Town council

Council defers planning report, developer says that kills Wendy’s proposal

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council voted to defer a amending development agreement for 83 Sandwich St. S. and that deferral has killed the chances of Wendy’s coming to Amherstburg, according to the property owner.

The deferral came as a result of a letter from Sobeys’ lawyers with the majority of council, with the exception of Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Councillor Rick Fryer, opting to wait until that matter was addressed by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). However, developer Joe Mikhail said that deferral effectively kills the plans to have a Wendy’s on the site due to timelines that company has.

According to Mikhail, the letter was circulated to town council about one hour before the meeting.

Mikhail said Wendy’s wants a shovel in the ground by September and that isn’t possible now that the matter is deferred. For it to happen in Amherstburg at his site, the process would now have to wait another year and Mikhail believed Wendy’s would not agree to that.

“They’ll just walk away,” said Mikhail. “They’ll go to LaSalle.”

Mikhail alleged that what Sobeys “with the concurrence of council” did was kill the deal for Amherstburg. He said 50 potential jobs were lost in the process and accused “corporate greed” from Sobeys as the cause of the deferral.

The process to bring a Wendy’s fast food restaurant to Amherstburg cleared an initial hurdle as council approved the concept of allowing a drive-thru at the proposed 83 Sandwich St. S. site. The image, included on the town’s agenda package for last Thursday’s meeting, shows the proposed design.

The letter from the law firm of Aird & Berlis, and signed by Steven A. Zakem, stated that they would file an appeal of the Official Plan designation and zoning bylaw amendment for the site at 83 Sandwich St. S. The letter disagreed with statements in a report to council and that “contrary to the statements in the council report, the landlord has not co-operated with Sobeys Capital Inc. to ensure concerns have been addressed. Sobeys’ planning consultant has provided correspondence to the Town of Amherstburg’s planning department on May 10, 14 and August 8 of 2018 raising concerns with reliance on a 2001 Traffic Impact Study and has requested an updated Traffic Impact Study for the site. To date, this request has been ignored.”

Rennie Rota, who runs the Amherstburg Sobeys, said he is pro-development as is Sobeys. They are also concerned about the safety of their customers, claiming the driveway off of Sandwich St. S. would be narrowed to customers going in and out of the store.

“I have no problem with Wendy’s going there,” said Rota. “I think it would be good for my business. What we’re saying is, if you are going to build it, build it right.”

DiCarlo said if the matter had been approved, the matter would have proceeded to the site plan stage where the issues between the parties could have been worked out. Fryer said the process was nearing an end and believed the decision to defer was “short-sighted by some people.” Commercial development is needed in Amherstburg, Fryer added.

“We need it,” he said, adding that decisions like Monday night’s could impact other developments. He said “Amherstburg will lose out” if developments such as Wendy’s don’t come.

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.

Lazanja hopes to help Amherstburg stay “on the map” and be sustainable

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Lena Lazanja wants to keep Amherstburg on the map and do so as a member of town council.

Lazanja is seeking a councillor’s position in the Oct. 22 municipal election and calls Amherstburg a “hidden diversity gem,” adding it “is the perfect foundation on which to build.” She noted the mix of rural and residential and the retirees and young families.

Community involvement is something Lazanja said she is no stranger to and she believes that has allowed her to speak with people from all walks of life.

“Since moving to Amherstburg in 2006, I have been actively involved in our community and, as a result, I have been fortunate to work alongside its residents, community leaders, service organizations and volunteers,” said Lazanja. “I have had the pleasure of serving people of all backgrounds and causes and I see my role on council as providing the next step in my continued service to our town.”

Lazanja believes the current town council has done “an incredible job” on moving ahead with initiatives and called it “critical to our progress in putting Amherstburg on the map.” What is equally important, she continued, “will be our ability to look ahead with future goals in order to maintain that momentum, to see the potential growth beyond our boundaries and, most importantly, to continue to build a positive relationship and follow up with our residents wants and needs.”

Lena Lazanja is seeking a councillor’s position in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Bringing in younger families and youth is important, she believes, and opportunities need to be provided for them to come and stay in Amherstburg. She said Amherstburg lacks necessary opportunities for youth and young families to see a future in Amherstburg.

Lazanja said her vision is grounded in three key elements, which are a continued commitment to transparency and accountability, a focus on responsible economic growth and “lucrative development,” and an emphasis on stability.

“We have an under-utilized waterfront and areas rich in commercial investment potential,” she said. “We have a desperate need for industry growth and establishing sustainable business.”

What the town does have, she added, is a shared goal of being actively involved in the betterment of Amherstburg.

“Imagine what our ‘little-big’ town could accomplish if we collectively committed to the changes we want to see?” Lazanja asked. “I am up for the challenge to work with, not for, the residents of Amherstburg as one of their town councillors, to ‘be the change you want to see.’”

One of her main goals, she added, is to listen to people in order to serve the residents. She said she “sees so much promise here” and that while Amherstburg is “on the map,” the goal is to continue to push that forward and make the town a “place to be, not just to retire, not just in the summer but the place to call home.”

Tourism is a big draw, Lazanja noted, but believed more needed to be done to bring in people during the winter months.

Among the volunteering and work experiences that Lazanja has undertaken include working as the executive board secretary at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157, being a past assistant lecturer and research assistant in the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor, a past general manager at the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and a former administrative assistant at Amherstburg Community Services, being a Rotarian for ten years including four as president, and being a member of the  board of governors at the University of Windsor as president of the Graduate Students Society and Women’s Issues Liaison. She states she is also currently working towards her PhD in education.

“I wish all of my fellow candidates a successful campaign,” she 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.

Discretionary spending, finding efficiencies among key issues for Moore

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The vote to contract out policing in Amherstburg to the Windsor Police Service was the big factor for Gregory Moore and his decision to run for town council.

Moore is seeking the position of councillor and said the Feb. 26 policing vote made by the current council is what caused him to decide to run. Moore said he is in opposition to the switch.

“That was the last thing that pushed me over the edge was the farming out of Amherstburg police,” said Moore. “I think the police are a big part of our community. The police and our community go hand-in-hand.”

Moore said that he has watched the decisions council has made the last few years and decided he wants to try and get on council himself.

“I guess I can’t complain if I’m not willing to do something,” he said.

The town’s debt is still large, said Moore, and that a closer look has to be had on the town’s discretionary spending.

“I think that’s a real issue that needs to be looked at,” said Moore.

Gregory Moore is running for the
position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Moore suggested the possibility of the town retaining ownership of the Libro Centre but having a private company manage it in order to reduce the financial liability that operating an arena carries. He said that Duffy’s is synonymous with Amherstburg but wonders if the town was right in purchasing Belle Vue and the former St. Bernard School site when they did.

“If you look at the situation, we can’t afford Belle Vue,” he believed. “We can’t afford St. Bernard School. We really can’t afford these as a town right now.”

If it were not for the debt, Moore stated, “It might be a totally different story.”

Moore stated: “I think spending needs to be frozen for council, the mayor and the CAO until further notice.”

Moore believed the town needs to be “creative” in its operations so that no additional pressures are placed on taxpayers. That includes a look at every town department.

“Everything needs to be looked at. Efficiencies need to be created,” said Moore.

Moore feels the town is on the same footing it was four years ago.

“I think it’s a wash,” he said. “I don’t see it being any better or any worse.”

There are certain expenditures that have to be made, with Moore citing rural roads as an example.

“The roads are worse out there,” he said. “These roads need to be fixed. These are needs, not wants.”

“Rising water and sewage rates need to be reined in,” he stated. “These costs really impact middle income families as well as looking for alternative measures to avoid continual property tax increases.

Moore said he would like to see more activities for both youth and seniors, including programming by the town for seniors that could be merged with existing groups.

More room for fishing from the shoreline is needed in town, stated Moore.

“I believe I can bring something completely different to the table,” he said.

Moore works at Chrysler and has lived in Amherstburg for 20 years after growing up in Harrow. He serves on his church’s board in Colchester. He also fought the province’s sexual education curriculum serval years ago.

“My family has a very long history here in Amherstburg,” he added. “We are direct descendants of the Underground Railroad. My great grandfather Albert Wilson was in fact born here on the shores of Amherstburg after his mom made an escape swimming across the Detroit River.”