Do Endorsements Matter?

It depends. I’d want to know a bit about the endorser and their reasons for their choices. Amid rumours of a slate, I looked for commonalities.

Leo’s lineup

Outgoing Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche publicly commented, ‘With the exception of the Mayor’s position here is the lineup I am supporting in the upcoming elections for Amherstburg Town Council.

For Councillor,
Lori Wightman
Linden Crain
Marc Renaud
Pat Simone
Don McArthur

For Deputy Mayor,
Chris Gibb.

I have had conversations with them and am confident in their ability to make key decisions that will move the Town forward while exercising financial stability. Wishing the team all the best.”

Leo’s

Gibb

Crain

McArthur

Renaud

Simone

Wightman

ACF

0

0

S Gibb Q

Heritage

0

Barriers

ACF is the Amherstburg Community Foundation where the website lists all the members of ‘our team‘ and ‘Community Builders‘ like Leo Meloche and Marc Renaud, 2021. Only those running are listed above.

S Gibb Q, is Chris Gibb’s wife and these candidates answered all of her blog questions.

As I previously stated, candidates are not obliged to answer anyone’s questions and I make no assumptions, although I do wonder if it would have been fair to answer all, or none, rather than favouring some.

Of note, Lori Wightman was the only one of the above candidates who answered my blog’s questionnaire. McArthur, Crain and Renaud, after nudging, answered one about removing Open Air barriers. Crain said yes and added, “If there are particular barriers in place,” which was similar to McArthur’s, ‘If there are persisting issues with accessibility.” Renaud mentioned parking and walking distance. Gibb and Simone publicly supported Open Air but didn’t answer my reader’s question.

One more common comparison: Richard Peddie (director), and Renée D’Amore (director), along with Linden Crain, were part of the T.H.R.I.V.E. team that created the Open Air White Paper. D’Amore wouldn’t allow my Facebook comments about the candidates’ nights at the Downtown Espresso that he is an owner of, and Peddie blocked me after a few tweets about barriers at the bookshop.

Heritage refers to the Architectural Conservancy Ontario Windsor-Essex chapter’s request for candidates’ heritage platforms.

Barriers includes meet and greets, website and twitter issues that may have excluded persons with disabilities.

Other candidates may share common interests, but these are only the ones I compared due to the rumours of a slate for information purposes only.

Copyright – this information is protected by Canada’s Copyright Act. Request written permission from the burg watch at gmail dot com.

Amherstburg Candidates And Accessibility: Facebook

The following candidates use Facebook, that I’m aware of, but may have issues that prevent some people with disabilities from accessing their information:

Mayoral candidates:

Michael Prue
Bob Rozankovic

Deputy Mayoral candidate:

Nancy Atkinson
Chris Gibb
Gregory Moore
Dennis Sanson

Councillor candidates:

Molly Allaire
Andrew Argoselo
Linden Crain
Tara Kearsey
Donald McArthur
Marc Renaud
Patricia Simone
Gerry Theriault
Lori Wightman

The town was to provide candidates with accessibility information.

Accessibility Awareness And Candidate Accountability

The Downtown Espresso Cafe is advertising candidate meet and greet sessions. Out of concern that persons with disabilities may be excluded because of the step, I posted to You know you are from Amherstburg when…. a Facebook group “for all who grew up in the great town of Amherstburg, Ontario Canada!!!”

Notification: “Your comment was automatically declined based on certain criteria in this group.”

‘See feedback’ revealed: These rules come from the group admins.

1 No Promotions or Spam
Absolutely no sale posts of any kind unless you have approved it by the admin first. Certain posts will be allowed based on the discretion of the admin.

2 No Hate Speech or Bullying
Make sure everyone feels safe. Bullying of any kind isn’t allowed, and degrading comments about things like race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or identity will not be tolerated.

3 Be Kind and Courteous
We’re all in this together to create a welcoming environment. Let’s treat everyone with respect. Healthy debates are natural, but kindness is required.

I then wrote the same comment on the Downtown Espresso Cafe Facebook page and it was deleted.

Other than ‘the candidates should know better,” everything else in the comment was quoted from the town’s information.

The candidates should know better. The step to get in can make this inaccessible. From the town’s 2022 Municipal Election Draft Accessibility Plan: “The Town of Amherstburg will provide Candidates with the Candidates’ Guide to Accessible Elections produced by the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO). The Town will also incorporate accessibility information and messaging into Candidate Information Packages and Candidate Information Sessions.”

Copyright – this information is protected by Canada’s Copyright Act. Request written permission from the burg watch at gmail dot com.

Amherstburg Candidates And Accessibility

Page numbers are missing, an issue I’ve raised in the past, but Amherstburg’s 2022 Municipal Election Draft Accessibility Plan states, 

The Town of Amherstburg will provide Candidates with the Candidates’ Guide to Accessible Elections produced by the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO). The Town will also incorporate accessibility information and messaging into Candidate Information Packages and Candidate Information Sessions.

$166,000. Amherstburg Dog Park

Sent to members of council prior to yesterday’s council meeting.
I am shocked, and disheartened, to see the $160,000. Dog park recommendation on tonight’s council meeting agenda.
How could anyone justify such an expenditure that hardly improves the well-being and interests of the municipality or maintains the financial integrity of the municipality?
Council could ill afford a rainbow crosswalk; wasn’t it only approved because of sponsorship?
For how long has accessibility to the Gordon House and town hall been delayed? How many narrow sidewalks need to be replaced with new ones that meet code requirements? Both the building code and the AODA?
For how long will residents have to wait for new, accessible playground equipment to be installed?
It’s now been over two years since former CAO Miceli advised me that the town was working on a Routine Disclosure Policy, which is within council’s mandate. The item, although discussed at council meetings, is not even included in the unfinished business list.
Given all the accessible items money has not been allocated for, I have to object to spending taxpayer dollars on something that, in my opinion, is frivolous. People can walk their dogs anywhere but people with disabilities being denied access remain marginalized. When will you prioritize full inclusion?
Lastly, by what authority will you address the Miracle League at a council meeting? You should know that segregated activities are not viewed as inclusion by everyone.

What’s Wrong With Rota’s Open Air Weekends 2021 Post Report?

Commentary by Linda Saxon

edited: this was sent to members of council on November 21, prior to the November 22 meeting

Aside from the spelling and grammatical errors, and the ‘boots on the ground’ reference, I have some concerns regarding Anne Rota’s recommendation that council approve the 2022 Open Air weekend in principle.

Will the Town of Amherstburg discriminate against persons with disabilities?

The report notes 50 downtown employee parking permits were not used to full capacity at times, but the same amenity would be offered in 2022.

Yet, administration noted the accessible parking lot at the Kings Navy Yard Park (KNYP) was under-utilized and Administration recommends those spaces be reduced to two.

I fail to see the rationale for the differentiation.

Public Consultation Is Mandatory

Mayor DiCarlo previously advised only 1 person with a disability was consulted.

Pursuant to provincial legislation, the Town of Amherstburg is obliged to consult the public and persons with disabilities, as well as its Accessibility Advisory Committee on the need, location and design of accessible on-street parking spaces.

According to the report, Administration would recommend the addition of 3 accessible parking spaces at the other 3 entrances and mentions future consultation with only the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

The arbitrary placement of accessible parking spaces, especially in a distant perimeter, is unacceptable, as are accessible spaces that cannot be accessed due to road closures.

While the report includes the total number of parking spaces, there are no locations listed, no percentages of accessible spaces stated, and no types of accessible spaces mentioned.

Economic Development was the primary objective of Open Air weekends.

Rota states, “By using the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries; Regional Visitor Profiles figures indicated that; A one day spend of a tourist is $79 p.p. and overnight spend of a tourist (40km+) is $244 p.p. We can then conclude the following of Open Air Weekends 2021:

Total # of visitors 64,310
Day visitors 52,091 (81%) spends $ 79 p.p. per day for a total of $4,115,189

Overnight visitor (19%) 12,219 spends $244 p.p. per day for a total of 2,981,436

Total visitor spending $7,096,625.”

However, the Ministry’s regional figures are based on Region 1: southwestern Ontario, which includes the municipalities in the Windsor, Essex, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex and Haldimand Norfolk areas. (see map here: http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/images/regions_maps/Region01.pdf and below)

Additionally, the statistics are based on pre-COVID 2018 data – prior to restrictions.

Therefore, the conclusion regarding tourist spending for Open Air 2021 is flawed.

map of region 1 southwestern Ontario tourist area

Financial Matters

The proposed budget is generalized with no line-by-line details. As a taxpayer, and in the spirit of accountability and transparency, a detailed request for approval is warranted.

Risk Analysis

In my opinion, Council should not approve this report in principle; it is flawed and contains proposals that are contrary to provincial legislation and fiscal responsibility.

Committees, Consultation and COVID: Council Agenda item

Members of council were asked two simple questions two weeks ago re accessibility concerns of Open Air weekends:

  1. why was accessibility not considered during the decision making process?
  2. why was the accessibility advisory committee not consulted for input?

This post addresses the second question and the answer that followed, in part, by Mayor DiCarlo, the only member of council to respond:

“The AAAC was not consulted with respect to Open Air Weekends because the AAAC and many other committees were and still are not functioning due to COVID.”

Paula Parker, in a memo on council’s April 26 Agenda states, “Council continues to be advised on matters of accessibility, equality and inclusivity by the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee.”

Now a new committee is being recommended: a special purpose Ad-hoc Committee, the Inclusive Community Program (ICP) Advisory Steering Committee to “help Amherstburg to become an age-friendly community by ensuring that the needs of the residents of all ages and abilities are considered in every stage of community planning and development.”

There are plans to hire a consultant: “approval is requested for an over-expenditure in the CAO’s Office budget centre professional fees expense account for up to $60,000 including net HST to fund consulting services for development of the Needs Assessment and Action Plan; this cost would be funded by the ICGP.” 

The report’s RISK ANALYSIS section includes, “Administration is of the opinion that all advisory meetings should resume through the Town’s zoom meeting platform” and “Should Council wish not move forward with this engagement solution for advisory committees, it may result in political criticism.” (report’s typo)

Should administration include consideration of political risk when it provides advice or recommendations to council?

A request for the grant application was submitted.

More to follow.

Open Air Amherstburg Access Questioned

This opinion by Linda Saxon was published in the River Town Times, March 31, 2021.

RE: Open Air Weekends Approved March 24, 2021

It was interesting to read about the variety of ideas that might possibly entice visitors or change the purpose of the weekend events.

The article mentioned, “Councillor Marc Renaud said there is a lot of parking a short walk from the downtown core, noting many will walk to and around shopping malls.”

In a report to council, Anne Rota and Nicole Rubli noted what the transportation planners suggest is an acceptable range of walking distance for retail, employee and special event parking.

The figures mirror those in an article originally published in 1994 when the authors discussed conditions that should be taken into account to determine how far people using parking garages should be asked to walk. It was determined that there was a lack of consensus for what is considered maximum walking distance.

The report mentions beliefs, perception and“the travel distance acceptable to an individual is contingent on an individual’s willingness to walk.” Transportation studies mention a willingness to walk in terms of close proximity to transit.

Notably absent was any reference to accessibility guidelines or consultation with residents with disabilities and the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee which has a mandated duty to advise council about the requirements and implementation of accessibility standards.

A separate report to council regarding accessibility requirements noted, “no consultation with the committee was possible at this time” due to COVID, yet the committee met previously during COVID on zoom, as has council.

Given mandatory training on the human rights code and accessibility legislation, why was there no checklist identifying potential barriers and their removal? If persons with disabilities had been consulted, barriers could have been prevented. For example, placing a group of accessible parking spaces on Dalhousie street is unacceptable, considering the slope on the southwest side.

Administration would also recommend the elimination of the Kings Navy Yard Parklot being a primary accessible parking location. Why? These spots were allegedly under-utilized. The town is obliged to provide a specific number of accessible parking spaces so it should not remove them, unless they cannot be accessed due to road closures.

Other potential barriers should have been identified. How many accessible parking spaces are type A? type B? What is the percentage of accessible seating in the eating areas? Are there any rest areas? How many accessible washrooms are there? Are the pathways unobstructed? Is signage accessible? Is marketing material available in alternate formats?

If there is a parking problem, maybe the problem is with the plan that barricades access to the downtown area.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Members of Amherstburg town council were asked to provide the reasons for voting in favour of the Resolution on September 14, 2020.

The following responded.

Councillor Michael Prue: Please view the tape or the video. I was very passionate about why this should not be done. If this is not possible call me.

Councillor Patricia Simone: After reading the report provided in the agenda, discussion with administration and staff and research I conducted before the meeting.

Follow up question: What kind of research did you conduct and would you cite the sources you relied on to reach your decision?

No response.

Councillor Donald McArthur: I voted the way I did because I believe the extension request was earnest and made in good faith by staff, who are diligent, dedicated and hard-working.

As the report to Council makes clear, the Town’s robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on operations and established work plans.

“The work plan to address website accessibility did not anticipate the interruptions and redeployments caused by the declared pandemic, COVID-19,” said the report. “The demands of addressing the emergency declaration have devoted key resources away from other projects to ensure the safety of the community and staff, continued operations and new procedural changes to how the municipality ensures the provision of its services during a pandemic.”

Follow up question: regarding your comment at the meeting that amherstburg is not the only one of the 444 municipalities asking for this extension: would you know the numbers or names of those other municipalities?

McArthur: I based my comments off the report: ‘The Town of Amherstburg is not alone in finding it difficult to meet this timeline. Other municipalities have stated that they understand they may not be able to meet this target, especially given that there have been no funding announcements from the provincial government.’

Related postsTown of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

More to follow.