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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What a wonderful way to spend a gorgeous Saturday morning – cleaning up Little River with friends from Rotary 1918, Safety Village and Neighbourhood Watch!

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“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”

 - Rainer Maria Rilke

Residents of East Riverside and Forest Glade appreciate the diversity and beauty of our many parks – where one can expand the lungs and rest the eyes.  Here are a few scenes from a recent walk.

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A Windsor resident recently posed a question on social media asking about the compensation that City Councillors receive in the City of Windsor.  The question was asked in the context of some of the perks that City of Toronto councilors receive.  It’s a fair question and definitely that information should be easily accessible at taxpayer fingertips!  For that reason, I am posting my response below which hopefully sheds some light.

Hi Denise! Happy to provide some answers regarding City Council compensation in the City of Windsor and some of the benefits – and I can follow up on any additional questions you may have. I will start with the Toronto context that is referenced in the video you mention. City of Toronto Councillors receive an annual salary of about $110,000 + an annual staff budget of $230,000. That salary is pegged to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which means that every January 1st – Toronto City Councillors receive anywhere from a 1% to 2% pay raise. Sometimes more. Brampton City Councillors for instance gave themselves a 7% pay raise in 2015.

A Windsor City Councillor receives about $29,000 in annual salary – 1/3rd tax free in place of reimbursement for things like mileage, paper, pens, printer cartridges etc. – and an additional $11,000 in compensation for sitting on Boards and Committees. The last time Windsor City Council gave itself a pay raise was eleven years ago in 2005 – an increase of 1.5%. I believe before that – the second last pay raise was about 22 years ago in 1994. We receive a $2000 stipend to purchase a laptop computer and/or office equipment and that covers the four-year term.  I have not used it.  We can also get reimbursed for phone and internet.  I have not asked for reimbursement.  We do receive Free Parking that is City Wide. I also have a pass to Conservation Areas in Windsor-Essex as a result of sitting on the Essex Regional Conservation Authority. I am unaware of any other free passes to other City Facilities – but I can get that information for you. I personally have not used them if they do exist. Windsor Councillors also do not have Transit Windsor passes. When we have board meetings out in the County of Essex – we do get compensated for mileage. Two of the committees and boards I served on provide a snack before meetings e.g. crackers, grapes, cheese. Tourism Windsor Essex and Pelee Island (TWEPI) meets at lunch and provides wraps. Councillors are also allowed to travel to two out-of-town conferences each year such as the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) or the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) where we meet with councilors from across the Province and the Country to exchange best practices. Thus far – I have attended two conferences – AMO & FCM – both in Niagara Falls. I also attended the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative on my own dime. I am trying to think of any other pertinent information I can share with you, so please bear with me if I forgot an item. I definitely hear what you’re saying, and agree, that those who are fortunate enough to be called to public service should do it for the right reasons. Let me know if you have any questions any time. Cheers!

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1-Blitz enforcement in parks No 9-1 Regular
2-Cabana/Division improvement RFP Yes 10-0 Consent
3-CARHA downtown special event permit Yes 10-0 Consent
4-Economic Development Officer Yes 10-0 Regular
5- Lennon Drain examination Yes 10-0 Consent
6-Willistead Manor catering Yes 10-0 Consent
7-St. George Demo Deferral Yes 10-0 Consent
8-Support for CNU new urbanism conference Yes 10-0 Consent
9-Parking lot replacement Optimist Centre Yes 10-0 Consent
10-LRPCP and LRWRP upgrades Yes 10-0 Consent
11-Working environment policy Yes 10-0 Consent
12-Sewer surcharge exempt account Yes 10-0 Consent
13-Caretaking Outsource No 6-5 Regular
Bortolin Motion: $1 Patio Fees Yes 5-6 Notice of Motion
Francis Motion: phased-in patio fees Yes 9-1 Notice of Motion
Mayor Motion: Funding for Memorial Cup Yes 9-1 Notice of Motion
 

 

Item No. 13: Caretaking Outsourcing

For explanation click here:  Previous Council Decision – November 16, 2015

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
5.1 – Strategic Vision update Yes 10-0 Presentation
6.1- Settlement of appeals Ward 3 Yes 10-0 Business
6.2-FINA expenditures update Yes 10-0 Business
6.3-Capital Project variance Sept 30 2015 Yes 10-0 Business
6.4-20 Year Strategic Vision feedback Yes 10-0 Business
       

 

 

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1-      Expropriation of lands in airport area No 9-2 Delegation
2 –WDTC service agreement Yes 10-0 Consent
3-2016 Detroit Grand Prix sponsorship No 6-4 Presentation
4-Insurance review and RFP Yes 10-0 Consent
5 – WUC George Avenue Reservoir & park Yes 10-0 Consent
6a-2016 Enhanced Capital Budget ward funds - No Seconder Regular
6b-2016 Enhanced CapitalBudget ward funds Yes 8-2 Regular
7 – FCM Green Municipal Fund agreement Yes 10-0 Consent
8 – Waste and Recycling Tender Yes 10-0 Consent
9 – Social Housing Efficiency Program Yes 10-0 Consent
Council Question: Accessible Parking

 

Item No.1 – Expropriation of Lands in Airport Area:

City Council voted to expropriate private lands near the airport belonging to two families – Janisse and Tako. I voted NO.  To me, expropriation is a violent act – forcing someone out o f their home – and should only be used as a last resort with a well-defined public good and well defined timelines.  In essence- the city is forcing Ms. Tako – a retired school teacher who has lived on in her home for over 40 years – off her land without any imminent economic development project on the horizon.  Furthermore, in essence, the expropriation will forcibly transfer land from one private property owner to another e.g. a private business.  This makes the exchange concerning.  I can support expropriation when it entails a public good such as the construction of a bridge, railway or road.

A similar situation provoked one of the most important US Supreme Court cases Kelo vs. City of New London.  Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the following about expropriation which I believe is relevant to the current expropriation: “Today the court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner … nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”

Item No. 3- Detroit Grand Prix Sponsorship:

I vote NO on the sponsorship.  Two months ago a majority of Council voted against giving the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) a break on its $5,000 ticket surcharge.  Hence, it is hard to see how the same majority could vote to give $50,000 – ten times more – to an event hosted outside the City and run by a multi-million dollar private corporation.  My philosophy is simple – support local homegrown events and homegrown organizations like WIFF first!

6a – Enhanced Capital Budget Ward Funds:

The $400,000 in Ward Funds are part of the $10 million Enhanced Capital Budget.  My question to Administration and the Mayor was simple – knowing that the Federal Government will announce a historic $60 billion infrastructure stimulus program – wouldn’t it make more sense to hold off on allocating any part of the $10 million Enhanced Capital Budget IN ORDER TO leverage Federal dollars from the Infrastructure program?  Hence – I put forward the following motion which failed because it did not receive a seconder.

MOTION: That Council defer the implementation of the Enhanced Capital Budget until after the 2016 Federal Budget – and until after the details of the federal infrastructure stimulus program is announced- in order to provide Administration with the opportunity to propose how the $10 million Enhanced Capital Budget could be used to leverage those federal funds for necessary capital expenditures

6b – Enhanced Capital Budget Ward Funds:

Once my motion failed – another was put forward to adopt the ward funds which I supported.

Item No. 8 – Waste and Recycling Tender:

I voted to maintain the private delivery of waste and recycling services by private company GFL.

Council Question – Accessible Parking:

Many cities such as London, Toronto, Ottawa allow residents with Accessible Parking Permits to park – free of charge – at on-street parking meters.  Hence, I asked the following Council Question:

CQ: That administration report back on best practises from other cities regarding metered on-street accessible parking AND to provide feasibility and cost of implementing free metered parking for residents with Accessible Parking Permits

 

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Once again – lightning quick response from the CAO and City Staff.

The garbage container that was spray painted with graffiti in Derwent Park has been replaced.

The large item garbage strewn on McRobbie has also been collected – including the rusted mattress springs that presented the greatest health & safety hazard.

Excellent work, team!

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The last Ward Walk was a tremendous success – with City Administration responding quickly and effectively to address deficiencies in Ward 7 neighbourhoods.

This weekend we spent a couple of hours touring the Forest Glade area to identify items requiring fixing.  Check back here for updates on our progress.

 

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Do yourself a favour and book your tour of the Canadian Historical Aircraft Association museum www.c2ha.ca

Make sure to check out and touch the grand Lancaster bomber among the many amazing aircraft.

The amount of volunteer hours invested in this community gem is immeasurable.  A thousand thanks to John & Don and the C2HA crew.

 

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