BIZ X Magazine: New City Council Priorities

Rose City Politics outlines what the priorities of the next city council should be.

Jon Liedtke

Jon Liedtke

With a new city council about to be elected it’s that time of year when Rose City Politics racks our brains to come up with the most pressing priorities facing the city and council. JUST KIDDING. We don’t rack our brains, we reiterate the same damn points we make ad nauseum because for some reason we just can’t seem to tackle them.

I could write about how we need to pursue Vision Zero with a focus on making our roads safer with traffic calming measures and how dedicated cycling lanes are desperately needed to minimize accidents and save lives.

Or I could write about how Windsor desperately needs an expanded and reliable transit system that all residents can utilize for our collective benefit, or how it was unjust that one elected official was able to shutter transit unilaterally, or about how it’s a travesty that the Tunnel Bus has yet to resume and how there is seemingly no will from either the city or Transit Windsor to deal with this fact until after the federal government will discontinue the use of ArriveCan. 

Or I could write about how we need to further invest in not only housing but also affordable housing.

Or I could write about any of the things we talk about weekly on Rose City Politics or write about monthly here in our Biz X Magazine column.

But I want to just focus on the ABCs: Accountability, Basics, and Community.

Accountability to residents, not re-electoral prospects. Accountability through public consultation, not public conferral. Accountability through bearing responsibility, not finger pointing.

Basics. Less streetcars that are less than desirable and more safe streets and safe neighbourhoods. We don’t need to continue building legacy monuments that residents didn’t ask for and council didn’t run on. Every term there’s another project, and every time it takes money away from other recognized community priorities.

Community. Council can bring the community together or council can artificially pit each other against one another by prioritizing unnecessary spending that doesn’t help the community as a whole. It is time for the community to come together and demand the council follow the priorities the residents elected them to.

The ABCs are what we should be focusing on. 

Jon Liedtke is a fill-in on-air host for AM800 CKLW, Co-host and Producer of Rose City Politics, a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and SAG-AFTRA, and plays trumpet in Windsor’s The Nefidovs.

Doug Sartori

Doug Sartori

As I write this we’re in the first weeks of what looks to be an energetic and competitive election season in Windsor. Whoever prevails in the various races around the city on October 24th, the incoming council faces a mix of challenges and opportunities that should define its agenda in the early years of the upcoming term.

Serious candidates, and some not so serious, have identified the key issues facing our city. Some are problems for every municipality across Ontario: homelessness and addiction, equitable access to housing, and inflationary pressures. Others, like our weak transit system and sclerotic city administration, are uniquely our own. All of these issues have unique solutions requiring expert guidance but my prescription is the same: stop playing politics with critical issues that negatively impact people’s lives and start finding ways to build consensus around real solutions.

The tone of our local politics needs to be more serious and less self-serving and that starts at the top. Whether Drew Dilkens or Chris Holt wins the top job, Windsor needs our Mayor to set a more serious tone and do more to listen to all voices around the table, whether they’re his friends and allies or pesky opponents.

The Stellantis/LG battery plant announcement this past spring was the best economic news we’ve had in a generation, and it is no surprise that incumbents are running on this issue like all our problems have been solved. Converting on this opportunity will require more than smug self-satisfaction. City leadership needs to finally get serious about economic diversification and find ways to attract the educated professionals and business investments that can deliver it. That means using the Windsor Works report as a blueprint, not as a political tool or a paperweight.

I sincerely hope that Windsor elects a Council that can turn the page on the petty, personal, divisive politics that have dominated the past decade in this town and get started on the serious work ahead of them.

Doug Sartori is a political observer and organizer. When he’s not recording podcasts or getting people out to vote he runs Parallel 42 Systems, a technology consultancy firm in downtown Windsor.

Don Merrifield Jr.
Don Merrifield Jr.

Don Merrifield Jr.

The hospital will be an ongoing priority for (unfortunately) years to come. I think good or bad the debate about the location has exhausted itself for most people. Our healthcare infrastructure has been terribly inadequate for many years and this area deserves modern facilities. The special interest groups and social media PHD’s who present themselves as experts in the delivery of healthcare services seem to have moved on to other degrees so not only ensuring the hospital project moves forward, I would like to see the new council pressure the provincial government to expedite the process. 

On the economic front, the recent announcements of the Nextstar Battery Plant and Dongshin Motech plant are an opportunity for the entire area to continue to leverage these investments into further economic development opportunities. Hopefully the focus will be on the sharp end of the stick of research and development and not just the assembly of these products. 

Even with the somewhat dramatic softening of housing prices for Windsor Essex supply continues to be an issue. An issue that will probably increase as the new facilities mentioned prior get into production. I would expect an influx of people coming to the area for the jobs that will be created with those projects. Rentals and subsidized housing in this area is still in short supply and will need to be addressed. Building one new subsidized housing project when there is a wait list of thousands is nothing Council should be patting themselves on the back for. Just looking at the situation of homeless people in the downtown core is proof this area has ignored a serious problem for decades. Mental health and addiction issues are a problem not only in this area and needs higher levels of governments to assist with. Our current solution of “well we just won’t go downtown” isn’t exactly taking care of the issues. Possibly all the Twitter / Facebook Masters and PHD students could focus on this as their next area of study and come up with some real solutions? 

Don Merrifield Jr. is a REALTOR serving Windsor and Essex County for over 21 years, a Co-Host on Rose City Politics for over 10 years, a father and grandfather, a former professional musician, and a former Ward 3 City Council candidate.

This article first appeared on Biz X Magazine


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