Lavigne hopes voters will return him to council for a second term



By Ron Giofu


Jason Lavigne enjoyed his first term on council and wants to bring what he learned to another term.

Lavigne is the only incumbent councillor seeking a return to the position.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this council,” said Lavigne. “I enjoyed the experience of being involved with all aspects of the town.”

Lavigne said he is proud of what has been accomplished this term, stating the town has been placed in the right direction. He hopes voters will re-elect him for another four years.

“We’ve had a really positive council,” said Lavigne. “I think we changed the direction of the town’s image.”

One of the biggest accomplishments of the current council was securing a new public high school. He said obtaining that will allow future generations to be educated in Amherstburg.

“I think that was huge,” said Lavigne. “We spent a lot of time and effort on that.”

The purchase of the Duffy’s site was another accomplishment Lavigne touted. He predicted it will be a “catalyst” for the downtown core but acknowledged there are competing interests for the site, with some wanting a boat ramp and boat trailer parking while others want it to accommodate festivals.

“I think public consultation is of the highest importance,” he said. “We’re trying to get a balance of what the groups want.”

Lavigne believes there can be a compromise on the issue.

“I hope everyone can work together and not form different factions. It’s all of our property,” he said.

Plans that were originally drafted were “a good starting point” and it will be a tough decision for the next council.

Jason Lavigne is seeking re-election as a councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

The relationship council forged with administration is something Lavigne is happy with.

“When we came in, there was a high turnover rate,” said Lavigne. “I think we have a very solid crew now.”

The town enacted the recommendations from the Deloitte report, he added.

Money is put into reserves across town departments and the town is switching to a “pay as you go” model.

Lavigne also referenced the Deloitte report when speaking of staffing. He said the report called for positions to be filled.

Other hires were with the objective to offset costs that were formally farmed out such as legal and engineering. He said there were other requested positions that he voted against publicly.

“Nothing has been done behind the scenes,” said Lavigne.

The town has also been able to invest more money into roads than previous councils, citing Texas Road, Meloche Road and the soon-to-be done Creek Road projects.

Lavigne called the next four years “crucial for Amherstburg.”

Working with the Greater Essex County District School Board on developing the new public high school will be important, he said, as will the decision on what to do with the remaining 12 acres of Centennial Park. Lavigne said he understands the concerns over wanting to keep that as a park and whether the park will be continued to remain named for H. Murray Smith.

“There’s a lot of concerns out there and rightfully so,” said Lavigne.

The town’s festivals should continue as they bring a “sense of community pride most towns don’t have,” he said. Deferment of development charges should also continue, he believes, as it aids development. Further investigation on what other municipalities do should also be done, including what is done to spur industrial and commercial development.

Lavigne said he was opposed to the policing switch, with that decision being based on what he heard from residents. He said he heard “overwhelming” response from people that wanted to pay extra to keep the Amherstburg Police Service.

“I believe the job is to represent the residents of Amherstburg. That’s what I’ve tried to with every issue over the last four years,” he said.

If all decisions were based on finances, there would be no arena, parks or festivals, he added.

Veteran politician announces retirement from elected service



By Ron Giofu


After almost three decades of elected service, Joan Courtney is leaving politics.

The long-time political figure announced her retirement from politics via a letter to the River Town Times Friday afternoon. Courtney was elected as a town councillor in 2014 after 23 years as a Catholic school board trustee.

Joan Courtney has decided not to seek re-election. She has spent the last four years as an Amherstburg town councillor after spending 23 years as a Catholic school board trustee.

Courtney’s letter states:
“To the residents of Amherstburg,

After 27 consecutive years in politics, I have decided that it is time to retire. Having spent 23 years as an English school board trustee, I have been fortunate to represent the ratepayers of Amherstburg, LaSalle, Harrow and Kingsville. What a journey it has been!

“I was first elected in 1991, serving as a trustee with the Essex County Roman Catholic Separate School Board. After amalgamation, my territory became Amherstburg and LaSalle where I served on the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board. My years as a trustee were a true joy. I met so many people during that time and made friendships with fellow trustees, members of administration, teachers and taxpayers. I was treated with honour and respect and truly appreciate the loyalty I received. My fellow colleagues and I formed a bond each term and again I made lasting friendships.

“In 2014, I decided to venture into the world of municipal government. What a change! I’ve learned so much as a councillor and came to realize how much work it takes to make a town run smoothly. Many departments must work together and councillors have the obligation to meet the needs of their constituents.

“Once again, I have met many fine people and couldn’t have asked for a better group of councillors and administration as well as department personnel to work with. When I began my term in 2015, Amherstburg was in a bad place. Now, in 2018, I am so proud of what we have accomplished to turn our town around. We are looking to the future and have instituted many new ideas to move the town forward. I and  my fellow councillors as well as our administration have worked diligently to create a town of beauty and exciting new projects. I believe we have found our way back again and are back on the right track.

“Amherstburg is a town of history and has a bright and shining future. I want to take the opportunity to thank you, the residents of Amherstburg, for the trust and support you have shown me all these years. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve you as a trustee and a councillor. You have made this an experience I will never forget!

“Sincerely, Councillor Joan Courtney.”

Courtney becomes the second member of town council to officially declare they are not running in the Oct. 22 municipal election. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale declared in May that he would not seek re-election.

DiCarlo seeking a second term as Amherstburg mayor



By Ron Giofu


Four years ago, Aldo DiCarlo didn’t enter the mayor’s race until late in the nomination period.

Now, he hopes doing the opposite will bring him similar results.

DiCarlo is running for a second term as mayor of Amherstburg and filed his paperwork shortly after the nomination period opened last Tuesday morning. He acknowledged he was doing the “opposite of last time, (and) being the first one in the door was my goal.”

Noting there are a number of initiatives “on the go,” DiCarlo said he wants to see them through to conclusion.

“I would like to see the positive momentum the town has had lately continue,” he said. “There are some new projects coming on line that I would like to be a part of.”

A pair of the projects DiCarlo cited as being excited about include the new public high school going into Centennial Park and the seniors’ hub in the former St. Bernard School.

“I think the town is definitely in need of more services for the growing seniors population,” DiCarlo stated.

When he first filed in 2014, the town’s finances were far and away the focal point of residents.

“The only way we could get in the media was for negative reasons, it seemed,” he recalled.

DiCarlo said while the town isn’t out of the woods yet, he believes things have improved and pointed out the town is able to pay cash for projects “which would have been unheard of back then.”

Town council is a more respectful place and there is a more positive atmosphere in the council chambers.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo is seeking a second term as Mayor of Amherstburg.

Goals for the future include ensuring that a hotel, perhaps even two, come to Amherstburg. That ties into another goal of bringing more people to town. Aside from the bed and breakfasts, DiCarlo said “the issue is that there are no places to stay.”

If there are opportunities for visitors to stay overnight, that will lead to more money for local businesses, he believed.

Attracting new development is another goal, noting the new apartment building on Pickering Dr. as an example of local development. More development will assist with another goal, which is keeping taxes at a reasonable level.

“The more people paying taxes lessens the burden for everybody,” said DiCarlo.

Expanding local festivals is another objective, pointing out the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival is coming this August.

DiCarlo acknowledged his controversial vote to contract out policing to the Windsor Police Service is still not popular with some residents. He defended it by saying the town will not see a reduction in police services and that most of the people he spoke with either supported the switch or were at least OK with it. He said he wants to stick around to ensure service levels stay where they are and that he has a good relationship with officials in Windsor.

“That affords me the opportunity to make sure Amherstburg residents are taken care of,” he said.

A number of services are already shared, he pointed out, including IT, ambulance and waste services.

“We already share quite a bit with the rest of the region,” he said.

DiCarlo said he believes in being held accountable for the decisions he was a part of.

“My simple message is if you like what you’ve seen the last three-and-a-half years, expect more of the same,” he said. “If not, don’t vote for me because plan to continue with what I’ve been doing.”