A Third Perspective – TVO Episode

This original post is protected by copyright owner, Linda Saxon, the burg watch, and is not to be reproduced without permission.

My opinion in response to the TVO episode featuring Richard Peddie and Lauri Brouyette, introduced as CO-CHAIRS of Thrive Amherstburg, is a third perspective.

It wasn’t clear if they were representing the group or speaking as independent investors. In response to Ashleigh Weeden’s comments, Ms. Brouyette said ‘We actually did bring in the community with us. We formed a group that we call Thrive and it looks at housing, it looks at healthy living, and everything that we want to be able to offer our community as a large group as a whole. Not just Richard and I. That’s not even close.’

An individual annual membership to join Thrive is $50.00. The THRIVE Board of Directors selected 9 placemaking initiatives and submitted White Papers to town council, one of which was Open Air Amherstburg, a contentious event that creates barriers to persons with disabilities when hair salons, banks, or the post office can’t be accessed due to street closures and almost 50% of the downtown businesses objected to.

I agree with Ms. Weeden: who gets to have a say is really important. Despite the input from persons with disabilities regarding the lack of on-street parking and public consultation of it, and the pleas of some retail establishments, Amherstburg town council will go ahead with Open Air again in 2022.

Reality To Counter Accolades – Open Air

I would like to counter all the accolades with a dose of reality.

Shame on Anne Rota for recommending a report for adoption that omits compliance with provincial legislation.

Rota’s Report referenced under-utilized parking for employees but plans to continue offering those spots. However, the alleged under-utilized accessible parking in the King’s Navy Yard Park lot will be reduced. The rationale for this differentiation was unclear, until the council meeting when Ms. Rota stated this reduction would allow for a turn around to be created instead. Further, the plan is to add three accessible parking spaces in three locations at the outside perimeter.

Shame on council for approving a plan that fails to meet its obligation to consult with the public.

Mayor DiCarlo advised, in April 2021, the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee was not consulted with respect to Open Air Weekends and only one person with a disability was consulted in the design of the footprint.

It is mandatory, pursuant to O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards for the town to consult on the need, location and design of accessible on-street parking spaces and shall do so with the public and persons with disabilities as well as its Accessibility Advisory Committee.

My submission to members of council, prior to the council meeting, wherein I asked if the town would discriminate against persons with disabilities, quoted the provincial legislation regarding public consultation, and objected to the arbitrary placement of accessible parking spaces, especially in a distant perimeter, and accessible spaces that cannot be accessed due to road closures, was ignored.

Given council’s duty to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality, I must question the $90,000. taxpayer funded expenditure that creates barriers to persons with disabilities.

Commentary by Linda Saxon as published in the River Town Times December 1, 2021

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.

Amherstburg Fire Chief Montone Discloses Open Air Assessment

Following an online request, Amherstburg Fire Chief Bruce Montone did not think 5 business days was an unreasonable amount of time and disclosed:

open air assessment;

Events – afd a document that is provided on occasion to event organizers should they require additional guidance.

There are no specific dates for the original 2020 or the 2021 review.