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Several condo-style buildings could be coming to downtown
WindsorOntarioNews.com May 22 2020
Downtown Windsor could be on the edge of a long-awaited residential boom which could dramatically change the dynamics of the city’s core. Developer Rob Piroli, close to completing his $45 million 152-unit West Bridge Place condo-style apartments at Crawford and Wyandotte, is actively looking at new sites in the central part of the city for future major multi-unit condo style residences. Planners and downtown observers have long said that lack of residential development is the missing piece for significant downtown revitalization as more residents will spur retail and hospitality growth. Piroli’s company, Piroli Group Developments, took a risk in developing an almost two decades old 3.5 acre empty lot and began construction in June 2019 of West Bridge Place. He expects 60 per cent rentals by move-in date in August. Piroli’s previous condo-style apartments have been two six-storey towers, Seacliff Heights, in Leamington. Piroli relied on the city’s rollout of development tax incentives to get the Windsor project going. “I think the City of Windsor is doing a great job with its redevelopment program in the downtown core,” he told WON.com. Piroli said he’d be “looking” at another core location but not until he’s at least rented West Bridge Place to 60-70 percent. He said rentals are moving faster than expected from a demographic mainly defined as retired baby boomers with good pensions who don’t want the hassles of condo ownership but like condo amenities. He said so successful has West Bridge Place been that “we’re looking to invest again in Windsor and possibly for more than one more probably maybe even three or four (buildings).” West Bridge Place is six stories and future buildings could likely be the same. “That was a big parcel, (it's) not easy to find three and a half acre parcels in the downtown core. But there are other parcels. You know, if it’s a couple acres then maybe we can get a hundred units on it, so it might be … smaller but still a good size,” he said. Besides high-income pensioners Piroli is targeting foreign students who tend to have larger incomes. “I think it’s going to be a decent mix,” he said of pensioners and higher income students. Meanwhile, Piroli is embarking on two 121-unit condo style buildings in Chatham.
25 hospitalizations, 4 in ICU as Covid-19 flattens since April 15
WindsorOntarioNews.com May 13 2020
For almost a month, with the exception of three dates, all new daily Covid-19 cases have been under 20, suggesting a major flattening of coronavirus infections in Windsor and Essex County. As of today, there have been a total of 745 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Windsor and Essex County since March 20. Twenty-five people are shown as hospitalized and an additional four patients in intensive care. That’s according to Windsor Essex County Health Unit statistics. The “status” of cases shows that of the others who have contracted the virus, 212 are self-isolating, 300 have been resolved (recovered), 142 are unknown (still pending an investigation and/or data that is not known about a case) and 62 have died. Overnight 13 new cases were reported which continues a flattening of cases since April 15 when there were 59 cases, the most for any single day since stats began being compiled March 20, when there was only one - the first - case. Since April 15 only three days have shown cases of 20 or higher (April 20 – 20; April 21 – 24; May 11 – 21). In terms of demographics, the most cases – 148 – have been among people aged 80 years and over, the next highest – 125 – among people aged 20 to 29 years, and the third highest – 115 – among people aged 50 to 59.
Park and street bench use? It depends on the municipality
WindsorOntarioNews.com May 5 2020
During the pandemic shutdown, municipalities have variously both closed parks and rec facilities and encouraged people to get outdoors and use amenities like trails. But what are their rules regarding street and park benches, which might be necessary for people – often elderly – to use to rest? There are different rules or guidelines for different municipalities. In Windsor, sitting on benches is not banned. “We have encouraged people to get out and exercise, while keeping proper social distancing, as it is good for one's health,” Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Onorio Colucci says. “Therefore, we think that if somebody needs to use benches during their walks, that is acceptable and low risk.” He said the city “would only enforce” social distancing if people using the benches weren’t practicing that. The same is true for Tecumseh and Lasalle. “Walking and taking in fresh air and the beauty of spring is important to maintaining physical and mental health," Tecumseh CAO Margaret Misek-Evans says. "Should people need to sit and rest whilst on their walk, they may access a bench for that purpose,” That’s providing the bench isn’t used for gathering and that people practice distancing. “Under these use provisions, the town would not see this as a contravention of the Provincial Order.” Amherstburg has a different interpretation. An official did not respond to requests for comment. But the town’s benches have clearly attached to them signs saying “Closed.” The signs don’t make specific reference to benches but the message is clear. Rather, they say, “By Provincial Order under the Emergency Management & Civil Protection Act All Outdoor Recreational Amenities Are Closed” – and lists items like play structures and gazebos/structures - as part of a “Covid-19 Safety Warning.” In Essex, town trails and sidewalks are open but benches have signs “recommending” not to use, said CAO Chris Nepszy. That’s because of difficulty in social distancing nor are benches able to be cleaned. “Although not part of the provincial order we moved in this direction as a best practice to ensure the virus is not passed by touching a public surface that is not disinfected.” And Leamington CAO Peter Neufeld said using benches is prevented because “the province is more concerned about the touching of the bench.” Neufeld said there is no ban as such but “we don’t want people sitting on them either.” There are no signs. “If one of my bylaw officers saw (people seated) they would be asked to continue moving along.” The Town of Kingsville also did not respond. The City of Ottawa in a wide-ranging FAQ says the reasons it closed benches was because they can attract more than one person and can be contaminated as they’re not cleaned. “This means the Covid-19 virus can present on any surface – metal, wood or plastic. In fact, the virus can live on surfaces for not just hours, but days. This includes park benches, play equipment and picnic tables.”
Closure of five Essex County weeklies came as shock - editor
WindsorOntarioNews.com April 30 2020
The announced closure this week of five community newspapers in Essex County took one of those paper’s editors completely off guard. Nelson Santos, editor of the Kingsville Reporter, said the Tuesday announcement by corporate owner Postmedia “came out pretty quickly” and was “a surprise” to him, having been at the paper 29 years and operating the paper pretty consistently until the Covid-19 crisis. The closure will see four office staff and three writers also lose work. Santos received a letter from the owner Tuesday, and news broke later that day about the shutdowns. Postmedia’s five weeklies here joins two others in central and eastern Ontario that will close though maintain a web presence. Postmedia also is closing weeklies in Manitoba. Santos said that since Covid-19 advertising had been down, losing the equivalent of two revenue pages, which directly influenced the corporation’s decision. “The affected publications are not financially sustainable and these closures will be permanent," wrote president and CEO Andrew MacLeod to staff. "The impact to advertising revenues, both print and digital has been very significant.” The publications, which will see their last issues next week, beside the Reporter, are Tilbury Times, Lasalle Post, Lakeshore News, and Tecumseh Shoreline Week. Postmedia’s decision comes more than a month after a major Atlantic Canada publisher, Saltwire Network, shuttered 35 weeklies but only temporarily. Santos couldn’t put a figure on the local paper’s losses. “I can’t speak to the numbers specifically it’s not my department in terms of numbers like dollars. That’s controlled by our sales reps and a manager out of Windsor.” Santos, who has been editor 20 years and mayor of Kingsville 17 years, said Postmedia has owned the Reporter eight years. The Windsor Star is also a Postmedia newspaper but not part of the same group, Windsor Essex County Publishing. There are other publications in the area that could take up the news slack. Santos said one, The Southpoint Sun, “over the last year have been certainly expanding their coverage area to include parts of Kingsville in their news.” (UPDATE May 1: A spokeswoman for Postmedia did not respond to a request for comment.)
No nursing homes have upped pay during Covid-19 -- union
WindsorOntarioNews.com April 22 2020
Despite Ontario long term care homes being at the epicentre of the Covid-19 epidemic, none of the people who run the homes have agreed to pay workers additional wages. It’s of a piece for the industry generally, according to the union that represents 2500 of such Ontario workers. “We haven’t had any long-term care owner who has done a compensation increase yet,” said United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union spokesman Tim Deelstra. He said the union has been talking “for a number of years” for more compensation with the provincial government and employers for “a significant increase” in wages “because workers there are substantially underpaid.” While the UFCW has advocated for a $2 an hour increase for members in the grocery and food processing sectors during the health crisis – and has largely succeeded – the amount of increase for nursing home staff would be “much larger.” Deelstra said many of these people work part time and are “paid not far off the minimum wage.” The union request has been reinforced during Covid-19 – at a time when nursing home residents’ testing positive and deaths have skyrocketed – but “we haven’t had much traction,” Deelstra said. Almost half the deaths have taken place in such homes. However, Deelstra said the province has indicated it’s working with the feds “for some kind of top up” in pay. No details yet except it would apply to people making less than $2500 per month. The union has also called for universal testing for staff and residents “which has really started happening basically as of today.” As for new government orders for employees to work only in one home or another these orders “are not universal,” Deelstra said. A temp agency can still send workers “from home to home to home." Other workers have had “an economic impact” with no compensation or an order of increased hours. This differs from British Columbia which had nursing home staff become government employees for six months and work full time and with pay increased. WON.com has asked the Ontario Long Term Care Association, which represents owners, for comment.
Are local parliamentarians donating April salary increases?
WindsorOntarioNews.com April 7 2020
In the midst of the hardships borne by hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have lost employment due to the coronavirus outbreak, WON.com thought it would contact Windsor area Members of Parliament to find out whether they would follow their party leaders’ examples and donate an April 1 pay increase to charity. We heard back from two of them. The MPs had a 2.1 per cent salary increase (pre-scheduled) which will increase their base pay to $182,656. So, the two per cent increase amounts to $3,750. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is donating his increase to non-profit organizations in his riding. Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew Sheer is donating his increase to a charity in his Regina riding supporting people affected by COVID-19. And NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is increasing donations he normally makes to local organizations. Now, how are Windsor-Essex MPs donating their increases? Essex Conservative MP Chris Lewis: “As always I will give back to my community. I always have. At this time, more than ever, it is vital that we come together and donate, as we are able, to the many organizations across Essex. Rest assured, as in the past and on many fronts, I remain focused on making donations to those most in need. I encourage others to do the same.” Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk, also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Diversity Inclusion, through assistant Manvir Shokar: “Irek donated his entire pay increase to the Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital Foundation, the Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation, the Downtown Mission and the United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County.” Longest serving area MP (first elected in 2002) the NDP’s Brian Masse of Windsor West, did not respond, despite two emails and a follow up phone call. Salaries paid to MPs increase on April 1 each year, a figure based on the average increase negotiated by major bargaining units in the private sector.
Michigan governor Whitmer wants more Canadian nurses
WindsorOntarioNews.com April 1 2020
While the area’s medical officer of health and local federal politicians have been lobbying for even tighter border restrictions Michigan’s governor Gretchen Whitmer this week signed an executive order which would ease recruitment of more Canadian nurses to work in the severely coronavirus-afflicted state. The order would also ease registration for certified nurse aides and grant renewal of some lapsed health care licenses. All to bolster much-needed medical staff to attend the climbing ranks of the besieged state’s coronavirus patients. Up to now Wayne County, which surrounds the City of Detroit, has had the fourth highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the US. As of today, Michigan’s COVID-19 cases jumped more than 1700 over the previous day to a total of 9334 and there have been 337 deaths, an addition of 78 over the day before. Hundreds of Canadian health workers cross the bridge and tunnel daily to work in Detroit hospitals. They’re considered an essential service and therefore have been allowed to cross. That’s despite the border officially being closed as of March 21 to regular traffic to prevent spread of the highly contagious disease. Meanwhile, as of today, there have been 92 Windsor-area cases and the region recorded its first death, a man in his 80s who had recently travelled to Michigan and had underlying health conditions. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said 70 per cent of all area COVID-19 cases are people who have traveled and one-third are health-care workers who are employed in Michigan.
Despite listings, Cineplex's theatres definitely not open
WindsorOntarioNews.com March 24 2020
People who have been huddling in their homes over the past several days to protect their health due to the coronavirus outbreak may have been a little surprised to see that a couple of Windsor movie theatres were still open. As of today, The Windsor Star was still advertising showtimes at Cineplex’s Devonshire and Silver City cinemas. This despite the City of Windsor declaring a state of emergency last Friday which effectively shut down Devonshire Mall, where one of the Cineplex theatres is located. Businesses at stand alone “pads” were unaffected by the closures. That could have meant that Silver City, as a stand-alone complex in a south Windsor big box retail site, remained open. But, no, that theatre, as part of the nationwide Cineplex chain, was also closed by the theatre chain March 16. The next day the province imposed a state of emergency and banned operation of public facilities such as theatres, cinemas and concert venues, as well as bars and restaurants. But today in The Windsor Star’s entertainment section the movies at those theatres were still being advertised, along with their weekly showtimes for Friday March 20 through Thursday March 26. Cineplex’s director of exhibition marketing Avery Ironside was stunned when told of the still running ads. "Our theatres are indeed currently closed due to the coronavirus situation, and no advertising should be running.” He suggested the ads kept being placed due to “an automatic feed” that “didn’t stop” and they will be “pulled ASAP.” On March 16 Cineplex announced the temporary cinema closures through to April 2 when re-openings will be “reassessed.” This announcement reflected the rapidly evolving pandemic crisis. Just four days earlier the chain said it was keeping theatres open but “taking all appropriate measures to ensure our venues are safe and that we have existing plans and training protocols in place to ensure they stay that way.” This included enhanced cleaning and asking patrons not feeling well to refrain from visiting the cinemas.
As many as 50 to join 150 at airport maintenance hangar
WindsorOntarioNews.com March 5 2020
The City of Windsor-owned maintenance hangar at Windsor airport will likely see substantial employment growth over the next year. This comes as the US-based company that does aircraft maintenance there, AAR Aircraft Services, expects to see major new work at its main Canadian maintenance facility in Trois-Rivières, Quebec after completion of Air Canada’s merger with charter airline Transat, A. T. The work will be so substantial an overflow amount will come to Windsor, said AAR officials. Brian Loomer, AAR’s regional VP and GM, told WON.com, “without doubt it will definitely have a positive impact on Windsor.” He said as many as 50 additional full-time jobs would be added to the almost 150 full-timers currently at the hangar, which the city built for $23 million and now leases to AAR. AAR took over maintenance from former tenant Premier Aviation more than two years ago. Air Canada last month announced the new maintenance contract which would see AAR undertake maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) airframe work on Air Canada and Transat aircraft. Currently AAR in Windsor does maintenance on Air Canada and Republic Airways aircraft’s Airbus and Embraer models. The 144,000 sq. ft. hangar is big enough to fit four Airbus A320s and a couple of smaller Embraer aircraft inside “very comfortably,” Loomer said. He added business at the facility has steadily been increasing. AAR recruits staff from Transport Canada-accredited colleges. Saint Clair College in Windsor does not have such accreditation. AAR employs three trades all called Aircraft Maintenance Engineers with designations M for Mechanic, S for Structures and E for Avionics (electronics). The work is mostly heavy maintenance as aircraft go through their life cycles but also lighter modifications. Staff work two shifts seven days a week.
Photo: AAR Aircraft Services
Air Canada to eliminate its Windsor to Montreal flight
WindsorOntarioNews.com Feb. 27 2020
Air Canada is axing its direct Windsor to Montreal flight effective June 30. The airline published notices today in both Windsor and Montreal daily newspapers advising of the cancellation. The year round service was operated by Air Canada Express Carrier Jazz Aviation LP. Air Canada media relations said the cancellation was simply because the flight lacked sufficient traffic. “Air Canada cancelled this route due to low demand,” the office said in response to a WON.com query. “In fact, passengers prefer our Windsor-Toronto route. We offer customers several flights a day and passengers also have more connection options via Toronto hub.” The flight will not affect Windsor airport personnel. “The suspension of this flight did not result in any job losses,” the airline’s office said. “Airport employees continue to work the Windsor-Toronto flight. But airplane crew will operate out of other centres with the airline saying “they will be redeployed on other itineraries.” The flight was served by Dash H turbo prop and small jet aircraft. Lina Williams, spokeswoman for the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corp., said “we don’t want to see the reduction of service in the region” and redirected questions to Windsor airport. The flight typically leaves at 11 am and arrives in Montreal at 12.40 pm. The return flight to Windsor is in mid afternoon.
[For more on this story go to the LOCAL TOURIST page]
Company applies for demo permit to construct controversial Kingsville complex
WindsorOntarioNews.com Feb. 13 2020
The developer of a planned controversial residential complex in Kingsville has applied for a demolition permit for 183 Main Street East, an older home that has generated significant community interest by citizens who want to save it. Kingsville council just this week voted unanimously to keep the house on its heritage interest list, not as a designated or registered heritage property as certain media misreported. This means the developer is still free to demolish the property subject to council moving to designate, which would require “scoring” the house for its heritage value and a subsequent council vote. It has 60 days to do this. “We’re confused by the heritage committee’s recommendation to leave the home on the interest list,” Christian LeFave, president of Brotto Family Holdings, told WON.com. “If the home has the historical significance in which they have indicated, the heritage committee should be scoring the home and recommending to council that the home be placed on the designated heritage list therefore designating the home as an historical home.” Meanwhile, responding to community concerns about such issues as the height and historical design of the two apartment buildings, the company will be back before the town’s planning advisory committee in March with several tweaks to the original design. The buildings will be four floors instead of six and have a “Victorian Style” that replaces a modern look. One concern sparking the overall controversy was that the existing 183 Main St. E. home is similar in style to adjacent 171 Main St. E. which has heritage designation and is known as the Bon Jasperson house. But a heritage impact report prepared for the company found that “most of the designated elements of the Bon Jasperson Home are interior elements and that proposed development and home are separated by approximately 60 ft.” More than 2,000 residents have signed a petition against the zoning change to allow the apartments. LeFave said the heritage committee report to council this week was ”just words” about the existing house’s significance. “They’ve never scored the house, they didn’t even provide … substantiated any of their comment.” He thinks the committee didn’t score “because they feel possibly that it may not meet the requirement.” Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said this week’s council vote was “simply to maintain the integrity of our process and procedure” for historically significant properties. He said the demolition request now provides “an opportunity” for the town to decide whether to score the house and possibly designate. Should that happen LeFave said he will appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. "We are confident in our position and in our proposal and we will continue to move it forward by any means necessary."