Windsor’s Lancaster bomber’s UK heritage base is site of controversy
WindsorOntarioNews.com March 27 2023
While the Windsor Lancaster bomber undergoes the final touches of a massive restoration a controversy is brewing in the country which was the original home of Lancasters, the United Kingdom. British authorities have proposed that the Royal Air Force Scampton air base be converted into an immigrant detention centre which would house up to 1500 asylum seekers, an issue with which Windsor is also currently dealing. There is considerable opposition to the proposal, not on anti-immigrant grounds, but to preserve a long-cherished site that played an instrumental role in the Second World War. Scampton also played a role in the famous “Dambusters Raid” of 1943 which saw 19 of the planes drop “bouncing bombs” to destroy three German dams. The planes would fly below anti-aircraft fire allowing the barrel-type explosives to skip across water and hit the side of the dams, destroying three and damaging a third on the Ruhr River. While the raid was a success eight aircraft never returned. But while Scampton is being proposed for immigrant settlement, there is also a plan to turn the base into a business innovation and hospitality hub, part of Britain’s “levelling-up” strategy to increase economic development in the country's poorer regions. “If the decision goes ahead, it will be a historical tragedy, as well as an economic one — the revamp of the site would have provided thousands of jobs,” the Daily Mail newspaper says. One historian calls the base “the embodiment of Britain’s aviation past.” Meanwhile, restoration of Windsor’s Lancaster, built in Canada and which never saw war service, is predicted to be completed by spring of next year. The plane was removed from its Jackson Park pedestal in 2005 because of concerns about weather damage. The Canadian Aviation Museum at Windsor airport is completing the restoration.
Downtown merchants may stave off vandals with European-style security
WindsorOntarioNews.com March 13 2023
It’s unconventional, at least for a Canadian city. And some may argue it isn’t particularly pretty. But a way downtown storeowners may prevent future break-ins, or at least smashed plate glass windows – costing hundreds of dollars in repairs and additional insurance premiums - is to adopt a technique long used in Europe: security shutters or blinds. Walk through virtually any European city, small or large, after dark, and many of the thriving daytime stores – from humdrum haberdasheries to elite boutiques, even restos and cafes - have steel blinds tightly pulled down over their storefronts. It may be a forbidding look though par for the course across Europe, but perhaps not as unsightly as the heavily gated or grated look of inner city storefronts that abound in US cities like in our neighbour Detroit. One company, U.S.-based Rollac, distributes the ShopGuard Shutter. Its sales literature says ShopGuard “is a commercial security shutter that is designed to protect your business from unwanted visitors.” It features a single wall design “that rolls compact for minimum installation space while providing commercial strength for protection.” The shutters can be “easily installed” either on the inside or outside of a commercial building. The shutters have advantages in addition to protecting against vandalism including from noise and UV. Don’t like the solid blind look? The company also makes blinds with open grids, aesthetically more pleasing than US inner city heavily gated looks. And, once installed, storekeepers could put a positive spin on them – “Hey, we’re bringing a little bit of Europe to the city core!”
Star plant closure's wider implications
WindsorOntarioNews.com February 27 2023
It’s not just the loss of 75 jobs at The Windsor Star printing plant next month that could result from the closure of the last physical presence of what’s being called the city’s longtime ”heritage” newspaper. (The Star's downtown newsroom closed last year.) It’s matters like the plant being a regional print facility and its role in being a charity sponsor as well as the possible loss of the newspaper's decades-old archives. Unifor, the union representing Star plant workers, has asked support from city council to save the Star’s decades' worth of archives. “Please protest that the history of those archives be moved to a City of Windsor public outlet such as our library,” it says in a letter. “This history of Windsor through our journalists/photographers/printers/engravers does not belong to (publisher) Postmedia but to our community.” The union points out the plant has also printed regional newspapers like the Sarnia Observer and the Chatham Daily News but won't anymore. “Postmedia will continue to decimate printed product throughout our communities." And Unifor notes the venerable Goodfellows Christmas charity newspaper will now be without a sponsor. “Windsor Star printed the Goodfellows newspaper as a community service which has now turned into more Postmedia profit.” The Star’s plant closure will see the more than 100-year-old local newspaper now printed in Toronto with advertising inserts completed in London. The finished newspaper will then be trucked back to Windsor.
Photo: Google Street View
Expect major transit route changes
WindsorOntarioNews.com February 14 2023
Get ready for some big changes this year if a Transit Windsor route overhaul is approved. Routes will be streamlined, and new ones created in proposals going before the city’s transportation committee this month, which in turn would have to be approved by city council. Routes that for generations have been designated like the Transway 1C and Crosstown 2 will be no more. While keeping much of their actual physical routes, they’ll be re-designated by a series of three digit numbers from “primary routes” in the 100s to “secondary routes” in the 200s and so on. There will be six categories of routes ending in the 600s, the last being “regional” services to places like Amherstburg. Transit Windsor says this will “make navigation easier for passengers.” Generally, those routes running east-west will have even numbers and those north-south odd numbers. The Transway 1C, the most travelled route, will become Route 110. It will run between the east and west end terminals but will no longer loop through suburban neighbourhoods, which will be served by new “local routes” with 300 category numbers. “As a main route (primary route) with a frequency of 10 minutes, a residential neighbourhood such as Forest Glade is over serviced, given that other neighbourhood feeder routes run on 30 – 60-minute frequencies,” the report says. The Crosstown 2 will become Route 100 and part of the route on the east side will be served by a new local 300 numbered route. “Ridership drops off substantially east of Lauzon Rd. (average weekday boardings per hour of 1.25, well below industry minimums; only 3% of ridership on the route travels east of Lauzon Road),” the report says. The Dominion 5 will become Route 115 running from downtown to St. Clair College. The Lauzon 10 will be eliminated due to it being “inefficient and meandering” with “very low” ridership. It will also be replaced by local 300 numbered services. The Tunnel Bus will have service cut from 30 to 60 minutes because it is also “low ridership” – average boardings of 11.1 per service hour in 2019.
Lauzon Pkwy to get multi-use trail
WindsorOntarioNews.com January 30 2023
The city is rebuilding its main north-south, east side artery that funnels traffic from Riverside and Forest Glade to EC Row Expressway. Reconstruction of Lauzon Parkway will begin some time later this year – the city hasn’t put a start date pending award of tender – but has a firm completion date of Oct. 31. Construction will take place between Cantelon Dr. and Forest Glade Dr. beginning in in spring. The work has been slated for at least a few years. The six-lane roadway’s concrete structure has “significantly deteriorated due to the heavy volumes of traffic and the annual freeze-thaw cycles,” says the city. Besides removing and replacing the existing pavement engineers will add an open grade drainage layer “to improve the structure and lessen the effects of the freeze thaw cycle.” This is common on many streets such as on Huron Church Rd. and uses larger sub-surface aggregate to facilitate water drainage, contracts coordinator Charles Hartford says. Both the roadways and sidewalks will be demolished and reconstructed. In addition, there will be a new asphalt multi-use trail. Also look for new streetlights. The city is requesting a noise bylaw exemption to carry out the work 24/7. Businesses along the roadway will be accessible throughout the project.
Image: Google Maps
Swimmers' safety is the main focus of the city's Sandpoint Beach redesign
WindsorOntarioNews.com December 22 2022
Windsor’s only municipal beach is slated for a makeover. Sandpoint Beach would finally get a “master plan” for an array of long needed improvements. While the beach has always been a hot spot for the public during the summer it has also been notorious for several drownings because of the steep Lake St. Clair drop offs and the strong currents and undertows, and swimmers themselves irresponsibly not remaining inside buoy- marked boundaries. That danger exists on the beach’s extreme west side. The Plan’s “primary purpose” therefore would be to improve safety. But there are other considerations such as preventing erosion and flooding. What’s known as Sandpoint Beach is actually three side-by-side areas - Sandpoint Beach to the west, and Ganatchio Park and Stop 26 Beach to the east. The master plan would include a new shore wall of steel sheet piles with a safety railing to prevent swimming access at the deep end and would enhance fish habitat. The beach itself would be moved further east “away from deep water and/or strong currents.” A neighbouring rock “promontory” sticking into the lake would be constructed to protect against erosion and “dissipate wave energy.” Other goals are to eliminate water access within 250 metres of the deep water. But anglers would instead have access to this deep water via a pile-supported fishing pier. And the Stop-26 Beach on the east side would have its kayak launch upgraded, separated by the promontory or rock pier. The latest public information meeting was held in late November and public feedback ended Dec. 6. The next step is completing an environmental assessment. Provided all “outstanding issues are resolved” the Plan will be finalized and sent for approval.
Photo: Google Street View
Stereotypes aside, city project spending generates major surpluses
WindsorOntarioNews.com Dec. 8 2022
Contrary to stereotypes of irresponsible government spending, and indeed real examples of overspending and waste by governments everywhere, the City of Windsor has done pretty well keeping spending on target on a myriad of projects over the past couple of years. With $1.6 billion allocated to 602 ongoing capital projects, 568 of them are on budget, 19 have surpluses and 15 have deficits. The information is contained in a “capital variance” report prepared for city council. In fact, budget surpluses far outweigh project deficits. The surpluses total just over $7 million, ten times the figure for budget deficits at just over $700,000. City staff caution the figures are estimates based on “currently known information” and could change “should other unforeseen circumstances occur which result in additional cost or savings.” For example, this year’s Can_Am Games had a $300,000 surpluses due to better than anticipated sponsorship revenue. The Arch Gateway to Sandwich Street project had a $2500 surplus. The Memorial at Vimy East of Marentette saw a $57,000 surplus. 2020 and 2019 city wide road rehabilitation both resulted in $1.5 million surpluses. But the Mic Mac Bleacher restoration incurred a $90,000 deficit due to higher than anticipated costs for bleachers and a backstop.
Former Windsor Star reporter at centre of Ottawa Nazi flag-waving allegation
WindsorOntarioNews.com Nov. 24 2022
A former Windsor Star reporter is at the centre of a controversy arising from deliberations at the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa. The commission is investigating the justification of the federal government for suspending civil liberties under the Emergencies Act during the Freedom Convoy truckers protest in Ottawa and elsewhere including Windsor last winter. Protesters’ lawyer Brendan Miller this week identified Brian Fox as the person who paraded with a Nazi flag in Ottawa amidst protesters at or near Parliament Hill. Fox’s identity was based on distant pictures of the flag-bearer’s face, mostly covered by shadows, and an “untested” affidavit of a man who “purported to have recognized Fox from Miller’s photos after having spoken to the flagman in January,” according to Postmedia. The lawyer wanted Fox and his employer Enterprise Canada to testify but was denied. Miller said at Monday’s hearing that Enterprise Canada executive Brian Fox was the Nazi flag-bearing person at Freedom Convoy protests around Jan. 29 in photos widely distributed through social media. But, calling the lawyer’s request a “fishing expedition” and “purely speculative,” Commissioner Paul Rouleau denied it and others. Rouleau stated the theory is that Enterprise Canada “carried out such conduct at the direction of the prime minister, his staff or both.” Meanwhile, Enterprise Canada has vehemently rejected Miller’s claims. On its website, the firm called the lawyer’s statements “entirely unsubstantiated and deeply offensive.” It added they were “absurd and despicable” and said Fox was not in Ottawa but in Toronto at the time of the alleged incident. “Mr. Fox and everyone at Enterprise Canada stands firmly against the hatred represented by the symbol Mr. Miller referenced and strives for our workplace to be an inclusive and accepting environment for everyone." Fox’s bio on the same website says, “Brian’s career began as a Windsor Star journalist and has taken him to the Queen’s Park Press Gallery as well as senior branding and marketing roles supporting the finance and tech sectors.” Enterprise Canada describes itself as “an agency at the intersection of public affairs + traditional advertising. We focus on ideas that help you find currency in a world defined by social movements, political upheaval, and digital disruption.”
Photo: Enterprise Canada
LaSalle warehouse figures in case worthy of “Agatha Christie woodunit.”
WindsorOntarioNews.com Nov 10 2022
A LaSalle warehouse has figured in a story of international intrigue about a large quantity of vanished precious metals. In what was described as a plot worthy of an “Agatha Christie woodunit,” $10 million in silver ingots was taken from a Montreal rail yard and driven to a warehouse outside of Windsor in LaSalle. A National Post story reported that in January 2020 a Quebec trucking company received an email with a secret code of instructions about what to do with the shipment. “The email had all the necessary information — the weight of the cargo, the correct container number and the secret code — so the silver was driven out of CN’S Montreal rail lot and to a Lasalle, Ont., warehouse,” the newspaper said. The warehouse is not identified. “And then it vanished — all roughly 18,000 kilograms of it.” Federal Judge Kevin R. Aalto, overseeing a lawsuit related to the disappearance, said the case “has all the elements of an Agatha Christie whodunit.” Reported the newspaper, “the email was likely fraudulent. Thieves had allegedly gained access to the secret code and other details and changed the delivery location, pulling off a remarkable international heist.” In the intervening years only “token amounts” of the metal have been found across North America. “It’s a tale of international intrigue, and somewhere, a modern-day Auric Goldfinger is sitting on some 20 tonnes of silver.” Judge Aalto said the intriguing elements were the stolen cargo, various suspects, an unknown perpetrator and “a trucking company that was given the pickup code with instructions to deliver the cargo to a location unknown to any of the parties.” The shipment, which originated in Korea, was only intended for a stopover in Canada on its way to New York. Said the judge, “Four days after in arrived in Montreal, Oriental Cartage, a trucking company based in Laval, Que., received a pickup email. It contained the “correct container number, pickup code, and weight of the Cargo.” The silver was then driven to LaSalle, where it last saw the light of day.
Ottawa mayor said his city had 'more difficult' blockade than did Windsor
WindsorOntarioNews.com October 18 2022
The City of Windsor came up several times today in testimony before the federal commission examining whether the use of the Emergencies Act was justified last winter to clear truck Covid rules protesters in Ottawa. Commision counsel Natalia Rodriguez referenced how it appeared ending the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor took priority over ending the three week truck blockade in downtown Ottawa last February. “Yes, and that’s in fact what happened,” that city’s mayor Jim Watson (photo) said. The counsel read a letter to Windsor protesters about how, before meeting provincial authorities to seek a resolution, they would have to leave the protest site and denounce “all unlawful activity and encourage a period of quiet.” Added Rodriguez, “The Solicitor General is offering that the province will meet with the group of protesters in Windsor if they leave the protest site immediately and denounce all activity.” She then asks the mayor if he’s aware the province “ever offered to meet with the protesters in Ottawa." Answered Watson: “I’m not aware of any such request....That was never an option that was presented to me or anyone in my office.” Watson added, “I can’t give you the exact date but eventually the OPP came on board (after the resolution in) Windsor and (got) to Ottawa as quickly as possible.” Later in his testimony the mayor again mentioned how the blockades at the border in Windsor and at Coutts, Alta. were wrapped up relatively quickly – where there were economic impacts because of the border – but similarly the capital city also suffered economically. He said the protesters “and occupiers were significantly larger in Ottawa (than) in Coutts or in Windsor, so I think we had a much more difficult situation.”
Photo: City of Ottawa
Fogolar lands slated for major five building condo redevelopment
WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 27 2022
Wonder what ever happened to those soccer fields, long owned by the Fogolar Furlan Club but sold off as the club decided to downsize a couple of years ago? The almost 10-acre site is now proposed for redevelopment as a massive condo complex. HD Development Group, which is already developing Trinity Gate Condominiums at Walker Rd. and Ducharme St., is the builder. This new development at 1850 North Service Rd. would see five six storey condo towers along the narrow swath of land (472 ft. frontage by 1336 ft. depth) with 387 units and 491 parking spaces. To the immediate east is Byng Rd. with single family homes. Immediately west is the existing Fogolar property as well as the Chartwell Oak Park Terrace retirement home. While all the buildings will be six stories some will contain more units than others, varying from two with 58, two with 64 and one with 143. Altogether the buildings’ footprint would take up 21.5 per cent of the land. The project was lauded by city planners as a successful “infill” development. Proponent HD states it would be “positive” and “compatible” with the neighbourhood. Buildings will face laterally east-west with balconies on the north and south sides therefore not facing residents on Byng. The “medium profile” buildings will be located at the “furthest points on the west of the property to provide for substantial distance separation” from residences, the developer’s report says. The remaining property will be park-like with “extensive grassed area, trees and landscaping, 4 outdoor pavilions, 3 outdoor pickleball courts, and proposed walking paths,” landscaping and benches surrounding a storm water pond designed to create a gathering place. An open house was held in May. More than 100 nearby property owners were notified and 33 attended. There will also be another public meeting. City staff have recommended approval, saying the development provides “a housing type that creates a diverse neighbourhood, creates an environmentally sustainable development by redeveloping a serviced vacant parcel…..and provides housing that is in demand.”
Image: HD Development
Revitalized park to celebrate 20th anniversary of Japanese donation
WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 13 2022
It’s perhaps one of Windsor’s lesser known or appreciated parks. But it is one with a unique setting and history and with likely loads of future potential. Gateway Park, located at 1271 Riverside Dr. W., is undergoing a $700,000 revitalization to be completed by year’s end. The park has two sections – Riverside Dr. to University Ave. and University Ave. to Wyandotte St. The park is actually located on land owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Last November the city reached agreement with a railway subsidiary, Detroit River Tunnel Co. to operate the park on a 99-year lease. The park is literally above the 2.6 km railway tunnel linking Windsor and Detroit. Besides having a distinctive natural flavour for a very urban setting near downtown the park is known for its row of Japanese cherry blossoms located at its centre. These were donated in 2002 by the Consulate-General of Japan’s Sakura Project as a symbol of international friendship. The trees are among a group of diverse plants and trees surrounding what up to now has been a narrow footpath within the 50-70 metre wide park. City engineer Wadah Al-Yassiri says this thoroughfare will be “enhanced and developed to be an asphalt trail three metres wide” and be made wheelchair accessible with ramps. Al-Yassiri noted the “very good” coordination between the city, CPR, the city’s accessibility committee and biodiversity office. The contactor is Valente and Golder/WSP is consulting on design and geotechnical work. When done, it will mark the 20th anniversary of the Sakura donation. “We are still on time and target,” Al-Yassiri says.
Stuck in elevator at Huron Lodge
WindsorOntarioNews.com August 30 2022
An employee of the city-owned Huron Lodge long term care home got stuck in an elevator and apparently fainted. This is one of several occupational health incidents reported at city-run facilities over the year’s first six months. On March 30 the employee entered the elevator on the first-floor heading to the fourth. But the doors would not open. “While in the elevator the employee contacted a co-worker and told them that she was starting to have a panic attack,” the report says. The Windsor fire department responded and freed the staffer after 10 minutes. The worker “believes she sustained a loss of consciousness while in the elevator and noted that she frequently has panic attacks and faints as a result.” The elevator maintenance company, Kone, repaired the device. The cause? An electrical circuit board. An investigation continues. Meanwhile, at the same home, an anonymous caller reported May 26 that workers on a scaffold were not tied off. “The Maintenance Supervisor and the JHSC Management Representative advise that they did have a crane on site earlier and Vollmer Services was also on site to change out a chiller on the rooftop of the four-story building,” says the report. But both parties agreed safety was “adequate” and the Ministry of Labour didn't issue an order. On January 13 the ministry visited fire department headquarters where a firefighter reported hearing loss due to horns, sirens, diesel engines, saws and gas fans. But the worker retired after almost 30 years and had experienced gradual hearing loss. Workers must wear hearing protection for equipment producing 80 decibels or more and an audiologist regularly attends workplaces. No orders were issued. Finally, a Seminole branch library worker slipped and fell, fracturing their wrist in three places, after the floor had just been mopped. The custodian had asked staff to be careful. From now on a wet floor sign will be placed.
Photo: City of Windsor
Narrow St. Clair River point has made an excellent smuggling route
Update Aug 11/22: Joint-police Project Monarch yesterday announced the seizure of 27 handguns, 9 kilos of cocaine, 1.9 kilos of fentanyl, 20,000 Xanax pills and 28 grams of heroin, and the arrests of 22 people on 400 charges. Walpole Isl. Chief Charles Sampson called on senior levels of government to help fight crime and smuggling.
WindsorOntarioNews.com August 8 2022
It’s not a problem that occurs regularly but does raise its head from time to time. It’s the human smuggling, by boat and sometimes over the ice, over a very narrow stretch of the St. Clair River between Walpole Island and Michigan communities like Harsens Island, Clay Township and Algonac. The latest event occurred August 4 when US border officials interdicted a boat carrying three people. “An agent interviewed the three subjects, whom all admitted to having just crossed the border from Canada in a boat,” said a US Customs and Border Protection news release. One was from the Dominican Republic and two were from Mexico. Officials described the area as an “historically known smuggling route.” Two years earlier US Customs saw a vehicle on land in the same area between Algonac and Walpole Island. Two of the suspects admitted to having come across the river by boat. The other two were apparently waiting for them. Altogether four Brazilian nationals were arrested. “Even with the ongoing pandemic, transnational criminal organizations will continue to operate,” Douglas Harrison, chief patrol agent with the agency’s Detroit sector, said. And back in 2010 border patrol agents form Marysville Mi. arrested three people including an Israeli and two US citizens in Clay Township. “Detroit Sector personnel, utilizing the new Remote Video Surveillance System, witnessed a vessel leave Walpole Island, cross into the United States, and five minutes later return to Walpole Island,” said a news release. The two Americans were waiting for the Israeli to cross the river. These were all relatively isolated events. Illegal smuggling seemed to be more common a couple of decades ago. “In the past year, illegal immigration in this region 'has gone from nothing or close to nothing detected to 100 people,' said Mark W. Osler, Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan told The New York Times in 2000. ‘You'd have to assume the majority of them we don't catch,’ he said, but just since December, a Detroit grand jury has indicted 15 people on charges related to smuggling.” At the time court documents showed an alliance between some Walpole Island natives and Chinese smugglers. Most of the crossings were by Chinese or Korean nationals. “They come by boat in warmer weather or on foot on the coldest nights,” the Times said.
Photo: US Customs and Border Protection
Safety, security among reasons old bridge would have to be torn down
WindsorOntarioNews.com July 25 2022
It comes down to “safety, security and the environment.” Those are the reasons the Government of Canada gives for a requirement the Ambassador Bridge company demolish its existing span should a new bridge be built. This is based on an August 2017 Order in Council that granted the bridge company the right to construct a new six-lane bridge (image), replacing the four-lane existing bridge which opened in 1929. Bridge management has long wanted to keep the existing span even after the new bridge opens to provide redundancy in case of emergencies and as a people place for pedestrians and cycling. And management said this month the demolition requirement is actually at odds with a permit granted by the US Coast Guard requiring the existing bridge remain standing. The federal Order in Council expires Aug. 31. It states, “The Canadian Transit Company shall commence the construction of the Replacement bridge no later than five years after the Governor in Council approved its construction.” And Article 22 states the bridge “shall demolish or cause to be demolished the Ambassador Bridge other than the border services facilities. The demolition must be completed within five years from the day on which the Replacement bridge opens to traffic.” Because of this stipulation it appears the Ambassador's long-planned replacement bridge project is now dead. Speaking to the Windsor Star, bridge president Dan Stamper labelled the stipulation an “absolute block.” However, for its part, Ottawa says demolition of the old span is a must. “It is important to note that the conditions of the permit were established to mitigate safety and security risks, and the impacts on the local community and the environment while also taking into consideration the results of consultations on the proposed project with the general public, the City of Windsor, the Province of Ontario, Indigenous groups, and U.S. Federal and Michigan State authorities,” Transport Canada spokesman Hicham Ayoun told WON.com.
Petitioners denounce mayor's tax bill insert as unpaid electioneering
WindsorOntarioNews.com July 12 2022
Those who’ve signed a petition calling on Mayor Drew Dilkens to pay for a tax bill inset with his photo on it, not surprisingly, didn’t have the nicest things to say about Hizzoner. The leaflet showed a pic of the mayor and the slogan “Delivering results.” Underneath were check marks for three items: A $1.7 billion 10 year capital plan, New playgrounds and major park improvements, Investing in roads, bike lanes and local trails. A bottom slogan read “Building Our Community Up.” T. J. Bondy started the petition for what he states is "inappropriately using taxpayer funds" to campaign for election. The petition demands $25,000 be repaid by the mayor. That’s based on Canada Post costs for a mass mailing and presumed graphic design but would adjust if the true cost is known. (The mayor said he doesn’t know the cost and is unapologetic.) Many if not most of those who signed (some 477 as of today) added remarks suggesting or stating the insert was an attempt at blatant electioneering for this fall’s municipal vote. Dilkens is in his second term and hasn’t announced if he will seek a third. Here are some comments: 1) “I remain unsettled but unsurprised by the Mayor’s continued disregard for ethics.” 2) “Do the right thing and quit using tax dollars for your political campaign.” 3) “Don’t want my taxes paying for the Mayor’s Campaign.4) “Dirty politics should not be free. My tax bill is not your campaign apple box.” 5) “Blatant self-promotion/electioneering.” 6) “I am tired of seeing Drew Dilken’s face, photographed at a podium at some ‘press conference’ almost daily, claiming the limelight for anyone’s accomplishment.” 7) “His entire tenure has been a personal marketing campaign.” 8) “As if Windsor taxpayers haven’t suffered enough thru the last eight years of municipal govt waste…” 9) “The Mayor miss used (sic) taxpayers’ money for early campaigning before election rules take effect.” 10) “The mayor’s inclusion of the mailer showing himself at a lectern with the logo 'Delivering Results' is a blatant re-election attempt.” 11) “I absolutely object to tax dollars being used for the Mayor's self-promotion, both with this flier and with the well-staffed Mayor's Office publicity team.” 12) “I was immediately angered by the fact Mayor Dilkens used official city business to advertise for himself.” 13) “This was definitely an election ploy and a waste of taxpayer money.” 14) “The arrogance of this empty suit knows no bounds. He needs to be held to account. 15) “Mr. Dilkens thinks he owns the city and its citizens' money and can do with it as he sees fit.”
City accused of environmental hypocrisy doling out parking passes
WindsorOntarioNews.com June 28 2022
The City of Windsor is being called out for hypocrisy for issuing hundreds of free parking passes after taking strong action against climate change. Public advocacy group SecondStreet.org found that Windsor doled out 327 passes including 20 for city council. In November 2019 council unanimously passed a motion declaring a “climate emergency.” Mayor Drew Dilkens said the vote showed the city’s seriousness about helping tackle the climate issue. “This motion to me is symbolic ….this just will cement in the minds of folks that we're committed to it." In doing so Windsor joined more than 400 communities across the country in taking such a stand. Yet, says SecondStreet president Colin Craig, giving out parking passes flies in the face of advocating alternatives to emission-spewing vehicles like cycling or taking the bus. “We don’t begrudge elected officials for receiving a free parking spot, but if they’re going to declare a climate emergency and pressure the public to use transit, then giving up their free parking pass is a logical policy option to consider,” Craig said in a release. The organization says it’s one thing to drive a car it’s another to enable their use, as the city is doing. “Obviously politicians sometimes have to drive around for their jobs, but so too do real estate agents, delivery drivers, handymen and all kinds of other professions. What councillors could do instead is expense individual parking expenses like everyone else.” The city’s 2019 motion even called for the “phasing out” of natural gas usage, considered one of the cleanest fossil fuels and the mainstay of heating residential homes. Altogether SecondStreet found cities it surveyed, including major ones across Canada, gave out more than 5400 parking passes. Windsor compared badly to a couple of southern Ontario cities with similar or greater populations. Kitchener, with 257,000 people, gave out just 15 passes and Mississauga with a population of 718,000, doled out 201.
Hospital comments teapot tempest
WindsorOntarioNews.com June 2 2022
What was the s-storm over Windsor West Liberal candidate Linda McCurdy’s hospital comments this week all about? On Tuesday McCurdy responded to a reporter’s question by saying she supports the new regional hospital on the city’s outskirts, even though she’s a downtown candidate. But she wanted an “acute care” facility at Hotel-Dieu Grace Ouellette Ave. site. “Closing all of the hospitals and having one acute-care centre at County Road 42 (the new hospital) creates a serious divide between services and accessibility that needs to be addressed by having 24-hour emergency care in the core, accessible to everyone in Windsor West,” she was quoted in the Star. The newspaper reported that under the mega hospital plan no such emergency care would be located downtown. Then all hell broke loose. The Star today included a correction that it should have said McCurdy “supports the location” of the new hospital but would still canvass for 24-hour emergency care downtown. And that the mega hospital plan also includes a satellite emergency at Hotel-Dieu. But McCurdy never said she was against the new hospital site. What she got wrong was thinking there would be no emergency clinic downtown or at least that it wouldn't operate 24/7. Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) was correct in issuing a statement confirming – “clarifying” as the Star put it – such a facility would be built though the hours have yet to be determined; they’re apparently set by the province. But the mayor’s office also jumped in. “After multiple appeals and a tribunal, the matter has been litigated twice and has been decided,” Mayor Drew Dilkens said. “The fact of the matter is the location has been decided.” But the location was never an issue.
Confederacy of FBI dunces masterminded failed Michigan governor kidnap plot
WindsorOntarioNews.com May 4 2022
How did the recent high profile criminal case against plotters allegedly planning to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer fall apart? According to James Bovard in the New York Post, FBI informants infiltrated the Wolverine Watchmen, a vociferous anti-Whitmer social media group who decried the governor for massive lockdowns during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the informants was Stephen Robeson, who had “a list of felonies and other crimes.” He “organized key events to build the movement.” Don Chapel, another informer, was paid $54,000, and became second in command. He “masterminded the military training for the group, even as he helped the feds wiretap their messages.” Bovard wrote that ironically several militia members had “explicitly opposed kidnapping the governor.” That didn’t stop Robeson and Chapel who “helped hatch a ludicrous plot to snatch Whitmer from her vacation home and take her away for trial.” The FBI operatives then took members of the Watchmen “who prattled idiotically about stealing a Blackhawk helicopter, for drives near Whitmer’s vacation home, which supposedly proved they were going to nab the governor and unleash havoc.” But, says the writer, “it was all a set up.” Texted an FBI agent to Chapel: “Mission is to kill the governor specifically.” Says Bovard, there were “as many FBI informants and undercover agents as there were purported plotters in this case.” The scheme began unravelling even before the kidnapping trial began. Robert Trask, the lead FBI agent and “the public face” of the kidnapping case, was fired after he was arrested for “beating his wife during an argument over an orgy that the two had attended at a hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich.,” The New York Times reported. Two other key FBI agents were sidelined from the case for misconduct (including creating a side hustle with his own cybersecurity firm).” All of which begs the question: isn’t what the FBI did the most blatant form of entrapment? Writes Bovard, a 1973 Supreme Court ruling “gutted most defenses against government entrapment by focusing almost solely on the ‘subjective disposition’ of the entrapped person.” In other words, if prosecutors “find any inkling of a defendant’s disposition to the crime, then the person is guilty, no matter how outrageous or abusive the government agents’ behavior.”
Your pick-up truck could soon be whacked with additional green tax
WindsorOntarioNews.com April 22 2022
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is warning the Trudeau government wants to levy an additional “green” tax on average pick-up trucks. The four top-selling vehicles in Canada in first quarter 2022 were pick-ups, led by Ford F-Series, Ram P/U, GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado. The feds’ tax would add $1000 on a Ford F-150 and as much as $4000 on a Ram 3500 heavy-duty. The CTF says the recommendation to “whack trucks” is contained deep in a new 271-page environment ministry report, 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, posted on the federal website March 31. The report recommends broadening an existing “Green Levy (Excise Tax) for Fuel Inefficient Vehicles to include additional ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] vehicle types, such as pickup trucks.” The current tax affects larger SUVs that use more than 13 litres of fuel per 100 kms. such as the GMC Yukon Denali and Lincoln Navigator. CTF author Kris Sims says, “For many Canadians, trucks are as important to their work and daily life as a laptop and Zoom account is for those of us in offices.” She asks should the government invoke the tax “what’s stopping” it from eventually taxing smaller SUVs like the popular Chevy Blazers and Ford Explorers. The report suggests as much: “A sliding scale for the implementation of this Green Levy should be developed based on the emissions produced from different vehicles.” Federal environment minister Steven Guilbeault vociferously denied the government is bringing in the tax. On Twitter he called the article and subsequent political criticism “disinformation” and “fear mongering” saying this was only a recommendation from an independent advisory body “in the annex of a report.” The CTF’s Sims called Guilbeault's response “weird” since it is “right in their report.” She adds this proves Ottawa is "darn well thinking” about the tax and a watchdog agency like hers should alert the public before it becomes law.
Huron Church - a crisis in policing
WindsorOntarioNews.com February 17 2022
There were a number of very puzzling aspects of the police response to the tracker blockade in Windsor. The blockade was allowed to persist almost seven full days. Why? Huron Church Road is the most significant trade connection in Canada and there was no reason police should have allowed it to be blocked as long as they did. It makes a mockery of policing, as the truck protests have done elsewhere in Canada. But this is not new. The police for some time have been loath to arrest protesters and break up blockades by Indigenous people and supporters - witness pipeline and railway blockades two years ago, and Caledonia, which went on for years. This is not a crisis of politics or leadership, it’s a crisis of policing. There must be an investigation as to why the police act or do not act.
Second, in the standoff along Huron Church Road, why were some police armed with machine guns? Why were there two armoured carriers? The protesters, while disruptive, were highly peaceful and friendly. If this was meant to intimidate it didn't work.
Third, police tactics over last Saturday and Sunday after a court injunction Friday. It was puzzling indeed to watch a kind of Mexican standoff between police and demonstrators Saturday morning into afternoon. The police would advance several meters and then stop. This effectively pushed back the protesters. They did this several times. The police were making inroads and had matters well enough in hand. Then they abruptly stopped. Until Sunday morning when they started to mean business and arrests ultimately ensued. Why did the police halt Saturday? What happened between Saturday and Sunday to get police to finally act Sunday when they didn’t Saturday? Were there high level calls from the province or federal government to force them to decisively act?
In the aftermath of the week-long protest and removal of demonstrators and vehicles - and Huron Church open to trucks again - Huron Church Road has become effectively militarized. Street access has been blocked from the bridge up to E.C. Row Expressway, dealing a major blow to west end residents and numerous businesses in several shopping plazas north of EC Row. Never before has this happened, not even in the aftermath of 9/11 when the border was temporarily closed and trucks backed up for kilometres along Huron Church and Hwy. 401. The only noticeable difference that time was police monitoring of the Ambassador Bridge. Windsor Police have explained streets need to be blocked to prevent possible access by more protesters. But protesters can access Huron Church, and even the 401, at any point.
Windsor has never seen anything like this.
City and residents have different views on Matchette Road's future
WindsorOntarioNews.com February 4 2022
The City of Windsor wants to “calm” traffic on busy Matchette Road and this week held a public information session to gather comments on the proposal. But the handful of people who were on the Zoom meeting or wrote-in weren’t particularly in favor of the direction the city is heading. They wanted more protection for wildlife than humans, particularly given the low human accident count. City traffic engineer Jeff Hagan said just under 9000 vehicles a day (6000 is optimum) use the “collector” commuting route through west Windsor to LaSalle, bisecting two natural areas containing species at risk. He said there’s a “high degree of speeding” with 85 per cent of traffic going 69 km/hr. in a 50 km/hr. zone. Over the past five years there have been six non-lethal accidents, mostly “angled” collisions at Matchette and Sprucewood. Hagan proposed peripheral transverse bars (photo) and radar speed signs. The bars are painted. “It’s an optical effect that has a psychological effect on drivers,” he said. “It gives them a heightened sense of speed.” The bars have reduced speed as much as 50 percent for those doing 25 km/hr. over limit. Some questioners wanted to know why more barriers, like speed bumps, aren’t suggested. Hagan said this is a “rural cross section” road, a collector and transit route, with a relatively high posted speed and gravel shoulders. That could cause accidents by “launching” vehicles hitting the bumps. But most of those raising questions were upset that wildlife issues weren’t being looked at. One called the proposals “comical and disappointing” given the relatively few human accidents and larger number of wildlife or endangered species killed crossing the roadway. Hagan said a “parallel study” is examining eco crossings. Another person wanted to know why the city doesn’t close the road. Hagan said city council rejected that idea a couple of years ago. A former city planner suggested the city could make the route “less attractive” and divert vehicles to nearby Ojibway Pkwy. Hagan said Ojibway already has a high volume. Written submissions will be taken until March 1, followed by a vote through 311 on an updated proposal by area residents before a plan is finalized.
Local health leadership top salaries
WindsorOntarioNews.com January 12 2022
During the ongoing pandemic politicians have deferred almost exclusively to the decisions of the public health sector. For information purposes, here is a list of salaries and taxable benefits paid to the leadership teams of the five public organizations which oversee health care in Windsor-Essex. This is based on the 2020 Ontario government’s public sector salary disclosure information (aka the “Sunshine List”) for those earning $100,000, as required under the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act.
WINDSOR REGIONAL HOSPITAL
DAVID MUSYJ - President & Chief Executive Officer: $447,732.83, $14,547.92
KAREN RIDDELL - Chief Operating Officer, Chief Nursing Executive, Vice President Critical Care & Cardiology": $228,802.50
DR. WASSIM SAAD - Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief of Staff: $314,153.33 $2,541.72
MARK FATHERS - Vice President, Corporate Services and CFO: $240,834.18
MARK FERRARI - Executive Director of the Windsor Family Health Team: $164,642.46 $1,374.68
JONATHAN FOSTER - Vice President of Emergency Services and Mental Health: $220,982.17 $1,813.84
THERESA MORRIS - Vice President of Medicine and Corporate Patient Flow: $220,982.16 $1,813.84
ROSEMARY PETRAKOS - Vice President, Peri-Operative, Surgery, Women's and Children's: $221,353.78 $1,656.25
HOTEL-DIEU GRACE HEALTHCARE
Bill (Biagio) Marra - President and CEO: $175,544.72 $1,389.54
Janice Kaffer, Advisor to the CEO and Board: $313,025.35 $11,451.00
Sherri Laframboise, Chief Financial Officer: $132,596.90 $1,199.33
Dr. Andrea Steen, Vice President Medical Affairs, Quality & Performance, Chief of Staff: (not listed)
Sonja Grbevski, Vice President Clinical Services - Mental Health and Addictions, Executive Lead - Addictions & Collaborative Programs (CMHA): $180,985.19 $1,432.05
Janice Dawson, Vice President Clinical Services - Restorative Care & Chief Nursing Executive: $275,706.21 $931.91
Claudia den Boer, Executive Lead for Community Mental Health: (not listed)
Terra Cadeau, Executive Lead for Lead Agency Child & Youth Mental Health, Strategy and Partnerships: $151,384.03 $1,381.47
WINDSOR-ESSEX COUNTY HEALTH UNIT
Nicole Dupuis, Chief Executive Officer: $161,953.77 $1,014.40
Theresa Marentette (former CEO): $238,596.88 $1,319.54
Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Acting Medical Officer of Health: (not listed)
Wajid Ahmed (former Med Officer of Health): $351,767.63 $1,839.64
Lee Anne Damphouse, Executive Assistant to the CEO, MOH, and the Board of Health: (not listed)
Kristy McBeth, Director of Health Protection: $169,479.18 $1,066.27
Dan Sibley, Director of Human Resources: $160,696.73 $990.75
Elspeth Troy, Executive Assistant to the Director of Health Protection and Director of Human Resources: (not listed)
Lorie Gregg, Director of Corporate Services: $165,747.30 $1,036.63
Janette Forsyth, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Corporate Services: (not listed)
Felicia Lawal, Chief Nursing Officer and Director, Health Protection: $126,178.31 $674.37
Eric Nadalin, Director of Health Promotion: $127,676.53 $650.85
Emily Briscoe, Executive Assistant to Director of Health Protection and Director of Health Promotion: (not listed)
ONTARIO HEALTH WEST (FORMERLY ERIE ST. CLAIR LOCAL HEALTH INTEGRATION NETWORK)
DONNA CRIPPS, Interim CEO, Home and Community Care Support Services: (a Donna Cripps is listed under Crown Agencies, which include LHINs) $300,051.32 $1,897.44
CATHY KELLY, VP, Home and Community Care: (not listed)
ERIE SHORES HEALTHCARE
Kristin Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer:$163,078.62 $865.59
Dr. Ross Moncur, Chief of Professional Staff: $213,998.46 $814.28
Nolan Goyette, VP, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer: $116,825.79 $442.47
Heather Badder, VP, Patient Services: $116,907.53 $649.85
Misty Fortier, Director, Interprofessional Practice and Chief Nursing Executive: (not listed)
Salvation Army won’t comment on controversial anti-racism resource
WindsorOntarioNews.com December 17 2021
Next week is Salvation Army Week and the City of Windsor will raise the Salvation Army flag at city hall. But the Salvation Army in Canada did not respond to requests for comment as to whether it endorses a controversial online anti-racism resource its US counterpart published and withdrew last month due to overwhelming controversy. The charitable group published Let’s Talk About…Racism and reportedly called on white supporters to apologize to black people for racism. According to The Daily Wire, the guide called on Salvationists to “achieve the following” including to “lament, repent and apologize for biases or racist ideologies held and actions committed.” (WON.com could not find an unlocked version of the resource online but did find the accompanying study guide). According to the Wire, “The resource claims Christianity is inherently racist and calls for white Christians to repent and offer ‘a sincere apology’ to blacks for being ‘antagonistic … to black people or the culture, values and interests of the black community.’” As well, the resource says, “Many have come to believe that we live in a post-racial society, but racism is very real for our brothers and sisters who are refused jobs and housing, denied basic rights and brutalized and oppressed simply because of the color of their skin.” And, “There is an urgent need for Christians to evaluate racist attitudes and practices in light of our faith, and to live faithfully in today’s world.” Further, “as we engage in conversations about race and racism, we must keep in mind that sincere repentance and apologies are necessary if we want to move towards racial reconciliation. We recognize that it is a profound challenge to sit on the hot seat and listen with an open heart to the hurt and anger of the wounded. Yet, we are all hardwired to desire justice and fairness, so the need to receive a sincere apology is necessary.” After the uproar, the Army published a lengthy response, including, “although we remain committed to serving everyone in need—regardless of their beliefs, backgrounds, or lifestyle—some individuals and groups have recently attempted to mislabel our organization to serve their own agendas. They have claimed that we believe our donors should apologize for their skin color, that The Salvation Army believes America is an inherently racist society, and that we have abandoned our Christian faith for one ideology or another. Those claims are simply false, and they distort the very goal of our work.”