John Paterson

Outgoing county council members say goodbye, returning members offer thanks

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2014-18 term of Essex County council is wrapping up with the final meeting of the term now having been held.

The five outgoing members said farewell while other members that are returning also offered thanks to administration, fellow county council members and Warden Tom Bain. It was also the last meeting as warden for Bain, although he is returning to Essex County council for the 2018-22 term due to him still being mayor of Lakeshore.

Saying goodbye were Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale, Leamington Mayor John Paterson, LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya, Essex Mayor Ron McDermott and Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Al Fazio. DiPasquale, Antaya and McDermott are retiring from politics while Paterson and Fazio were not successful in their re-election bids.

“It’s been a great pleasure for me to be here these last four years,” said DiPasquale. “I learned a lot of things I didn’t know. It’s been a great ride for me.”

DiPasquale thanked county council and administration, stating “I think we’ve done a pretty good job working together.”

Paterson recalled his early days on county council when he was told to take his Leamington hat off and wear a county hat instead. He noted he brought up questions that may have gone against the status quo but did so to for the benefit of the county, adding he never felt a “negative vibe” from anyone for doing so.

There were “battles” at points, Paterson added, but “when we were done, we were done.” He also recalled the times when the county was unified, including when meeting with ministers from upper levels of government on issues.

Antaya, the current deputy warden, thanked his own residents for electing him to begin with.

“It was a thrill serving the community I grew up in. It was the crowning moment of my career,” said Antaya.

Antaya thanked the administration at the county level, noting the transition between CAO’s was “seamless” after Brian Gregg retired and Rob Maisonville took over.  He called Bain a “terrific leader” and told him “you represented the county well.”

“I enjoyed working with every one of you,” Antaya told his fellow county council members.

McDermott got choked up at points during his farewell address, thanking his community for his 15 years of service. He also thanked his deputy mayor Richard Meloche, who McDermott said has been there the entire 15 years with him. Meloche will be returning to county council next term.

“The staff is unbelievable,” McDermott said of the county’s administration, and also expressed thanks to his colleagues and Bain.

Fazio thanked Bain for being his “mentor” in both Lakeshore and at the county level. He also expressed gratitude to administration, his family, his fellow county councillors and the residents. He also thanked members of the committees he has sat on.

“It’s been a great eight years on county council,” said Fazio.

The returning members to Essex County council include both Kingsville and Tecumseh mayors and deputy mayors with Nelson Santos and Gord Queen representing the former and Gary McNamara and Joe Bachetti representing the latter.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo will be returning as well. Hilda MacDonald and Marc Bondy will also be returning, but will be moving up from deputy mayor to mayor in Leamington and LaSalle respectively.

DiCarlo also expressed thanks to his colleagues for their hospitality when he first arrived four years ago. With the town going through severe financial challenges, DiCarlo recalled being given advice by many other members of county council.

“The support was truly overwhelming,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo also noted he was welcomed right from the start, despite not having much political experience when he was first elected. He wished outgoing members well and said he looks forward to working with the incoming county council to “continue to work together to make Essex County the best place to be.”

MacDonald noted she was the only female member of county council these last four years but said she was treated equally and with respect during the term. She thanked Bain for making her feel welcome and comfortable.

“You treated me well,” said MacDonald, who will be one of three women on the next Essex County council.

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.”

 

Essex County to hold onto library strike savings, pledge to use it for library purposes

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The $790,000 that was saved during the 230-day Essex County library strike will not be coming back to municipalities.

Instead, Essex County council will set that money aside in a reserve that municipalities and the county itself can tap into for issues specifically related to libraries.

County CAO Brian Gregg noted the $790,000 in savings was due to the money not being spent due to the strike and said it was not administration’s intent to “bury it and have it go away.” The money was temporarily placed in a reserve, he said, with the intent to bring it back to county council for discussion on what to do with it.

“The county doesn’t have a way to rebate this to the ratepayers,” said Gregg.

Gregg suggested there were “a number of ways” the money could be used, suggesting it could be used to support the library system.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo questioned how much the library system didn’t receive in government funding due to the strike. DiCarlo, who had asked for that figure at prior meetings, was told that it was “coming soon.” Gregg said a review of the figures shows that total is roughly $140,000.

Library workers picket outside of Amherstburg town hall last year. Approximately one year after this photo was taken, Essex County council decided to put $790,000 saved during the library strike into a reserve with the plan of using the money for library-related purposes.

Library workers picket outside of Amherstburg town hall last year. Approximately one year after this photo was taken, Essex County council decided to put $790,000 saved during the library strike into a reserve with the plan of using the money for library-related purposes.

DiCarlo was one of five county council members who opposed the motion.

Amherstburg council was one of the municipalities that asked for the money to be refunded.

Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti liked the idea of using the funds for library services with Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos making the motion to set the money aside and allowing municipalities to tap into it should their library buildings need capital improvements.

Santos compared it to when Windsor-Essex Economic Development Commission (WEEDC) funding was returned, with the condition that money be used for economic development.

Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald stated the $790,000 was generated because the ratepayers did not get the library services and believed “it absolutely needs to go back to the people” who paid the money to begin with. Leamington Mayor John Paterson believed others on county council were saying local municipalities could not be trusted and believed the county did not need more reserve funds, as it already has $120 million in reserves.

Santos said it wasn’t a matter of trust and said the money will be set aside for when municipalities are ready to put a shovel in the ground for projects.

Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said he has been hearing from a lot of people wondering what is going on with the money and hopes they can regain trust from those who lost it during the strike.

DiPasquale said after the meeting that the use of the money has been “pretty transparent” thus far. He agreed with the motion.

“It is fairness,” he said. “I hope the public understands that. I thought it was fair.”

Warden Tom Bain said the money was collected through the county levy and believed the big factor is that it will be earmarked specifically for library needs. He indicated the funds could also be used to lower increases brought to county council by the library board at budget time.

Returning the money to ratepayers wouldn’t be worth it, Bain believed, as it would amount to about $4 per resident.

Community Living Essex County pleased with 2017 golf tournament

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

Community Living Essex County (CLEC) held its 27th annual Charity Golf Classic last week and were happy with the results.

The tournament, held last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club in McGregor, drew fewer golfers this year (126) than last year (143) but manager of community relations and resource development Tony DeSantis said CLEC is still hopeful of reaching its $20,000 goal.

“I think we made more than last year because have more corporate sponsors,” said DeSantis.

CLEC made $18,000 from the 2016 Charity Golf Classic.

While the tournament was open to all interested golfers, part of the event was the Municipal Cup competition between the participating Essex County municipalities. Leamington – comprised of Mayor John Paterson, CAO Peter Neufeld, Brian Humphrey and Ward Hutchins – repeated as Municipal Cup champions by beating two Kingsville teams as well as teams from Amherstburg, LaSalle and Lakeshore.

Team Amherstburg was comprised of Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Councillor Leo Meloche, fire chief Bruce Montone and retired fire chief Al Reaume.

Community Living Essex County held its annual golf tournament last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club in McGregor. Leamington repeated as winners of the “Municipal Cup” portion of the tournament, which was a competition between Essex County municipalities. From left: Leamington CAO Peter Neufeld, Brian Humphrey, Leamington Mayor John Paterson, Ward Hutchins.

Community Living Essex County held its annual golf tournament last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club in McGregor. Leamington repeated as winners of the “Municipal Cup” portion of the tournament, which was a competition between Essex County municipalities. From left: Leamington CAO Peter Neufeld, Brian Humphrey, Leamington Mayor John Paterson, Ward Hutchins.

Community Living Essex County is grateful to the municipalities, DeSantis added, noting CLEC operates in each of the seven county municipalities. He noted Amherstburg’s re-entry into the Municipal Cup portion of the tournament and said it was DiCarlo’s first year in the tournament.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of the communities,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis called this year’s tournament “a positive experience” and believed people left happy with the day. He paid tribute to long time volunteer Fred Mitchell, who not only golfed, but recruited golfers and sponsorships. The team of volunteers was also thanked with the volunteers and golfers also recognized by board of directors 2nd vice president Sue Desjarlais and CLEC director of operations Karen Bolger.

A final fundraising total will be announced in the coming weeks.

Community Living Essex County supports over 650 people with an intellectual disabilities and their families. For more information on the agency, visit www.communitylivingessex.org.

County council to receive report on funding and cost distribution of EMS services

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg council and their Essex County colleagues will soon be getting more answers regarding EMS funding and service.

Essex County council directed its administration to provide an information report regarding funding and cost distribution of EMS services. That motion was passed last Wednesday night but stemmed from an original request from Amherstburg council in April.

County council had deferred the matter from its June 7 meeting. County CAO Brian Gregg believed the request from Amherstburg will be covered in a comprehensive report.

“Does Amherstburg feel they paying too much or not enough for EMS services?” asked Leamington Mayor John Paterson.

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“The simple answer is we don’t know,” responded Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.

Noting that all municipalities don’t have tiered response, DiCarlo noted that “a lot of money” is spent by Amherstburg to send its firefighters out on medical calls while an ambulance was delayed. He didn’t begrudge any municipality for not having a tiered system with its fire department, but believed the cost issues need to be investigated further.

“At some point, we are going to have to address this,” said DiCarlo.

The issue should be addressed at “an EMS level,” he believed, adding that if they are short ambulances, the solution could be to add more ambulances.

“If we have to add more ambulances, so be it,” said DiCarlo.