Tom Bain

Harrow Fair presented for 164th time

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A Labour Day weekend tradition continued in Harrow for the 164th time last weekend.

The Harrow Fair ran last Thursday through Sunday with such events as the pie auction, parade, 4-H Club competitions, the midway and more keeping people busy over the four days. Luke Korcok, the president of the Harrow Fair board, thanked not only the public for attending but the committee members and the volunteers for helping out.

“A lot of hours have been put in to make sure we have a successful festival,” said Korcok, adding preparations for the 2019 Harrow Fair are already underway.

Home craft director Rose McLean also thanked the volunteers as well as those who attended.

Sarah Parks waves to the crowd during the Harrow Fair Parade Sept. 1.

“If you people didn’t come out, there would be no reason to have the Harrow Fair,” she told the crowd at Thursday night’s opening ceremonies.

McLean added that roughly 6,000 volunteer hours were spent organizing the Harrow Fair.

“What a tradition – the Harrow Fair,” commented Essex Mayor Ron McDermott.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak brings greetings during the opening ceremony of the Harrow Fair. The 164th annual fair runa from Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

McDermott, who is not seeking re-election this fall, said it has been his honour to represent his ratepayers as mayor for 15 years and welcome people to the fair.

“It’s been my honour and privilege to thank you for everything you’ve done with the Harrow Fair,” McDermott told organizers.

Warden Tom Bain said it is an event for the entire county to enjoy.

“I think if you are a good county person, you’ve got to go to the fair,” said Bain. “If you want to have fun, you go to the fair. It’s a great family event.”

A quartet of women take a ride during the Harrow Fair parade Sept. 1.

In addition to also thanking the volunteers, Essex MP Tracey Ramsey also thanked those who bid on pies in the pie auction, as all proceeds went to the John McGivney Centre in Windsor.

“I love coming to the fair. I’ve been coming to the fair my whole life,” said Ramsey. “It takes an army of people to make such an event successful.”

Ramsey pointed out the fair has been a multi-generational affair and one that helps promote the health of the community and bolster the economy.

“It’s a wonderful tradition,” added Essex MPP Taras Natyshak. “It kicks off the end of the summer.”

TWEPI boasts increased numbers in social media, web and hotel activity

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Representatives from Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) were at Essex County council at their most recent meeting with improvements being touted in several areas.

TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr, vice president Lynnette Bain and director of marketing Kris Racine were at county council’s most recent meeting updating the elected officials about what the tourism agency has been doing. Highlights included a new logo, the “Where Can We Take You” and “Visit Your Neighbour” campaigns and the fact four conferences either have been or will be in the Windsor-area this year.  The Barrels, Bottles and Breweries tours along with coffee trails and “We Heart Local” campaigns were also highlighted for county council.

Some of the big gains have been made online, with statistics showing that unique visitors to the www.visitwindsoressex.com website have risen 12.9 per cent over the last year. Social media activity has been on the rise with Facebook activity going up 49.9 per cent, Instagram 19.3 per cent and Twitter 75.6 per cent.

“We’re seeing double-digit growth in all social media platforms. It’s a great way to push out content,” said Orr. “Social media teases the receiver and then they click on and they go back to our website where they get more information. They’re given a number of reasons of where we can take you when they come to visit Windsor-Essex and Pelee Island.”

Kris Racine, Gordon Orr and Lynnette Bain appeared before Essex County council at their most recent meeting providing an update on the area’s tourism and social media activity.

Orr said TWEPI is also offering a pilot project where grants are awarded to those with new tourism ideas and the funds are used to develop them. That program has resulted in innovative ideas and job creation, he stated.

Hotel occupancy in Windsor-Essex County has risen 1.2 per cent in terms of overnight stays while overall occupancy has increased 4.95 per cent in the last year.

“Those are positive figures because for a lot of years they were kind of flat-lined. More people are staying overnight and when they’re staying overnight they’re spending more money in the region,” Orr said. “Everyone right from Windsor to Haldimand County, Windsor-Essex has seen the most positive hotel growth in that entire region. So it’s not everybody, it’s Windsor-Essex that’s doing very well. London is doing well but we usually beat them or we come close to doing it on a quarterly basis.”

Orr acknowledged that Amherstburg is working to land a hotel, with Lakeshore and Tecumseh also wanting one as well.

Warden Tom Bain thanked the TWEPI officials for their hard work and for keeping county council informed.

“We appreciate you coming in and keeping us up to speed on the work you are doing,” he said.

 

Bain cites teamwork and collaboration as successes for county in final warden’s luncheon

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County Warden Tom Bain championed teamwork, collaboration and the region’s successes during his annual “Warden’s Luncheon” address.

The 11th annual “Warden’s Luncheon” was held last Friday afternoon at the Ciociaro Club with Bain noting there is “a new sense of vitality” in Essex County. Bain said that the area is known for its creativity, innovation, ingenuity and perseverance, and that shows in the unemployment figures. The unemployment rate in the area was 9.4 per cent in early 2015 and said it is now at 4.9 per cent, “one of the lowest in the province.”

The warden pointed out his belief that municipalities don’t create jobs but can create the conditions where economic improvement is possible.

One of the issues Bain addressed was the expansion of energy capacity in the region and “thankfully, this is finally getting addressed.” One issue that is not getting addressed is the expansion of Highway 3 from Essex to Leamington. Bain stated that it is a vital gateway for the shipment of agricultural products and called the widening of the highway “a priority for county council.”

There are also safety concerns with Highway 3 as Bain referenced the volume of traffic that uses that roadway.

“This leads to a number of accidents and, sadly, fatalities,” said Bain.

The county is in solid financial shape, he continued, noting Standard and Poor’s has given the county a AA+ credit rating, the highest possible for a municipality in Ontario.

Warden Tom Bain gestures during his address at the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce’s “Warden’s Luncheon” last Friday. It was Bain’s final luncheon as Essex County warden.

“This long-term financial vision is credited to county council and administration,” said Bain.

Essex County has also been able to control tax increases, he added.

“Over the past 15 years, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) has increased on average 1.8 per cent per year,” said Bain. “Over the same period of time, our county tax rate has increased on average 1.3 per cent per year.”

Those increases come despite $440 million in roadway expansion, $171 million in new trail projects and $100 million committed for the county’s share of the new mega-hospital. The hospital, he added, went through a “fair and thorough” site selection process.

The mega-hospital was one of the examples listed by Bain of Essex County’s willingness to collaborate. He said the SWIFT project, which aims to bring fibre optic high-speed internet to the region, is another example while also noting environmental gains by working with ERCA and economic gains by working with the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Commission (WEEDC).

Essex County is also bidding to jointly host Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conferences with Windsor up to four times between 2021-24, something Bain said could bring 2,600 and $3 million in spinoff revenue to the region.

Municipalities can’t ignore change and have to work together, he believed, but can control how they react to change.

“In today’s day and age, the way we have been doing business is no longer feasible or reasonable,” he said, touting the benefits of teamwork and collaboration between municipalities.

Bain said he is proud of the work that has been done around the county council table and of the work still to come.

“We have such a good team here,” he said. “The team has worked together on so many things. The results are there and I’m so proud of that and proud of our team.”

In this municipal election year, he advised candidates to avoid the trappings of short-term gains and look long-term.

Bain indicated that while he is not running for another term as warden, he is looking at running for re-election as mayor in Lakeshore. He is the longest serving warden in Ontario, having been in the position since 2010. He was also warden in 1993. Bain has been a municipal politician since 1978, when he was first elected as a councillor in the former Rochester Township.

The luncheon was presented by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce with Libro Credit Union being the main sponsor.

County council releases statement of councillor remuneration

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County council has released its statement of council remuneration for 2017.

There was no surprise as to who was on top, with Warden Tom Bain earning a salary of $66,228.72 and a total remuneration of $92,942.09. The total remuneration factors in indemnities, mileage, conference and meeting expenditures. Bain is also the mayor of Lakeshore.

The remaining members of county council earned salaries of $9,173.76 with the exception of LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya who, as deputy warden, had a salary of $11,167.23.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo saw his remuneration total be $14,172.27 while Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale’s total ended up at $14,946.39.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott’s 2017 remuneration total was $14,548.90 while Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche had a total remuneration amount of $16,386.02.

The total remuneration for Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos in 2017 was $17,425.16. Deputy Mayor Gord Queen’s total remuneration was $15,407.44.

Lakeshore Deputy Mayor Al Fazio’s total remuneration for 2017 was $13,282.29.

In addition to his deputy warden’s salary, Antaya’s total remuneration was $17,053.11. LaSalle Deputy Mayor Marc Bondy had a total remuneration of $13,837.70.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson had the lowest total remuneration total for 2017, with his total being $12,997.58. Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald’s total remuneration for 2017 was $13,599.39.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara’s total remuneration amounted to $20,507.26 while Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti came in at $14,118.54.

In all, county council members’ total salaries amounted to $187,481.07 for 2017 with a total remuneration amounting to $291.224.14.

Committee members had a total remuneration total of $18,067.37 during the 2017 calendar year.

Essex County council ratifies EWSWA budgets

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 2017 and 2018 budgets for the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) are one step closer to being finally completed.

Essex County council has given its approval to the two years worth of budgets, with the 2017 budget calling for a zero per cent increase and the 2018 budget calling for a two per cent increase. EWSWA general manager Eli Maodus pointed out that the process calls for approvals from both county council and Windsor city council.

In his report, Maodus noted that a $447,480 contribution from the authority’s rate stabilization reserve was required to balance the 2018 budget. He stated that “this reserve is used to smooth out any large increases to the total waste management fee.”

The rate stabilization reserve is projected to be $16.6 million at the end of 2018.

County CAO Rob Maisonville said a ten-year plan is being created knowing that reserve is in play. The new plan, he noted, would use reserves but “find a balance” in order to maintain them as much as possible.

“Those reserves aren’t going to last,” cautioned Warden Tom Bain, who had multiple meetings with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins, Maisonville and city CAO Onorio Colucci.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said the $16 million reserve may look like a lot, but there is debt and a reduction in tonnage that has to be considered as well. He said there has to be a grasp on what costs will be in the future.

“That $16 million will disappear in a hurry,” he said.

The landfill debt is reportedly $65 million.

Essex Mayor Ron McDermott questioned procedure, stating that the budget problems were started when two years worth of budgets tried to be passed at once. McDermott was concerned that county council was doing the same thing last Wednesday, but each budget was eventually passed.