town hall

New roof coming to town hall

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A portion of the roof at town hall will soon be replaced.

Town council authorized administration to proceed with repairs to the area of roof that covers the lobby, the administrative areas and council chambers. Buckets are regularly in the lobby of town hall collecting moisture dripping from the roof with a smell now noticeable as well.

The cost will be in the area of $72,744 and be a capital over-expenditure funded from current taxation.

According to a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) John Miceli, the roof of town hall began to experience “areas of failure” as far back as 2014. Temporary repairs, which totalled approximately $7,000, were made at that time to extend the life of the roof. The roof began to experience several leaks this past summer and mitigating measures to extend the useful life of the roof were unsuccessful, Miceli reported.

The CAO stated in his report that Empire Roofing Corporation was engaged to perform a detailed inspection of the roof to determine whether the roof should be repaired or replaced.

Town council has authorized over $72,000 in repairs to a portion of roof at town hall.

The area that is being replaced, referred to in Miceli’s report as “Area A,” will see the roof receive a new vapour barrier, rigid insulation and a reinforced TPO membrane that will enhance thermal protection and extend the roof protection for 20 years with warranty.

“The roofing membrane in Area A has severe signs of aging and the roof membrane is separating at the seams allowing moisture to enter into the roofing system and into the building,” Miceli’s report states. “In addition, there are areas throughout Area A of the roof that have significant standing water.”

The present condition of the roof has resulted in health and safety concerns for staff, visitors and public surrounding the lobby, public washrooms, hallways and council chambers, Miceli wrote in his report, which also acknowledged the “nuisance smell in the lobby that has become problematic for staff having to work in or pass through the area and the areas adjacent to the lobby.”

Replacing the roof was the option the option council chose, though a repair option valued at approximately $12,000 excluding HST was presented. However, that option, according to Miceli’s report, did not address the thermal considerations, may not significantly extend the useful life of the roof and was not warrantied. The repair option would have fixed seams that were undone and areas where the roof had blistered.

“The roof replacement would be warrantied and create a water tight solution for the main area of the facility and will extend the useful life over the main area of town hall for approximately 20 years,” Miceli noted.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Town approves $50,000 to fund implementation of staff accommodation review

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg has addressed a “staffing resources shortage” during the 2017 and 2018 budget deliberations and now are having difficulty finding places for them to work.

Town council authorized an amount not exceed $50,000 for implantation of a staff accommodation review. The results of that will see the lower level of the Amherstburg Municipal Building reconfigured to provide for additional work spaces. A report authored by treasurer Justin Rousseau stated that plan will “accommodate the current staff accommodation needs at the municipal offices potentially for the next few years, subject to growth in the town and administrative demands.”

However, Rousseau cautioned that it does not provide “a comprehensive long-term solution” to address long-term growth in municipal operations nor does it address compliance with accessibility legislation.

Councillor Leo Meloche questioned why the study was not a budget item during 2018 deliberations with CAO John Miceli admitting it had been missed. He said “for full transparency, we came to council” regarding the matter.

Meloche further pressed as to whether the matter should have been put off to the 2019 town budget, but Miceli said the staff have been hired and now need a place to work out of.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo indicated that he has first-hand knowledge that there are tight quarters at town hall.

“I’m sharing my office with a new hire,” he said, “not that I’m complaining.”

The Town of Amherstburg had previously applied for grant funding to assist with town hall upgrades and the ability to move further services to the Libro Centre. That grant was unsuccessful. The building and planning departments have been based out of the Libro Centre for the last few years.

IBEW holding info picket this weekend, town plans to issue response

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

IBEW Local 636 and the Town of Amherstburg will enter mediation Feb. 4 but the two sides are looking to get their positions to the public beforehand.

IBEW business representative Brian Manninger said unionized workers are planning an information picket Saturday in front of the Libro Centre with the possibility it could extend into Sunday. Manninger said there was a meeting with the membership Wednesday night where the 55 unionized inside and outside workers received an update and reaffirmed their strike position by a 98 per cent vote.

Should negotiations with a provincial mediator break down Feb. 4, the workers could hit the picket lines as soon as the next day.

Manninger hopes a new collective agreement can be reached next Thursday and said the strike deadline could be extended if progress was made, but indicated little progress was being made thus far.

“We don’t want to see a work stoppage,” he said, noting workers are worried about their livelihoods.

Manninger doesn’t believe the town will see a lot of savings through a strike and said it could lead to a strained relationship if it gets that far.

“The residual effects of a strike can go on for years,” he said. “It’s not healthy for either side.”

A conciliation session was held Jan. 12 but Manninger stated only one small article was hammered out during a six-hour session.

“There was no progress being made whatsoever,” said Manninger.

The union will do everything it can to prevent a work stoppage, Manninger added, and they are hoping the town feels the same way.

There are two main issues, according to Manninger, one being hours of work and the other being money. While not begrudging police or fire departments, he said firefighters get a three per cent increase each year for five years while police officers will receive a 5.25 per cent increase in the second year of their deal.

Three top administrators have also seen raises while unionized staff took a one-year wage freeze, he added.

Manninger said the union wants to see their current collective agreement maintained and wage issues addressed, noting cost of living is going up.

“Whether or not people support us, call your councillor and let them know how you’re feeling,” said Manninger.

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CAO John Miceli confirmed the two sides will enter mediation Feb. 4 “and we’ll see where things go from there.”

Miceli said the town respects the collective bargaining process but doesn’t believe that feeling is being shared.

“I respect the process but the union is not respecting the process,” he said.

The town will be issuing a statement next week to further explain its stance, he added.

“(The union) seems to think it’s a concessionary contract but that’s not the case,” said Miceli.

Miceli said he wants to see what type of information is distributed at this weekend’s information picket and respond to it. The statements he has heard thus far from the union are statements he does not agree with.

“They are misleading the community,” he said. “They are making some pretty misleading statements.”

Conciliation happening today between town, IBEW Local 636

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town and IBEW Local 636 entered conciliation today to try and hammer out a new contract for the unionized employees.

There was a Dec. 31 strike deadline but that has been extended. A previous conciliation session, which had been slated for Dec. 7, was postponed due to the provincial conciliator not being able to come to Amherstburg due to fog.

“We have made some headway on some minor items,” said Brian Manninger, business representative of IBEW Local 636.

How the negotiations truly will proceed will be judged based on today, he believed, and noted that despite headway, there is still a need for a conciliator.

Town hall sign

“It’s a rough round of bargaining,” said Manninger, who would not get into specifics on issues being discussed.

Manninger added while some positives can be derived from the fact progress has been made on some issues, he said people have their heels dug in on other issues.

Depending on what happens in conciliation, either side could request a no-board report. If that report is issued, a new strike date would be set 17 days later.

The town’s budget deliberations also may lead to challenges during negotiations, he believed.

“Hearing what is coming out of council’s budget deliberations, it’s an uphill road,” said Manninger.

CAO John Miceli gave town council an update during an in-camera session following Monday’s regular meeting. He acknowledged the conciliation meeting being held Tuesday and said they are hopeful of help from the conciliator on some issues.

“We’ve made a lot of progress on a number of issues,” he said.

There are changes that are necessary to assist the town in its operations, Miceli added.