Windsor Star photo - IrekMy name is Irek Kusmierczyk and I am honoured to be your voice on Windsor City Council as the Councillor for Ward 7.  Welcome to my blog called Forward 7.  Scroll down and you’ll find posts about issues residents have raised at the door, ideas and plans for improving Ward 7, how I voted on matters before council, and discussions about innovative best practices in other cities.  I hope Forward 7 becomes a space where we can connect and a first step in making City Council more transparent, accessible, accountable and responsive to residents.  I invite you to surf my site and as always I am available any time to talk in person, by phone or email.

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I met with the City Engineer today to discuss the following issues:

(1) Update on current capital projects and those on the horizon for Ward 7

(2) Need to improve Banwell Road from Tecumseh Road East to Mulberry with streetlights, road expansion, multi-use trail

(3) I raised the idea of conducting a micro-study of a neighbourhood – such as Vanderbilt/Sandpoint streets – to (i) investigate how resilient are individual properties to flooding by checking things like grading, backwater valves, downspout disconnection etc. (ii) investigate City infrastructure and potential improvements that could be introduced.  The micro-study could be used as a pilot or demo for other neighbourhoods that have experienced flooding

(4) Flood mapping for Little River Corridor

(5) Need to expedite dyke improvements in Little River Corridor in order to protect homeowners against overland flooding – a risk that could have materialized had the major storm of August 29-30 tracked just a short distance east over the Little River Corridor

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
11.1 Little River Dykes Flood Protection Yes 10-0 Deferral
11.2 Synchro Canada 2018 Qualifier Yes` 10-0 Consent
11.3 Improvements to Basement Flood Protection Subsidy Program Yes 10-0 Presentation

 

Council Questions:

(1)    I asked administration to report back on staff adjustments necessary to reduce courtesy inspection wait times for the Basement Flood Protection Subsidy Program – from about 8-12 months to 30, 60 or 90 days. That motion did not pass.

(2)    I asked administration to report back on the current education campaign for the Basement Flood Protection Subsidy Program – to understand how social media has been employed including number of views, what is the content, and what improvements are recommended and needed to get this information into the hands of residents. This motion passed.

(3)    I asked administration to confer with the Windsor Police Services – Mr. Barry Horrobin – and report back on the safety of Banwell Road in the absence of street lighting on the stretch from Tecumseh Road East to EC Row. This motion passed.

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On Friday, September 8th – I had the privilege of joining a small group of folks gathered at the corner of McHugh & Cypress – just a stone’s throw from the Village of Aspen Lake Nursing Home – to honour the life and work of the late Rev. Charles Payne who was a tireless and fearless advocate for the inclusion and empowerment of all people with disabilities and a champion for the removal of barriers in the City of Windsor and beyond.

A plaque was unveiled in Rev. Payne’s honour at the foot of a newly planted tulip tree – made possible by the generous contribution of Windsor residents through the Ward 7 Fund.

Special thanks go out to the people who were part of our little planning committee who made this day possible: MPP Percy Hatfield, Pat Delmore & Steve Habrun from Transit Windsor, City Forrester Paul Giroux, Accessibility & Diversity Officer Gayle Jones of the City of Windsor, the Windsor Accessibility Advisory Committee, Councillor Ed Sleiman, as well as Joanne Potts and the amazing staff of the Villages of Aspen Lake Nursing Home.

Beautiful memories and words were shared by many – including a moving tribute by Rev. Payne’s daughter that left not a dry eye among the gathered.

The text of the short speech I shared can be found after the photos by clicking the hyperlink.

 

Payne 1 Payne 2 Payne 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the days after last year’s devastating flood on September 29, 2016 – in which over 3,000 homes were flooded mostly in Wards 6 & 7 – I submitted to City Council what I call 20 Questions Plus - formal questions asking the City Engineer to explain the cause of the flood, the City’s response and the steps necessary to address the challenge of basement flooding in the future.

I am posting this as it contains some excellent information, and it may help answer some of the questions you have.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions yourself: irek@citywindsor.ca

To:  Mayor and Members of City Council

 Subject:  2016 Flooding Event Debrief Report and Response to CQ46-2016, CQ47-2016, CQ54-2016 and CQ57-2016

Author: City Engineer     Date to Council:  January 23, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

On Thursday September 29, 2016 a severe and extreme rainstorm event occurred in the City of Windsor resulting in rainfall amounts of up to 230mm in the hardest hit areas of the City. This rainfall event exceeded the 1:100 year design storm and in some areas, amounted to 144% of the amount of precipitation normally received during the month of September. The City’s sewers, drains, ponds and outlets functioned as designed but were overwhelmed by the extraordinary volume of rainwater, leading to flooded roads, basements and ponds that spilled onto adjacent properties.  A total of 2853 callers reported incidences of flooding to 311 during the event and in the days following.

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
8.2 Renaming Two City Parks Yes 10-0 Consent
7.2 Banning Circus Acts with Animals – Motion to Defer Discussion Yes 10-0 Deferral
8.4 Maple Grove Homes 4785 Walker Road Yes 10-0 Presentation
8.10 Closing alley in 200 block of McKay – Motion to Receive for Information Yes 10-0 Presentation
11.1 State of City Playgrounds Update               Yes 10-0 Regular
11.2 National Disaster Mitigation Program Yes 10-0 Regular
11.3 National Disaster Mitigation Program Yes 10-0 Regular
       

 

8.2 Renaming Ward 7 Park – Elizabeth Kishkon Park: I was delighted to support the motion to rename the beautiful and popular park on the corner of Banwell Road & Little River Boulevard henceforth called Elizabeth Kishkon Park named after the first female Mayor of Windsor and a champion of city parks including the establishment of Peche Island as a public municipal park.

11.1 State of City Playgrounds Update: I was excited to support the motion – passed unanimously – which will dedicate approximately $7 million to the replacement of approximately 28 playground units that had been removed as part of the playground audit – including playgrounds on Flora Avenue and Bush Park on Esplanade in Ward 7.

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I met with the Mayor today in his office to discuss:

1. The new Mountabatten Development

2. Flooding

a. Discussed the potential hiring of a full time Resiliency & Climate Adaptation Officer

b. Discussed options to increase uptake of the downspout disconnection program – including the potential of making the disconnection program mandatory as in Toronto

c. Discussed making the 100 per cent subsidy for backwater valves, sump pumps etc. avaialble to all residents who got flooded including those who experienced flooding in 2016 in Ward 7

 

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
8.1 Mobile payment for parking system Yes 10-0 Consent
8.5 Interim control bylaw land use study Yes 10-0 Regular
8.2 Exemption form Sandwich Demolition control bylaw Yes 5-5 Regular
8.2 Exemption from Sandwich demolition control bylaw – Motion to Note & File Yes 9-0 Regular
11.2 Holiday lighting display No 6-5 Presentation
11.3 National trade corridor fund Yes 10-0 Consent

 

Item 8.2 – Exemption from Sandwich demolition control bylaw: Council has a long-standing record of denying demolition permits to the Canadian Transit Company in the area of Old Sandwich Town.  Issue related to demolition is currently before the Canadian court system, hence the rationale is to simply wait until the Supreme Court makes its decision.

In this one unique case – I voted to make an exception and permit the demolition, as the condition of the building in question was severely compromised due to a fire that gutted the building.  Hence, in my opinion, this burned out shell of a building represented too much of a public safety hazard to allow it to stand.  For example, I see a tremendous risk of injury should a child venture into that severely damaged building.

Item 11.2 – Holiday Lighting Display:  I voted NO on the $3 million holiday light display in Jackson Park.  Simply put, we have other priorities that are more important including maintaining our existing infrastructure which includes sewers, roads, parks, libraries etc.

Council Question:

I asked administration to report back on the chain-link fence recently erected in the water at Sandpoint Beach, and to provide both the reasoning for the fence as well as alternatives.

In my opinion, the chain link fence degrades the beauty of this park.

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Enjoyed a great ride today – and the opportunity to talk to residents as well as get a street level view of what needs work and what is working well in our neighbourhood.

Ward_7_Cycle_August_12_2017

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I met with the Mayor in his office today to discuss the following:

1. Sandpoint Beach improvements – especially the ugly chainlink fencing that was erected in the water along half the length of the beach which seriously degrades the beauty of the beach.  I also shared photographs of the poor state of the beach.

2. Banwell Road

a. Mentioned the structural rating of Banwell Road – which puts it in the Now Deficient category.  This is concerning since there are 19,900 daily vehicles using that road

3. Accelerated Playground Replacement e.g. Flora, Bush Park etc.

a. I was delighted to learn that the Parks Department will be putting forward a report which recommends using part of the money set aside for a new downtown parking garage – about $4 million out of $7.2 million – to accelerate the replacement of the neighbourhood playgrounds.  Since I voted against the $7.2 million parking garage in 2014, I was delighted to see that money used for a better purpose.

Replacing the 28 old, expired and unsafe playgrounds that had been removed in 2016 & 2017 is easily one of the top issues that residents have contacted me about.  It is about investing in existing infrastructure and assets.

4. Community Benefits for the new Gordie Howe Bridge

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
10.1 United Way Presentation Yes 10-0 Presentation
10.2 Ontario Senior of the Year Yes 10-0 Presentation
10.3 PWC Review of Cash Control Yes 10-0 Consent
10.4 PwC Action Plan Yes 10-0 Consent
10.5 PwC Service Provider Yes 10-0 Consent
10.6 PwC Management Action Plan Yes 10-0 Consent
10.7 PwC Internal Audit Performance Yes 10-0 Consent
10.8 PwC Internal Audit Report 2017 Yes 10-0 Consent
10.9 Status Report on Implementation Audit Yes 10-0 Consent
10.10 Summary of hotline issues Yes 10-0 Consent
7.3 – 2016 Consolidated Financial Statements Yes 10-0 Consent
8.13 No action on recommendation to restrict homes with extended garages aka snout house Yes 7-3 Delegation
8.20 Pillette Avenue bicycle lanes Yes 7-3 Delegation
8.4 Ouellette Avenue enhanced streetscape No 7-3 Delegation
8.5 Pelissier Parking Garage tender No 7-4 Delegation
11.1 2017 Q2 Operating Budget Variance Yes 10-0 Consent
11.2 Proposed budget timeline Yes 10-0 Presentation
11.3 Amendments to sign bylaw Children’s Village Yes 10-0 Consent
8.3 Award of tender Kamloops and Marentette reconstruction No 8-2 Delegation
 

 

Item No. 8.4 Ouellette Avenue Enhanced Streetscape & Item No. 8.5 Pelissier Parking Garage Tender & 8.3 Award of Tender for Kamloops and Marentette Reconstruction

Simply put – these three projects came in over budget: 75 per cent + 11 per cent + 21 per cent.  Hence, although the projects on Ouellette and Marentette/Kamloops had merit – the fact that these projects were grossly over budget required us to change their scope and re-tender at a later date.

Item 11.2 Proposed Budget Timeline:  As part of the motion, I asked that Administration report back on changing the scheduling of the Budget Night Council Meeting – to determine whether and how we could spread the final Budget Meeting over several council sessions in order to provide residents and Council with more time to deliberate the budget – and with fresh eyes – rather than the current sessions which often last from 1pm until 2am –  13 hours.

8.13 Recommendation to restrict construction of homes with extended garages:  I voted NO on the administration recommendation to implement restrictions on houses with extended garages in new subdivisions.  In short, I do not believe that the City should be restricting the choice for home owners.  If folks want to have a house with an extended garage that will allow them to maximize living space, have room for their cars and allow them to have a backyard all at an affordable price – who are we to get in their way?  Home owners should have choice.

Petition

I submitted a petition from the residents of Vanderbilt and Sandpoint streets who remain concerned about basement flooding.

Council Questions

(1)    Residents of Sandpoint and Vanderbilt are concerned about the layers of dust coming from the commercial gravel piles on Riverside Drive.  I direct Administration to come back with a report on options to address this matter.

(2)    Residents on the north side of Riverside Drive are concerned about the state of the breakwall.  The ownership of the breakwall has not been determined, and this stands in the way of progressing with maintenance.  I ask administration to determine ownership and report back.

(3)    A resident recently contacted me because she was injured in one of our large parks and had difficulty directing First Responders to her location.  I ask administration to report back on signage & location options for first responders to help them identify location of residents who require their help during emergencies.

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