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Attraction of walk-in clinics a focus of CIP amendment

Town of Amherstburg crest

Town council has amended its Economic Development Community Improvement Plan (CIP) with the attraction of walk-in clinics being one of the goals.

The move, made during the March 25 meeting of council, saw expansion of the boundaries extended from only including the downtown core/”Monopoly” subdivision and Texas Road areas to also include the Howard Industrial Park District Secondary Plan Area. A second recommendation that was agreed to adds new provisions to allow the Town of Amherstburg to offer land as an incentive to attract industrial and commercial development.

The third piece that was agreed to got much of the attention at the meeting as that saw town council instruct administration to add new provisions to allow the town to offer incentives to attract medical offices and urgent care centres.

“In recent months, the Town of Amherstburg has received questions from residents about what the town can do to attract more physicians and medical services. This matter was also brought forward to the Minister of Health at the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association (ROMA) by our Chief Administrative Officer and members council,” manager of planning services Chris Aspila wrote in a report to town council. “They were advised by the Minister that the Province recommends municipalities investigate and invest in local initiatives to attract these types of facilities. From the planning perspective, medical offices and urgent care centres are considered to be a commercial use in the Town of Amherstburg Comprehensive Zoning By-law 1999-52, and as such, these developments qualify for incentives under the Town’s Economic

Development CIP.”

Aspila continued: “However, the existing approved Economic Development CIP has a requirement for a minimum 20 new full-time jobs for commercial businesses. This condition is problematic for attracting new medical offices and urgent care centres because these types of businesses may have as few as five full-time employees. As such based on the current definition they are not eligible for the financial incentives offered. It is recommended that if council is seeking a means in which to provide financial incentives to attract and retain medical offices and or urgent care clinics that special provisions for these types of commercial developments be introduced in the CIP.”

Deputy Mayor Chris Gibb stated the County of Essex is also looking to put together a CIP and wanted to know how changes to the town’s match up to the county or if it is “more restrictive than that.” Deputy CAO/director of development services Melissa Osborne said her understanding is that the county’s plan would reflect with the local municipalities offer.

Gibb added the provision for medical clinics is “a genius idea.” He pointed out members of council met with Minister of Health Sylvia Jones and Gibb stated the town was told it’s up to the municipality to start the process.

“You can make the argument it’s the province’s responsibility but they are not coming to the rescue,” said Gibb. “I’m very excited we’re forging our own future with this. I’m very excited to see this.”

Councillor Don McArthur believed it makes sense to include the Howard Ave. area in the CIP and also to pursue more medical facilities. He asked administration why the whole town could be in the CIP instead of “pockets” of the municipality.

“In order for us to pick the boundaries, it has to be in the Official Plan,” said Osborne stated. “The first area we selected already had been identified in the Official Plan to have that boundary. When we did the secondary plan for the Howard Industrial, because it’s an OPA (Official Plan Amendment), we specifically considered wording allowing it to happen.”

The town is doing an Official Plan Amendment with Osborne stating Aspila “has assured me that we will be looking at the opportunity to expand to all of it. It’s just a matter of progress and time. It eventually will be there.”

Attraction of walk-in clinics a focus of CIP amendment

By Ron Giofu


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