By Devan Mighton – Published in the LaSalle Post on Feb. 3, 2017
(LASALLE, ON) – The LaSalle town council meeting on Jan. 24, on paper, seemed like it would be a fairly straightforward evening.
Instead, the location of a communications tower for Rogers and the closure and sale of a pair of alleys inflamed passions among a number of constituents who felt directly affected by the proceedings.
The meeting began with Mayor Ken Antaya’s comments.
He praised Holy Cross Catholic School’s Smart-Fit-A-Thon, a fundraiser with proceeds that “will go back to the students in the form of updated technology, sports equipment, graduation awards, tournament costs, classroom enhancements,” among other things, according to Holy Cross’ website.
The school raised $20,000.
Antaya participated in the read-a-thon portion of the event.
“I was fortunate to read books to grades one and junior kindergarten. As always, a delightful event,” enthused the mayor.
“The kids and readers are excited to be involved. Our congratulations go out to Joanna Chudyk who organized the event.”
Earlier in the day of the meeting, the town’s municipal complex welcomed a new café for its visitors.
Of this, Antaya said: “This is just another added service to our municipal complex, that will make, [for] those visiting, more inviting.” It will operate on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
ECRA board election
Antaya congratulated Amherstburg Town Councillor Rick Fryer and Windsor City Councillor Irek Kusmierczyk for being elected to two-year terms as chairperson and vice-chairperson, respectively, of the Essex Region Conservation Authority”
Antaya also thanked Councillors Terry Burns and Crystal Meloche for their previous time served as outgoing ECRA board members.
Proposed communications tower
Council switched to business and welcomed Jay Lewis of Summit Telecom Services to update them on the proposed location of a 45-metre communications tower for Rogers at 2160 Old Front Rd.
The proposed tower, which would include a 13-metre-by-13-metre compound built around its base, is to be positioned at the site of the old hockey arena, made obsolete after the opening of the Vollmer Recreation Complex in 2008.
Local residents Jeff White and Sherry Dillon spoke out against the location.
White, who would be living closest to the proposed tower, asked the council to move the site by 60 feet to the north, as by its current slated position would be “the width of a hockey arena away” from his front door.
He also questioned the use of the land, which is currently slated for recreation due to its past status as arena property, and the potential health ramifications for local residents.
Dillon, who lives across from the proposed site, brought up the fact that the tower will be an “eyesore” blocking the waterfront view, which is at odds with LaSalle’s reputation as a riverfront town.
Both residents felt the community would be better served with the tower relocated behind the local Goodwill or in another industrial or commercial location.
Council pained over the issue for a lengthy amount of time, turning to administration for legal advice on multiple occasions.
In the end, Council voted 4-2 to endorse the location of the tower, with Councillors Crystal Meloche and Sue Desjarlais dissenting.
Antaya, supporting the motion, felt that by forcing the tower off of municipal land, Council would lose control of the situation’s outcome if it landed on private property.
As well, the mayor felt that even with the tower on the land, the rest of the property would still be preserved for future use and development.
Council then moved on to the closing of the alleys between Edgemore Avenue and Suzanne Street, lying west of Ellis Street and also east of Tuttle Avenue.
Residents on these streets, like many people in the LaSalle and Windsor area, have been given the option to buy their portion of the alley behind their property.
Depending on the size of the lot, the town’s asking price for the property varies, but residents are allowed to buy up their neighbour’s alley space if they pass on the offer.
Lots that go unpurchased will be fenced off and allowed to grow in naturally and any personal property, whether a pool or shed, that may overlap onto town land will have to be removed.
For the alley west of Ellis Street, Chris Rappe and William Toth both expressed frustration with the process and asked council to reconsider.
David Machina, on the other hand, asked the Town move ahead with the closure.
Antaya spoke of the frustrations with the closing of this particular alley, stating that the proceedings for it had begun in 2012 and the need for the closings was, in part, the question of liability.
Despite the frustrations, ultimately, the sales of the alley space have been used to give back to the community.
“The proceeds from the sale of any municipally owned property is directed to the Woodlot/Green Reserve Fund [as directed by Council],” wrote Joe Milicia, LaSalle’s director of finance/treasurer.
The sales are “used to purchase environmentally significant [or] important lands within the Town of LaSalle.”
In the end, Council closed both alleys with unanimous votes.
Next meeting on Feb. 14
Town Council’s next meeting will be on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at the LaSalle Civic Centre.
For the agenda and/or more information, please visit LaSalle.ca.