Paula Parker

New town council sworn in at inaugural meeting

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The new town council is officially on the job.

The Town of Amherstburg held its inaugural meeting for the new council with all seven members taking their oaths. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was sworn in for his second term with Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche also being sworn in again, only this time in a new role as he was a councillor from 2014-18.

The five new councillors also were sworn into office with Peter Courtney, Donald McArthur, Michael Prue, Marc Renaud and Patricia Simone now officially elected officials in Amherstburg.

DiCarlo said “it’s a bit of a relief,” as “there’s a weird limbo from the day you find out you won to the day you are sworn in. Tonight is the night that makes it real for everyone.”

Calling it a “far cry from where we were four years ago,” DiCarlo said he likes who he will be working with.

“I’m very happy with the new council,” he said. “I’m very excited to be working with them. I think we’ve got a great new council. With the new council comes new ideas and perspectives. I think it’s going to work out really well for the town.”

The inaugural meeting for the 2018-22 town council was held Monday night at the Libro Centre. Front row (from left): Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. Back row (from left): Councillor Donald McArthur, Councillor Michael Prue, Councillor Patricia Simone, Councillor Peter Courtney and Councillor Marc Renaud.

There will still be tough decisions to make, DiCarlo pointed out, but “we’ll work through it.” Immediate goals will be to get some of the recently announced projects moving such as the hotels and the condominiums, something the mayor said is “very big news for Amherstburg.” He added that a business owner told him of the hotels that “you can’t build that thing fast enough.”

“I think we need to get some of the good news projects under our belt,” said DiCarlo.

There are also bylaws and procedures that still have to be updated with 2019 budget deliberations also looming in the new year.

Long term goals include upgrading roads and infrastructure, he said.

“Roads and infrastructure are going to continue to be a challenge for us,” DiCarlo stated. “I always hate passing the buck and I’m not going to in any respect, but I want residents to know that we are not alone with regards to infrastructure.”

DiCarlo said that many municipalities across the province are facing similar challenges and that with the current Progressive Conservative government, money may not be flowing as much as it once did to municipalities.

“We’re not sure how much government money is coming our way,” he stated.

Meloche said “it feels great” to be sworn in as the town’s new deputy mayor, noting that he likely wouldn’t have thought he would be in that spot four years ago.

“Hard work has got me here,” said Meloche. “I’m looking forward to working with the new council.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (left) is presented his gavel by clerk Paula Parker as CAO John Miceli observes. The 2018-22 town council was sworn in Monday night.

The 2014-18 council “paved the way” for the 2018-22 council, he believed, and made a lot of progress in Amherstburg.

“I think the new council will continue the momentum, continue the progress and continue to show that Amherstburg is a good place to live, work, raise a family and visit,” he said.

Meloche is a new member to Essex County council and he said he has been through an orientation meeting there and has also had one-on-one meetings with the two candidates vying to be the next warden – Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. He also met with county administration.

“There’s an education process with regards to roads and the direction the county is going the next four years,” said Meloche. “It’s an exciting time for me.”

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche is sworn in Monday night by clerk Paula Parker. Meloche will also join Mayor Aldo DiCarlo on Essex County council.

Meloche also thanked his supporters.

“Thank you to all of the people who put their trust in me Oct. 22,” he said.

CAO John Miceli addressed the crowd at Monday night’s inaugural meeting at the Libro Centre, noting that the new council has taken on “a very, very large responsibility, a responsibility that can’t be taken lightly.”

Amherstburg is rich in history, culture and tradition, said Miceli, and it is not an easy task to be an elected official. He said administration will support the new council and called for the community to support them as well. Miceli noted that the council members are also members of families and that they all want to make the town a better place.

“You cannot make progress without making decisions,” he said.

Councillor Peter Courtney puts his arm around his mother Joan following Monday night’s inaugural meeting of town council. Peter was sworn in as a councillor just days after his mother’s term as a councillor ended. Joan was a member of town council from 2014-18.

Clerk Paula Parker, who officially swore in the new council members, said there will be difficult times and there will be criticism levied by members of the public, but she pointed out public service is also gratifying. She said some decision of council will not be popular, but there will be successes that will be rewarding.

“Leadership is not about the next election,” said Parker. “It is about the next generation.”

Hall of Fame coach honoured by town council

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A local high school coach as picked up another honour.

Dom Silvaggio, a recent inductee into the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame, was honoured for that accomplishment by the Town of Amherstburg. Silvaggio was joined by several members of his family as town council paid tribute to him at the Nov. 26 council meeting.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was not at the meeting due to illness, but clerk Paula Parker read a statement from him that praised Silvaggio for his many accomplishments over the years.

Dom Silvaggio (third from left) was honoured by Amherstburg town council Nov. 26 on the occasion of his getting inducted into the Windsor-Essex Sports Hall of Fame. He was surrounded by members of the 2018 General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls basketball team. Making the presentation was then-Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale (right).

Among the accomplishments on Silvaggio’s resume include 26 WECSSAA/ECSSAA championships between boys and girls basketball teams. He has coached 13 SWOSSAA championship teams and the senior girls program he has overseen won ten consecutive medals at OFSAA at either the “AA” or “AAA” level, including five gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals at the provincial championship tournament.

“Thank you for being a great ambassador,” Paula read on DiCarlo’s behalf.

Members of the 2018 General Amherst Lady Gens came into the council chambers as a show of support for their coach. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale presented the General Amherst High School coach with a framed certificate on behalf of the town.

Silvaggio said it felt really special to be recognized by the town.

“This is my hometown,” he said.

Silvaggio said he was humbled by the honour and that the ceremony where he was inducted was “a great night.”

Recount issue becomes more complex in deputy mayor race

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The deputy mayor race saw the top two candidates finish within four votes of each other with a recount appearing to be more difficult than originally anticipated.

Leo Meloche finished with 2,579 votes while Diane Pouget ended up with 2,575 votes with Pouget’s route to a recount becoming more complex thanks to the Town of Amherstburg having no policy or bylaw pertaining on to how a recount would be addressed. Pouget said she requested a recount Tuesday morning but was told she could not have one as the town didn’t enact a policy or pass a bylaw regarding possible recounts before May 1.

Pouget said she was “very disappointed” to lose to Meloche by only four votes but understood it was the will of the people.

“I really respect my constituents. They voted in favour of Councillor Meloche to be deputy mayor,” said Pouget.

Pouget, also a current councillor, said she received a number of phone calls and e-mails suggesting she ask for a recount but was notified when she went to town hall Tuesday morning that a recount could not occur due to a new law that came into effect that called for the municipality having to have a bylaw or policy in effect by May 1.

“It appears my hands are tied,” she said, though noted she has two lawyers looking into the situation.

Regardless of the result, Pouget said she will still try and work on behalf of any resident that contacts her.

“I’m going to be there for anyone who needs help,” she said.

Should Pouget wish to pursue a recount, she would now have to go through the Superior Court and give reasonable grounds for a recount, said clerk Paula Parker. Election results became official Tuesday and Pouget would have 30 days from then to make her request.

Parker confirmed that Pouget did ask for a recount but an automatic recount is only available in case of a tie vote. As there is no bylaw or policy, the town has to rely on provincial legislation and that a recount has to be requested through the Superior Court.

There were no reports of issues with the process or the tabulators on election day, Parker added.

“Everything went very smoothly,” Parker reported.

Fire chief enthused after meeting minister regarding nuclear program

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s fire chief and emergency management co-ordinator is pleased after leading a delegation to Queen’s Park last week to discuss Amherstburg’s nuclear plan.

Bruce Montone, deputy fire chief Lee Tome and town clerk Paula Parker travelled to Toronto last Wednesday evening to meet Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Marie-France Lalonde and Montone came away happy with the meeting.

“It was awesome,” Montone told the River Town Times last Friday. “She was attentive and kind. She challenged some of our issues and that gave us an opportunity to provide additional information, which she seemed to appreciate.”

Montone said he was encouraged by the meeting and the Amherstburg delegation was told that if they don’t hear anything from the province within three weeks, they can contact the minister’s office. He said the town wants to be on a level playing field as any other Ontario municipality that has a nuclear plant nearby.

“Our meeting focused on five specific areas,” said Montone. “The overarching message is that we want to be treat equitably.”

Funding was “at the top of the list” with discussions taking place on the types of assistance that could be available to the town. Montone added they spent “a great deal of time” discussing the roles and responsibilities the province and town will have under the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP).

“There’s quite a lot of changes in who is responsible for what,” he said.

There will also be work on a new “concept of operations” with the province and they  also will be working with the Ontario government on a revised Fermi II implementation plan. The latter has not been updated since 2009, said Montone.

The Town of Amherstburg’s nuclear plan was the subject of a recent meeting with Minister Marie-France Lalonde.

Amherstburg’s public alerting system was also spoken about as enhancements are required, the fire chief added, and public education was also raised during the meeting in Toronto. The Ontario government will also enter into a new agreement with Fermi II, Montone stated.

“The province is going to undertake a new agreement between the State of Michigan, DTE (the owners of Fermi II) and the province,” said Montone. “We talked about how we can collaborate and be involved in the process.”

The word “collaboration” was emphasized by Montone on how the relationship with the Ontario government will be going forward.

“I’m really happy,” Montone said of the meeting. “We covered a lot of ground.”

The meeting had been scheduled for 45-60 minutes but lasted over two hours, he added, and Lalonde was “extremely patient” and gained “a robust understanding of all the challenges” that Amherstburg faces.

“I’m very comfortable when I tell you that the province and her ministry are going to work closely in the near future to get us where we need to be,” Montone stated. “I’m very, very optimistic going forward.”

While there could be movement to resolve some of Amherstburg’s outstanding issues, Montone cautioned that fixing them completely will take time.

“We can’t fix this overnight,” he said. “It’s been this way since 1998.”

While Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and CAO John Miceli were unable to join them for the meeting, Montone said the group that did go to Queen’s Park had their full support. He added there was a debriefing of the meeting with Miceli last Thursday.

County, town making new arrangements regarding integrity commissioners

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The County of Essex is looking at obtaining a new integrity commissioner in light of requirements from the province’s Bill 68.

The bill mandates that municipalities shall have an integrity commissioner by March 1, 2019. Prior to that, according to a report from the county’s director of council services/clerk Mary Birch, integrity commissioners are optional.

“The County of Essex currently contracts the services of an integrity commissioner, however that contract expires in 2018. A joint RFP with some of the local municipalities has recently closed and submissions are being reviewed by a joint evaluation committee,” Birch stated in her report. “Administration will be providing a subsequent report recommending the appointment of an integrity commissioner and propose some amendments to the Council Code of Conduct.”

County council also resolved to continue to prohibit electronic meeting participation, pending further clarification of the definition of “participation” and improvements to technology available; to develop parental leave policy for members of county council and to approve proposed rules for temporary replacement members of county council.

This comes shortly after the Town of Amherstburg voted to continue its relationship with integrity commission Bruce Elman.

Elman, who first began doing work on Amherstburg’s behalf midway through last year, could become the town’s integrity commissioner should a cost sharing agreement be finalized with Windsor.

“All we really did was reappoint him and put in for cost sharing with the City of Windsor to make it more affordable,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “We agreed to renew him and see about cost sharing with the city.”

Clerk Paula Parker noted that the previous integrity commissioner was Robert Swayze but that contract was terminated early at the direction of council May 8, 2017.

“On June 12, 2017, administration was directed to seek the expertise of the city’s integrity commissioner to investigate two outstanding integrity complaints and any further complaints that may arise until a new integrity commissioner could be appointed,” said Parker.

“At the time, I believe the city was using Bruce Elman,” added DiCarlo. “We came across him, he’s got a good reputation, so we switched.”

Parker stated that “the new amendments to the Municipal Act and Municipal Conflict of Interest Act brought on by Bill 68, make the appointment of an integrity commissioner mandatory, whereby the municipality has to appoint its own or share the services of another. His/her scope of responsibilities will also increase upon being proclaimed into force on March 1, 2019. In light of these changes and the town’s recent dealings with Professor Bruce Elman, administration recommended that his services be shared between the town and the city.”