Mark Galvin

Residents state rumble strips causing negative impact to their lives

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council will look at what to do about rumble strips on rural roads, some that have recently been maintained.

Melissa Gidillini said that her and her parents have been negatively impacted by rumble strips that were re-cut in front of their Concession 3 North home. Gidillini said her parents purchased the home four years ago and the noise from vehicles passing over the rumble strips have decreased their property value and impacted their lives.

The noise affected her mother’s health and well-being and her father’s ability to get a good night’s sleep, she said, and wondered if there are other ways to alert motorists to the nearby intersection rather than rumble strips. She hoped something could be done “to preserve the sanity of the citizens.”

Councillor Diane Pouget said council members have received many e-mails about the issue and asked whether administration could do something to reduce the noise but allow drivers to stay safe as well. She was told that rumble strips give notice to drivers that an intersection is coming in case they are driving while distracted or if visibility is poor.

Councillor Leo Meloche said he has also received e-mails and has heard from people crying on the phone, adding that council agreed to rumble strips near Howard Ave. and Alma St. as a way to “mitigate loss of life.” Public works re-cut some of the other rumble strips as a maintenance measure, CAO John Miceli believed, with Meloche and Councillor Rick Fryer wondering if the cuts to the roadway were too deep thus increasing the level of noise.

Meloche added that, based on his research, some municipalities have scrapped rumble strips altogether due to noise complaints.

“I wouldn’t want them in front of my bedroom. My kids and my wife would be going nuts too,” he said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin noted that the rumble strips were put in due to council motions. He said that accidents at intersections can be traced to a variety of factors and that administration would have to look at particular instances. Removal of the rumble strips at this stage could expose the town to liability concerns due to other councils passing motions to install them.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said he was in favour of taking a look at the issue, but stated people have gotten used to the noise over time.

Amherstburg police chief Tim Berthiaume said there have been three fatalities in recent years and believed they could have been possibly been prevented with rumble strips. He said the accidents involved people who know the area.

“We have to ask ourselves as a police department, why are they blowing stops if they are from here?” said Berthiaume.

Meloche added that if people walk into a door, would the door be removed?

“We have to stop this B.S. and say a mistake was made,” said Meloche. “Should people in the community pay for their mistakes?”

Local resident Greg Nemeth believed that lowering and enforcing speed limits could make a difference.

“Slow them down and we’re going to save a lot of lives,” said Nemeth.

The report will come back to council and is expected to detail options on what council can do to properly address the issue.

Dentists seek closer look at parking limits in downtown lot

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Local dentists Chad Denomme and Stefano Storey are hoping the town can take a closer look at time limits for parking near their recently-purchased building.

The owners of Storey and Denomme Family Dentistry recently bought the building at 79 Richmond St. and are currently renovating it so it becomes their new home. They had originally requested that a few spots in the adjacent public parking lot at the corner of Richmond St. and Ramsay St. be dedicated for their business, but modified their request and instead wanted council to take a closer look at time limits in that lot.

“As soon as we discussed (having dedicated spots) as a team, we thought that may open up a can of worms for other businesses,” said Denomme.

However, they have noted that many vehicles park there all day and suggested that putting time limits on spaces could produce a better flow of vehicles in the lot and increase availability of the spots.

“It’s the same cars there for eight or nine hours a day,” said Denomme.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin suggested that spots in that lot could be designated for two-hour limits but “the question is the mix.” He said they could look at best practices and come up with something with regards to what percentage of spots could be on a time limit.

Councillor Jason Lavigne opposed any idea of another parking study but did say the municipal lot across the road in back of the Heritage Plaza building is “empty all day.” Amherstburg is a tourist destination, Lavigne continued, and that “if we switch lots to two-hour parking, it’s going to create issues across the board.”

Dentists Stefano Storey and Chad Denomme are asking the town to take a closer look at some time limits for some of the spots in the lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St.

Lavigne said there has been debate with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce on the matter over the years but believed there are enough spots downtown.

“There is a ton of parking down there,” said Lavigne. “Some is a stone’s throw from businesses.”

One of the issues with the parking lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St. is nearby residents, such as those in the Navy Yard condominium building, parking there.

Councillor Rick Fryer also pointed out the parking behind the Heritage Place and that people can “park here and walk a little bit.” He said something has to be done to alleviate parking concerns, and wondered if a “pay for parking” scenario would work though admitted people would be “up in arms” at first. He believed such a plan could force residents who use public lots while at home to move their vehicles out of the lot.

“There’s got to be something done,” said Fryer.

Councillor Leo Meloche stated that short-term parking has to be closer to businesses and that those who park downtown for eight hours or so should be “pushed out to the outlying areas.” That said, he maintained his belief that “Amherstburg doesn’t have a parking problem.”

Lavigne cautioned that if parking limits are placed in the Richmond St./Ramsay St. lot, there could be more funding requested by the bylaw enforcement department. He also pointed out the traffic committee could have looked at the matter but it was dissolved several months ago.

Councillor Rick Fryer’s motion to deny dedicated spots, allow administration to enter into an encroaching agreement for a sign over the sidewalk and to have administration come back with suggestions for the Richmond St./Ramsay St. parking lot was approved.

“We’re going to have to do something to help the businesses,” said Fryer. “We can’t have spots tied up by those in the apartments next door.”

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.

Capital works program to include Pickering Dr. project

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A pair of big ticket items have been approved as part of the town’s $8.2 million capital works program, but not all members agreed on what roads should be done.

A debate was held during last Tuesday night’s budget deliberation session at town hall as to whether to do projects pertaining to Pickering Dr. or to resurface Angstrom Cr.

Capital works projects were debated as part of last Monday and Tuesday night’s budget session. Pickering Dr. will get some work this year, including the intersection of Pickering and Sandwich (pictured).

Capital works projects were debated as part of last Monday and Tuesday night’s budget session. Pickering Dr. will get some work this year, including the intersection of Pickering and Sandwich (pictured).

The town would agree to keep Pickering Dr. in the budget with that including resurfacing the road from King St. to Dalhousie St. and doing a watermain at the same time. Work at the intersection of Pickering Dr. and Sandwich St. S. is also planned for 2017.

Councillor Rick Fryer indicated he would rather see work performed on Angstrom Cr. this year, noting the street in the Pointe West subdivision has been in need of repair since 2005. He said there were 99 pictures sent to him of the condition of the road.

“There’s more gaps in that road than in any small street in Amherstburg,” Fryer contended. “I’m advocating for the road to be put somewhere into the budget.”

Fryer indicated he was willing to forgo the Pickering Dr. work for a year to get the work on Angstrom Cr. done.

Manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt said traffic counts factor into decisions and that Pickering Dr. is in poor condition as well as Angstrom. He said Pickering Dr. has significantly more traffic than Angstrom Cr.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said the town faces millions of dollars in road repairs and wondered if following up on the audit and finance committee’s suggestion to borrow money at low interest rates for some of the projects might be a way to go. The town’s approach to use money from the two per cent levies on road repairs would take “a 1,000 years to do,” he worried.

“Are these roads going to get done with the way we are doing business now?” asked Lavigne.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said funding of infrastructure is a big issue with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

“Every municipality, not just Amherstburg, is in the same situation,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo continued by saying AMO is pressing upper levels of government for assistance.

“Without their help, we are going to be playing catch-up and trying to do what is coming up at the same time,” the mayor said.

Lavigne said he agreed with DiCarlo “100 per cent” but “we may be in the grave” waiting for help from the federal and provincial governments. He was also in favour of keeping the Pickering Dr. in the budget, particularly after learning the road reconstruction was being done the same time as the watermain.

“I don’t want to go to jail,” he remarked, in reference the province’s stringent rules relating to municipalities and their responsibility to keep water safe.

CAO John Miceli said the town keeps adding to its capital budget with it being at $8.2 million this year. If the town were to look at a “hybrid model” and try to borrow to do some projects, it would be a one-time capital infusion and not all of the work would be done.

Fryer believed it was “asinine” that people who pay the taxes like they have in Pointe West can’t get service, adding he has been told the condition of the road could lead to litigious situations.

Public works officials said Angstrom Cr. is not listed in the “now” category in terms of repairs and is listed in the 6-10 year category in terms of priority.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin told town council that liability increases with the number of vehicles that travel certain roads and said municipalities follow roads needs studies because unbiased firms give their assessments on the priorities. Miceli said council risks being scrutinized by ratepayers and even lawyers if the town goes out of order on the roads needs study, adding the town can walk into a court of law if need be and defend itself using the study.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he wanted to see Angstrom Cr. reconstructed this year. The street is located off of Pointe West Dr.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he wanted to see Angstrom Cr. reconstructed this year. The street is located off of Pointe West Dr.

“We can defend ourselves because we have a roads needs study to identify priorities,” said Miceli.

Hewitt also noted that if projects were deferred, it could lead to other delays with future projects.

The Pickering Dr. resurfacing is pegged at $200,000 this year with work on the Pickering Dr./Sandwich St. S. intersection calling for $337,700 this year and $412,300 next year in funding. The intersection improvements call for replacement of a traffic signal control cabinet, upgrades to the existing controller cabinet, the replacement of poles, signals and wiring where required and improving curbs, sidewalks and other amenities to meet accessibility requirements.

Angstrom Cr. is projected to be a $500,000 project.

Town council voted 4-1 to go ahead with the budget as recommended with DiCarlo, Lavigne and councillors Leo Meloche and Diane Pouget voting in favour. Fryer was opposed. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Councillor Joan Courtney were not in attendance.

Town council approves outdoor smoke-free bylaw

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg now has smoke-free legislation restricting the ability of people to smoke on public property.

The bylaw passed by a 6-1 vote at Monday night’s town council meeting with only Councillor Rick Fryer opposed, as Fryer wanted the bylaw to be even more stringent and not allow smoking within nine metres of a public building. As it stands, the bylaw prohibits smoking in the town’s outdoor spaces which includes the town’s parks, recreational fields, playground areas, and trails. The bylaw further prohibits smoking within nine metres (approximately 29 feet, six inches) of a public entrance or public exit of a municipal building.

Fryer said when going into an arena, he has seen children have to walk through cigarette smoke. He believed the bylaw will be too hard to enforce and that “nine metres turns into nine feet” thus his request to have no smoking at all public places.

“It’s got to be stringent. It’s got to be tough,” said Fryer. “It’s got to be a lot tighter than what we have now.”

Councillor Leo Meloche said he understood Fryer’s concerns, with Meloche questioning how the bylaw was written. He said smoking is banned in parks but allowed in concentrated areas at public buildings.

Councillor Joan Courtney said she wanted the Legion exempted from the bylaw due to the service veterans have given to their country but Mayor Aldo DiCarlo pointed out the bylaw is for public buildings only and that the town has no jurisdiction over the Legion.

No smoking signage is already up at the Libro Centre thanks to provincial legislation. Town council passed its own smoke-free outdoor spaces bylaw at its Dec. 12 meeting.

No smoking signage is already up at the Libro Centre thanks to provincial legislation. Town council passed its own smoke-free outdoor spaces bylaw at its Dec. 12 meeting.

Courtney did question Fryer’s concerns over the nine metre restriction being removed, noting it could impact firefighters who smoke.

“They do their duty to the town,” said Courtney. “It’s a stressful position. There are some rights there, I think.”

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the nine metre restriction is the “benchmark” for municipalities, noting he could not find another distance specified in another municipal bylaw during his research. He stated that people may not come to public events if they have to stand too far back from building entrances to smoke.

Galvin added that smoking is not illegal and Councillor Jason Lavigne questioned whether the town would be going too far if they took away the ability to smoke nine meters or farther from an entrance.

Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli said there would be an area where smokers would be encouraged to go to at the Libro Centre that is not near the parking lot. That way, non-smokers and children could avoid having to endure cigarette smoke.

Rubli added that communication and education is important so that people comply with the new bylaw. She said the bylaw was advertised but no public feedback was returned.

The bylaw was drafted in partnership with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.