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. 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 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

Petitioners denounce mayor's tax bill insert as unpaid electioneering 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.


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 $1,809.74

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 $0.00

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


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


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)


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)


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 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.” ( 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.”

It's true: scantily-clad bar-hopping women feel little chill in winter Nov. 9 2021

Once upon a time, when Windsor was a magnet for young Americans who flocked to our bars because Ontario’s drinking age was lower than Michigan’s, we remember how, especially women, would hop from club to club in skimpy clothes – and in the middle of winter! Now there’s research to prove that those bar patrons weren’t so foolish after all. In fact the British Journal of Social Psychology gives reasons as to why scantily clad women are less prone to getting chilled than their more covered counterparts. The study’s title says it all: When Looking ‘Hot’ Means Not Feeling Cold: Evidence That Self-Objectification Inhibits Feelings of Being Cold. Co-author Roxanne Felig said the research was partially inspired by singer Cardi B’s lyric, “it’s cold outside but I’m still looking like a thottie — because a hoe never gets cold.” Felig suggested Cardi was saying she’s “too focused on how she looked and what she was wearing to feel cold.” In fact, researchers found the rapper’s intuition correct. Their focus, after all, was on “self-objectivation.” So, as women stood outside clubs when temperatures dipped below the 40s researchers asked them how cold they felt. Clad only in crop tops and miniskirts, the bar-hoppers felt no colder than women wearing coats and pants. Felig told the New York Post: “Women who are highly focused on their appearance … have a diminished capacity to feel cold, regardless of how much of their body is exposed to the cold weather.” In other words, “when women are highly focused on how they appear externally — it reduces the amount of cognitive resources they have available to appraise their internal states.” Oh, one other thing. Felig didn’t like Cardi describing women as “hoes” and that a women’s clothing choices aren’t necessarily connected to her sexual proclivities.


Cabinet's very ironic appointment October 12 2021

Is there any appointee more ironic than the Ontario government minister who most symbolized the rule-for-thee-but-not-for-me approach to governing during the Covid-19 pandemic than Rod Phillips? After a several months slap on the wrist by Premier Doug Ford, Phillips in June was appointed Minister of Long Term Care, the sector most devastated by the same pandemic? Phillips, who otherwise was a credible government minister and finance minister at the time, made the wrong – and very hypocritical – decision to fly off to St. Barts, playground of the rich and famous, just after Christmas last year. That’s when his government repeatedly told citizens to definitely not travel because of health concerns. To add insult to injury Phillips used a fake backdrop to pretend he was still in snowy Canada and not in the sunny south. Phillips resigned and was in the proverbial doghouse until June. Then, when Ford announced a cabinet shuffle, the delinquent Phillips had been forgiven and was once again reinstalled around the cabinet table. But, very ironically, he was put in charge of nursing homes, which saw the most people die during Covid-19, arguably in part because of the current government’s lack of action to protect them, as a provincial report last spring disclosed. To Phillips’s credit he launched his portfolio by apologizing for the almost 4,000 LTC deaths and that his and processor governments had “failed” residents. “I think that's a necessary step so that we can take the action we need to do now to move forward,” he said. Perhaps Phillips was redeemed by his public embarrassment and six-month expulsion from cabinet. But at least his stance was a far sight better than the previous minister in that position, Merillee Fullerton, who took no responsibility for the LTC misery. “We didn’t start the fire,” were perhaps her most (in)famous words, defiant despite torrents of criticism directed her way.

Photo: Legislative Assembly of Ontario

Permit parking fees may see rise Sept. 23 2021

The City of Windsor may be increasing residential permit parking fees. The city’s transportation committee this week discussed a fee hike from $55 to $70 for two permits. Currently the first permit costs $35 and the second $20 with a maximum of two permits per household. The least expensive option to increase the fee was recommended. The highest would have seen the price rise from $35 to $52.50 for a total of $87.50 annually. By selecting the least expensive option the city would obtain an additional $915 per year based on current permit requests. Windsor’s fees are small compared to other cities. Burlington charges $30 per month or $350 per year, has a restriction of one permit and parking is not to exceed 48 hours in the same spot. Ottawa charges $130 per year per permit. Implemented in the early 1990s the city has 12 designated area for permit parking. But, says a report by parking enforcement supervisor Bill Kralovensky, “issues have arisen” such as availability of street parking, permit misuse and permit eligibility. “Policies and procedures have been amended from time to time, to mitigate these issues within the guidelines of the residential permit parking programs,” he says. The largest neighbourhood designated for permit parking is around the University of Windsor. “Many of the properties in this area have no onsite parking in either the frontage or the rear of the addresses,” the report says. Also, many of the residents are students who have financial constraints “and a drastic and sudden increase may be of a financial hardship to them.” Fees are used for maintenance and administrative costs, like issuing permits and installing signs.

Photo: Google Street View

Unvaxxed staff firings wouldn’t have “significant” impact on patient care Sept. 9 2021

A spokesman for Windsor Regional Hospital says the hospital is confident that any employees terminated for not being vaccinated would “not be significant” and therefore firings would not negatively impact hospital patient care. Steve Erwin said WRH has also conducted a “risk assessment” to “minimize any possible impact” of terminations on patients. Erwin told earlier this week that “close to 100 per cent” of staff “will be vaccinated by the time of the effective date of the policy.” Last week there were reportedly some 300 staff still not vaccinated. Meanwhile, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare spokesman Bill Marra said the hospital is still “firming up details regarding timelines for the vaccination requirements along with contingency plans associated with the potential loss of employees.” He said there has in fact “been an uptake” in vaccine requests over the past couple of weeks. As for any termination of staff having a negative impact on patient care and treatment – and the well-reported shortage of health care workers in the province to replace them - Marra said the hospital will be “in a better position to provide details regarding the number of employees impacted by our policy requirement and our contingency plans to address any loss of employees over the next couple of weeks.” This week “just over 90 per cent” of staff have been vaccinated, he said. Last week 86 per cent had been vaxxed leaving 150 employees who had still not been vaccinated or had not disclosed their vaccine status. The hospitals still haven’t set individual termination dates for employees who refuse to get vaccinated, subject to medical exemptions and human rights law. But five southwestern Ontario hospitals Sept. 3 issued a joint letter mandating that unvaxxed employees would be terminated by a certain date set by each hospital. All employees, credentialled staff and volunteers not vaccinated will either go on “unpaid leave and/or termination for cause.” .....[UPDATE: Sept. 10: WRH hospital has now set Sept. 22 as the deadline for workers to get their first shots, Oct. 7 for the second.]

Closed streets have repercussions August 22 2021

If it can’t happen in a small community like Amherstburg is there hope for more pedestrian friendly urban streets in larger cities? Case in point: the burg’s experiment called Open Air Weekends, instituted last summer and again this year. Like many other towns and cities the idea was to allow the public to dine out in a safer atmosphere instead of inside restaurants due to Covid-19. In the burg, which has a very compact old downtown, four blocks were blocked off on Dalhousie, Richmond and Murray streets. Motor vehicles were not allowed into these areas but parked on the perimeter. The closures are Friday and Saturday mid-afternoons to late evenings. The atmosphere for many was tantalizing, providing a whole new experience for diners, Covid or no Covid. It might have been an argument for permanent street closures, especially as the streets were adjacent to the town’s picturesque river and Navy Yard Park. But a group of merchants saw otherwise. In an open letter they criticized the concept as hurting their businesses. “The idea is great, streets can be alive with people and boundless entertainment,” wrote Jen Deluca of Waterfront Ice Cream on behalf of the merchants. “But the reality is in downtown Amherstburg the logistics and mix of businesses can at times make this idea very difficult for us. For some businesses, they need more outdoor space, for others they need vehicular access to their shops.” The problem was lack of vehicular access. “For some businesses, they need more outdoor space, for others they need vehicular to their shops,” said Deluca. “You cannot achieve both in the current format of Open Air.” And the fact blocks are closed “forces patrons of many of our businesses to park unnecessarily far away in order to reach their desired shop.” Deluca also noted the seeming declining popularity of Open Air perhaps in part because indoor dining has reopened. In any case, the fact some businesses say they have suffered because of the closed streets may be a lesson to other municipalities, urban planners and so-called “urbanites,” who want downtowns to be more people places. Deluca’s argument suggests people won’t come if streets, ironically, are chocked off to cars.

Gallows humour "most egregious" of Bondy's harrassment - report July 23 2021

Essex town councillor Sherry Bondy posted a controversial “gallows” cartoon on Twitter March 30, which has since been deleted. But it was attached to town Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze’s report to council this month. The cartoon shows a hooded figure carrying a lightbulb to the gallows. Standing around are a mass of people with heads as candles. Tweets Bondy, “I am not sure who the original artist is of this illustration but it’s very impactful.” Swayze cited the cartoon as being the “most egregious” example of her breaking the town’s Code of Conduct by harassing ELK Energy – the town’s electrical power supplier – and municipal staff. As such he recommended she be docked 30 days pay and council agreed. She was also warned that if the harassment continues, she could receive a 90-day penalty. Swayze was investigating a complaint, launched by Mayor Larry Snively, that Bondy, who represents the Harrow area, “publicly and continuously” harassed staff “by posting negative comments about them on social media and recording a video in front of the company’s premises.” In public statements Bondy denied the cartoon was meant to harass staff and said it depicted her as victim. She also called her criticism of staff legitimate because of problems plaguing the town's power supply. Said Swayze, “she attempted to assert that the drawing was not intended to portray an ELK staff member which I found to be absurd, given her long history of criticizing ELK staff.” Swayze said Bondy had a “long history of aggressively criticizing the staff” back to when she was an ELK board member before 2019. She was advised by letter in November that year that she was in “breach of her legal duties and obligations.” In response, she resigned “and continued publicly harassing staff.” Other than the cartoon, the exact nature of the harassment, such as the language Bondy used, isn’t mentioned in the report. Swayze said her treatment of staff affected their “morale.” Also, “There appears to have been a reduction in the response to recruitment advertising as a result.” And public complaints to ELK have “substantially” increased since she “started stirring up the community.” Swayze affirmed Bondy’s right to criticize staff but in private such as at closed council meetings. Indeed, the Code specifically states council members treat staff “appropriately and without abuse, bullying or intimidation, and to ensure that the work environment is free from discrimination and harassment.” Swayze concluded Bondy’s behaviour was political. “I suspect that she believes her public diatribes against staff will get her votes.”

City Hall's financial strengths are also its weaknesses - analysis July 8 2021

Jason Reynar, the City of Windsor’s new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), (photo) has told City Council that some of the city’s longstanding financial plusses are also its weaknesses. For example, a “disciplined financial culture, including strong internal controls, cost containment and budget monitoring” and the “pay as you go” financing model – which the city has used to build major facilities like the WFCU Centre – “helped create healthy base budget funding.” But Reynar noted that a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis found the “relentless focus on limiting spending” such as zero property tax increases, has caused “erosion of property tax base, as well as a somewhat monocular vision that may inadvertently or inappropriately disregard other relevant strategic factors in decision-making.” He suggests a “triple bottom line” approach including economic, environmental and social factors “to ensure that one lens does not dominate.” The report also noted that the city’s debt avoidance strategy along with “pay as you go” may “limit future consideration of creative financing options.” And the “heavy take-up” on the city’s much-lauded Community Improvement Plan (CIP) tax incentives for new developments, such as reinvestments in dormant office towers and depressed neighbourhoods, “erodes future general property tax revenue.” However, besides looking for more investment opportunities and better internal “performance metrics” one new source of revenue could be “modest, planned tax levy increases to allow for re-investment in services, programs and infrastructure.” Finally, it notes that future threats to city finances could be the impact of various lawsuits against the city. And that “insurance costs are increasing exponentially.”

Photo: City of Windsor

100 years later, iconic General Amherst HS name may be no more June 24 2021

Amherstburg’s new high school is expected to open in fall 2022, exactly 100 years from when the town’s original high school, General Amherst, opened its doors in 1922. But the iconic name General Amherst may be no more once the school opens as not just General Amherst but the town’s other school, Western Secondary - located 15 km north of urban Amherstburg - consolidate into the new $24.3 million building in the urban town’s Centennial Park. Since February the Greater Essex County District School Board has held an online survey asking the public to choose a name for the school. The reason for seeking an entirely new name is simply because “it is not only a new building, but an entirely new school community” that will take up premises at the school, Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) spokesman Scott Scantlebury said. A school naming committee will make the final decision. Actually, the criteria for the naming process is elaborate and many layered. There are 15 committee members representing both schools. The process includes forums, focus groups, social media, a public meeting and two committee public meetings. At the first meeting the committee will choose between two and 10 names and those that “meet the threshold of the board naming criteria” will go to a community survey along with schools’ staff and student feedback. The second meeting will shortlist at least two names, presented at a general public board meeting, where the final decision will be made. Naming criteria includes geography, culture, traditions, “local historical events or persons of local importance” and “representations of diversity.” General Amherst, like the town, is named after General Jeffery Amherst, commander of the British forces during the Seven Years War and first Governor General of the territories that became Canada. Other schools have been renamed over the decades. These include Amherstburg Public School originally Richmond St. School and Essex Public School replacing Maplewood and Sun Parlor Jr. schools. There have been name changes such as Centennial Secondary School becoming Holy Names after the school was transferred to the Catholic board. In terms of renaming combined schools, Scantlebury gave examples of Westview Freedom Academy (Century SS amalgamated with Forster SS when Forster was closed), Dr. David Suzuki PS (combination of Princess Anne and Concord in a new building) and West Gate PS (amalgamation of Dr. Taylor and Benson public schools).

Photo: Wikipedia

City hotline nabs Ont Works abuser and gets property mess complaints June 8 2021

A person illegally collecting Ontario Works was disqualified and the case sent to Windsor police after an anonymous complaint was sent to the city’s Concerned Citizen/Concerned Employee Hotline, which accepts tips related to frauds, waste, and/or abuse of city assets. There were 20 complaints in the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 sent to the hotline, managed by PriceWaterhouse Coopers. All were resolved. Three of the complaints concerned Covid. One was a concern of working too closely to another person indoors without proper ventilation. A second was a snitch on a gathering violating Covid restrictions “and the police department’s handling of the situation.” The third was generally related to Covid “guidelines and restrictions.” Other cases were complaints about private properties. One was that a person was making “changes to his house without a permit.” Another “related to a carport tent in a residential areas.” Another to “different items on one property (extension to the house, house being run down, unsafe conditions, garbage visible on the property).” Still another that an apartment building was “dilapidated and falling apart.” There were also neutral or positive inquiries. Someone wanted to “bring scenarios of American Civil War involving Windsor/Detroit refugees to the attention of the City of Windsor.” Another wanted to thank Mayor Drew Dilkens “for setting up an emergency shelter at the aquatic centre” (for homeless during Covid-19). Other complaints were related to more mundane matters like garbage pickup and trash along the EC Row Expressway. There were calls about matters over which the city had no control. To make a complaint call 519-254-9357 or email to Callers are protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well as the City's Concerned Employee Policy.

Calls for re-opening border coming overwhelmingly from US politicians May 21 2021

When it comes to re-opening the international border Canada and the United States seem very far apart. Over the past month there have been increasing calls for the international border, closed to non-essential traffic since March 2020 due to Covid restrictions, to re-open in some way. But the calls, at least from politicians, have almost entirely come from the US side. Brian Higgins, (photo) the Congressman representing Buffalo and Niagara Falls, has been leading the charge. As far back as last August he helmed a bipartisan letter signed by 29 members of Congress calling on the US and Canadian governments to begin to develop a framework for a phased reopening. He also called for wider exemptions for family members, businesspeople and residents to attend to personal property. Then last month, Higgins, who also co-chairs the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group of both countries, called for expansion of Amtrak rail service between Western New York state and Toronto. And this month he asked the US Homeland Security Secretary to “expand the definition of essential traveller to allow families to reunite.” Canada already allows such exemptions but Higgins wants the US to do the same. Also this month, given the CDC’s dropping of the mask mandate, Higgins believes he has more ammunition for a safer border reopening. He called on President Joe Biden to “directly engage” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to widen the definition of essential travellers by the end of May and fully reopen by early July. He said the CDC decision “underscores the minimal risk Americans will pose to Canadians when crossing the border to visit family and property." Not just Higgins but US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, also a Democrat, called for re-opening the border. “It is time to take the first steps towards reopening the northern border to non-essential travel," Schumer said, calling for a "staged and steady" plan that would be "based on science, data and common sense." From the Canadian side there has been little if any pick-up at least publicly. Trudeau and the US this week extended the non-essential border travel closure again until June 21. What Trudeau has said is that 75 per cent of Canadians need to at least get their first vaccine dose before the border can re-open. And Ontario Premier Doug Ford as recently as yesterday again called for tighter border controls. But a wrinkle. US Homeland Security yesterday tweeted: “We're working closely with Canada & Mexico to safely ease restrictions as conditions improve.”

City owed more than $46 mil in fines May 11 2021

The City of Windsor is owed more than $46 million in fines dating back more than a decade. That amounts to almost 72,000 separate violations. But, a city report says, this “is not just a Windsor issue, it’s a province wide concern.” In many cases these are from businesses no longer operating, individuals who can no longer be traced or are deceased, and out of country residents. The report says that for older fines “all reasonable measures” have been made to collect them. Next year the city will look to adopt a “write off policy” for the outstanding amounts. But, says the report, this would be done for “accounting purposes only.” It does “not absolve” the offender from paying the fines. Debts to the Crown are “owed in perpetuity and are never forgiven.” The fines are for minor provincial offences which the city has administered for the past 20 years. Altogether the city took in more than $47 million. Last year the city took in $244,155 distributed almost equally between the city and county based on assessment. The amount was a “significant decrease” – 9.7 per cent less – compared to 2019. There were just over 24,000 charges or about 2000 tickets issued monthly. For non-payment the city exerts “considerable efforts” through execution of writs, municipal tax roll, garnishment of wages, third party collections and through Service Ontario such as driver’s licence renewal. Municipalities were compensated by the province for lost revenue from fines last year from Covid relief funding. Provincial offences include those under the Highway Traffic Act, the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, the Liquor License Act and the Trespass to Property Act.

Photo: Wikimedia -Yoichi R. Okamoto

Regulating pot odours tricky April 27 2021

Want to regulate cannabis odours? Maybe wait for a court decision first. That was the answer the city’s legal department gave to a question by Ward 8 councillor Gary Kaschak. He cites a “burgeoning community problem” with “substantial odours” permeating neighbourhoods because some residents grow their own pot, as federally regulated for medical and personal amounts. Those with medical licences can grow “hundreds of plants…leading to significant odour issues.” But an odour bylaw “presents certain challenges.” Such law could be violating federal legislation. Four other Ontario municipalities have such laws. One, Leamington’s, which applies to larger grow facilities and not a lone person, is being challenged in court. Kingsville’s bylaw covers all growers but has only had complaints about industrial ones. Pelham has an “odour unit” trained to use a “Nasal Rangers” that cost $5000 each but it targets industrial growers only. Hamilton’s bylaw, though “very broad,” is targeted at large producers. In Windsor, there have been 10 complaints about odour and all “relate to the same property.” That location has Health Canada approval. Health Canada has indicated a “need for retooling” regulations given 43,000 people have licences which can average as many as 200 indoor and outdoor plants. Says the city’s lawyer, “Striking the correct balance will be difficult and the ability to enforce such a by-law against residential growers is questionable.” It recommends waiting Health Canada's public consultation or for the court’s decision, to be heard this fall, of Leamington’s by-law, and "any guidance" that comes from it.

Photo: By A7nubis - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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United Nations hooks up with Windsor - Detroit border region

A joint research and studies program between the University of Windsor and Detroit’s Wayne State University will be affiliated with the United Nations. The idea is to have students and experts “create solutions to sustainability” for the border region. It will “identify actions” in areas of “climate change, economic and health disparities, and social inequity to create a more sustainable future for the two communities that share an international border.” Other local organizations have jumped on board including school boards, chambers of commerce, economic development agencies, the United Way and foundations. The idea is to also cultural exchanges on both sides of the border. – 8/18/22

GHIB soon to start looking more and more, well, like a bridge

The Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB) is starting to look more like a bridge, if by that you mean the roadway itself connecting the two towers located on either side of the Detroit River. This summer crews began installing corbels which will hold in place the bridge deck or roadway. The “table” (photo) connecting the access ramps, also under construction, will support the deck. Meanwhile, the lower part of the towers reached their full height (460 ft.) in the spring and now the upper "pylons" (262 ft.) will be constructed with work to finish by the end of the year. Then the public will see the full “modern and elegant” A-shaped towers which have long been shown in architectural drawings, says the bridge authority. – 8/3/22

Photo: Gordie Howe Intl Bridge

Good reasons for city's low investment returns - report

City councillor and mayoral candidate Chris Holt has knocked the city’s investment policy for drawing paltry results, “dollars that could go directly to fund amenities for residents.” He says the city could have invested in ONE Investment, a non-profit Ontario municipal-related corporation and earned “$5 to $9-million each year.” A report to city council says the city’s return on investment in 2021 indeed was only 1.24 per cent. But this reflected the city’s low reserve balances compared to other municipalities. As well, Windsor’s pay-as-you-go strategy “limits the use of debt to finance capital projects; therefore, internal cash balances are used (largely reserves) for interim financing of projects.” This “saves significant interest charges on external debt that would otherwise be incurred.” Bottom line? There are "significant" net savings "as borrowing rates are generally much higher than investment yields.” – 7/2/22

Local pioneer in female political leadership dies

A pioneer in female political leadership in Essex County has died. Nancy Baumgartner, 72, died July 5 after a “fierce battle with pancreatic cancer,” her obituary said. Baumgartner, born and raised in Colchester, entered local politics in the 1980s. She served as reeve of Colchester South Township for two years, only the second woman to hold such a position in either a town or township in Essex County. Prior to that she was deputy reeve and served on many committees. She later became publisher of Harrow This Week. Visitation is at Gerald A. Smith Funeral Home, Harrow, July 10 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm. Donations to the Hospice of Windsor. – 7/7/22

Group sends 600,000 meals for Ukraine

Southwestern Ontario Gleaners have sent 20 pellets – 600,000 servings of dried soup mix to Ukraine and Poland to aid the humanitarian crisis there. The Leamington-based volunteer organization announced the plan two months ago. The group partnered with Loads of Love Humanitarian Aid and Mission Society of Chatham, Ont. Another shipment is planned for early July, seeing the total grow to over one million servings. – 6/24/22

Photo: SW Ont Gleaners

Charles Clark Square ice rink replacement could cost about $4 million

With perennial problems undermining the ice rink at Charles Clark Square city council is being asked to spend $300,000 on a study to develop an entirely new rink immediately north of city hall. The Square has required numerous repairs over its more than decade use. These have included problems with the chiller and perimeter pipe leaks. A report says continued operation is “a challenge due to a number of required repairs resulting from the original rink design.” The latest have been loss of 50 gallons of brine daily. Even concrete expansion joints physically impact piping. Excavation, costing $1 million, would solve problems but would not address “operational concerns." Instead, the city could design an entirely new rink between the Square and city hall. This could be “a year-round gathering space, potentially augmented with sails or canopies that would provide shade in the summer, and the opportunity to extend the operating season of the rink in the winter.” Cost would be about $4 million. – 6/7/22

Photo: Google Street View

Food for Ukraine luncheon

Southwestern Ontario Gleaners is hosting a community pasta lunch at Roma Club, Leamington May 24, 11:30-1:30 pm. All proceeds go toward processing and packaging dried soup mix for Ukraine. For tickets or for sponsorship/donations contact the office at 519-326-7687 or Advanced tickets: $10 ($12 at door). Sponsorships: $1000 (six comp tickets, etc.), $500 (four tickets), $250 (two tickets). Goal is $20,000 to send 250,000+ servings to Ukraine. - 5/5/22

Photo: SW Ont Gleaners

Chrysler parent CEO pay aggravates shareholders

Stellantis NV shareholders rejected the pay package for CEO Carlos Tavares. 52% of voting shareholders, including the French government, withheld support of the proposed $21.5 million including $18.9 million in direct compensation. The vote was advisory only and doesn’t affect compensation. But Tavares is the highest paid CEO in Europe, where Stellantis, parent of Chrysler, is based. French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the package was “not normal” according to Automotive News, and called for a more regulatory environment. Stellantis’ general counsel, said Tavares’ 2021 base salary was a 17.6% increase from 2020 given the larger size of the combined corporation. By comparison VW’s CEO in 2020 made $8.7 million. Ford and GM’s CEO’s over the last two years have made in excess of $22 million. – 4/20/22

Red light cameras ok here but not across the river

They might be a (new) thing in Windsor. But our neighbors on the other side of the river are having none of them. Red light cameras. The Michigan Senate has voted 28-10 to ban the use of the cameras. It “solidifies” a 2007 Mich. Attorney General opinion that barred cities from creating ordinances to charge motorists from the use of unmanned traffic monitoring devices. State Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) said it’s all based on the age old legal principle of being able to “confront your accuser ….. all of that isn’t happening with these cameras.” She said the cameras are also “causing accidents.” – 4/12/22

New bridge toll booths will be located - where?

And now for the answer virtually everyone was wondering about. When the new Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB) opens in 2024, where will the toll booths be located - on the Canadian or US side? Ta da! The answer is they will be on the Canadian side. “The primary difference (between the US and Canadian so-called Port of Entries) is that there will be no toll collection services on the US side,” says spokeswoman Heather Grondin. Perhaps that’s only fitting, since Canada is paying all the costs of bridge construction and not Canada and the United States together. - 17/2/22

Photo: Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority

Leamington trucker heading anti-vax protest

A Leamington trucker is leading what he expects will be hundreds of truckers and supporters on a multi day protest beginning Sunday at the Ambassador Bridge. Ben Peters, owner of ADT Transportation, says the protest will begin at the Petro Canada in Comber and head to Huron Church Rd. He said trucks will take up two lanes but not impede bridge traffic while “slow rolling.” He said the convoy will turn left on Wyandotte St. and then circle back along Huron Church. It’s part of nationwide protests by truckers, including in Sarnia, as the drivers protest mandatory cross border Covid-19 vaccinations. “Somebody has got to stand up to what our government is doing to us and there’s been a lot of little rallies here and there for nurses and different things like that and I just feel that it’s time that we've got to get together as a group of people, not just as truck drivers, and we've got to stand up to our government,” Peters said. The convoy plans to continue “the loop” until Thursday when truckers will head to Ottawa for a major rally. - 1/21/22

Some teachers still heading back to school

Schools may be closed until Jan. 17, according to Premier Doug Ford’s latest update on Covid-19 restrictions. But vehicles can still be seen parked around school facilities. Yes, some teachers are still going to their physical classes, even if virtual learning is still being carried out. “According to the provincial directive, teachers had to be given the option of teaching from the school if they didn't have the necessary resources to teach from home, so that's what we are offering to those teachers,” Stephen Fields, spokesman for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, said. – 1/4/22

AG: no comment on Covid measures when rest of province re-opening

On Oct. 9 the province lessened Covid restrictions the most widely since controls were imposed the past year. Theatres, concert halls and stadiums allowed to open at 100 per cent, albeit with screening and masking. Later last month restrictions on restaurants were also lifted. Yet the province implemented major changes to four Windsor courtrooms as if the pandemic was just beginning. Among changes – the accused to sit alone behind plexiglass in the area formerly reserved for juries and the 14 jurors sitting physically distanced in the main courtroom floor where public seating – now ripped out – was once located. The judge, court staff and defense and Crown lawyers, and witnesses, sit separately behind Plexiglass. Limited spectator seating is available in another courtroom where they watch proceedings on video. No spectators are allowed in the courtroom itself. contacted the Ministry of the Attorney General as to why measures are imposed now, contrary to the wide re-opening in the rest of the province. What is the cost of these changes and similar alterations across the province? What is the impact on the hallowed principle of access to justice? After email and phone inquiries, no response. - 11/10/21

Covid lockdowns hit transit advertising hard

Transit ads lost money during Covid. Transit Windsor saw a drop in $77,000 revenue from Streetscene Media, the company that places ads on buses and transit shelters. This was for four months earlier this year during provincial lockdowns. That’s because their clients, often small and medium businesses, “were forced to close or drastically reduce their activities, and either short-paid or stopped making payments,” a Transit Windsor report says. The city will recover the sum under the provincial and federal Safe Restart Program. In turn, Streetscene Media has pledged to increase yearly revenue from 2022-2024 beginning with $245,000 next year. – 10/5/21

Not all of city walkways get cleared of snow

The city has 80 or 5.4 km of “pedestrian walkways” that run between streets, lead to schools or parks. Some of these don’t get winter maintenance leading to possible city liability, according to councillor Gary Kaschak, who said “most” in the Forest Glade and Fontainbleau areas “are not being maintained” and asked the city to address the issue. In a report before the city’s transportation committee, the city says 3.7 km of the walkways are cleared of snow but 1.7 km are not. That’s because of obstacles like narrowness and bollards preventing motorized equipment from entering. “There has not been resources or budget dollars dedicated to clearing these walkways.” They could, though, be hand-shovelled or closed during winter or closed permanently and sold off. Snow removal would cost $230,000. Closing during winter would cost $18,600 to put up 62 signs on 31 walkways. – 9/14/21

Transit purchase features “clean-diesel” engines

Transit Windsor’s recent purchase of 24 new replacement buses will be diesel powered, similar to ones already plying the city’s streets. The buses, built by Nova Bus (photo) in St. Eustache QC, will feature “sophisticated exhaust after-treatment systems,” transit general manager Tyson Cragg says. They will also provide a 15 per cent improvement in fuel economy over older buses in the system’s fleet “as well as greatly reduced exhaust emissions,” he said. The buses are strictly replacements for out-of-date existing vehicles. Transit Windsor is planning route expansions and Cragg said plans to purchase additional buses for those runs “will be brought to (city) council in the future.” Most of the $17 million cost of the 24 buses will be borne by the federal infrastructure program and almost $5 million paid by the city. – 7/26/21

Photo: Transit Windsor

City forgives loan to historic Black church

City Council has forgiven a 10-year-old outstanding loan of more than $22,000 to Mount Zion Church of God in Christ, a significant city African-Canadian church. The money for the church at McDougall and Elliott was in need of stabilization finding as the building, constructed in 1939, was at “severe risk of collapse.” The city originally provided $25,000 in grant and $25,000 in loan from the Community Heritage Fund, of which only $1,354.85 was repaid. The city learned that the son of the founding pastor had died in March 2020 and other US based church officials weren’t involved in the renovation or were unaware of the loan. However, one official expressed “great passion” about turning the building into a community centre with financial support from US congregations. Church services at one time were broadcast live on CKLW radio for 30 years.– 6/24/21

Photo: Downtown Windsor BIA

Farm worker employer critics using Covid to “magnify mistruths”

The agency that processes employer requests for seasonal foreign workers is hitting back against comments of unfair labour practices. The Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services, a non-profit that administers the federal government’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, says “vocal opponents” are using the Covid-19 pandemic to “magnify mistruths.” It says “anti-farming activists and trade union leaders with the United Food and Commercial Workers continue to falsely assert that seasonal workers from overseas have not been extended the same labour rights as Canadians during the pandemic.” In fact, it says in a release, foreign workers are “entitled to the same benefits” as Canadians like Employment Standards and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Workers also qualify for WSIB, OHIP, certain Employment Insurance benefits, the provincial minimum wage “and, like every other worker in Ontario during the pandemic, job protection if they have to take an unpaid leave because of COVID-19.” – 6/1/21

Photo: Agriculture Canada

Docs tee-off for golfers for the May 2-4 weekend

Golfers who may be teed-off their sport has been subject to provincial lockdown for over a month have an ally – and a prestigious one. The Ontario Medical Association today called on the government to reopen the links. In a release, the body, which represents physicians, said it believes the general lockdown should continue beyond the current six weeks ending May 20. But it does “prescribe reopening more outdoor recreational facilities such as golf courses and basketball and tennis courts to improve people's physical and mental health.” This must be done “safely” with “clear guidelines” on mask wearing and number of players “on the May 24 long weekend.” That has also been Golf Ontario’s position. While condemning the Bridges of Tillsonburg for defying the lockdown it says the sport is generally safe and “naturally aligned” to social distancing. – 5/12/21

Will fewer get delayed second Covid dose?

One of the questions that has hardly been discussed or not at all regarding the Covid vaccine take-up rate is whether Canadians indeed will get their second doses of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines in the same numbers as they got their first shots. News this week from the US CDC was that five million, or eight per cent, of Americans had skipped their second dose. Some said they felt sufficiently protected already or fear flu like side effects from the second. Another was that providers like drug stores had simply run out of doses, a familiar story here. So, what does this mean for Canada, already a severe laggard in vaccine rollout? So much that authorities have stretched the second dose to four months from drug manufacturers’ guidelines of three or four weeks, the only country in the world to do so. Could such a long lead time, and with possible new developments about the risk of vaccines (i.e., Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson and blood clots), along with languishing desire during traditional summer vacation months, lead to many fewer second shot take-ups? – 4/28/21

Michigan “most dangerous” for Covid

Our international neighbour just happens to have the greatest surge in new Covid cases in the entire US. “Michigan is by far the most dangerous place” for Covid, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan candidly told reporters. 17.6% of tests that came back Friday were positive (compared to 8.9% yesterday in Ontario). And the state also happens to be home to the top six metro areas with the highest number of US cases. These include Detroit, Lansing and Flint. Other Michigan cities like Kalamazoo and Holland ranked among The New York Times’ Top 20. Michigan added 100,000 cases and 532 deaths in just the past 27 days, a higher pace than any other state. Why? “It’s hard to say for sure whether that is due to lifting restrictions or people feeling less at risk as vaccines are rolled out,” Ryan Malosh, assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told The Detroit News. – 4/6/21

NHL draftee Tyler a reminder of dad Rocco Tullio's major hockey investments

Well-known Windsor property developer Rocco Tullio doesn’t just develop and build properties, such as Windsor Commons, Union Square and now One 650 Manning, but he’s a huge hockey fan. And with his son Ty Tullio drafted by the Edmonton Oilers and just announced playing for the club’s Bakersfield Calif. Condors, the Oiler’s top farm team, it’s a reminder that dad Rocco is also the owner of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Tyler also played for the Generals. Rocco bought the franchise in 2007. His hockey veins run more than deep. As a noted philanthropist he donated $300,000 several years ago for Lakeshore’s Atlas Tube Recreation Centre and naming rights to the main 1000-seat rink. “If you ever come to our office the centre boardroom the whole wall is basically a huge image from when they (the Generals) won the Memorial Cup in 2015,” Rock Developments (Rocco's company) vice president Joshua Way said. He said individual offices are festooned with hockey paraphernalia. “(Rocco) is an inteersting guy that’s for sure, he’s got a lot going on." – 3/16/21

Photo: Oshawa Generals

Green bin to join blue and red boxes by 2025

Look for a third recycling container to be set out alongside your blue and red boxes. Come 2025 Windsor-Essex will join larger Ontario cities like Toronto and residents will recycle their organic waste in green boxes. Those boxes will have a distinctively different look from the generally open red and blue boxes. They will be a minature form of the larger Herby Curby boxes with lids and on wheels. “It’s going to look like that but it’s going to be like a quarter of that size,” Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority General Manager Eli Maodus told The authority is in "preliminary examination as to what technology" will be used to process food waste, he said. “There’s so many different ways to do to it.” Meanwhile the province is shifting the total cost of recycling from a 50-50 split between municipalities and commercial producers of materials that end up in recycling bins to 100 per cent paid by producers. -2/25/21

Photo: City of Toronto

How about the local community paying to save those airport control tower jobs?

Should a local campaign to save jobs at the Windsor International Airport control tower fail to reinstate the controllers, could local authorities take over the role of employer from NAV Canada, which otherwise employs Canada’s air traffic controllers? The average salary of a controller is just over $100,000, according to Add about 25 per cent for benefits. Ten jobs have been lost. The total would therefore be about $1.2 million. NAV Canada didn’t response to requests for comment. But Mayor Drew Dilken’s chief of staff called it an “interesting idea.” Andrew Teliszewsky said it would be “somewhat awkward” given the collective agreement with NAV Canada. As well, “it would be somewhat unheard of for a separate entity to come forward and pay salary of a different company's employees.” But he said it raised “an interesting theme - that of subsidy.” Still, Teliszewsky suggested that “most appropriately” the funds should come from the federal government, which has already turned down one similar request from NAV Canada. – 2/5/21