Windsor's Jenny Coco is an owner of problem-plagued The One, TO "supertall" skyscraper June 11 2024

A prominent Windsor developer is one of the owners of the problem plagued and iconic The One tower considered to be Canada’s first “supertall” skyscraper. The residential, hotel and commercial building has been years in development at the corner of Bloor and Yonge streets in downtown Toronto, and one of the city’s most prestigious locations. The project, which began in 2015, went into receivership last fall. The One is co-owned by Sam Mizrahi and Coco Group’s Jenny Coco. Now the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has put the building up for sale with a minimum price of $1.2 billion to pay creditors though the entire debt is $1.5 billion due to defaulted loan payments. After being placed in receivership the project's management was transferred to Alvarez & Marsal Canada Inc., which has since revamped the building’s budget, timeline, and design, with the aim of making it more attractive to buyers. The first round of bids is due July 30 and the second Sept. 24. The One, to be 85 stories, has been plagued by unsold condo units, mainly because of an overly optimistic luxury market. More than 70 per cent of the large upper-floor condo units remain unsold, and of the 19 sold units, nine buyers are in default. “There is an extremely limited market for units of the size and sale price of those located in the upper levels,” a report by the new manager says. The company has submitted a redesign to increase the number of units per floor from two to four, adding 88 new units to the upper levels. Construction has reached the 57th floor but won’t be completed by a previous target of next March. Coco, now headquartered in Toronto, was founded in Windsor in 1964 and owned by Jenny Coco, CEO and Rock-Anthony Coco, President. According to its website the company has established itself “as one of Canada's largest road-building construction companies.” In 2022, the family “fully transitioned its core business into a family investment office.” The focus is on “opportunistic real estate investments and strategies across asset classes and capital stack in gateway markets within Canada and USA.”

Photo: Google Street View

In Windsor-Essex, who's the wokest public organization of them all? May 28 2024

It appears you can’t attend any official public meeting or log on to any publicly-funded organization’s website these days without seeing a Land Acknowledgement, indicating respect for the former lands of Indigenous peoples. But some organizations are more explicit – or “woke” - an overemphasis or trying to prove social consciousness - as critics might say, than others. All City of Windsor meetings begin with “acknowledging that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which includes the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi. The City of Windsor honours all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.” This is pretty similar to other organizations. But the most detailed WON discovered belongs to the Greater Essex County District School Board. “We acknowledge that we are on land and surrounded by water, originally inhabited by Indigenous Peoples who have travelled this area since time immemorial. This territory is within the lands honoured by the Wampum Treaties; agreements between the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Lenni Lenape and allied Nations to peacefully share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. Specifically, we would like to acknowledge the presence of the Three Fires Confederacy (Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi) and Huron/Wendat Peoples. We are dedicated to honouring Indigenous history and culture while remaining committed to moving forward respectfully with all First Nations, Inuit and Métis." The Windsor Public Library’s is short and sweet. “We acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which includes the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomie. The City of Windsor honours all First Nations, Inuit and Metis people and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.” And in an apparent nod to the gay/Pride community its logo sports rainbow colours. Meanwhile, you can’t even get past the front page of the Art Windsor-Essex (formerly Art Gallery of Windsor) (photo) website without a land acknowledgement in bold letters staring you right in the face. “We want to state our respect for the ancestral and ongoing authority of Walpole Island First Nation over its Territory.” The gallery was also one of the first to have all-gender washrooms. Even the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority, builder of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, has one. “We would like to acknowledge that the land where the Gordie Howe International Bridge project is being constructed sits on Anishinaabe Territory.” The WDBA also sports other woke statements, criticized as not being germane to essential or traditional corporate missions and emphasizing identity politics and therefore discriminatory themselves. These are its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility, and Environmental, Social and Governance clauses.

Only urgent care, not emergency, will eventually remain downtown - critic May 13 2024

The expectation a “satellite emergency department” will remain downtown once the new regional hospital is built is false, says a longtime campaigner against the new acute care hospital, Philippa von Ziegenweidt of Citizens for an Accountable Mega-hospital Planning Process (CAMPP). In a letter to City Council regarding its new “Strengthening the Core” plan to boost the downtown, the critic says “the language surrounding the facility (not the Hotel- Dieu Grace Heathcare campus, pictured) being planned in Windsor is misleading, and diminishes the risk to the area. While the public has been repeatedly promised a ‘satellite emergency department,’ the small print indicates very clearly it is to be an Urgent Care Centre. This, she says, repeats exactly what the city of Brampton did. “Built in 2017, (the UCC there) was located on the site of Brampton’s aging downtown hospital. All hospital services were transferred to the new Civic Hospital, approximately 10 km from the city’s downtown core.” But according to the UCC website it is open for “care when your illness or injury isn't an emergency, but just can't wait.” These include sprains, strains or broken bones, minor burns, nose and throat complaints and cuts that might need stitches. “Patients are told to visit the emergency department for care related to serious injuries, illness or conditions, especially if they are experiencing symptoms and have an existing chronic condition, including heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetes,” von Ziegenweidt says. “This is a far cry from the healthcare services provided to Windsor's downtown population today" by Hotel-Dieu Grace Heathcare.

Dwight Duncan's post-politics includes U Windsor and high profile research org April 29 2024

Former Windsor political heavyweight Dwight Duncan popped out from relatively obscurity last week with a jointly written op-ed in the Financial Post (see front page). Duncan is one of the former high profile Canadian Liberal politicians who have come out against his own party over the capital gains inclusion rate increase in the recent federal budget. Duncan, 65, was one of Windsor’s best-known politicians, formerly serving on city council before jumping to provincial politics and serving in the Ontario legislature from 1995 to 2013. He held several cabinet positions including finance minister and deputy premier under then Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty. In the op-ed Duncan wrote as a senior fellow of the CD Howe Institute, a long time Canadian non-profit policy think tank. But post-politics his endeavours have taken him into the worlds of law and corporate consulting. He first joined the prominent Toronto law firm McMillan as a business advisor. Currently he is Senior Advisor for Canadian Investor Relations at Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP. A spokeswoman for CD Howe confirmed he has been a senior fellow there since 2019. He’s also involved with the Global Risk Institute – an organization advising corporate clients on risk management - and MS Society of Canada. He’s also Executive-in-Residence at U Windsor’s Odette School of Business. Besides last week’s op-ed Duncan “wrote a couple of intelligence memos” in 2018 and 2020, the spokeswoman said. In 2018 he wrote that Canada was “unequivocally facing an existential crisis in competitiveness.” The other memo, written at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic on March 18 2020, called Extraordinary Events call for Extraordinary Responses. “Governments around the world are wrestling with the reality of how limited their powers are in the face of a global economic tsunami,” he wrote to the country’s finance ministers. “Regardless, they must devise and implement a significant fiscal stimulus.”

Ambassador Bridge reviewing structural safety after Baltimore April 14 2024

The Ambassador Bridge is reviewing its structural safety after a container ship collided with Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, collapsing a main span and killing several workers. “We are reevaluating everything from top to bottom,” Matt Moroun, chairman of the Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge. “The Key Bridge is a wake-up call.” He was speaking during the Michigan Chronicle newspaper’s Pancakes & Politics Speakers’ Forum last week. He was a panelist on the topic Big Projects, Big Future. “I’m not going to say that everything is fine and we don’t need to look at it,” he said. “I read an article in one of the two major papers that 20 freighters a year lose steering at some point in their voyages.” The Baltimore Harbor bridge disaster may have seemed a one-off but there have been as many as almost 300 occasions between 2012 and 2022 when Great Lakes freighters, tankers and cargo ships lost propulsion, steering or electrical power, The Detroit News reported. “There are new threats and we need to respond and take precautions in new ways,” Maroun said. “We’re working with Customs and Border Patrol and Canada’s Border Services as well as Homeland Security. They’re asking for and working with us to develop new plans.” His comments were also made in light of the Canadian truckers’ Covid blockade in 2022 which saw the bridge shut down for seven days, curtailing a huge volume of international trade. The bridge has also undergone major restorations over the past decade which saw replacement of the original main span deck, repairs of concrete piers and badly rusted railings; the sidewalk was also removed.

Photo: Ambassador Bridge

No major solution for parking lot noise March 27/24

Wheelies in Parking Lot 16. Yet another annoyance for downtown residents. "The problem is after hours partying and cars performing burnouts," Ward 3 councillor Renaldo Agostino asked council last fall. "It’s my understanding that we have been losing this battle for at least a decade" and asked options for alleviating it. Not many, it turns out. The 86-car lot is just west of Ouellette Ave. along the riverfront. City staff say that "repurposing" the lot wouldn't have the success one might think. For one thing, "noise and loitering" may "simply shift" to nearby parking lots including immediately west beside the Great Canadian Flag and Bistro restaurant. Moreover the city has maintained the lot as part of its riverfront master plan. Both lots are "typically well utilized" during the warmer season. Eliminating the lot would leave only 48 spaces in neighbouring Lot 5. Both lots serve "popular" attractions like Rotary Plaza, Festival Plaza and Dieppe Park, home to numerous memorials and monuments and 30,000 sq. ft. of gardens. As well, monthly parking permit holders would be "displaced." The lot also generated $120,000 last year. Solutions are problematic. A barrier gate activated after 10 pm would cost some $60,000 and could be "bypassed." Police enforcement is not "continuous." Nightly contract security would cost almost $100,000. Security cameras are technically not feasible due to lack of conduits and connectivity.

Photo: Google maps

Calculating city WFH staff fluid but fewer as Covid-19 recedes in mirror March 12 2024

The City of Windsor can't release numbers of staff who are working from home as a result of a "hybrid" work policy that began with Covid. The city mandates office staff can work from home a maximum of two days per week. But determining how many staff are doing so at any given time is fluid. Those numbers are department based and "the number of days (none, one or two per week) an employee is able to work from home is agreed upon by the employee and their direct manager/supervisor and is subject to change based on the needs of the corporation and the functions of the position," the city’s human resources director Vincenza Mihalo told WON. She said "there is no set number" on those WFH "on a given day or in a given month." Mihalo said those WFH are fewer as Covid recedes in the rear view mirror. "As Covid-19 has receded, the number of staff working from home has decreased, however as per the Hybrid Work Procedure, any staff who are interested in working from home are able to submit a Hybrid Work Application." The city's "Hybrid" work policy is extensive, encompassing two substantial documents. The first, the Hybrid Work Program, runs to 19 pages and the second, the Hybrid Work Procedure, is 12 pages. The program covers everything from the kind of home internet connection ("10/10 Mbps is expected") to ergonomics (employees “must allow” city safety staff to "inspect their designated work location via pictures and/or video chat to ensure that it meets City standards for ergonomic wellness and health and safety.”) Staff must also protect records confidentiality ("the privacy and confidentiality of City data must be maintained the same as when working in the office."). Staff must also work only on a "corporate-issued laptop." Asked if this has incurred increased costs to the city, Mihalo said, "Since COVID-19 the Information Technology department has made a concerted effort to replace redundant computers with laptops, if that is the preference of the employee and department. It would be difficult to quantify any costs associated with laptop replacement since technology replacement is an ongoing City operational cost."

Work begins on A'burg's long awaited King's Navy Yard Park extension January 30 2024

Work has begun on Amherstburg’s long awaited King’s Navy Yard Park southern extension. The riverfront park, considered the municipality’s “crown jewel,” is undergoing early stage work to stabilize the shoreline. This entails removing old docks (Duffy’s marina, tavern and hotel used to be located there), upgrading the steel break wall and installing rock walls for shoreline protection. Other debris, like old wood and steel piles, is also being removed. Part of the work is in the river itself and will be completed by March, the town says, which is also the start of fish-spawning season. Some trees will be removed but this will be “selective … taking those necessary to properly stabilize the shoreline as these two individual properties become one.” As well, the town will plant two trees for every tree removed. To this day town residents still talk about the uproar over the removal of almost 20 trees in the same park over a holiday weekend back in 2007. The trees were cut at night with critics saying it was done only to improve the view of residents in the then new Salmoni Place condominiums, located further north adjacent to the park. The action resulted in the town’s entire parks advisory committee resigning, decrying town administration’s disregard for their input. The town almost a decade later implemented a new tree bylaw designed to protect trees on public property. After the current sub-surface work is completed landscaping and concrete walkways will be installed. A public festival plaza and transient marina is also part of the eventual plan. However, among public comments, several residents opposed construction of any amphitheatre based on costs and noise.

Photo: Town of Amherstburg

"Canada's National Newspaper" creating pop-up bureau in City of Roses January 5 2024

We should be so honoured. The Globe and Mail, which bills itself as Canada’s National Newspaper, has opened up a pop-up bureau in Windsor. The Toronto-based organ has finally taken notice of the major economic developments that are taking place in Canada’s Motor City. The Conference Board of Canada says the Rose City should have the highest economic growth of any Canadian municipality in 2024. “We have chosen Windsor this year. It is on the front line of economic regeneration with the construction of the Stellantis NV and LG Energy Solution Ltd. electric-vehicle battery plant,” the newspaper says. The Globe has created pop up bureaus in the past in Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Fort McMurray. It says that Mayor Drew Dilkens “has aggressive plans to build, including on floodplains and farmland. How does an economic renaissance shape the debate about development?” Issues like these the newspaper will explore. “Our editorial board visited the city earlier in the fall. A range of writers and photographers will be in the city to convey, over time, a greater understanding. In addition to news reporters, The Decibel podcast will host a series of shows from Windsor. Writers and photographers will record city life.” Interestingly, it took a local citizen to spark the newspaper’s interest. The announcement came during a major feature last month on the city, written by Jason Kirby.

Are these cities? The Globe thinks so Dec 3 2023

Did you know Lasalle and Tecumseh were cities? Niether did we. But The Globe and Mail, which considers itself one of Canada’s national newspapers, lopped these Windsor bedroom communities among 100 for the “most livable” cities in the country. The “first inaugural” ranking had Tecumseh at #47 and LaSalle at #92. Windsor, which is actually a city, didn’t make the cut. The next closest Ontario community was Middlesex Centre (#89) near London. The top-ranked city was Victoria, British Columbia. “Whether you’re graduating from college, starting a family or business, navigating midlife changes, embracing retirement or embarking on a new chapter in a new country, our project can help you find the most livable city for you,” the Globe said. The newspaper used the term "cities” even though it analyzed municipalities “with a population exceeding 10,000.” The newspaper used 44 variables in 10 categories “we’ve identified as particularly crucial to quality of life in a community.” These were Economy, Housing, Demographics, Health Care, Safety, Education, Community, Amenities, Transportation and Climate. But some were “more important” than others. For example, Economy and Housing were weighted “more heavily than less significant categories, such as Climate and Amenities.” And within each category certain variables in turn were more important than others, such as “proximity to a grocery” store over closeness to a library, “recognizing the former’s greater impact on an average person’s quality of life.” The writers stated that despite the higher rankings “no community is perfect” with Victoria suffering some “middling scores” for health care and housing. The data came from Environics Analytics, CMHC and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Image: The Globe and Mail

Don't jump to immediate conclusion on new Windsor-Detroit train connection Nov 17 2023

It’s probably not worth rushing to a conclusion that cross-border train service in Windsor-Detroit is just around the corner. Yes, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens released a “fact sheet” about a proposed Toronto – Chicago route that could conceivably pass through the city later this decade. But railways' spokespeople on both sides of the border are cautioning not to jump to any conclusions. “VIA did not release this document and we believe it is premature to be holding this discussion in the public sphere. We can confirm that we are in private discussions with different partners, including Amtrak, to evaluate the possibility and estimate the potential costs of a project of this kind,” VIA Rail rep Jamie Orchard told Trains magazine. “No funding requests have been made and VIA has not committed to financing this project. Of course, we will be communicating with the community in due course if any decision is made regarding this project.” The route would use both Via and Amtrak lines (Toronto to Windsor and Detroit–Chicago respectively). For its part Amtrak would only say said the fact sheet is “conceptional and drawn up to assist the parties in our discussions for a possible future service.” The prospect is exciting because it could see trains cross the city from the more than 100-year-old Detroit River rail tunnel to the Walkerville station, adding another transportation service and an economic driver. Stateside, a new platform would be built at the age old, but now mostly renovated by Ford Motor, former Michigan Central station building near the Ambassador Bridge. The train would make use of upgraded Essex Terminal Railway (ETR) tracks to cross the city. But despite any pooh-poohing the fact sheet (WON has seen a copy) does have some gravitas calling the route a “project opportunity” and listing “benefits to Windsor," “key project elements,” and a detailed route map.

Bridge makes deal with Detroit neighbourhood over future properties Nov 3 2023

The Ambassador Bridge is expanding its footprint in Detroit but in doing so will donate numerous properties to the adjoining neighbourhood. The company has made a deal with the City of Detroit and the local Hubbard residents’ association. The expansion would allow the bridge to expand its current plaza. The bridge last weekend issued a press release indicating it has kept its promise to both the city and association. In doing so, the bridge will donate 10 properties to the group along with $20,000 per property to assist in redevelopment. It’s also transferring property to the city that will be part of the existing Roberto Clemente Recreation Center on Bagley Avenue. Other transfers: a former Greyhound bus company building on W. Fort St., owned by the bridge, with the property split in two with the larger piece going to the neighbourhood. The bridge company would also construct a berm long 16th St. to buffer the area from industrial uses in the east. Finally, the company would build a new 16th St. between West Lafayette and West Fort to improve entry and egress to the neighborhood. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan called the deal a win-win for the bridge and community so it can expand its “badly needed” plaza while respecting “the residential character of the community and provides it some real benefits.” The company also assured it will not be buying more properties, long a neighbourhood fear, and similar to what it has done in west Windsor for future company expansion. The deal still needs official City of Detroit approval.

Photo: Google Street View

Bad weather and cyber attacks? Oh yes October 17 2023

Can a little bad weather affect your cell phone and internet use? You bet. And, if telecommunications are interrupted, users can fall victim to crime. Windsor has far from been immune to severe weather, including massive late summer storms and flooding and of course our typical summers featuring heavy rain and sometimes tornadoes. Online security firm First Onsite says catastrophic weather can create “an environment of fear, urgency, chaos, and uncertainty — prime conditions for cybercriminals to thrive in.” At some level people already know this. A survey found almost 40 per cent felt if a disaster struck their community or workplace would be at greater risk for cyberattacks. Ultimately that could jeopardize a firm’s business and even employees’ job security. Ice storms, for example, could affect everything from loss of the internet to downed cable lines to interruption of satellite signals. Where’s the crime? Well, when people suffer communication loss they may panic, exposing themselves to criminals. “In their desire to get help quickly, they may inadvertently fall prey to a threat actor by clicking on a link or web site or providing personal information including credit card details to a fraudulent party,” First Onsite’s Mark Hubbard says. “Threat actors will also set up fraudulent sites to collect money to help with recovery or collect data for those impacted by the weather event. Systems providing cyber protection could be down or compromised.” Hubbard says companies should above all else have redundancy. That means land as well as satellite internet connections and, on the ground, as basic as adding emergency generators to the power mix. Should you have a communications failure it could corrupt data and damage hardware. “If data has not been backed up, corrupted data may not be recoverable, equipment may not be recoverable,” Hubbard says.

Bridge Authority has joined increasingly controversial ESG movement Sept. 29 2023

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA), the Crown corporation overseeing the construction and future operation of the Gorgie Howe International Bridge, has signed on to the increasingly popular and also somewhat controversial corporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) set of guidelines. This, says the WDBA in a statement, is a “testament to the team’s commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility.” The authority says it had essentially been operating within the guidelines or “four anchors” of ESG all along. These are commitments “to steward a healthy environment, enhance the local community, create a thriving corporate culture and ensure responsible corporate conduct.” By formally signing on to an ESG plan the corporation now has a “roadmap for the organization to actively support the creation of a thriving and sustainable future for employees, bridge users and the communities where we operate throughout the project’s life cycle.” Thee include concepts like “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility”, “Being Bolder on Climate Action” and “Moving Faster on a Path to (Indigenous) Reconciliation,” aligned with federal and UN goals. But the program has been controversial as corporations put their “social consciousness” above traditional corporate goals. It’s been described as a “woke wish list” or “virtue signaller’s charter.” A company that has more non-white or female board members, or conducts racial equity audits, can gain a higher score with some investors like private equity funds and qualify for more investment, regardless of economic performance or return on investment, which is traditionally what investors have looked at. Free market think tank The Committee To Unleash Prosperity said shareholders were “foregoing billions of dollars in shareholder returns” to comply with ESG goals. And investment firms themselves are increasingly skeptical. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink announced he’d no longer use term ESG. And RBC Capital Markets found 56% of sustainable-fund debuts have re-labeled the products “thematic” rather than ESG.

Foundation grades local accessibility Sept. 14 2023

Four local businesses met the Rick Hansen Foundation standards for accessibility. These are Family Services Windsor-Essex, KOODOO at Devonshire Mall and Telus at both Devonshire and Tecumseh malls. A fifth undisclosed organization was surveyed and didn’t meet criteria. The Foundation does voluntary audits to determine if public buildings meet accessibility standards for the disabled. “It is essential that we understand who people with disabilities really are if we are going to develop meaningful access in our communities,” Foundation CEO Doramy Ehling says. Having accessible buildings is more than important when you realize that disabled people make up “the largest minority group” and there are 2.6 million of them in the province. “This was the thinking behind the decision of organizations in Windsor to participate as one of 16 Ontario municipalities in an accessibility rating of key public spaces,” Ehling said. While the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) has helped create a level playing field” it is “not enough” on its own. “Participating organizations recognized that there was a gap between code minimum and the real needs of the community of people with disabilities, and that the only practical way of addressing that gap was the RHF Accessibility Certification program.” Koodoo came out on top was an 82 per cent rating, followed by Telus at 81 per cent at the same mall. Telus at Tecumseh Mall had a 69 per cent rating. Family Services, at 1770 Langlois Ave., scored 68 per cent. Factors audited included parking, building entrances, corridors, reception and waiting areas.

Alleys a write-off unless you want increased costs and annoyed residents August 30 2023

Yes, alleys might be unsightly, inconsistent, and even vary from block to block. But cleaning them up “might lead to unfavorable responses from residents who are directly impacted both in terms of the physical task of cleaning up the alley and the potential imposition of fine(s).” So says a city council information report which recommends no action but presents scenarios for improving these city-wide back lanes. The city has 147 km of both paved and unpaved alleys. Most of the paved alleys are “deficient” and only seven of 79 “adequate.” Alleys are maintained on an “as-needed” basis and the city doesn’t “reconstruct” them. Gravel alleys are regraded twice annually. Grass alleys are the responsibility of abutting property owners. The city spends $200,000 on annual maintenance on paved ones and $75,000 on gravel alleys. “Due to their limited public visibility and relatively low usage, alleys often receive minimal attention and fewer resources allocated towards them,” the report says. In one scenario, administration says the city could increase paved alley maintenance to as much as $600,000 a year. Greater enforcement of existing bylaws over garbage containers and residents’ responsibility for maintenance could be stepped up. But this will result in increased costs and “possible negative public relations.” The city doesn’t remove snow from alleys but could at, again, increased costs, as much as $1.6 million. Special equipment for the narrow lanes would be required.

Photo: Google Street View

You can fight a city parking ticket, but... August 6 2023

It is possible to fight a City of Windsor parking ticket. Just don’t be overzealous – in a good way – about it. A Michigan woman paid for parking at the Dieppe Gardens municipal parking lot, the kind where you pay into a machine and a ticket emerges, which you’re supposed to put on your windshield showing when the time is up. Not being familiar with the setup she paid and pocketed the ticket instead. Sure enough, upon returning to the car a couple of hours later there was a ticket. While the motorist was miffed, the $27.50 fine was paid online within a couple of days. That was the mistake. It turns out had the fine not been paid it likely could have been successfully fought. Replying to a mailed appeal (the appeal form available on the city’s website) a Parking Enforcement Office staffer left a voice mail message. The clerk stated: “Unfortunately we don't do refunds and once the ticket is paid it’s considered done and dealt with and there's no dispute option.” However, the clerk said that for “peace of mind” she would shred the paperwork “so that there's no record of that number anywhere in our office.” The clerk added that had the ticket not been paid “it could have been looked into further.” What’s that saying about no good deed goes unpunished?

No more petitions for four-way stops July 21 2023

Say goodbye to neighbourhood petitions calling for four-way stops. City staff are recommending an updated “warrant” policy based on new provincial guidelines which include several new criteria for the intersections while saying four-ways can provide a false sense of security. Stats that don’t fit the criteria can result in “reduced effectiveness of other traffic control devices, result in overall poor stop sign compliance, create a false sense of security for pedestrians, increase the number of rear-end and fixed object collisions, increase instances of mid-block speeding, delay emergency vehicle response times and increase noise and air pollution,” a report to the city’s transportation committee says. Incorporating “petitions or school zones” is “not recommended” because “other effective tools and practices are available to deal with speeding or pedestrian safety.” The new policy should be seen in the context of a wide variety of new methods to reduce motorists’ speed such as traffic bumps, lane narrowing, speed feedback signs and traffic circles. The guidelines say four-way stops should only be considered in a handful of cases, such as where traffic signals are needed but can’t be installed immediately or where there are a high rate of collisions and other less restrictive measures haven’t worked. The guidelines say they should be used for roads with speed limits of more than 60 km/h, on most bus or truck routes or as a “means of deterring the movement of through traffic in a residential area.” A four-way would be justified on a major road if, among other things, total vehicle volume on all intersection approaches exceeds 500 vehicles per hour for each of any eight hours of the day. And for minor roads, 350 vehicles for the highest hour recorded.

Despite staff shortages, parking enforcement took in $1.25M last year July 7 2023

Parking enforcement brought in $1.25 million last year after seeing a drop of $630,000 in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020 the city only made almost $165,000, also due to Covid. But in 2019 it drew $943,000 and in 2018, $1.26 million. City administration says these revenues “are an important non-taxation component” of the city’s operating budget. City Council is being asked to extend a contract with the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, which took over parking services from the city in 2010. But there have been problems with fulfilling parking enforcement, which motorists just may be happy about. There has been high staff turnover, resulting in “numerous unattended shifts.” This has resulted in some areas of the city being “unenforced” and “in some circumstances unsafe to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.” The result is increasing officers’ beats “dramatically” over a wider geographic area, “concentrating on higher travelled areas to enforce safety related infractions.” Nevertheless, city staff say they are “satisfied” with the contractor, noting cost savings “compared to previous models.” And should a new contractor be chosen there would be higher costs associated with new equipment and staff training. Service would decrease and complaints from the public would increase because of officers’ initial errors. “It is likely the level of service would take in excess of one year to reach current service levels, as a new contractor would need to become familiar with the nuances of enforcement within the City of Windsor.” And last but not least, city revenues would also decline. The Commissionaires say they’ll pass on the four per cent rate increase to give officers more money - $20.92 from $19.50 or more than a seven per cent raise.

Recent public meeting bans have "fundamental" differences - lawyer June 23 2023

While recent decisions by local public bodies to ban the public from in-person meetings may have similarities in threats to free speech their contexts are very different, a Windsor lawyer says. Daniel Ableser, an advocate for government accountability, says recent decisions by the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) and Essex County Council (photo) have “fundamental differences.” The school board June 14 issued a notice that in-person meetings have “indefinitely” been suspended to allow business to take place in a “safe and secure” setting in the wake of parent opposition to board policy to prevent parents from knowing about children’s gender identity. Essex County Council also suspended an in-person special meeting to discuss a new Official Plan after a crowd of hundreds gathered in the council chamber and lobby in what municipal officials said was an intimidating manner. The meeting was resumed weeks later but virtually. “County Council was faced with an entirely unpredictable event where 500 people showed up to a planning meeting,” Ableser said in comments to and in a Facebook post. “The school board has had a few people with undesirable views show up from time to time.” Moreover, “they did not have some unprecedented audience size emergency they had to respond to. The school board has had MUCH larger audiences in the past and been able to manage. This Board of Trustees simple doesn't appear to prioritize openness as a governing principle.” And now County Council has resumed regular in-person meetings while the board has not. County Council “immediately prioritized returning to regular order.” Finally, Ableser thinks the board’s action may be a pretext to “suspend a trustee while having no audience present to object. This may be a first step in a bigger attempt to remove people whose views are undesirable to the political majority.” Trustee Linda Qin has locked heads with board officials, complaining of lack of transparency regarding what she says are controversial student books.

Yes, Windsor has "narrow" streets June 8 2023

Did you know Windsor has narrow streets? These are defined as being less than four metres (13.1 ft.) in width. The city identified just a couple but they are interesting. One is Penang Lane, which doglegs 200 metres from Tecumseh Rd. E. north to the Via Rail tracks, and lines up with the Ganatchio Trail/Little River Extension on the other side. The other is Homedale Blvd. It runs south from Wyandotte St. E. to Raymond Ave. But beyond there it broadens. Penang resembles nothing much more than a back lane or alley. There is a No Exit sign at Tecumseh Rd. “Penang Lane cannot be upgraded to current City standards as it has both right-of-way and space constraints,” city engineering staff say in a council report. Homedale (photo) is another matter. While also measuring 3.7 metres wide for a total of 672 metres over two blocks, the street “could be upgraded” to city standards. However, as the road is in “very good” condition it will be “quite some time” before it is widened. And strangely enough, despite its narrow width, two-way traffic is permitted. Believe it or not, this is not abnormal. “In the case of low speed, low volume local streets, the Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads allows for a single lane to serve both directions of traffic. In these cases, drivers turn out at driveways or other gaps in the parking lane to allow opposing vehicles to pass.” But despite this perceived inconvenience widening may not be a panacea. Widening could result in “increased traffic.” Another option would be to convert to one-way traffic north-bound only” (no explanation why that direction). If residents wanted a change they could likely reguest using criteria like Traffic Calming (i.e., speed bumps) with as many as 60 per cent of at least 50 per cent responses favoring it.

Photo: Google Street View

County joins the big leagues with use of public screening devices if "necessary" May 27 2023

Edmonton did it in 2016. And Toronto introduced them in 2020. And now Essex County Council is joining those big leagues by introducing metal detectors. The move comes in light of what was described as a rowdy and intimidating meeting in April that saw hundreds of people mill about the lobby outside a county council meeting to discuss updating the municipality’s official plan. The meeting was called to an abrupt end by Warden Hilda MacDonald minutes after starting. A crowd showed up en masse concerned the plan contained provisions for “15-minute cities” which presumably would limit their mobility. There were no such specific references. (See NEWS BASCKGROUNDER April 11 2023 and COMMENT May 10) In the aftermath council passed several policies. They’re to “promote respectful and safe interactions” between the public and municipal officials, “promote respectful and orderly behaviour” at meetings and generally “balance the rights” between the two groups. According to county spokesman Don McArthur, wo is also an Amherstburg town councillor, a new provision, the Visitor Policy, “allows for the use of metal screening devices should the County deem it necessary.” Adds McArthur, “The policies are meant to provide a mechanism to deal with those who refuse to act appropriately, with what is and what is not appropriate being spelled out in the policies." Brian Lambie, spokesman for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, said he couldn’t indicate how many other municipalities use detectors as these would be matters discussed independently and not taken up with the provincial organization.

Board has only banned one book

WindsorOntario May 11 2023

The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) has banned only one book, a sex ed manual called It’s Perfectly Normal. “The information I have received from the Superintendent is that we have removed one book so far from our libraries: It’s Perfectly Normal,” spokesman Scott Scantlebury said. The illustrated book’s full title is It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health is written by US educator Robie Harris and has had several editions since first being published in 1994. According to Wikipedia the book has won “multiple accolades and appraisal for its accurate information and its normalization of body changes and human sexuality.” But it also has been one of the most controversial books “because of its graphic images that some consider inappropriate for the targeted age range.” The author has written several other books, many of which have appeared on the American Library Association’s Most Challenged Books list. While earlier editions discussed common questions related to families, sexuality and reproduction the latest edition includes “sexual identity” topics like gender. The school board released the information to in the wake of a school board controversy over another book, Push, cited by Trustee Linda Qin, for using the “n” word. The novel by Sapphire was made into the movie Precious. Qin also raised a question about a ruling against a motion to fly a Christian flag at schools. The board’s policy allows specifically the national and provincial flags and “the local municipality or other special purpose flag.” That flag should “align with the board’s values, support the principles and expectations of the board’s Safe School Policy, equity and Indigenous Education Protocol and is consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code and is not directly connected with any political or religious group or cause.”

Vroom, vroom. S National residents indifferent to short cut & high speeds April 25 2023

It was a good idea – maybe. The city tried to bring traffic calming measures to one of Windsor’s famed high-speed thoroughfares. But the proposals just didn’t fly with residents of the near eastside neighbourhood. Ironically, more people outside the area were in favour of slowing vehicles down. The strip is the notorious South National St., a long time shortcut between Pillette Rd. and Jefferson Blvd. It runs along the south side of the CNR track, now used by Via Rail, for about a dozen blocks. In fact, a couple of city councillors - Gary Kaschak and Renaldo Agostino - wanted to determine the feasibility of traffic calming on the street along with a cyclist crossing at Balfour Blvd. and pedestrian crossover at Westminster Blvd. The street was actually earmarked for traffic calming a few years ago. Most traffic travels well over the speed limit at almost 70 km/h – “a high degree of speeding,” says the report to City Council - and almost 12,000 vehicles use it each day. Almost 40 per cent use it as a short cut. And there have been 17 collisions over five years, most at South National and Jefferson turning left. A median would have been constructed to prevent this. But a mailout to all residents failed miserably, with only 19 out of 156 returned and 26 per cent (five out of 19) agreeing. More people outside the area – 45 per cent – supported the concept. Planners say some aspects could still be incorporated as standalones. These would be the pedestrian crossover, the cyclist uncontrolled crossover (part of the future Reginald St. bikeway) and physical separators between the north side multi-use trail and car lanes.

Photo: Google Street View

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Anyone for cricket? New east side cricket pitch is planned

Derwent Park on the city’s far east side is being turned into a cricket pitch for local and perhaps regional tournaments. The “undeveloped” park lies between Forest Glade Dr. and EC Row Expy just east of Lauzon Pkwy. All that exists now is a sign and an east side trail connecting to a woodlot next to Little River. The $7.5 million plan - $1 million of which is funded for Phase 1 – goes before City Council this month. The proposal is for a regulation cricket pitch, new vehicle access, on-site parking and a park shelter. (Fourteen city cricket clubs were consulted.) This year’s construction would consist of the pitch, fencing and player benches. Further phases to be decided but the city wants to move forward as part of a 10-year capital spending.. – 24/5/24

Photo: Google Street View

Trades' deduct bill a lock if Tories win power - Poilievre

The ruling Liberals don’t seem keen on passing Essex MP Chris Lewis’s (photo) private member’s bill that would see tradespeople claim expense deductions if they travel beyond 120 km for work. While the bill had third reading more than a year ago, all but one government MP voted against it. But the bill has support of the NDP, Greens and BQ. Tory Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre said that if his party is elected in the next general election, it would adopt the bill. Poilievre was applauded in a speech last month to Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) annual conference. Trades’ expenses, such as fuel, food and lodging, on remote projects can add up – hundreds or even thousands of dollars. – 7/5/23

Masse apologizes in House for comment about antisemitism

Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse apologized to the House of Commons for an ill-considered remark about anti-Jewish and Israel demonstrations in Canada in the wake of the Israel-Hamas War. According to a National Post editorial Masse “insinuated that the fight against antisemitism in Canada wasn’t going to be tackled ‘until there’s a ceasefire’ in Gaza.” Said the Post: “He probably didn’t mean to give the green light for antisemites to attack Jews, but he certainly didn’t help matters.” – 12/4/23

Detroit gets significant investment upgrade

The City of Detroit has passed a significant milestone by being upgraded to investment status. This follows 10 years of financial struggle as it emerged from the United States's largest municipal bankruptcy. It also marks a "rare" double-upgrade from Moody's Investors Services from Ba1 to Baa2 with a "positive outlook," says the city. Moody's cited a "decade of solid financial performance and "strong governance" as the reasons. The city has altogether earned 10 single upgrades since its all-time low of Caa3 in June 2013. Investment grade means investors like pension and mutual funds and insurance companies can purchase Detroit municipal bonds, allowing for greater investment in city infrastructure and services. - 26/3/24

Violent crime drops 37% in targetted anti-crime zones

Violent crime in the Motor City has dropped dramatically in four of six new "community violence intervention" zones, areas that experience "the most violent crime." From Nov. 1/23 to Jan. 31/24 the zones saw a 27% drop in violent crime - homicides and non-fatal shootings. The remaining two saw even greater drops - 50% and 70% - for an overall drop of 37%. Local community groups receive funding to set up unique anti-crime measures. "While each group’s strategy varies, many use staff with lived experience of violence to intervene and peacefully resolve disputes before they turn violent, as well as mentor at-risk individuals to help them pursue other paths," the City of Detroit says. - 13/3/24

Detroit murders the lowest since 1966

Things are getting less violent in the Motor City or what used to be called the Murder City. Homicides dropped 18.4 per cent last year to 252, the lowest number since 1966. Overall violent crime fell 1.6 per cent, Detroit cops said in a preliminary report. Carjackings dropped a whopping 33.5 per cent. The only uptick was property crime – 1.7 per cent. The homicide drop mirrors the US generally which saw a 13 per cent decrease, largest on record. But that followed a 30 per cent spike the previous year, also the largest on record. Despite Detroit’s murder decline the rate per 100,000 people was 39.4 whereas in 1966 it was 12.8 as the city had more than double the population then. – 8/2/24

It's a new year so of course new taxes

A slew of taxes are going up this year. These include CPP and EI premiums, carbon and alcohol. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation reports that employees and employers will each pay $3,867 or $113 more in basic CPP premiums than last year. And a CPP 2 tax for people earning between $68,500 and $73,200 will see a maximum tax amount of $188. EI payments will increase by $66 for employers ($1469) and $47 for employees ($1049). Lower income Canadians earning $30,000 to $200,000 will see tax increases from $9 to $47 based on changes to CPP and EI. Meanwhile the carbon tax rises from $65 to $80 per tonne on April 1. Reflected at the gas pump it will cost about $12.32 more to fill a 70-litre family minivan. And beginning April 1, the yearly “alcohol escalator tax," based on inflation, will kick in with a 4.7 per cent increase. Taxes already make up about half the price of beer, 65 per cent wine and more than three-quarters spirits. – 25/1/24

Detroit's Tlaib named Antisemite of the Year

Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib now has the more than dubious distinction of being selected as “Antisemite of the Year” by StopAntisemitism, an organization created to expose “groups and individuals that espouse incitement towards the Jewish people and State and engage in antisemitic behaviors.” Tlaib, a Detroit native and first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, was chosen even over more notorious terrorist leaders like Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, and fashion model Hadid, who falsely claimed Israel was “the only country in the world that keeps children as prisoners of war.” The activist group cites Tlaib for a long list of slurs, including erasing Israel from the map, calling Israel a “racist or apartheid state” and refusing to condemn Hamas after the Oct. 7 attacks. She was censured by her own House for defending protesters chanting the genocidal trope “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Tlaib was previously a member of the Michigan Legislature and has been affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America. – 11/1/24

TransForm board chair has held many roles

Helga Reidel, the chair of TransForm Shared Service Organization, which was the target of an October cyberattack which saw the records of several southwestern Ontario hospitals breached, has long been active in southwestern Ontario corporate and board positions. She was formerly the City of Windsor’s CAO, then president and CEO of Enwin Utilities, from which she retired a year ago. Other board positions she has held have been, since this year, at Hydro One, since 2021 at Corby Spirit & Wine Ltd. and at the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. She’s also the current chair of the University of Windsor Board of Governors. She posts regularly as a blogger on Linked In. In one post, she congratulated TransForm CEO Lyn (Noralyn) Baluyot, a University of Windsor grad. Both Reidel and Baluyot have been unresponsive to media requests since the cyberattack. – 12/12/23

Foreign job numbers tumble but critics still want EV plant answers

It’s hard to know exactly how many temporary foreign workers will be brought in to get the new NextStar Energy battery plant up and running. News stories over the past few weeks have indicated as many as 1600 (Globe and Mail), 1500 (Windsor Star) and today 900 (Star). A war of words has been swinging back and forth between some industry professionals and political and union leaders. The pro-foreign worker argument is that this is a brand-new Canadian industry and Canada doesn’t have the expertise to install the plant’s highly technical machinery. On the other hand, NextStar critics say for the $15 billion taxpayer subsidy more jobs should go to Canadians even if that means training them. (Some 2500 full time jobs will also be created plus 1600 construction jobs.) Sean Strickland of Canada’s Building Trades Unions says $300 million will be lost to local labor and contractors. He tells today’s Globe that contractors have been submitting quotations to NextStar for months but haven’t obtained a reply. Strickland says Windsor contractors, including electricians, pipe fitters and iron and sheet-metal workers, have expertise installing complex equipment including for Tesla and Stellantis.” – 28/11/23

Another solution to DT crime? Police booths

WON has already suggested (NEWS BACKGROUNDER, March 13) one possible solution to downtown store vandalism – European style metal blinds that are pulled down by shopkeepers overnight, protecting plate glass windows. Here’s another. Police in England have set up miniature police offices like booths – measuring eight by eight feet – in high crime areas. “(Sussex Police) Inspector Steve Turner said it will give police a ‘very visible presence’ in a town centre ‘identified as a hotspot’ for violent crime in the evenings and shoplifting during the day,” Daily Mail reports. The pod is also eco friendly - powered by solar energy and made of more than 1300 recycled plastic bottles. – 13/11/23

Red Cross changes tune on Israeli hostages

Following a request that the Canadian Red Cross put pressure on its international affiliate to intervene in the Israeli hostage crisis in Gaza, and being told the agency is “neutral” and therefore won’t get involved (see WON page 1) a follow up email told a different tune. It says the Red Cross has “longstanding” partnerships with both Magen David Adom in Israel and the Palestine Red Crescent Society and “supporting these national societies with their ongoing humanitarian efforts.” This includes “emergency medical services, mobile health, disaster management, rehabilitation, and psychosocial support.” Those looking for family and loved ones can contact: – 25/10/23

It's 'Girl Child' day

Did you know this was International Day of the Girl Child - not "Girl" but "Girl Child"? The Government of Canada is celebrating, and according to Ottawa, “led the international effort to establish this day in order to draw attention to the persistent inequalities and dangers that too many girls face around the world.” On the other hand PM Trudeau says “we celebrate the remarkable achievements of girls in Canada and around the world, and recognize their limitless potential to shape our society for the better as the leaders of today and tomorrow.” – 11/10/23

Michigan, like Ontario, grapples with illegally tinted car windows

Seem familiar? Michigan seems no better than Ontario in enforcing laws against drivers with illegally tinted front windows. The Detroit News quoted Michigan State Police First Lt. Mike Shaw saying window tinting “is something we need to really take a look at because it’s becoming a lot worse.” Criminal lawyer Shawn Haff calls it “selective enforcement.” The issue is more serious now that the state has banned handheld use of cellphones. But one group of drivers, those with the illegal tints, can yack away all they want without being seen. – 27/9/23

Detroit's innovative approach to reducing violent crime

Detroit has embarked on an innovative community-based project to stop violent crime. Called ShotStoppers, six groups are actually paid by the city based on their success in reducing neighbourhood crime. The money is paid out of a $10 million American Rescue Plan Act pot. “These organizations were selected to be violence interrupters in violent crime ‘hot spot’ areas of the city and will be measured – and paid – based on their successes in actually preventing violent crime,” a release says. – 13/9/23

Not much hope for revitalizing Jackson Park bandshell

There doesn’t seem much hope for revitalizing the venerable Jackson Park bandshell. It’s “inoperable, in need of repair and sitting empty” the city says in a report. One problem is the former seating area now sits on adjacent school board property, providing “significant challenges” to large gatherings. Concerts and gatherings have also shifted to places like the riverfront Festival Plaza. And there are plans for a performance site for the Civic Esplanade between city hall and waterfront. A study would cost $100,000 and take nine to 10 months. – 30/8/23

Photo: CBC

Even avg people can't post news on facebook

When facebook started blocking Canadian new sites from posting content in response to the government’s Online News Act earlier this month it wasn’t just news organizations themselves which are banned from posting, it’s average people. For example, if you want to post an interesting news story to let your facebook friends know about it, you are blocked from doing so. And this applies not just posting from a Canadian news site but from American ones as well – in fact, any news site where the person posting happens to be located in Canada. – 15/8/23

Board investigating teacher berating Muslim students

The Greater Essex County District School Board is investigating an incident at Northwood Public School where a teacher berated Muslim students for not attending a Pride event. As well, a letter of apology was sent by principal Dustin O’Neal to the parents, republished by the True North independent media outlet. The online site released an exclusively obtained audio of a teacher at Northwood “going on a tirade where she tells her class that Muslim students’ abstaining from Pride was ‘disgusting’ and ‘an incredible show of hatred’ that made her not want to be their educator." An earlier report said some 600 out of the school’s 800 students stayed home on the school’s Pride Day – a 75% absentee rate. – 27/7/23

Funds for McGivney Centre's Rainbow Pavement project

The John McGivney Children’s Centre was given $5500 by the Gordie Howe International Bridge community benefits program for its Rainbow Paintings on Pavement program. The money “will support painting two pavement areas at the John McGivney Children’s Centre in the colours of the Progressive Rainbow Flag in honour of the LGBTQ2S+ community to celebrate equality, inclusion and compassion and signal that all diversities are welcome.” The centre, founded by the deceased and onetime Rotarian John McGivney, aids children and youth “to help abilities grow by providing child-focused, family-centred care.” Part of its mandate is to “remove barriers to participation.” – 13/7/23

Decorative “street furniture” for Drive

Get ready for some new design standards for Riverside Drive. This includes landscaping, light poles and “street furniture” like benches and trash cans – a consistent design to provide fresh and attractive uniformity. This meshes with the city’s Riverside Dr. Vista Project, approved in 2006. The idea is to enhance the street to make it “look like a scenic drive,” according to a city report. The standards coincide with Phase 2 of the Vista plan with street improvements from Ford Blvd to St. Rose Ave. and Strabane Ave. to Ford Blvd. Decorative streetlights run from $8000-$12,000, $1960 for a bench and $1590 for trash receptacle. – 29/6/23

Sidewalks "generate" more pedestrians

The City of Windsor has a “Pedestrian Generator Sidewalk Policy,” established in 2007, which will spark the building of sidewalks if certain conditions are met. And there’s no charge to residents. The city will build sidewalks in higher density areas like streets leading to a “significant pedestrian destination” or if it serves more than residential properties like institutions or parks. Or in fact is requested by a school board and leads up to a school. – 15/6/22

City wants an end to alley garbage pickups

Residents who take their garbage to the back alley for pick up will have to move it to curbside at the front of their house, a city report recommends. Alley collection “presents several challenges” including alley size, pavement conditions and illegally parked vehicles. Alley collection also requires smaller vehicles therefore collecting less waste and making more trips, increasing costs and “environmental impact.” The city’s contracted garbage company has brought up “health and safety” concerns including hazards like syringes. The change wouldn’t happen until the next service contract. – 12/5/23

Detroit moves to stem Greektown violence

Detroit officials are moving to stem violence in the relatively violence-free downtown, especially Greektown, long a lure for Canadians. Mayor Mike Duggan and police chief James White have unveiled a 12-point plan including “Casper Units” - undercover cops in crowds looking for arguments that could escalate into violence - and the closing of some streets. Since early April there have been six shootings and two deaths in Greektown and on the popular Riverwalk tourist attraction. By “midsummer” there will be extra police deployed. – 26/4/23

Photo: Wikipedia

Handbell, jazz and wrestling events get city arts funding

A handbell festival and Jazz in the Park were two arts groups receiving city funding in the first round of yearly city arts funded grants. Another was a history of pro-wrestling locally, a Bicycle Powered Plastic Shredder, a Homelessness project and a Brewing for Comedy Festival. $59,000 was approved altogether. The city received 56 applications. Nineteen projects were funded, 10 from first-time applicants. – 13/4/23

Less snow, so less blowback against snow plow operators

Windsor snowplow operators may not have experienced a lot of harassment this winter. But that's probably because there hasn't been a lot of snow. But plow operators have indeed experienced harassment over past years. “We have received some complaints and harassment over the years from our operators, contractors, and supervisors during snow events,” Phong Nguy, public works maintenance manager says. “Some people have expectations that are beyond our capability to deliver. However, the general public is very well accepted and pleasant.” But in the GTA – where they get more snow - some operators have quit this year over harassment. There were eight incidents in Mississauga after the March 3 snowstorm including “verbal abuse, as well as damage to plow trucks by residents using their shovels to break lights and mirrors,” a city spokesman there said. But Windsor has been relatively tranquil. “This year, there were fewer complaints as we did not have as many snow events,” said Nguy. – 30/3/23