Rick Fryer

Town council supports new phase of Kingsbridge subdivision

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A new phase of the Kingsbridge subdivision is one step closer.

Town council held a planning meeting last Thursday afternoon where a revised plan of subdivision was presented. Council has directed administration to advise the approval authority – which is the County of Essex – that it supports draft plan approval for this phase of the Kingsbridge subdivision and that a zoning bylaw be considered at a future regular session of council.

The new phase of the subdivision would have 182 lots, down from the original 185, as manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger stated there was a reconfiguration of Whelan Dr. as a result of comments made at a July 23 public meeting.

The subject lands for the subdivision are located to the east and south of Hilton Court and Whelan Ave. “as an extension of Whelan Ave. and surrounding lands.”

According to Belanger’s report, concerns from the July 23 meeting included the extension of Hilton Court as many believed it would wrap around to Whelan Ave. sooner than the latest master plan, the narrowness of the street and a lack of sidewalks, congestion within the subdivision, increased traffic on Hilton Court, natural habitat considerations, drainage and not enough street lights.

In response to concerns, Belanger noted “the developer resubmitted the application for Draft Plan of Subdivision showing an amended street layout. The proposed plan has Hilton Court connecting back to Whelan Avenue and a new court (Benson Court) in place of where the Hilton Court extension was originally proposed.”

Belanger also noted that developer Mike Dunn “obtained the overall benefit permit under the Endangered Species Act from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) for the remainder of the lands within Kingsbridge subdivision and the 2nd Concession” and that “MNRF advised within the permit that the legislative requirements had been met and the municipality should proceed with the Planning Act process (Draft Plan of Subdivision and Rezoning).”

Belanger stated that Dunn is waiting for the MNRF to finalize plans for that portion of the subdivision “so that he knows how to complete Knobb Hill Dr. with MNRF compliances, and he will put a large sidewalk along it. His intention is to complete the road and sidewalk within the next two years.”

“Mr. Dunn is required to install the sidewalks for Kingsbridge as per the Sidewalks Master Plan for Kingsbridge and will do so once he has received final clearances from the MNRF,” Belanger’s report added.

Councillor Diane Pouget asked about alternate side of the street parking, noting that resident on Hilton Court were “very concerned about traffic” on the street. Administration advised that they can look at that if that is the direction of council.

Councillor Rick Fryer noted that traffic mitigation measures to slow people down could prove useful, noting that he lives near the Texas Road and Knobb Hill Dr. intersection and that speeds have been a factor. Councillor Leo Meloche added that if people were to travel at the posted speed limits, many speed and traffic issues could be resolved.

“It’s more of a systemic issue where people want to get from Point A to Point B as fast as they can no matter what is in the way,” said Meloche.

Pouget encouraged residents to phone the police if there are people speeding and driving poorly in their neighbourhoods.

“You will remain anonymous,” she said. “This is what keeps our community safe – residents like you and the police working together.”

After the meeting, Fryer said the meeting showed that complaints are heard and responded to.

“I think this meeting shows that the developer and council working together heard the residents and the concerns were met,” he said.

The town can now move forward with traffic measures, such as alternate side of the street parking and speed-related concerns.

“Council has the ability to give direction to administration and they will follow through with the direction of council,” Fryer said, of potential mitigating measures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local company pitches to council on print to braille services

 

By Ron Giofu

A couple with a print-to-braille service company has inquired about the town’s chances about engaging their services.

Emmanuel and Rebecca Blaevoet of Tactile Vision Graphics appeared before town council regarding their company, stating their mission is that everyone have equal access to information, including people with vision impairments. They have done work for municipalities and museums, the couple told council.

“How many of you, when thinking of accessibility, think of braille?” Rebecca asked council.

Rebecca added that “as the population ages, more and more people will have vision impairments.” She told council they can produce such items as office signs and agendas and other items as well that a municipality may need. She added that there are some people that may not be known to have vision impairments because they have stopped asking for services due to a limited number of places having them.

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Councillor Rick Fryer, the council appointee to the town’s accessibility committee, said the Blaevoets came to the committee and it was at the suggestion of the committee that they address town council.

“The committee wanted it to come back to council,” said Blaevoet.

Fryer suggested that the town consider it on a trial basis to see if there is anyone in the community that would use the service.

“This council is always looking to do something different than anyone else,” said Fryer.

The delegation was received by town council and administration was directed to come back with a report on the feasibility of using such a service.

Full report on new hires discussed, will not be provided

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A request from a town councillor for a report on new hires will not be coming forward as her colleagues were concerned it wouldn’t show the full picture.

Councillor Diane Pouget asked for a “full report” on all the town’s new hires in the past four years including all costs relating to salary and benefits. She said she has read documentation where wages alone have increased $2.2 million in the last three years.

“The reason (for the report request) is we will have a new council and I think it’s important they have the information after they’re sworn in,” said Pouget.

The report would have come back in September, had it been approved.

“If it’s intended for the next council, why is it requested for September?” asked Councillor Leo Meloche, with the reply being that it would give incoming council members time to prepare for budget sessions.

Pouget added later in the meeting that in January, the town would be obligated to pay “a large amount for wages” and the report would help be a starting point for the new council.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said if a person wants to be elected, they should be looking at budgets otherwise they could be in trouble going into their first year of budget deliberations. He noted that the information for such a report is already in the budget documents.

Lavigne didn’t believe such a report could provide a “clear picture,” saying that while there have been new hires, those hires have produced savings in such areas as legal and engineering due to work not having to be farmed out.

“We’ve already seen the report in budget (sessions) that the people we’ve hired have more than paid for themselves,” he said.
Lavigne added “it’s easy for a pundit to say ‘oh yeah, you’ve hired these people and this is how much it’s going to cost the town’ when it’s not a true representation of what happened. We hired these people to save money, not spend money.”

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin added that staffing requests have come with a “fulsome report” dealing with why the request was made and the financial implications. He said council has to “look at the larger piece of the puzzle” and that information on why the hires were requested is readily available.

Lavigne added his belief the report “is designed to make us look bad.”

“In my opinion, it’s easy in an election year and going into a new council to say ‘they hired all these new people.’ I don’t think it’s legitimate,” he said.

Councillor Rick Fryer agreed with Lavigne, stating that the public has to have “the full picture.”

In the end, council did not proceed with Pouget’s request.

Fryer enters the race for deputy mayor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A new name has entered the race for deputy mayor in Amherstburg and it is another current councillor.

Rick Fryer has filed his nomination papers and will be opposing Bob Rozankovic, Diane Pouget and Leo Meloche, the latter two also being a current councillors while Rozankovic chairs the Amherstburg Police Services Board.

Coming back in 2014 after losing the mayoral election in 2010 allowed him to be part of the recovery of Amherstburg, Fryer said.

Noting he had a “black and white” campaign four years ago, Fryer believed he has continued in that fashion the last four years as a councillor.

“Most residents have seen in the last four years that I’ve had black and white answers to issues in the town,” he said.

Fryer said he wants to continue to contribute to the growth and improvement of the town as deputy mayor. One of the ways that Amherstburg will grow will start to come to fruition this summer when the new forcemain is installed from the Edgewater sewage area to the main plant.

“The next four years will be the revival of Amherstburg,” he predicted.

Fryer said he would like to see the town return to what it was like in the 1980’s “when you didn’t have to leave Amherstburg to go to work.”

Amherstburg will be close to the new Gordie Howe International Bridge and Fryer believes that could assist in attracting jobs and industry to town so that “young families can come here, raise children here and work here.”

Town council has already demonstrated the ability to make the tough decisions though Fryer noted those “hard decisions may not be popular.” He said decisions have been made for the good of the town for the long-term.

Rick Fryer has his father Mike be the first one to sign his nomination form. Fryer is one of four candidates for the deputy mayor’s position.

One of the tough decisions was the issue of policing and Fryer was one of three council members to vote to contract out to the Windsor Police Service. Fryer said council has a “fiduciary responsibility” and that animosity over the decision will subside once residents see the savings that come as a result as well as the fact that the same officers will patrol the town, now that the switch has been approved by the Ontario Civilian Policing Committee (OCPC).

“I think savings are a big part,” he said. “We can’t spend like drunken sailors anymore. We have to look at the bigger picture.”

Fryer added: “Nothing is going to change. We are going to have the same people unless the officer decides to go to Windsor.”

Additional goals for Fryer would be to provide greater services residents in rural areas, including McGregor and River Canard. He said he will lobby for the reconstruction of Concession 2 North, stating it is a “thoroughfare” between Amherstburg and LaSalle.

Other goals include rebuilding more roadways around the community.

“A major push will be for our roads to be completed that have been neglected over many, many years,” he said.

Fryer added that removing interlocking brick sidewalks and replacing them with cement has paid dividends for those with disabilities as it provides a smoother surface for wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

Being deputy mayor means being on Essex County council as well, with Fryer stating he has plans for roadwork at that level too.

“I want to make sure that the county puts bike paths and walking trails on all county roads,” he said.

Fryer is the chair of the ERCA board of directors and he said that shows the confidence of his colleagues in his ability to lead. He added his decision to run for deputy mayor wasn’t one he made lightly and discussed it with family and friends.

“I want to make sure I represent the Town of Amherstburg in the best way that I can,” he said.

Creek Road tender approved, reconstruction to start in the fall

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Creek Road will be getting some long overdue reconstruction, but that reconstruction will not include bike lanes.

Town council approved a tender from Jeff Shepley Excavating Ltd. in the amount of $1,512,223.50 plus HST to rebuild the roadway. The motion to approve the tender was passed Monday night, but Councillor Rick Fryer questioned why the tender took so long to come before council considering the project was approved during budget sessions in late 2017.

“We approved Creek Road a long time ago,” said Fryer. “Why is it taking six to seven months to get the tender approved?”

Fryer questioned whether the town was “missing the boat” in terms of getting favourable pricing by not getting the tenders out sooner. He wondered if getting engineering work done ahead of time would prove to be beneficial to the town.

Manager of engineering Todd Hewitt said that is the direction they are going, noting they are doing pre-engineering work on two more projects.

Councillor Diane Pouget asked about the start time and how long the project would take, with Hewitt stating that construction could be underway in September with a November finish. Fryer asked what impact that would have on school bus routes.

“That’s going to make it difficult,” Hewitt admitted.

Hewitt added work still has to be done with the contractor with regards to road closures and where bus stops could be.

Creek Road will be replaced this fall, with work anticipated to begin in September. This is the view of the road from the intersection at South Side Road looking south.

Fryer had further concerns, as he questioned about whether there would be bike lanes.

“On that road, are we allowing for bike lanes and walking lanes?” he asked.

Fryer noted it is a “primary route for cyclists” but Hewitt responded by stating that while a one-metre paved shoulder was put into the original tender, that tender came back in at $2.287 million. That is roughly $550,000 over budget with Hewitt stating the project was then re-tendered. The low bid on the original tender was put in by a different contractor, he added.

The road would still have a wider road base and a one-meter shoulder, Hewitt said, the latter providing the base for a paved shoulder if council wants to put one in sometime in the future.