months ago regarding the demolition of the former AMA Arena.

Pouget noted the price difference between Jones Group Ltd. and the rest of the bidders.

“It’s such a big, big difference,” she said. “With all of the savings, we’ll be able to fix up the property much quicker than we originally anticipated.”

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Councillor Joan Courtney asked if the town had applied for any grant money for the project, including the redevelopment of the lands. Miceli said there has been one application submitted thus far, and that pertained to the removal of gas tanks from the property.

Courtney also questioned whether there had been any meetings with stakeholders. The CAO said the next steps are to meet with the community and stakeholder groups to discuss the proposals for the property. The town has floated such ideas as an amphitheatre, marina, and food truck parking among other amenities.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Miceli added he knows of one party that is interested in sponsoring riverfront development in that area.

Council had been made aware of Miceli’s concerns that the site could further decay and become a target for vandalism. He also stated in his report that demolition could have become more complex if delayed due to the ongoing construction of the neighbouring Queen Charlotte Residences.