Amherstburg Prioritizes History

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.

Amherstburg Taxpayers Losers In Policing Decision

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:

  1. operating costs would be stabilized through efficiencies;
  2. human resources would be deployed more efficiently;
  3. specialized police units would become financially viable due to the economics of scale;
  4. labour relations matters would be simplified;
  5. larger pool of human resources available to deal with major incidents;
  6. communications and computer systems would be enhanced; and
  7. 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.

Role Of Police Service Advisors

Commentary by Linda Saxon

I inquired if any Police Service Advisors were involved in the police costing process because Advisors are readily available: see page 3 of the OACP (Ontario Association Chiefs of Police), A Process Guidebook for the Review of Policing Options 2012, the guide referred to by CAO Miceli:

“During any consideration of policing options, the initial responsibility of the advisor is to outline for the Board and Council their options and responsibilities under the Act and the potential implications of each. During a review of Policing Options, the advisor is available upon request to provide information and advice to participants in the process. Their advice is based on the legislation contained in the PSA, its regulations, and Ministry guidelines, as well as best practices that arise from other similar restructuring experiences.”

Requesting Ministry Advisors might have been productive and might have saved ratepayers from paying for a private firm like MPM Consulting.

No Answers Equals No Transparency Or Accountability

Commentary by Linda Saxon

On February 27, 2018, I requested CAO John Miceli answer three questions for me to post to theburgwatch.

  1. Were any Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Police Service Advisors involved in the police costing process?
  2. Would you provide me with a copy of Berthiaume’s Completed Form as requested by the OPP?
  3. Would you confirm whether or not Council’s two motions to obtain an OPP costing were rescinded?

On March 1, I emailed Miceli, cc council, that if he was unavailable to respond to my media questions, if he would please forward them to someone who can.

Eight minutes later, Miceli responded:

“All of the questions that you are asking are in relation to an OPP costing process. As you may or may not know the Town did not request an OPP costing instead the Town developed an RFP dictating the minimum level of service requested from proponents. Council approved this method of procurement of services and the OPP was invited to participate in the process. The OPP elected not to respond to the Town’s RFP. All of this was disclosed in public reports. With that being the case I do not believe I can offer you any further information.”

Unsure that there had been any investigation into obtaining the requested documentation, I emailed Miceli back:

“If you review my questions, the first involves Ministry Advisors, as mentioned in the OACP Guidebook you relied on and i’m merely asking if any were involved in the police costing process, in other words, the costing process the town undertook.

i conclude from your response that Berthiaume never did complete the form for the OPP; did he complete an equivalent form for Windsor?

The third question, if you refer to it again, relates to council’s two motions to obtain an OPP costing and whether or not they were rescinded; council’s motions are not part of the OPP costing process, as you well know. “

Windsor Staff Sgt. Refers To Police Culture At HRTO Hearing

A Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hearing was held in Windsor to decide the allegations of Staff Sgt. Christine Bissonnette, who filed a human rights complaint after not being promoted to Inspector.

The Windsor Star reported, Bissonnette argued she was just as qualified as the men who got promotions. But, she said, there is “systemic discrimination” at the force that keeps her down.

“You have to understand the culture of this organization,” she told the hearing adjudicator after the police service’s lawyer repeatedly objected to Bissonnette’s examples.

The hearing is set to resume on dates yet to be selected in April or May.

Police Costing Process – Transparent and Accountable?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

I emailed members of council the following:

As happy as I would be to be rid of Berthiaume, the Amherstburg police service and board, I fail to see how a contract with Windsor police will benefit the ratepayers, never mind entrenching a 20 year contract.

I wonder what all of you would say about such a contract if you were campaigning against a current council right now.

In my opinion, this costing process has not been transparent and it lacked accountability and responsibility.

Shortly after being elected, council was committed to obtaining all police costing comparisons.

The media reported that a committee was established to discuss costings. 

The JPAC recommended that administration be directed to hire MPM Consulting and the media reported in January 2017 a consultant was hired to “weigh the benefits of keeping its own police force, amalgamating with another force or hiring the OPP.”

At the same time, the JPAC recommended that administration be directed to, in part, develop an RFP for Windsor and LaSalle to respond to and work with the OPP on the OPP costing.

It appeared the OPP would still be an option and that council was committed to its two motions to obtain an OPP costing despite the committee determining earlier the OPP costing was not feasible.

Council should have held administration and the JPAC accountable for not implementing council’s motions.

The River Town Times reported Town council wants to make the decision once and doesn’t want to accept or reject any proposal without knowing all the details, DiCarlo said. “It was always council’s position to look at all of the options at the same time,” he said. “The goal is to have all of the information in front of us.” (emphasis added).

In the end, taxpayers were denied an opportunity to provide input on a comparison of all policing costs and options and instead were reduced to submitting subjective and emotional responses to a limited choice.


Effective March 1, 2019, The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act is amended by adding the following section:


1.1 The Province of Ontario endorses the following principles in relation to the duties of members of councils and of local boards under this Act:

1. The importance of integrity, independence and accountability in local government decision-making. (emphasis added).

2. The importance of certainty in reconciling the public duties and pecuniary interests of members.

3. Members are expected to perform their duties of office with integrity and impartiality in a manner that will bear the closest scrutiny.

4. There is a benefit to municipalities and local boards when members have a broad range of knowledge and continue to be active in their own communities, whether in business, in the practice of a profession, in community associations, and otherwise.

Accountability Begins At Home

Commentary by Linda Saxon

AM800 reported, As AM800 News first reported, Fryer called for “accountability” from the decision makers in charge of giving the green or red light to school buses during poor weather.

CTV News reported, Councillor Rick Fryer brought forward a motion looking for school board reps and the bus company to come before council — and be prepared to answer questions regarding the decision-making process regarding whether buses run or not during inclement weather.

Fryer told CTV News his motion would have forced accountability to taxpayers.

I have contacted all members of this council about concerns within its decision making authority:

  • policing costs
  • the police costing process
  • the lack of concern about accessibility
  • accessibility at Bellevue House
  • a Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy breach
  • the timeliness of information from town hall
  • the lack of snow plows
  • the town’s official plan
  • public input regarding trails
  • outdated municipal policies
  • granting public funds to organizations with barriers to inclusion, either on their websites and/or to their buildings

Not once has Councillor Fryer responded to me.

He also never answered any of the residents’ 40 questions to the then-candidates through the burg watch in 2014.

But during the 2014 election campaign write up in the River Town Times, he said that, if elected, he will provide black-and-white answers to questions that residents pose.

Really? When? Will promises of accountability reappear during this year’s election campaign?

Three Then-Candidates Did Not Answer Questions About OPP Costing

As a result of the burg watch inviting residents to submit questions to council candidates in 2014, three questions were raised about police costings, a hot topic given the amount of debt the municipality burdened its ratepayers with.

Leo Meloche, Joan Courtney, Rick Fryer did not answer any of the three questions:

Question 6. Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause

Question 13. Police Contract Buyout Clause

Question 18. Eliminate Police Contract Poison Pill Clause

How Then-Candidate Bart DiPasquale Answered About OPP Costing

For the first time in an election campaign, the burg watch provided a forum for Amherstburg residents to submit questions to council candidates in 2014.

As a result, questions were raised about police costings, a hot topic given the amount of debt the municipality burdened its ratepayers with.

Of those that were elected, here’s how they answered:

Question 6. Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause

No answer.

Question 13. Police Contract Buyout Clause

No answer

Question 18. Eliminate Police Contract Poison Pill Clause

Q. Do you believe the Poison Pill Clause should be eliminated in the Police Contract in order to get an OPP costing to compare the costs of policing of OPP versus Amherstburg Police.

A. I believe this part of the contract should be negotiated out of the contract so we can be on the same playing field as the rest of the Province I getting the best bang for the dollar.

How Then-Candidate Diane Pouget Answered About OPP Costing

For the first time in an election campaign, the burg watch provided a forum for Amherstburg residents to submit questions to council candidates in 2014.

As a result, questions were raised about police costings, a hot topic given the amount of debt the municipality burdened its ratepayers with.

Of those that were elected, here’s how they answered:

Question 6. Obtain OPP Costing, Remove Contract Clause

Q. If elected, will you commit to council obtaining an OPP costing and if appointed to the police services board, will you commit to removing the OPP takeover clause in the police contract? If running for re- election, why did you not consider doing the above?

A. Yes. It is only common sense that one should compare costs, whether it is police, banking, engineering, garbage pick up, etc. I believe it is of the utmost importance to remove the OPP clause, because it is unfair to our residents and should never have been included in the police contract.

Question 13. Police Contract Buyout Clause

A. No answer

Question 18. Eliminate Police Contract Poison Pill Clause

Q. Do you believe the Poison Pill Clause should be eliminated in the Police Contract in order to get an OPP costing to compare the costs of policing of OPP versus Amherstburg Police.

A. Yes I believe the Poison Pill Clause should be eliminated in the Police Contract to get an OPP costing. This is not to say that we must go with the OPP, but it is only fair to obtain this cost comparison for our residents.