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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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
7.2 – Assessment valuation report Yes 10-0 Communication
7.3 – Canada Goose control program Yes 10-0 Communication
7.4 – Asphalt Specifications and Quality Assurance Yes 10-0 Communication
7.5 – FINA Expenditures report only – note and file Yes 10-0 Communication
7.6 – McDougall Rail Crossing grant application Yes 10-0 Communication
7.7 – Smart Community and Fibre Optics Yes 10-0 Communication
11.3 & 11.4 – Clothing Donation and Bin Yes 10-0 Deferral
11.7 – Riverside Vista expropriation Yes 10-0 Deferral
10.1 – Friends of Ojibway video Yes 10-0 Presentation
10.2 – Property assessment notices MPAC Yes 10-0 Presentation
10.3 – Grand Marais drain concrete channel update Yes 10-0 Presentation
8.5 – Riverside Underpass EA acceptance No 8-2 Consent
8.8 – Parking clearance implementation Yes 10-0 Delegation
11.1 – IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship Bid No 9-1 Regular business
11.2 – Town of Lasalle Transit Yes 10-0 Regular
11.5 – Swimming Canada bids Yes 10-0 Regular
11.6 – Rimini Street Peoplesoft software Yes 10-0 Regular
11.8 – WEEEDC agreement with City Yes 10-0 Regular

 

7.3 – Canada Goose control program: In 2009, the Town of Vernon, B.C was a defendant in a case brought before the Supreme Court of British Columbia by a resident who was injured after slipping on a park sidewalk covered in goose droppings.  The court ruled in favour of the City – but in large part as a result of the fact that the City demonstrated a reasonable level of care having put in place a regular cleaning schedule three days per week.

My line of questioning during this debate centered around making sure that we have in place similar protections against liability in the form of a regular cleaning program.  Subsequently, I forwarded the BC Supreme Court Case to Administration.  Stay tuned for the response.

7.4 – Asphalt Specifications and Quality Assurance:  First off, I would like to congratulate and thank Mr. Andrew Lewis – from the Engineering Department – for an excellent report that really underscores the critical importance of one of our most important and expensive assets: roads.

The City spends $22 million every year on roads.  Increasingly, we have witnessed roads falling apart prematurely after only a few seasons – much sooner than their expected 25 year life-cycle- not just in Windsor but across Ontario.  This is a serious enough issue that even the industry association – Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association (OHMPA) is studying the issue.

Hence – one would think the City would make certain that (a) we have tight specifications in place that make sure good material is used in our roads, while the bad stuff is kept out (b) that we have a robust Quality Assurance program that can verify that contractors are using good stuff, and keeping the bad stuff out of Windsor roads.

Bad stuff like used motor oil – or what the industry calls Re-Refined Engine Oil Bottoms (REOB) and also something called Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP).

A large number of studies – including those conducted by Queen’s University roads expert Dr. Simon Hesp – clearly show that both REOB and RAP are junk by-products that lead to premature road failure when inserted into asphalt.

Five (5) major cities across Ontario restrict the use of RAP – with Ottawa and Toronto introducing restrictions in 2017.

Eight (8) major cities across Ontario ban the use of REOB – or used engine oil.

Windsor is one of the few large cities in Ontario that have NO restrictions on used engine oil, and still use RAP in our asphalt.

The good news – is that we have representatives from City Administration on two major taskforces and committees studying this issue – industry and government – which look like they might produce tighter specifications with greater restrictions on RAP and REOB by November, 2016.

Our hope is that Windsor adopts those stricter restrictions when they are made public.

In the meantime, we keep our eyes on the process and on the clock. Hopefully, we don’t spend too much money laying down asphalt that proves to have substandard material.

In addition to tighter specifications – we also need a strong Quality Assurance (QA) program, which is a fancy way of saying we have enough trained people in place who are testing what contractors put into our roads – making sure the good stuff is there, and the bad stuff like engine oil is kept out.

Well – you may be concerned to learn that the City spends a whopping 0.3 per cent of our roads budget on Quality Assurance every year.

Dr. Simon Hesp – from Queen’s University – recommends cities spend at least about 3 per cent per year more on Quality Assurance.

Even the City’s report states in bold lettering that “Quality Assurance must be the first priority of the infrastructure owner in keeping the supplied materials and contractors’ practises in check”.

My position is that the City’s current Quality Assurance program is weak and underfunded.  That appears to be the message in the report.

The good news is that this issue will be raised again at Budget Time.

In a zero per cent budget – we prioritize.  And I firmly believe – we can do more to make sure our annual $22 million capital roads budget is spent on good roads that last.

7.7 – Smart Community and Fibre Optics:  I am excited to report that super high speed internet is available in Forest Glade Community Centre, Forest Glade Library and Forest Glade Arena after all three community centres were connected to fibre optics.  Have fun surfing :)

8.5 Riverside Underpass Environmental Assessment (EA): I have opposed and voted NO on the Riverside Underpass since the first day.  To keep my vote consistent – I voted NO on accepting the Environmental Assessment – which is the blueprint for the underpass.  This is not a priority.

8.8 – Parking Clearance Implementation: The good residents in the condo association fronting Esplanade Drive will be relieved to learn that the City will not be eliminating the few available on-street parking spots near the multi-use trail.  This is the right call.  A one-size-fits-all policy for parking clearance adjacent to multi-use trails does not take into account local variations – like the one on Esplanade where it is readily apparent that the existing parking has absolutely no impact on sight lines for the nearby multi-use trail.

Hat tip to Mr. Michael Duquette for doing the heavy lifting of bringing this issue to the fore.

11.1 – World Junior Hockey Championship Bid: First off, let me state outright that I love watching World Junior Hockey.  Our family hunkers down in front of the television every boxing day to start the tournament.

Having said that – my research indicates that the four or five previous bids were put forward by cities that could guarantee to Hockey Canada a profit of between $10 million and $15 million. 

In addition, many of the Cities had large arenas that could host about 20,000 spectators – which neither Windsor nor our partner-city London have.

I question once again the Return-on-Investment (ROI) for Windsor taxpayers of hosting big ticket sporting events.  I would rather see that money put on long term infrastructure improvements – roads, parks, community centres etc.  That’s money well spent.

11.5 – Swimming Canada Bids: I did vote in favour of the City supporting three Swim Canada competitions.  The bids are cost neutral to the taxpayer – since the City is in essence only waiving the fees for renting out the Aquatics Centre.

The “in-kind” contribution for the three swimming championships is about $60,000 in total – and it will bring in hundreds of competitors and spectators to the City.  That’s a good trade.

I’ve consistently argued – that the City should support smaller and local sporting and cultural organizations and events such as OFSAA or the Windsor International Film Festival or Tour di Via Italia.  Not as the main sponsors – but leveraging existing organizations that are putting in most of the work, raising most of the funding, and taking on most of the risk.

The key words: leveraging partnerships, protecting the taxpayer.

 

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
7.4 – New Sandwich Library named after John Muir Yes 10-0 Communication
8.1 – New Fire Hall No. 5 Tender Yes 10-0 Consent
8.2 – Extension of service for parking Yes 10-0 Consent
8.3 – Declare vacant parcel on Howard Ave Yes 10-0 Consent
8.4 – Amendments for Children’s Fest Yes 10-0 Consent
8.5 – Declare surplus South Pacific Avenue land Yes 10-0 Consent
8.14- Conveyance of Clairview Avenue Yes 10-0 Delegation
11.1 – Neighbourhood Market Value Analysis Yes 10-0 Delegation
10.1 – Lancaster Bomber stewardship agreement Yes 10-0 Delegation
11.2 – Canada 150 intake two Yes 10-0 Regular
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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
       
5.1 – PwC Audit Performance Dashboard Yes 10-0 Presentation
6.1 – CHC 2015 Financial Statement Yes 10-0 Regular
6.2 – Summary of Hotline Yes 10-0 Regular
6.3 – 2016 Q2 Budget Variance Yes 10-0 Regular
6.4 – Status Report Yes 10-0 Regular
6.5 – Status Report on Audit Recommendations Yes 10-0 Regular
6.6 – Delegation of Authority Yes 10-0 Regular
6.7 – 2015 Consolidated Financial Statement Yes 10-0 Regular
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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
10.1 – Parks Master Plan Yes 10-0 Presentation
8.14 – St. Patrick’s drive proposed parking Yes 10-0 Delegation
11.5 – Pelissier Street Parking Garage EOI Yes 6-5 Delegation
11.1 – Vehicle idling – 3 minutes Yes 8-2 Delegation
11.2 – Final Tax Rate and Billing Yes 10-0 Regular
11.3 – CIP – NEMAK Yes 10-0 Regular
11.4 – Annual investment report Yes 10-0 Regular
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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
8.1 – Ojibway sewers RFP Yes 9-0 Consent
8.2 – Combined heat and power WFCU Yes 9-0 Consent
8.3 – WFCU LED light conversion Yes 9-0 Consent
8.4 – Interim control parking Sandwich St Yes 9-0 Consent
8.5 – WPL postage meter rental Yes 9-0 Consent
8.6 – Utility Cut restoration Yes 9-0 Consent
8.7 – Grand Marais drain culvert Yes 9-0 Consent
8.8 – Fairbairn cemetery Yes 9-0 Consent
8.9 – Minutes Willistead BoD Yes 9-0 Consent
8.10 – Healthy Kids update Yes 9-0 Consent
8.11 – Willistead BoD report Yes 9-0 Consent
8.12 – Accessibility Advisory report Yes 9-0 Consent
8.13 – Accessibility Advisory report Yes 9-0 Consent
8.14 – Huron Lodge committee minutes Yes 9-0 Consent
8.15 – Update Arts and Culture funding Yes 9-0 Consent
8.16 – Local Immigration Partnership update Yes 9-0 Consent
8.17 – Accessibility Advisory Report Yes 9-0 Consent
8.18 – Willistead BoD report Yes 9-0 Consent
8.19 – Report to close Belleview Ave Yes 9-0 Consent
8.20 – Rezoning 3021 Walker Road Yes 9-0 Consent
8.23 – IRC meeting minutes Yes 9-0 Consent
8.24 – BIA Advisory Committee meeting Yes 9-0 Consent
8.21 – CIP Plan – Cavalier Tool Yes 9-0 Consent
8.22 – Close Buckingham Drive alley Yes 9-0 Delegation
10.1 – Abar’s Island View Demolition Yes 6-3 Delegation
11.1 – Archery Range usage Yes 9-0 Consent
       

 

10.1 – Abar’s island View Demolition: I voted in favour of demolition of Abar’s.

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
5.1 – PwC Risk Assessment Yes 10-0 Presentation
5.2 – PwC year in review Yes 10-0 Presentation
5.3 – Succession planning PwC report Yes 10-0 Presentation
5.4 – PwC management action plan Yes 10-0 Presentation
6.1 – Year End Risk Management Report 2015 Yes 10-0 Presentation
6.2 – Ward Fund expenditures Yes 10-0 Presentation
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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
8.3 – Development of fees N/A   Consent
8.4 – Rezoning housekeeping     Consent
8.5 – Minutes of Windsor Licensing     Consent
8.6 – Petition to reconstruct sidewalks     Consent
8.7 – EWSWA Annual Report     Consent
8.8 – Transit Windsor salary review     Consent
10.1 – Central Box Study Area     Presentation
10.2 – Response to CQ54 and CQ62 2015     Presentation
10.3 – WCU AGM     Presentation
10.4 – WCU 2015 Financial Statement     Presentation
7.6 – WCU 1st Quarter 2016     Presentation
10.5 – Contract for Animal Control     Delegation
8.1 – CQ8-2016     Delegation
8.2 – Herb Gray Parkway     Delegation
11.1 – Purchase two street sweepers     Regular
11.2 – Proposed budget timelines     Regular
11.3 – Social Infrastructure funding     Regular

 

Note – This is the second Regular City Council meeting I missed in over two-and-a-half years on City Council.  The reason – I was out of town for a family reunion that had been organized in advance.

 

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