THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Bruce Moncur Headshot

The Myriad Crises Facing Windsor, Ontario

Posted: Updated:
WINDSOR WATER CRISIS
Photo By Tom Carter via Getty Images
Print

It is considered common knowledge among locals that the Windsor Expressway has the infamous distinction of being the shortest 100 km highway to have taken the most amount of time to build while costing the most money at the same time. Instead of being built all at once, it was built in over a span of a generation. The Rose city has blundered on infrastructure and has an abhorrent record even to this day.

Recently the city put an arena where a pool should be and a pool where an arena should be. As for roses, the city has decided it is useless to grow them any more.

To put this into perspective, Zalav scrap yard was built on the outskirts of the city decades ago. Since then the city has grown so that the scrap heap is near the center of the city. The rust it emits has turned the sidewalks along Howard avenue a dark shade of burned amber. Every day, thousands of men, women, and children are breathing in toxins that put them at a higher risk for cancer.

There's also the possibility that the city refuses to expropriate the scrap yard out of respect for the owner of the property.

"The City of Windsor, Ontario, is infamous for expropriating private property for the benefit of private companies, be they housing developers, the operators of a casino, or car manufacturers," writes Elizabeth Brubaker, executive director of Environment Probe. In 1998 the city expropriated a block of businesses on Riverside drive so that Chrysler could build their Canadian headquarters.

It was originally supposed to be a skyscraper at 32 stories, then over time it was to be fewer and fewer floors, until finally it was built to 14 stories -- half of the floors are empty. A boondoggle of an enterprise from day one, the city managed to take a block worth of historic 1920s buildings of thriving businesses and replace it with an empty tower.

Meaning that the city will appropriate land shamelessly for businesses but will turn a blind eye to a cancer-causing land mass that emits 19 per cent of all of Ontario's toxic emmisions.

Essex county has the distinct dishonour of being the most deforested county in Canada, with 97 percent of the trees in the county having been harvested at this point.

There are very few areas that have any sort of forestry, coupled with the fact that half the city is boarded up due to the failing local economy. Then it would be a surprise to anyone with any sort of aptitude for cognitive thought that the city is allowing a company to tear down the last of the remaining trees to build a Home Depot.

As for the unemployment rate that has plagued the city for the better part of the decade, the last two mayors have undertaken a strategy of sitting on their hands. It is like trying to ride out a hurricane, tornado, and an earthquake all at once.

Then there is the bullying tactics the city has taken against charities. The county overcharged charities for bingo licences and the charities made a class action lawsuit to regain the money lost. The city has now undertaken a very public campaign to get the charities to opt out. Billboards, radio announcements, advertising has been used to brow beat the charities into pulling out and demonizing them to the public.

In summation, the City overcharges Charities that are trying to raise money for cancer and autism through bingo fees. Then when it gets caught and sued, their approach is to deflect the blame by demonizing charities trying to raise money for cancer (they helped create by refusing to remove the scrap yard) and autism research.

Change is needed and overall it is being hindered at every corner by a mayor and a select group of city councillors whose actions have historically resulted in the worst possible outcome. It is time to get rid of the dinosaurs and puppets in charge and demand some measure of competence and accountability.

After the last federal election, Mayor Drew Dilkens lamented the three NDP MPs that were elected, saying he felt he was in a "political wasteland" coupled with the three NDP provincial representatives.

Hypocritically, as he laments the democratic decisions of 77,000 voters, he himself was at the conservative candidate's election night headquarters. A party that does not have a formed government federally or provincially. And yet he refuses to tackle the scrap yard that is causing the neighbourhood Remington Park to be called "Chemo Way." I am lamenting the actual wasteland he refuses to address.

The exodus of youth in attempts to find careers that Windsor could never hope to provide is palpable. There is hope, some city councillors like Holt, Bortolin, Kusmierczyk, and sometimes Marra are trying to make a difference, but they are outnumbered. Anytime someone tries to put forward innovative ideas they are struck down by the slim majority the old guard clings to by a single vote. It seems as though that the attempts to improve the city is being cut off and thwarted. Revitalization is being stagnated by an incompetence that truly seems villainous.

A renaissance is upon us, and Windsor is changing despite the status quo from its municipal handicaps. Reprehensible and irresponsible, even good-intentioned city plans seem to cause the worst possible outcome.

There is nothing left to lose, riding out the storm is not working, doing nothing is only accomplishing a further descent into obscurity. It's time to think outside the box. More importantly, it is time to get rid of the scrap yard that is increasing the risk of cancer in our children. Just this week Windsor was awarded the 2017 Memorial Cup as a host city, every other city should boycott the event until Windsor, at the very least, deals with its cancer-causing scrap yard.