My 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.
Got stung by a bee. Met a great former teacher from the great faculty at St. Jules Elementary–Mr. Caspick. And a couple that recently moved to Windsor from Ottawa/Brampton gave me a try of their Hamilton’s Homemade Brittle which was pure heaven (if you want to welcome the new couple to Windsor and also place an order for some amazing homemade sweets, email Danielle at: email@example.com). All in all – a bee-utiful Sunday on the campaign trail along Cora Greenwood and Riverside Drive.
” … when Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk stood up and explained he had dutifully canvassed 50 homes in his east-end ward to find out what people really wanted. A stunning 50 out of 50 residents said bring on the pool. He came across not a single doorstep dissenter.”
For full article CLICK HERE
I wanted to take the time to contribute a little perspective to the debate surrounding the Big Box store that came before City Council last night.
Contrary to some information that has been making the rounds – Council did not vote to approve the Big Box development last night. That decision was made in 2007 and confirmed again this summer by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, which granted the Coco developers an environmental permit to proceed with the development.
At this point Council has little say in how that private property—the empty, abandoned concrete parking lots at the Windsor Raceway on the corner of Matchette and Sprucewood—will be developed.
What Council could do—and did do last night—was add green space and remove the most serious threat to the viability of Ojibway.
Council voted on two things last night:
(1) Council voted YES to accept 10 acres of land—the size of 8 football fields–from Coco that will be added to the Ojibway ecosystem as permanent protected natural habitat and serve as a green buffer between the park and the stores.
(2) Council voted unanimously YES to begin the process leading towards the closing of Matchette Road thereby making the two sides of the Ojibway Prairie complex whole and protecting Ojibway from the real danger, which is traffic.
Last night at Council we heard testimony from a local biologist named Russ who has dedicated his life to the protection of Ojibway. His passion for Ojibway is matched by over a decade of experience in the study, conservation and care for natural habitat in Windsor-Essex.
He made the point that the location of the Big Box store on the abandoned parking lot of Windsor Raceway—while not ideal nor desirable—is not a direct threat to Ojibway as the parking lot lands have little environmental value and are far enough away from the natural habitat.
Russ testified that instead the real threat is traffic barreling down Matchette and that the dream solution—from an environmental standpoint—would be to stop traffic by closing a portion of Matchette and thereby making Ojibway whole.
Council listened and Council acted.
As a result of last night’s vote we have added an additional 10 acres of permanent green space to Ojibway and we have started on the path to close Matchette and make Ojibway whole.
It is about a pragmatic way forward that balances real environmental and economic concerns.
I hope this provides you with a clearer understanding of my Council vote last night.
|ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_||IREK VOTED||COUNCIL VOTED||TYPE OF ITEM|
|1 – Cabana Road Bike Trail||Yes||10-0||Delegation|
|2 – Disposal of waste||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|3 – Telus contract for cellular||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|4 – Relocation of garbage collection||Yes||10-0||Referral|
|5 – Banwell Corridor EA||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|6 – Grit removal contract||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|7 – Purchasing bylaw review||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|8 – Little River controls upgrade||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|9 – Affordable housing extension||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|10 – Vacant land 8549 Wyandotte||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|11 – Sublease agreement Leamington||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|12 – Service counter renovations Transit||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|13 – Riverfront interceptor upgrades||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|14 – Sponsorship of Via Italia bike race||Yes||10-0||Presentation|
|15 – Advertising right of way||Yes||10-0||Deferral|
|16 – Windsor Express basketball terms||Yes||7-4||Delegation|
|17 – East End swimming pool at WFCU||Yes||9-2||Delegation|
|18 – Children’s Safety village fencing||Yes||10-0||Consent|
|19 – Multi modal cargo tender||Yes||10-0||Consent|
Item No. 17 East End Swimming Pool in WFCU Centre: There are a number of reasons behind my YES vote on the East End pool but here are the most important ones:
(1) PUBLIC CONSULTATION – I canvassed WARD 7 over three days and talked to 50 people specifically about whether they are in favour of an East End pool. Not a single person said they were against the pool and 95 per cent enthusiastically told me to vote YES. I visited neighbouring Aspen Lake nursing home to see whether residents there could benefit from the pool and the Director of Recreation said “absolutely, yes!”.
(2) DEMAND: A report prepared for the City in 1989 called for the construction of an East End pool. Residents in the East End have been waiting 25 years for this pool. The WFCU community pool will be the only swimming pool east of Gino Marcus on Drouillard Road and it will serve all ages and–once development is complete–serve about 40,000 people. Let me highlight some of those users. The good folks of an organization called Life After Fifty (LAF) already are headquartered in the WFCU and they represent a significant demographic in Ward 7. St. Joseph’s High School and its 1400 students can walk to the WFCU. Tecumseh Vista and Riverside High Schools are five minutes away by car. Dozens of grade schools can utilize the pool. Nursing homes all within a short drive such as Aspen Lake, Herron Terrace, Banwell Gardens and even Brouillette Manor can use the therapy pool to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing. Windsor–by the by–has the highest obesity rates in Ontario. I sit on the Windsor Essex Health Unit, and I can tell you that from a purely health perspective – this is an excellent long term investment in the health of our community.
(3) FISCAL BALANCE and PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS: Council entered into an agreement with Samsung to build a solar farm at the airport and the revenue from this unexpected windfall will cover 3/4th of the cost of construction for this pool. Furthermore – the Samsung deal will pump close to $1 million into city coffers every year for 20 years that could be used for operating expenses. In essence, this represents a kind of Public-Private Partnership. I would always encourage the City to find ways to leverage private dollars for public projects. In addition, I would rather act now and commit the Samsung funds to building a valuable amenity that will improve the quality of life of residents of Ward 7 – the Ward I represent–then to wait for NEXT council to take those very same funds and commit them to something less appealing (marina, downtown underpass etc.) that is located in some other part of town that is NOT directly serving Ward 7.
The mandate I received talking to residents on their front steps, combined with both a genuine long-standing need supported by evidence & the availability of a private-public partnership (e.g. Samsung funding) made this a decision that warranted a YES vote.
The Windsor Star wrote a very good article titled “Should Windsor Council Candidates Live in the Ward in Which They Are Running?”
Here’s an excerpt:
Kusmierczyk said he has since moved back to Ward 7, and he believes living among the people you represent is an important part of being a ward councillor.
“Literally, the day after I got elected, I started looking for property (in Ward 7),” Kusmierczyk said on Friday. “I feel very strongly about that, so I fulfilled that pledge.”
It’s worth noting Kusmierczyk had ties to Ward 7 before the 2013 by-election, having grown up in the Forest Glade area.
“I think that in the election itself, what’s most important is you have the best candidates running for the position. But once they’re elected — and this is my personal opinion — I think they should move into the ward,” he explained.
Kusmierczyk pointed out that living in Ward 7 means patronizing its businesses and frequenting its neighbourhoods. “I go to the grocery store in the ward. I go to Tim Hortons. I go bicycling … On a day-to-day basis, I get a chance to talk to the residents, know what’s going on, find out what their concerns are.”
“You’re a lot more in touch, and you’re a lot more available.”
Windsor’s 2014 municipal election takes place Oct. 27. The deadline to file for candidacy is Sept. 12.
Read the whole article: CLICK HERE
I had a very productive meeting with the CEO and Director of Technology Entrepreneurship at TechTown in Detroit, which is a technology incubator that supports innovative start-up companies in Michigan. We were discussing an exciting cross-border initiative that we are working on in the health sector. More importantly, this visit and this cross-border collaboration emphasizes the need to look beyond political barriers that are separating our two cities. We should be working together to promote regional economic development.
CLOVER AVENUE @ TECUMSEH ROAD EAST LANE RESTRICTIONS
What? Asphalt repairs will take place on Clover Avenue at Tecumseh Road East with eastbound and westbound lane restrictions.
When? Thursday, August 21, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Who? DiPonti Paving/City of Windsor
A 70-year-old homegrown global manufacturing company is looking to permanently establish its World Headquarters in Windsor and expand its operations with some help from the City of Windsor
The $15 million expansion would not only add jobs but retain the over 800 positions–many of them high skilled–that currently exist in the city.
“The pressures on Canadian companies to locate elsewhere are absolutely immense … this is about job creation but also job retention,” said Ward 7 Councillor Irek Kusmierczyk.
To continue reading the whole article CLICK HERE
I firmly believe that an important part of being a City Councillor is to study best practices in other cities and bring those ideas home to Windsor. Towards that goal, I took a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana to check out that city’s innovative Cultural Trail bike paths as well as their bike share and electric car share programs. It was a timely trip as Council will vote very soon on the separate bike lanes on Cabana to complete the Windsor Loop.
I was so impressed with the 20 kilometers of gorgeous separated bike lanes that connect the downtown of Indianapolis. The interlocking paving stones really add elegance to the downtown and functionality – connecting people car-free to street-side bistros, a canal, apartments, cafes and parks.
For a great little video of the Cultural Trail CLICK HERE.
The two parts that make the system work–in addition to the trail–are the bike sharing program (see yellow bikes) and the Indy Bike Hub YMCA which includes a bike shop and storage, a gym, and showers/lockers so that those who want to bike-to-work can.
Click on the following link for my interview with Indy Bike Hub YMCA:
I also got the chance to check out the innovative electric car share program. Click on the following link for my interview with Indy Blue: