public meeting

Cannabis meeting draws sparse crowd

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg held a public meeting on the issue of cannabis and the possibility of retail stores in town but not a lot of people came out to voice their views.

A crowd of about 15 people attended last Thursday night’s meeting in the Libro Centre’s downstairs community room, with some being incoming council members and members of administration. The presentation was run in collaboration with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Nicole Rubli, manager of licensing and enforcement with the town, said the legalization of cannabis “has kept us on our toes.” Rubli said she has been to five conferences on the matter with different information coming out of all five. Some regulations, she noted, were issued only hours before the public meeting.

“The municipality has had to look at a moving target,” she said.

Under the province’s Cannabis Control Act, it prohibits the sale of recreational cannabis to anyone under the age of 19, prohibits those under 19 to possess, cultivate, consume or share any amount of recreational cannabis and notes that adults can possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis. Under the federal Cannabis Act, four cannabis plants per household may be grown.

The province has announced that consumption of cannabis may be done in the same places as tobacco with consumption prohibited in vehicles and boats. Retail shops have to be at least 150 metres from a school, according to provincial legislation.

Melissa Valentik from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit addresses the public at a meeting regarding cannabis held at the Libro Centre Nov. 15.

The town’s smoke-free bylaw prohibits smoking or vaping in all parks, recreational fields, playground areas, municipal trails and within nine metres of an entrance/exit to a municipal building.

Melissa Valentik, health promotion specialist with the health unit, outlined health issues surrounding recreational cannabis use, noting its addictive influence and potential health issues.

“Cannabis isn’t harmless because it’s a plant,” said Valentik, adding it has several carcinogens, toxins and irritants found in tobacco smoke.

Residents were encouraged to provide feedback, with licensing officer Andrea Pelaccia noting people can use the town’s “Talk the Burg” website found at www.talktheburg.ca. Rubli noted a report is going before council Dec. 10

Local resident Alison Baldwin didn’t believe the town gave enough notice for feedback. She believed it should have been put out to the public sooner, but Rubli said the town is on strict deadlines and that the legislation is coming at them fast and has been ever-changing. Del Oxford questioned use of online methods for feedback, believing it could hinder seniors from giving their views.

Rubli noted that concerns can also be written and mailed to town hall.

Luigi DiPierdomenico believed the town was doing a good job bringing information to the public as soon as it was received. He noted that the only cannabis store in the region was originally only going to be in Windsor.

Local resident and business owner John Pelletier believed opening cannabis retail shops in town could prove beneficial.

“I just see the opportunity of people coming to this town. It’s a small town, but we have a lot to offer,” he said. “Every municipality can gain some money if they open up retail shops.”

 

Public consultations for Duffy’s property include two more options

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Public input was gathered on a class environmental assessment for the Duffy’s property with two other options also presented for the land’s future.

Town staff and consultants from Landmark Engineers Inc. presented afternoon and evening open houses last Wednesday in the Libro Centre’s community room. Dan Krutsch, president of Landmark Engineers, said it was the first of two sessions in which the public will be invited.

The new option allowing for boat trailer parking and boat ramp.

“We are presenting the information we know about the site,” he said.

The two additional options that were developed involve some of what has been suggested by members of the community. One of the options includes allowing boat trailer parking exclusively on the site along with a boat ramp and marina. The second of the new options calls for a passive park with marina and no boat ramp.

The original option, with amphitheatre, festival plaza and marina, was also featured.

The public was invited to provide comments on the process, including the three options. Krutsch said the opportunity to provide comment is still available as they look to develop the property in the fashion that the residents and council want.

The “active” option featuring an amphitheatre and festival plaza.

“What we’re trying to show is that it’s hard to have everything on the property,” said Krutsch.

The next public meeting is planned for late September at which point a “preferred option” will be presented to the community. All comments from the second drop-in centre will be reviewed and used to help refine the preferred solution with the engineering firm adding that the project website will then be updated and a notice will be published. The notice would alert the public that a 30-day public review period for the Class EA has commenced.

It would be after that when council would discuss design and construction components of the process.

Approvals would still have to be gained from various agencies and governing bodies before any plans can move forward, Krutsch added.

As for environmental issues on the site, Krutsch said there are no significant problems that currently need addressing.

The “passive” option for the Duffy’s site.

“There’s no major issues we’re struggling with on the site,” he said.

The plans and the Powerpoint presentation that was made at the Aug. 8 meeting are available on the town’s website at www.amherstburg.ca under “Environmental Plans and Reports.” Leading administrative efforts from the town’s perspective at last Wednesday’s meeting was director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin.

People can also submit their thoughts to lmichaud@landmarkengineers.ca.

Public meeting to be held by OCPC on policing issue

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Another public meeting will be held with regards to the switching of policing services from the Amherstburg Police Service to the Windsor Police Service.

This time, it will be held by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC).

While a meeting is planned, details have not yet been finalized, according to Silvia Cheng, communications co-ordinator with  Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario (SLATSO).

“I can confirm that the OCPC is currently reviewing Amherstburg’s application requesting to have the Town’s police services provided by the Windsor Police Service,” said Cheng. “Due to the public interest in the matter, the OCPC has advised the Municipality of Windsor and the Town of Amherstburg that a public meeting will be held. The formal notice regarding details of the public meeting will be released shortly and posted to our website.”

The website is www.slasto.gov.on.ca.

“The OCPC’s role is to decide whether the proposal will provide adequate and effective policing services to the Town of Amherstburg. The OCPC will also ensure that appropriate severance arrangements, if applicable, have been made,” said Cheng. “Following the public meeting, the OCPC will review the information in a timely manner to ensure that it meets the criteria in section 40 of the Police Services Act (PSA). The OCPC has the responsibility to ensure that the abolition of an existing police force does not otherwise contravene the PSA.”

There were four public meetings on the subject in January and February with the majority in attendance not agreeing with the plan to switch. However, at a special meeting of town council Feb. 26, the vote was 3-2 to switch policing services to Windsor with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and councillors Leo Meloche and Rick Fryer in favour. Opposed were councillors Jason Lavigne and Joan Courtney while Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Councillor Diane Pouget declared conflict as both have family members that are part of the Windsor Police Service.

The original discussion was based on a five-year contract, but the final vote ended up being for a 20-year contract with Windsor. It is estimated to come with at least $567,000 annually in savings and Windsor will absorb long-term post-retirement benefits. However, many residents who opposed don’t believe in fixing “what isn’t broken,” worried about the loss of local control and questioned the savings that Amherstburg will actually receive.

Public feedback gathered on proposal for Duffy’s land

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

With Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn in the process of being torn down, the town held a public consultation session to gauge what the public thinks of redevelopment plans.

The public consultation session was held last Thursday evening at the Libro Centre where people got a chance to view the renderings of the plans the town has developed for the waterfront property.

“Nothing has been set in stone,” CAO John Miceli pointed out, stating the purpose of the meeting was simply “the start of a conversation.”

The concept plans developed by the town and its consultant – Dan Krutsch of Landmark Engineering – were on display around the community room with a 500-seat amphitheatre, marina, boat ramp, fishing wharf, service buildings and plazas among the proposals put forth. Miceli said the town wanted to bring those plans to the public to see if that is what citizens want and if there are any changes desired to what has been proposed.

Duffy's consultation2WEB

Members of the public view concept drawings for what the Duffy’s property could look like during a June 15 meeting at the Libro Centre.

While additional public meetings are planned, Miceli said he would like to see the town move forward on the project later this year.

“My goal is to have it presented as part of the 2018 capital works budget,” he said.

Costs range from $5 million to $6.5 million and by moving along with the process, it allows the town to pursue grant funding. Final costs will be determined once all the components of the project are decided upon.

Timing for how fast the project will be completed centres around cash.

“It really is going to depend on funding,” he said.

Local resident Pat Catton questioned where boat trailers would park. While there is space for boat trailers on the drawings, Miceli acknowledged previous concerns about boat trailer parking and congestion when the Duffy’s boat ramp was open. There may be opportunities for boat trailer parking, though Miceli noted some opportunities were a bit farther away than the town desires.

“We’re hoping to hear from the boaters to hear what they have to say,” said Miceli.

A relocated Boblo ferry dock being included in the drawings was also a source of questions. Krutsch explained that moving it would allow for owner Dominic Amicone to be able to better develop his lands. The wharf would also help shield the dock from ice.

Pat Catton and Gord Freeman review drawings of the proposed Duffy’s  redevelopment last Thursday evening at the Libro Centre.

Pat Catton and Gord Freeman review drawings of the proposed Duffy’s
redevelopment last Thursday evening at the Libro Centre.

Catton wondered why the town would have to partner with a private property owner but Krutsch replied that there is no need to partner with anyone and that it was added in case some kind of partnership was of interest. Miceli noted preliminary talks have taken place with Amicone.

No programming decisions have been finalized, Miceli noted, adding his belief the development could boost the downtown core. It could act as a “festival plaza” and boost the area.

“This was the vision that allowed us to go ahead with acquiring the property,” said Miceli.

The town’s Official Plan calls for the acquisition of waterfront lands when they become available. He believes there will be at least an eight to 12 month approval process before anything could be developed.

Susan Whelan asked about the number of studies that have been done on the site, noting there haven’t been any major developments there for many years. Fuel was also used on site in the past, she added. She said she supported making the site beautiful and intertwining it with the neighbourhood but wanted assurances the land was checked out.

The land and existing buildings were assessed by Golder Associates, Miceli replied, and that the purchase price of the property was reduced to deal with some of the issues found.

“Most of the issues are in the older portion,” Miceli noted, in reference to the restaurant portion, which has not yet been demolished.

Food truck owner Carolyn Parent asked about such vehicles in the development, with Miceli saying his vision is for special events. Krutsch pointed out that could simply be one use of the site, with craft shows, tents and other events also possible.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the concept plans are the current ideas the town has come up with.

“This is the culmination of what we’ve been doing up to now,” he said.

PowerPoint Presentation

DiCarlo said there are limitations on what Navy Yard Park can be used for due to its passive nature and while there are events at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada, there are restrictions there too. Downtown businesses also have voiced concerns that they have difficulty pulling people from Fort Malden so having festival space downtown could translate into more businesses gaining customers.

The town wants “one fluid plan” on how to develop the area, he added. The biggest thing the mayor said he has heard is about how fast the land could be developed.

Local real estate agent Ron Deneau congratulated the town on “one of the best purchases you ever made.” He believed the land being acquired for the money the town paid for it (final price being $1.115 million) “will be looked at as one of the nicest purchases you ever made.”

Local resident Paul Pietrangelo was in favour of the development.

“I love the idea,” he said. “I think it’s beautiful.”

Pietrangelo joked that “I hope I can see it before I die.”

Noting his love of Navy Yard Park, he added the Duffy’s land would be a good complement to that.

“It’ll bring a lot of people to Amherstburg even more,” he believed.