Marc Renaud

More ideas come in on what to do with the Belle Vue property

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

More ideas have been floated as the town held a second public meeting on what to do with the Belle Vue property.

About 25 people attended last Tuesday night’s meeting at the Libro Centre with more people from the general public attending this meeting than the first one held seven days earlier.

Similar to the May 29 meeting, attendees were told that as of May 31, the Belle Vue Conservancy had raised $210,000 in cash, had nearly $18,000 in in-kind contributions and another $65,000 in future cash pledges.

“We are starting phase one, which is the repairing of the roof,” said CAO John Miceli. “We’re trying to make it water-tight.”

Miceli praised the conservancy, stating they have done a good job raising money. Renderings depicts such things as gardens, brick pathways, a greenhouse, conference meeting centre, lighting, a bandshell and other amenities but the door has been left open for other ideas. Miceli said nothing has been adopted by council.

“It is an incredible property to be placed here in Amherstburg,” said Miceli. “We took a blank canvas and created something our community could enjoy as well as our region.”

Historian Robert Honor, who is also a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy, gave a history of the 200-year-old home from the time it was built by Robert Reynolds in 1816-19 through its various private owners, to its time as a veterans’ home and then as St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. The church sold the property in 2000. The town bought it in 2016.

“Belle Vue seems to tell a story of people starting new adventures,” said Honor. “Belle Vue might be considered a symbol of new beginnings and new prosperity.”
Honor added that “as we speak, we are also part of the process of new beginnings as we discuss the future of Belle Vue.”

One of the renderings shown at the two recent public meetings shows the elevations of the historic building once Belle Vue is restored.

John McDonald said the fundraising process could be assisted if people could use the grounds. He suggested teaming with the Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society to spruce up the nine-acre site, with the first priority being to put in trees.

Use of the property could “build public momentum,” McDonald said, adding that such things as church picnics could be held on the grounds under a permit system.

The chief administrative officer replied that there are currently liability issues with Belle Vue as the site needs to be graded to make it safer. He did note that it is in the parks master plan. There is also no irrigation on the grounds to help water any plant materials at the current time.

The greenhouse that is proposed would allow the town to grown and maintain its own plant materials, he envisioned.

Councillor Leo Meloche spoke on the conference centre idea with Miceli indicating that the historic building could house smaller conferences while larger conferences could be held in a new building that could be built behind the home.

Meloche added the parks and gardens will take Belle Vue “to another level” but was hoping for minimal operating costs to run it, also hoping that would be self-sustaining.

Bob Rozankovic questioned whether the site could be self-sustaining with Miceli responding that the town would seek partnerships in running the site. He was confident it would be cost-neutral, envisioning that Belle Vue would be a destination that people from the region would want to book and attend.

A proposed look at what the Belle Vue property would look like.

Miceli added that a business model would have to be built but emphasized his belief Belle Vue could become a popular place in Amherstburg for residents and visitors alike.

“It’s a unique venue,” said Miceli. “There’s nothing like it.”

The CAO added it is “a totally different look and feel” than Willistead Manor in Windsor and believed there would be more amenities should Belle Vue be restored.

Treasurer Justin Rousseau agreed that there could be “a lot of uptake for bookings” at a restored Belle Vue and “that type of revenue stream” and that type of revenue could prove fruitful for the town.

Using the home as a bed and breakfast was floated but Miceli said they would have to work with a private operator to run it, should the town want to go in that direction. He said there could be an announcement soon as it relates to a hotel coming to Amherstburg.

Marc Renaud said relationships have to be built with the community to help get the site restored. He said the ongoing roof replacement shows there is activity at the site.

“It’s about donor. Money that will make the place run,” he said.

As for a timeline, Miceli said that is tough to give since the restoration depends on fundraising dollars. Should donors step up and grants come in, the actual construction process could take 18 months to three years on the home itself while the grounds could take approximately eight months to complete, according to the CAO.

Miceli said news about a federal grant could be coming soon.

“We are applying to every opportunity that comes along,” he said.

Paul Hertel, another member of the conservancy, recalled being on town council when King’s Navy Yard Park was created. He believed it is now a reflection of the community’s desire for growth, and that Belle Vue could turn into the same thing.

“I feel Amherstburg has great potential and energy to grow,” he said. “It takes a whole community to raise its collective conscience of who we are and the space we are blessed to occupy. I have great faith the process will be successful. It’s not a one-term project. It’s a life journey.”

An image of what a restored Belle Vue would look like, according to renderings by Architectura.

Miceli said the Belle Vue project and the project proposed for the Duffy’s property are among the most exciting he has dealt with in his 28-year municipal career.

“They are game-changers for the town,” he said.

The Belle Vue Conservancy’s next fundraiser is “All That Jazz for Belle Vue,” which is an event that includes a dinner and a show. It’s planned for June 25 at the Artisan Grill. Tickets are $80 per person and are available at the Artisan Grill, Amherstburg Freedom Museum or by calling Shirley Curson-Prue at 519-736-6947. The entertainment includes Renee King-Jackson and her Fabulous Foursome. It runs from 6-10 p.m.

For more information on future events or on the Belle Vue Conservancy, visit www.bellevueconservancy.com. To donate, people can visit www.amherstburg.ca/donate.

Belle Vue is located at 525 Dalhousie St. in Amherstburg.

AMHA hosts house league “Day of Champions”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The season is wrapping up for players in the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association and it is time to celebrate.

The house league division held its annual “Day of Champions” Sunday at the Libro Centre with age groups from tyke to bantam playing for championships in AMHA’s house league division. After games, each division crowned award winners and saw players chosen to receive individual honours.

“It’s been a great season,” said AMHA president Marc Renaud.

The “Day of Champions” produced its moments as well.

“We’ve had a lot of exciting hockey since 9 a.m.,” Renaud stated. “It’s been some good hockey.”

There were about 540 players enrolled in the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association this season, Renaud added, with about 350 players being in the house league division.

“That’s about where we’ve been (in recent years),” Renaud said of the enrolment.

The AMHA’s “Day of Champions” for the travel division is April 10.

“It’s been a great year for us,” said Renaud.

Renaud said the organization expresses its thanks to all of the volunteers, coaches and sponsors. Registration for the 2018-19 hockey season is expected to begin April 1. For further information, visit www.amherstburghockey.com.

The bantam Unifor 200 team was one of the victorious teams at Sunday’s house league “Day of Champions.” Back row (from left): David Wharram (Trainer), Ewan Mitchell, Ryan Wharram, Nolan Crain, Evan Sesto, Brayden Greenhalf, Cody Drouillard, Jason Hodgson (Coach)
Front row: Matt Connel, Andrew DiGiovanni, Louis Casey, Nick Grimaldi, Trevor Hebert, Ben Hodgson.
Absent was Thomas Vanlaerhoven-Overton and head coach Jeremy Drouillard. (RTT Photo by Jonathan Martin)

The 2018 House league Day of Champs are:

 

Novice: Midway Appliances

 

Atom: Gabriel’s Deli

 

Pee Wee: Gibb Insurance

 

Bantam: Unifor 200

 

 

The Memorial Award winners are as follows:

 

Novice – The Jeremy Bailey Award for Outstanding effort throughout the playing season. – Ben Meloche

 

Atom – The Murry Dufour Award for Outstanding effort throughout the playing season. – Nick Favrin

 

Pee wee – The Robert St Pierre Award for Outstanding effort throughout the playing season. – Sam Lojewski

 

Bantam – The Danny Hallock Award for Outstanding effort throughout the playing season.- Brendan Argoselo

 

The AMHA’s Day of Champions saw action all day Sunday at the Libro Centre. Novice house league action is pictured.

 

The House league Coach of the Year is- Tony Loggie

 

The House league Trainer of the Year is Kevin Owen

Town to consider its own surcharge recommendation for Libro Centre

 

By Ron Giofu

Town council has opted to consider its own recommendation for a new surcharge to be assessed to Libro Centre users.

In the process, they spurned a different proposal submitted by the building’s three main user groups – the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA), Skate Amherstburg and the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals.

According to a report from manager of recreation services Rick Daly, “administration proposed a capital surcharge outlined in the user fee bylaw” and “this capital surcharge is set at $6 per rental unit of time for sport facilities and park bookings and $3 per rental unit of time for room rentals.”

That option would see an estimated $25,350 collected in a year, as opposed to the other option, presented Monday night by AMHA president Marc Renaud. That option is estimated at collecting $26,648.

“We believe non-residents should pay more and adult users should pay more,” Renaud told town council. “Kids in sport stay out of court.”

Renaud said the option created by the three major users would require all three principal users to contract ice hours at a minimum100 hours per year. The principal rate user surcharge would have been $4 per hour to all hours rented on all ice surfaces from Sept. 1-April 30 annually and $10 per hour for all pads from May 1-Aug. 31.

For Amherstburg resident users that book ice rentals for a minimum of 12 hours per month would be set at $6 per hour for all pads. Casual non-resident users would pay a surcharge of $13 per hour of ice rentals.

Under the town’s proposal, Renaud said it would translate into a $21.82 cost per AMHA player and $13.50 for every Skate Amherstburg participant. Under the proposal he presented, Renaud said the numbers drop to $14.54 per player in AMHA and $9 per Skate Amherstburg participant.

According to the administrative report: “Administration recommends that Option #1 (the town’s recommendation) be approved as it is the most equitable and easiest to implement. The users would pay into the reserve equally based on rental levels.” The report added that “the fundamental difference in the structure of the reserve in Option 2 (presented by the primary users) is problematic, in that it doesn’t allow the town to deal with global building issues and only ice specific issues. Secondly, it creates inequality, as it doesn’t allow the users who are paying a disproportionate share much representation at the time the replacement is needed. In this case, you would have non-primary users subsidizing the future replacement of infrastructure to the benefit of the primary users.”

Councillor Rick Fryer said he supported the town’s recommendation, believing the $6 surcharge across the board is “fair” and that the people who use the Libro Centre most would pay a greater share of the surcharge.

“I don’t see this being a big issue with the user groups,” said Fryer.

Renaud reiterated his position that adult users should be paying more in order to keep youth in sports.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said he has three children who have played travel hockey and regardless of whether it is children or adults playing, the adults still pay the costs.

“You are kind of wishy-washy here,” Lavigne told Renaud.

Lavigne said the Libro Centre is the envy of the area but there are costs to keep it that way.

“We have to realize it costs money and we’re having issues here,” said Lavigne.

Councillor Leo Meloche believed the user groups’ options were “a burden to the non-primary users” and that the general taxpayers were paying “a pretty good share already” to maintain the Libro Centre. He said he didn’t find the user groups’ option to be unreasonable. Councillor Diane Pouget said “we try to be fair to everybody” and noted Daly’s report where it said the primary users had 54 per cent of the ice time in 2016 but would only pay 38 per cent of the total surcharge under their proposal.

Councillor Joan Courtney noted she has children and grandchildren who play hockey and believed that if a person can play hockey, they can afford to pay a little more. She noted there is money for hats and jackets and that “somehow they find the money” and didn’t believe the surcharge was unreasonable.

“To keep the Libro Centre a great facility, I don’t think it’s too much,” said Courtney.

Amherstburg one of 40 communities in Goalie Assist Program for 2017-18 season

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

The Ontario Minor Hockey Association came out with a new program, geared towards giving children between the ages of 5 and 7 a chance to try out a position of goalie.

The program provides a new set of CCM goalie equipment to 40 communities, who will then loan the equipment to their prospective goalies. The associations will retain the equipment at the conclusion of the hockey season so it can be reused the following year. The idea is to continue to introduce new goalies to the position each year.

“We usually get two or three players wanting to be a goalies by novice age,” explained Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association president Marc Renaud. “To support them AMHA supplies goalie equipment to the younger age group, tyke to pee wee for their use each season. With AMHA being awarded a new set of goalie equipment it shows the goalies their position is important to AMHA. Also that we keep our equipment in top condition for their use, will help in off setting a replacement cost for new set we would have to pay. Over all reducing costs reduce registration fees.”

Renaud explained the cost of the equipment for younger goalies is in the area of $700 to $800, and gets more expensive as the child gets older.

There were more than 170 applications received from all across the OMHA for this program, which Renaud refers to as “a great program to assist goalies with equipment.”

“We’re proud to give back and re-invest in our associations through a program like Goalie Assist,” said OMHA Executive Director Ian Taylor. “Hockey is a late-specialization sport and the Goalie Assist program is a great way to introduce the position to players who may not have otherwise had the opportunity. The equipment gives every player a chance to try being a goaltender without making the financial commitment.”

Surcharge coming to Libro Centre users, but not in 2017

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A surcharge is coming for users of the Libro Centre but not for this year.

The surcharge, to be discussed during 2018 budget deliberations, was agreed to in concept Monday night though discussions are expected with the user groups, four of which were present during the meeting. Amherstburg Minor Hockey president Marc Renaud, Skate Amherstburg president Lynn Fox, Integrity Amherstburg Admirals owners Matt Fox and Wes Ewer and Rick Meloche, president of the over-40 men’s league, all presented to council and voiced concerns.

User groups pointed out that registration is already underway for the 2017-18 seasons and council assured them the surcharge would not impact them for this year thus meaning they don’t have to go back and adjust registration rates.

“This is for next year’s budget,” Councillor Jason Lavigne told the user groups.

In a report sent to council last November, Miceli stated “the facility has been operating on a budget that does not adequately provide for a level of service that citizens have become accustomed to and expect. Avoiding timely maintenance and inspections in an effort to stay on budget presents several risks such as loss of the facility LEED Certification, deferred and inflated ‘unbudgeted’ repair and maintenance costs, further deterioration of the facility and most importantly citizen safety.”

Libro Centre

That report called for “a full service delivery and cost analysis” to address operating costs of the Libro Centre.

Miceli’s April report recommended the hiring of a qualified refrigeration mechanic, which goes in line with recommendation put forth by Fieldcraft Engineering, the firm that reviewed the Libro Centre and its mechanical operations. That was agreed to by town council. It is expected to cost $83,000.

Fieldcraft recommended quarterly maintenance programs, building automation monitoring, training and standardization.

“The issue at hand is for council to decide if they are going to preserve the investment in Libro Facility asset and address user complaints through adopting a proactive approach to maintaining the Libro Centre as identified in (the recommendations in the) Fieldcraft report going forward, or is council going to decide to continue the existing practice and disregard user complaints,” the April report stated. “It is important for council to make this decision in the context of the November 15, 2016 report deferred by council on November 29, 2016.”

Miceli told council Monday night that they are “looking at trying to maintain a Class A facility” and feared it wouldn’t be around in ten years if it wasn’t properly maintained. He said the ratepayers are already subsidizing the facility to the tune of $1 million, or $113 per household.

The CAO said his first and foremost consideration regarding the Libro Centre is to protect the asset and said the town will work with user groups regarding the surcharge and said Amherstburg will be one of the first in the area to have such a charge.

The Admirals and Skate Amherstburg were concerned about the loss of summer ice, as ice will come out in June and July. While the town states that it will save $30,000 each month, those organizations feared damaging their programs with the Admirals noting the Libro Centre is a selling point to try and attract players to the team.

Renaud said that with about 540 children in minor hockey, a surcharge could mean big bucks. The town used the example of a $5 hourly surcharge raising $25,370 but Renaud said that could cost AMHA $15,000, or about $25 per child. Miceli emphasized no figure had been agreed upon but Renaud noted there could still be a cost to families.

Ewer said they understand money has to go back into the Libro Centre but was confident they could meet with administration, including Miceli, and resolve the ice time issue. He said they and Skate Amherstburg would like ice in the Movati pad put back in by July 20 with Pad A up and running about a month later.