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Town and Union Come to Terms

February 24, 2014: The Town of Fort Erie and its unionized employees have come to terms on a new collective agreement, averting the possibility of a labour disruption.

Representatives of management and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local #714 met February 18, 2014 with a provincially-appointed conciliation officer and reached a three-year tentative agreement. Among other things, the agreement provides for wage increases of two percent in each year. Members of the bargaining unit voted 96% in favour of accepting the deal last week and Town council approved the agreement this evening.

In January, members Local #714 gave their bargaining team a “strong mandate” to withdraw their services if a settlement could not be reached. Their collective agreement with the Town expired December 31, 2013.

The union represents approximately 80 full time and casual employees in roads, water and wastewater, parks, facilities and office functions.

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Posted in General by Kelly Davis - Moderator. No Comments

Crystal Beach Ice Formations Not Safe

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Niagara Regional Police Service, Niagara Emergency Medical Services and the Fort Erie Fire Department are urging people to stay off the Crystal Beach Ice formations.

Monday February 17, 2014 (Family day) a decision was made in the interest of Public Safety , and Emergency Services evacuated the area and have since closed off access to the Ice formations  when cracks could be seen forming  in some of the caves.  

Overnight, the ice cave area has shifted, large cracks have formed and there is now water over the ice in spots.

The ice cave formations have become VERY dangerous and Emergency Services are advising people not to venture out onto the ice for any reason. The public is reminded  that the warmer temperatures  in the forecast will increase the rate of melting and potential  danger.

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Posted in General Media Release by Kelly Davis - Moderator. No Comments

Lowest Budget Increase in 8 Years for Residents of Fort Erie

At its Regular meeting last evening, Town of Fort Erie Council approved the 2014 Operating and Capital Budgets. The Operating Base Budget of $20.56 million came in at less than 2013 figures, mainly due to an increase in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding agreement with the Province. Additional Supplementary Budget requests, that were approved, increased the final General Levy to $21.5 million.

“The Supplementary Budget items that Council approved for 2014 are important ones. The funding for the South Niagara Hospital, Capital Reserve funding and enhancements to the service levels for our parks, cemeteries, beaches and trails will help us build for the future and improve our quality of life. We have also restored the annual investment of $800,000 in roads rehabilitation, which I know has been a concern for many residents and businesses,” stated Corporate Services Chair, John Hill. Council also approved additional supplementary funding for the Kinsmen Pool, Library part-time wages and benefits that will result in restoring services that were previously lost, funding for an Integrity Commissioner and removal of the Bay Beach concession stand. A complete listing of the Supplementary Items, totalling $984,029, can be found on the Town’s web-site.

Mayor Martin added, “Council has also ensured that funding for the new South Niagara Hospital will continue based on the creation of a new South Niagara Hospital Reserve Fund. Council and staff, through their due diligence, were very cognizant of the tough economic times facing Fort Erie residents when approving supplementary items. Together with the 0% increase in the water and wastewater rates, the Town continues providing excellent service at a responsible and affordable cost while still being able to plan for a brighter future for our residents”.

The Capital Budget of $7.5 million includes key projects for 2014 such as the replacement of heavy rescue equipment used by the Fire Department, Ryan Avenue Upgrade, Thunder Bay storm sewer and Schooley Road Storm Sewer Outlet and Drain. A number of additional municipal drains will also see capital works completed in 2014 including Beaver Creek South Branch and the Mann and Zavitz Municipal Drains. The Crystal Ridge arena will see its roof replaced and a study initiation for the installation of solar panels. Water capital projects include watermain work on Belleview Boulevard, Hendershot Street, Hershey Street, Mathewson Avenue and Ridge Road South. A number of Fleet vehicles are also scheduled for replacement in 2014. Funding for the Central Avenue Bridge replacement was removed from the Capital Budget as it has been deferred by the Region of Niagara with construction to take place in 2015.

Interim CAO, Tom Kuchyt, also provided kudos to the outgoing Director of Financial Services, stating “Helen Chamberlain has led Council and staff in another responsible budget process and will be truly missed. Her leadership in financial and long-term planning has ensured that the Town is on the right

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Posted in Media Release by Kelly Davis - Moderator. 3 Comments

TOWN WORKERS POISED TO STRIKE

Unionized employees of the Town of Fort Erie have voted in favour of strike action to back their wage demands. At a meeting held January 23, 2014, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local #714 gave their bargaining team a “strong mandate” to withdraw their services if a settlement cannot be reached. Their collective agreement with the Town expired December 31, 2013.

The union and Town management have met seven times since November 20, 2013 and made significant progress. However, the union has rejected the Town’s most recent wage offer. The union has formally requested the Ministry of Labour to appoint a conciliation officer.

Local #714 represents approximately 80 full time and casual employees in roads, water and wastewater, parks, facilities and office functions. On average, a full-time unionized employee earns $26.50 per hour coupled with comprehensive health benefits and a defined benefit pension. Recent data shows St. Catharines-Niagara has the highest unemployment rate in Ontario. No strike date has been set.

For more information, contact
Tom Kuchyt, CET
Interim Chief Administrative Officer
905.871.1600 Ext. 2200
tkuchy@forterie.on.ca

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Good News for Fort Erie Water and Wastewater Customers

No increase to the average home owner plus enhanced services in 2014: The Town of Fort Erie staff presentation of the 2014 Water and Wastewater Budget was well received by members of Council at the December 4th Council-in-Budget Committee meeting. Council members were advised that there would not be a budget increase in 2014 and Council’s reserve strategy, put in place to mitigate risk, is now well established.

“Council recognized the need to ensure that the Town was well protected from the fluctuating Regional treatment costs and established the Wastewater Rate Stabilization Reserve that has allowed the smoothing of rates for the Fort Erie ratepayer. We were able to repay the $150,000 used in 2013 to this Reserve and are pleased to be able to announce that there will not be a water and wastewater increase in 2014 to the average household”, stated Mayor Doug Martin.

Corporate Services Chair, Councillor John Hill, added “We are also able to celebrate enhanced services that have a more customer-focused approach, such as monthly meter reading and E-billing, all the while holding a 0% increase to the average water and wastewater bill. Water customers have not been accustomed to a budget where we have been able to hold the line and this has been through the good efforts of this Council and previous Councils”. Councillor Hill also thanked staff for the more customer-focused approach to the presentation, making it easier to understand the pay-off in terms of the dividend to the customer.

The staff presentation also noted that maintenance activities are no longer funded from the Reserves, which is a sustainability target for municipalities. This strategy ensures that Reserve funds are used strictly for capital projects and not to fund operational activities.

Staff also forecasted a minimal increase over the next four years at less than 1% per year. The meter change out program, which has seen over 50% of households in Fort Erie equipped with the new RF meters, will also lead to a reduction in meter reading costs, improved customer service and greater accuracy.

The Town’s Director of Financial Services, Helen Chamberlain, also noted “the Town’s financial sustainability indicators are better than Provincial comparators. The age of our infrastructure (pipes and mains in the ground) and the reserve contribution for replacement costs of capital are both better than the Provincial average. The debt charge percentage of revenues is also considerably lower at 1.3%. We are very fortunate that our Municipal Council supported our financial strategies over the past several years and we are now in a position to reap the benefits of those strategies”.

The Town’s Budget process continues in the New Year. For further information and to view 2014 Budget presentations, visit us on the web at www.forterie.on.ca and click on the Budget banner.

For more information, contact
Helen Chamberlain
Director of Financial Services
905.871.1600 Ext. 2300
Email address: hchamberlain@forterie.on.ca
MEDIA RELEASE
The Corporation of the Town of Fort Erie

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Posted in General Media Release by Kelly Davis - Moderator. No Comments

Update on Fort Erie Race Track

trackimageLast week, the Horse Racing Industry Transition panel released their final report, “Building a Sustainable Future Together; Ontario’s Five Year Horse Racing Partnership”.  Pages 9 and 10 dealt specifically with the Fort Erie Thoroughbred track.   It stated; “In short, the Panel can find no path to sustainability for a resident racing program…”.

The Panel in their wisdom did also recommend that “the Panel urges the government to work with the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium (FELRC) to develop an alternate and sustainable business plan…”

In this spirit of cooperation, panel members John Snobelen and John Wilkinson, met on Wednesday at Fort Erie to discuss the future with James Thibert, CEO, Rick Cowan COO, Tom Valiquette CFO and Mayor Martin.  The meeting, for approximately three hours, was frank and productive.

The panel explained why the recent FELRC request of the province for $7.9 million per year, guaranteed for three years, does not fit into the new Five-Year Partnership Funding program announced by the Government of Ontario.  Detailed discussions on the FELRC business plan resulted in a better understanding of the revenue and cost models being presented by the FELRC with the “financial gap” being refined to $4 to $4.5 million.

The panel suggested what avenues could be explored by FELRC in developing a business case that would meet the requirements for securing Five Year Partnership Funding, starting April 1, 2014 and running through to March 31, 2019.

Both sides explored how the integration of horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy could help lead to sustainable funding for a sustainable industry.   Also, discussion centered around the concept of a shorter but more concentrated “festival” model of racing used at other tracks like Saratoga and Keeneland.  Finally, both sides agreed to continue to work together on this urgent matter.

For more information please contact;
James A Thibert

CEO:FELRC

Fort Erie Race Track

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Posted in General Horse Racing Media Release by Kelly Davis - Moderator. No Comments

A Canadian Motor Speedway Milestone Reached as Heavy Equipment Rolls in Fort Erie

 

Digintaries at ground braking of CMS

Bill Clarke – Aecon VP Business Development, Azhar Mohammad – Partner & Director, Ibrahim Abou Taleb – CEO & Director, John Bickford Sr. – VP Jeff Gordon Inc., Frank Ross – Sr. Advisor, Aecon Group

 

Canadian Motor Speedway ( CMS ) is extremely proud and delighted to officially announce a truly historic moment in CMS history, and a new era in Canadian Motorsport!

After seven years of government regulatory and developmental process, heavy excavation equipment is working the CMS site in Fort Erie Ontario, to commence phase-one of the project, the relocation and major environmental enhancement of Miller Creek. This is a critical step to allow for the second phase of the project to proceed, the construction of the grandstands, the oval track and the road course.

Canadian Motor Speedway Chief Executive Officer Ibrahim Abou Taleb said, “We are making history in Canada and North America for the motorsport fan with this track! It has been a very, very long journey, but now we have a wonderful journey ahead of us! For the Town of Fort Erie, this is a new era! CMS is the hub, but around it you have hospitality, retail, research and development that is like a city in itself. CMS will be an attraction that will bring tremendous value to the Town of Fort Erie and the Province of Ontario!”

For CMS Partner and Executive Director Azhar Mohammad, it’s like a dream come true! “We are ecstatic! If you look at the efforts that have been expended and the milestones we’ve achieved after so many years with extensive support from the community, this is truly exciting for our entire team and partners in Kuwait and the U.A.E!”

Designer of the track,  4-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon is thrilled! “We have cleared a lot of hurdles along the way. We’ve had to be very patient during the entire process, but I’m excited for Canada, I’m excited for auto racing! CMS will definitely be Canadian pride at its best! It’s a Canadian Speedway built by Canadians, just 45 minutes from Toronto, 15 minutes from Niagara Falls and Buffalo. I think Canadians are going to be very proud to have a 1.2 kilometer, three-quarter-mile track that’s going to put on some great racing once it’s completed!”

The core property for the oval, the grandstands and the road course is in CMS hands, while work to finalize site planning and the archeological clearances of the periphery properties has been scheduled over the next three months.

Aecon Group Inc., one of Canada’s largest construction companies, is the project’s Construction Manager. They will be responsible for managing the entire 820 acre development, working with local construction resources to ensure CMS is positioned for timely completion, within targeted cost, with the highest level of quality and safety.

“We are thrilled to be working with Canadian Motor Speedway, and pleased to bring our expertise to the development of this world class race track!”, stated Teri McKibbon, Aecon’s President and Chief Operating Officer.

CMS plans a formal ground-breaking in late spring of 2014 to green-flag eighteen months of construction of the sports’ first Carbon Neutral, and Canada’s first world class oval and integrated road course hosting a variety of racing platforms, notably stock car and open wheel racing, which is slated to be race-ready in 2016.

About Canadian Motor Speedway:  CMS is a world-class motorsport and entertainment development in Fort Erie, Ontario. CMS will include industrial, recreational and commercial retail space, as well as a motorsport innovation park in collaboration with McMaster University’s renowned Faculty of Engineering, expanding the build-out to $400 million. The core of the project is a stand-alone “Jeff Gordon Designed Signature Speedway” that combines to form an FIA/FIM grade road course.

FIA, The Federation Internationale de l’automobile, is a non profit association established as the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs to represent motoring organizations and motor car users. FIA is best known as the governing body for many auto racing events.

FIM, The Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme, is the global sanctioning and governing body of motorcycle racing. It represents 103 national motorcycle federations, divided into six regional continental unions.

Listen to Jeff Gorden Statement on the Race Course: Click Here
Listen to Ibrahim Abou Taleb – CEO & Director: Click Here

FIM, The Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme, is the global sanctioning and governing body of motorcycle racing. It represents 103 national motorcycle federations, divided into six regional continental unions.

www.cdnmotorspeedway.com      www.facebook.com/cmsnation, or on Twitter @CMSnation

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Erik Tomas, Media Consultant, Canadian Motor Speedway.     Office: 905-892-0411    Cell: 289-407-4410  TOMASERIK@aol.com

 

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Posted in General Media Release Motor Speedway by Kelly Davis - Moderator. No Comments

Fort Erie CAO Announces Resignation

A picture of Larry Adams

FORT ERIE, September 25, 2013 – The Town of Fort Erie is losing its Chief Administrative Officer. Larry Adams has announced his resignation, effective immediately, citing “personal and family” considerations.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the council and residents of Fort Erie”, Adams said adding, “I have enjoyed my time in Fort Erie. It’s a great place with lots of potential.”

Adams was appointed to the Town’s top administrative position April 29 of this year following an extensive candidate search. He came to the Town with over 24 years of municipal experience in small urban, rural lower, single and upper tier levels of government and has been living temporarily in Fort Erie. His family home is in Huron County.

According to Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin, “Larry is a thoughtful, genuine person who obviously enjoys what he does. We wish him and his family well.”

Council will now consider its options for addressing the vacancy.

 

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Posted in General Media Release by Kelly Davis - Moderator. 1 Comment

Two Vacant Fire Stations for Sale

After having served the community well for many years, the old Station One (Bertie Street) and Station Two (Jarvis Street) have been declared surplus and are for sale.  Information on the buildings can be obtained by clicking the following link.

For a tour of the building(s) please contact Fire Chief Larry Coplen 905-871-1600 x 2600, or Director of Planning Rick Brady 905-871-1600 x 2500.

To view Sale information on Station One Click Here

To view Sale information on Station Two Click Here

 

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Posted in Emergency Fire General by Larry Coplen. No Comments

Regional Council Appoints New CAO

Niagara Region, Sept. 17, 2013 – Niagara Regional Council is pleased to announce the hiring of a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

At a Special Meeting of Council held Thursday night, Regional Council appointed Harry Schlange, a Niagara native and former municipal CAO in Niagara, to serve as the Region’s next CAO.

“I welcome Harry back to the Region and I look forward to working with him,” said Regional Chair Gary Burroughs. “He brings with him considerable passion, experience and a familiarity of Niagara that will serve the Region, Council and our residents well.”

Schlange has held senior positions in both the private and public sector, and has a strong understanding of Niagara’s economic, social and political environment, having previously served for six years as CAO at the Town of Fort Erie.

“I’m pleased to be returning to Niagara, and look forward to reconnecting with my former colleagues at the Region in this new role,” said Schlange. “I’m excited about the leadership opportunity Regional Council has given me, and I look forward to an effective partnership with Regional Council, Niagara’s municipalities and Regional staff to enhance the quality of life for Niagara’s residents.”

Schlange will join the Region as CAO effective Monday, Oct. 28.

For more information, please contact:

Gary Burroughs
Regional Chair
905-685-4225 ext. 3247 or 1-800-263-7215
After hours: 905-984-3690

Posted in General Media Release by Kelly Davis - Moderator. 1 Comment

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