*this is a ‘sticky post’ and will remain at the top of this blog*
Accessibility is not exactly a buzz word during any election campaign, but we are all governed by the provincial accessibility legislation and its regulations, as well as the Human Rights Code.
And, if senior is a buzz word during the Amherstburg election campaign, the sector is directly affected by elected officials’ decisions to strengthen a commitment to people with disabilities or not.
The Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) Inc., organizer of Province-Wide Parties Debate on Accessibility and Disability Issues, invite people with disabilities and their allies from across Ontario to ask questions to each party regarding: Accessible/Subsidized/Supportive Housing, Employment, Poverty Reduction Strategies, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Education and other disability issues.
May 16, 2018, from 6 to 8.30 pm Debate Livestream Webcast: https://ryecast.ryerson.ca/72/live/1807.aspx.
The Windsor Star reported, “The commission deciding the fate of Amherstburg police wants to meet with residents.”
According to the article, CAO Miceli said, “Public consultation is part of the OCPC’s process,” adding the public meetings are not meant to seek community approval.
The ONTARIO CIVILIAN POLICE COMMISSION (OCPC) is not required to hold a public meeting; in fact it did not hold one in St. Marys, the model often referred to. The OCPC asked the City of St. Marys to provide a written submission setting out the proposed policing arrangement and approved it.
However, OCPC will consult with Amherstburg residents regarding council’s decision to have Windsor Police take over policing in Amherstburg.
The Windsor Star reported, in an entertaining article, that DiPasquale will not seek re-election to Amherstburg town council as deputy mayor.
As mentioned in the post, Meloche Wants Deputy Mayor Seat, Meloche referenced the deal with Windsor Police to take over policing Amherstburg.
According to the RTT article, Meloche said Essex had $3.9 million in policing costs in 2018 compared to Amherstburg’s $5.8 million.
The article continued, “Overall, we thought it’s a good deal for Amherstburg as a whole,” he said, noting there are $14 million in potential savings over the next 20 years.
Here’s my math:
Essex paid $1.9 million less on policing than Amherstburg.
Amherstburg’s $5.8 million minus $700,000.00 potential annual savings for 20 years will cost taxpayers $102 million.
Essex’s $3.9 million will cost taxpayers $78 million in 20 years.
While Amherstburg is expected to save $14 million, Essex taxpayers will spend $24 million less than us over the same time period.
I maintain that because Amherstburg did not obtain an OPP costing, despite carrying two motions to do so, Amherstburg taxpayers missed the opportunity to know if more savings were possible.
Commentary by Linda Saxon
The River Town Times’ write up on Current Councillor Leo Meloche states Meloche believes he has the leadership skills and decision-making ability to be deputy mayor.
Like DiCarlo, Meloche acknowledged the controversial policing issue; Meloche voted to have Windsor Police takeover policing the community.
According to the RTT article, Meloche said Essex had $3.9 million in policing costs in 2018 as compared to Amherstburg’s $5.8 million.
“Yes, we get a higher level of policing but what we need to look at is are we really getting value for the difference,” he said.
“Overall, we thought it’s a good deal for Amherstburg as a whole,” he said, noting there are $14 million in potential savings over the next 20 years.
The River Town Times started reporting on the candidates that have registered so far. Current Mayor Aldo DiCarlo’s write up mentions some objectives, along with the controversial 20 year policing contract with Windsor Police.
The article concludes with this quote, “My simple message is if you like what you’ve seen the last three-and-a-half years, expect more of the same,” he said. “If not, don’t vote for me because plan to continue with what I’ve been doing.”
On May 4, 2018, Lori Wightman registered as a candidate for council.
The River Town Times reported that Councillor Pouget was “adamantly opposed to the remainder of the (April 23) motion to ‘authorize administration to move forward with the proposed plans as identified in the confidential report.’”
Pouget said she could not elaborate further but noted she is “very concerned” about the second part of the April 23 motion.
“Unfortunately, because it was one motion, I felt compelled to vote against it,” she said. “Further to that, I am not allowed to explain my position, because it was in-camera.”
Public decisions by elected officials based on in camera confidential information should be cause for concern and no one should be surprised if transparency is questioned.
Commentary by Linda Saxon
Being locally born and raised is not a qualification; it is merely a fact and not necessarily a positive one if it means local interests, traditions, persons, etc. are preferred and objectivity is difficult.
Hopefully, candidates will be knowledgeable if they intend to persuade ratepayers they are worthy and capable of representing the community.
There are free online resources:
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Ministry of Housing site has:
and Election guides for voters, candidates and third party advertisers:
- 2018 Voters’ guide for Ontario municipal council and school board elections
- 2018 Candidates’ guide for Ontario municipal council and school board elections
- 2018 Guide for third party advertisers – Ontario municipal council and school board elections
Other free online information regarding the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) is readily available and applicable to everyone in the province; it applies to municipal planning and procurement policies, including the Bellevue House renovations. If council’s practice is to provide funding to not for profits with barriers impeding access, would that contradict the goal of legislation to prevent and remove barriers?
Additionally, the Town of Amherstburg’s Election page lists an online AMO course, So You Want to Run for Council 2018; it cost $66.37.
The River Town Times reported, Town approves $50,000 to fund implementation of staff accommodation review.
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.
May 1, 2018 was the first day of nominations for municipal candidates for the October 22, 2018 municipal election.
It’s time to hear from all those who want to represent Amherstburg ratepayers, or, in some cases, campaign to continue to represent the community.
No doubt the usual promises of transparency and accountability will highlight candidate profiles and it’s a bit easier to judge the performance of those already elected or serving on council, local boards and committees.
CKLW reported that Mayor Aldo DiCarlo has announced his intention to run again, as has Councillor Leo Meloche but as a Deputy Mayoral candidate this time.
Bob Rozankovic is also running for Deputy Mayor; he was unsuccessful in his campaign to become a councillor in the 2014 election.
The province aims for an accessible province by 2025, while am800 reports that Amherstburg will focus on a historical feel.
Historically, the town of Amherstburg has not shown a strong commitment to ensuring equal access to persons with disabilities.
There are numerous examples of perpetuated barriers, from the town’s website to the town giving taxpayer dollars to not for profit organizations with barriers.
One of the most prolonged examples of a lack of commitment to barrier removal is the town of Amherstburg’s decade long resistance to making the library accessible.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission highlighted Linda Saxon v. Corporation of Town of Amherstburg (Settlement, H.R.T.O.) in its 2004-2005 annual report and summarized the case:
Linda Saxon v. Corporation of Town of Amherstburg (Settlement, H.R.T.O.)
“A settlement was reached between the Commission, the complainant and the respondent Town. The complainant made an initial complaint, on the basis of disability, because she was unable to access the Town’s library, which could only be entered via a number of stairs. The library has been renovated since the complainant filed her complaint. The Town has created a lobby at ground level with an elevator and automated doors. It also attempted to make modifications to a washroom to make it accessible. The Commission’s barrier-free design expert reviewed the renovations and found some remaining barriers, but approved of the elevator itself. The Town has agreed to implement a number of the Commission’s expert’s recommendations to improve accessibility at the Town library, namely:
- install handrails on either side of a ramp of a specified thickness;
- make level the threshold at an entrance;
- request the County Library to create an accessible after-hours book depository;
- install lever hardware on a door to the accessible washroom;
- remove a vanity unit to provide sufficient clearance in the accessible washroom;
- relocate the light switch, side grab bar, mirror, and paper dispenser in the accessible washroom; and,
- replace push buttons with push plates of a larger diameter that are easier to manipulate.
As part of the settlement, the respondent has also agreed to retain a qualified consultant to provide a mandatory training session for the members of the town council on the accommodation of individuals with disabilities.”
The handrails were not installed as agreed to; in September 2005, I notified the commission that I wished to file a breach of settlement complaint against the town of Amherstburg. Within days, the handrails were replaced with ones that complied with the Ontario building code.
The council of the day routinely ignored my requests for accessibility as a priority and resisted applying for grants that stipulated accessibility was a priority for funding approval. Council’s commitment to history was obvious when it donated $710,000. to the HMS Detroit, now defunct, while the taxpayers incurred rate increases as a result.
Hopefully, stepping back in time will not mean taking a step backwards or having history repeat itself with the town defending itself against human rights complaints because it resists barrier removal and inclusion.
Not everyone is happy about council’s decision to have Windsor Police provide policing duties in the community.
Residents are still adding their names to an online petition to stop the unique proposal.
Commentary by Linda Saxon
Council’s motivation to compare policing costs was the level of municipal debt and it was committed to obtaining an OPP costing; it carried two motions to do so.
There were also other cost-saving options to reduce the police budget’s share of municipal taxes.
Council could have established the police budget and maybe taxpayers wouldn’t have been burdened with items like body worn cameras that large police services couldn’t afford because of data storage.
Despite claims over the years that the board was autonomous, according to the Police Services Act: Upon reviewing the estimates, the council shall establish an overall budget for the board for the purposes described in clauses (1) (a) and (b) and, in doing so, the council is not bound to adopt the estimates submitted by the board.
Council could have decided the taxpayers should only pay for a three member Police Services Board instead of the five recommended for a large police service.
Had council elected the OPP in 1998, when the OPP communication system was province wide, taxpayers might have realized $1 million savings annually, or $20 million by now, that could have been put toward infrastructure.
Instead, Amherstburg depended on others for dispatching and switched services a number of times from LaSalle, to Leamington, back to LaSalle, then to Windsor.
The proposed benefits of the 1998 amalgamation were identified as follows:
- operating costs would be stabilized through efficiencies;
- human resources would be deployed more efficiently;
- specialized police units would become financially viable due to the economics of scale;
- labour relations matters would be simplified;
- larger pool of human resources available to deal with major incidents;
- communications and computer systems would be enhanced; and
- several other benefits both to the service and to the public.
Amherstburg had access to the OPP specialized units and did require them on occasion, but will taxpayers now pay for specialized Windsor units 365 days a year whether they are needed or not?
The OPP’s mandate is to patrol the waterways so how necessary was an Amherstburg Police marine unit? Will a Windsor Police marine unit continue to be an unnecessary municipal expenditure?
The Police Services Board could have put an end to the OPP ‘poison pill’ clause in the police contract that seemed to inhibit the town obtaining an OPP costing.
The Windsor Star reported that Taxpayers in Windsor pay more per capita for policing than all other parts of Essex county, sometimes double that of its county neighbours policed by the OPP.
Given those verified figures, and because Amherstburg did not obtain an OPP costing as it was committed to doing, twice, Amherstburg taxpayers lost an opportunity to know if a better cost saving option was possible.
Consequently, no one can claim we got the best bang for our buck, despite that being the goal.
For the past twenty years I have maintained the Amherstburg Police hierarchical structure was costly and unnecessary; after all these years Windsor Police’s proposal to save money will see the hierarchy change.
The Ontario Civilian Police Commission’s Decision on St. Mary’s request to contract policing from Stratford Police Service.