Warden Praises Paramedics and Work of Accessibility Advisory Committee
Warden Hilda MacDonald opened Wednesday’s meeting by thanking the paramedics and support staff of Essex-Windsor EMS for keeping the community safe.
“You have incredibly difficult jobs and you perform them admirably, with professionalism and pride. You provide care and comfort in times of distress and you most definitely save lives,” she said.
She noted that Sunday marks the beginning of Paramedic Services Week and that Survivor Day on May 26 – an annual ceremony put on by Essex-Windsor EMS and the Southwest Ontario Regional Base Hospital Program – will celebrate lives saved.
The warden also thanked the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee members, who attended the meeting to make a presentation about their initiatives.
“From bringing in guest speakers to engaging residents on social media to highlighting issues on local trails, the committee works relentlessly in support of a more accessible community,” the warden said.
Accessibility Advisory Committee Provides Update on its Initiatives
Members of the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee were introduced to council and spoke about invisible disabilities, 2023 committee initiatives and plans for National AccessAbility Week (May 28 to June 3).
The committee invited residents and members of council to join them for the raising of the locally-made accessibility flag in front of the Essex County Civic Centre on May 29 at 10 a.m.
Everyone is also encouraged to wear red on Red Shirt Day of Action for Accessibility and Inclusion (May 31) and to share photos on social media with the hashtags #RedShirtDay and #RedForAccessibility. They can tag the committee on Facebook and Twitter (@EssexCountyAAC).
ProsperUs Seeking Funding to Support Leamington Children Facing Barriers
United Way CEO Lorraine Goddard told council about the work being done through the ProsperUs initiative in Windsor and Essex County.
Launched in 2018, ProsperUs is a cross-sector, collective impact partnership comprised of non-profit, government, health care, education, labour, business, and inspired community members and residents with a shared vision of a prosperous Windsor-Essex County where every young person has the opportunity and support to succeed from cradle to career.
After an extensive review of community data, it is focusing its efforts on West Windsor, downtown Windsor and Leamington – where children face more barriers to success than their peers in other neighbourhoods.
ProsperUs is asking the County of Essex for $50,000 a year for five years, starting in 2023, to continue and expand its Cradle to Careers initiatives in Leamington. County council will consider whether to provide the funding at a future meeting.
County Prepares for Launch of Strategic Plan Development
Consultants with StrategyCorp, who will work with county council, staff and community stakeholders in developing the county’s first-ever strategic plan, outlined the timeline and process Wednesday night.
The consultants emphasized that strategic plans should be living documents that set priorities and a long-term vision while informing the day-to-day work of staff and the annual budgeting process.
Consultation is key in the development of a strategic plan and the consultants will engage with councilors, staff, community stakeholders and County of Essex residents to help determine community priorities.
“The county must have a clear vision of where it is and where it wants to go if it is to maximize its opportunities and potential,” said Warden Hilda MacDonald.
“This plan will provide that direction and purpose. It will be both the roadmap to our destination as well as the vehicle for reaching it.”
Windsor Essex Provincial Offences (POA) Program – 2022 Annual Report
Council received the Windsor Essex Provincial Offences Program 2022 annual report, which shows $1.36 million in net operating profits were distributed to the participating municipalities.
The City of Windsor received $668,630; Amherstburg $76,785; the Town of Essex $61,400; Kingsville $81,370; LaSalle $118,204; Lakeshore $168,296; Leamington $84,624; Tecumseh $99,907; and the Township of Pelee $3,604.
2023 Canada Community-Building Fund Allocation
The County of Essex is receiving $2.4 million of the $12 million in Canada Community Building Fund money being allocated to the county and local municipalities in 2023, says a breakdown provided to council. The remainder is going to the local municipalities based on 2021 census population numbers.
The fund is a permanent source of revenue for provinces and territories to support local infrastructure priorities. Municipalities can pool, bank and borrow against the funding.
Lease of Property near Regional Landfill to Farm Operation Extended
A rent agreement that allows Chris Malott Farming Enterprises Inc. to use 813 acres of Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority land near the regional landfill is being extended to Oct. 31, 2024.
The farm operation has had an agreement to rent the land since 2016 and currently pays an annual fee of $276 per acre. The County of Essex is a party to the agreement because it holds the title for the properties.
Contract Awarded for Road Line Paint
Council approved the awarding of a contract for non-coning water-borne traffic paint to PolyMight International Inc. for $335,160 plus applicable taxes. The paint is used by Essex County roads maintenance crews to place and replace pavement markings.
Province Wants to Transfer Small Section of Herb Gray Parkway to County
The Province of Ontario wants to transfer a section of the Herb Gray Parkway along County Road 9 in the area of the Howard Avenue connector to the County of Essex.
The province has determined the 3.8 lane kilometres of roadway and 1.8 kilometres of paved shoulder are not part of the parkway, which is the access road to the new Gordie Howe International Bridge border crossing to the U.S. It has notified the county it is preparing to transfer the road and asked for county council’s agreement before proceeding. A council motion supporting the transfer was defeated.
The additional maintenance costs for pavement marking, sign maintenance and grass cutting on the stretch of County Road 9 and the Howard Avenue connector will be about $6,000 a year, says a report to council.
Contract Awarded for Hot Mix Overlay and Milling and Paving
Mill-Am Corporation has been awarded the contract for county road rehabilitation using hot mix overlay and milling and paving for $2.6 million plus applicable taxes.
The work involves removing the top layer of deteriorated pavement and replacing it with a layer of new hot mix asphalt.
The contract includes the addition of paved shoulders that will be part of the County Wide Active Transportation System, some of which will be covered by the CWATS budget and contributions from local municipalities. The CWATS-funded paved shoulder projects were presented to council at a previous meeting. The stretches in the table below are part of the road rehabilitation program.
A provision in the contract allows for the pavement rehabilitation of Wright Road and Arthur Street South in the Town of Essex, for which the town will pay $235,090 plus applicable taxes if its council approves.
Lead Hand Inspector Position Approved for Infrastructure and Planning
Council approved the promotion of one the county’s Infrastructure and Planning inspectors to the new position of lead hand. The intention is for the lead hand inspector to assist with implementation of the road rehabilitation program, which has grown significantly over the past decade.
Among other things, the lead hand will manage scheduling of inspectors, coordination of material testing, resident concerns and quantity revisions, as well as supporting the manager, design and construction. The added cost will be $6,000 a year, says a report to council.
COVID-19 Vaccination Policy Rescinded Following Pause
The COVID-19 vaccination policy for the County of Essex, which was paused in July of 2022, has now been officially rescinded, according to a report to council.
The policy was put into place in August 2021 by the Chief Administrative Officer in an effort to keep employees and the broader community safe at a time when COVID-19 was spreading rapidly in our community.
It was paused in July 2022 for all employees, excluding Sun Parlor Home employees. A letter of understanding was entered into with CUPE 2974.2 because the ability to cross the border is a condition of employment for active paramedics and vaccination was a requirement to enter the United States.
The policy was lifted for Sun Parlor Home employees in April of this year following an announcement by the Ministry of Long-Term Care. The requirement that all new employees be vaccinated was also lifted, except for paramedics because of the vaccination requirement to cross the U.S. border.
The U.S. lifted the vaccination requirement for international travellers effective May 11, 2023. As a result, the requirement that new paramedic hires be vaccinated was removed and the county’s vaccination policy was rescinded.
Council Backs Opposition to Two Measures in Province’s Bill 23
County council is supporting resolutions by councils for the Town of Lincoln and County of Prince Edward urging the province to hold off on implementing or scrap changes to legislation being enacted through Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act.
The Town of Lincoln wants the government to maintain provisions in the Ontario Heritage Act which promote the retention and expansion of the Municipal Heritage Register by keeping listed properties on the registry indefinitely. The changes in Bill 23 set the maximum at two years, in which time they must be assessed by the municipality.
The County of Prince Edward is urging the province to pause proposed changes to the Provincial Planning Statement regarding natural heritage and agricultural lands, and to reinvest trust in the local planning authority of Ontario’s 444 municipalities, “recognizing that each Ontario municipality has unique landscapes, different housing needs and differing visions for local planning matters.”
Municipalities Asking for Authority to Use Automated Speed Enforcement
County council is supporting a request to the province by the City of Cambridge for an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act that will permit municipalities to locate automated speed enforcement systems on any roadway in their jurisdiction.
Measures to Protect Paramedics from Violence Supported
Essex County will send a letter to federal Justice Minister David Lametti supporting changes to the Criminal Code to protect paramedics from violence on the job.
The letter will be similar to one sent by the Region of Peel, which lists some of the measures the region has taken to protect its paramedics. They include a policy of zero tolerance of violence from the public, a public awareness campaign, providing paramedics with spit hoods and soft restraints and an enhanced system for reporting violent incidents. It is also engaged in ongoing collaboration and problem solving with police partners.
Deputy Chief Justin Lammers said Essex-Windsor EMS has adopted the same measures and that, so far this year, there have been 25 reported incidents of physical and verbal abuse of paramedics.
Flags being Lowered to Honour Slain OPP Officer
Flags are being lowered to half-staff at County of Essex buildings on Thursday for the funeral of OPP Sgt. Eric Mueller in Ottawa. Mueller, 42, was shot and killed while responding to a disturbance call at a home in nearby Bourget on May 11. Two other officers were injured in the shooting. County council supported the request to lower flags by LaSalle Deputy Mayor Mike Akpata.