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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Today we celebrated Earth Day by planting 2,000 trees in Ward 7 near McHugh and Florence – with the help of a couple hundred of our friends.

We have a right to a healthy environment – clean air, clean water, clean land – but we also have a responsibility to roll up our sleeves and make it so.
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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1 – Roselawn Bike Lanes Yes 7-3 Delegation
2 – Parked Trailers bylaw Yes 10-0 Consent
3 – Governor General Canadian Leadership Yes 10-0 Consent
4 – ERM framework Yes 10-0 Consent
5 – 2015 BIA Budget Approval Yes 10-0 Presentation
6 – Landscaping right of way Yes 10-0 Presentation
7 – Tax rates Yes 10-0 Consent
8 – Excess land at Tecumseh and Banwell Yes 10-0 Consent
9 – Mayor’s Walk Yes 10-0 Regular Business
10 – Revised emergency response plan Yes 10-0 Consent
11 – Lauzon Parkway EA – WCF Yes 4-7 Delegation
       

 

 

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Interested in seeing how the budgets of your local Business Improvement Areas (BIA) stack up against each other? Check out the spreadsheet below. Interesting – some BIAs are better than others at keeping administration costs down and increasing capital expenditures to physically improve their business environment.

Others….not so much.  Interesting that the Downtown Windsor BIA increased their staff costs by 21 per cent and decreased their capital expenditures by 24 .5 per cent.  More money to staff.  Less money on things like streetscaping, planters, banners, lighting, graffiti cleaning, beautification, benches, capital repair etc.  

In fact – a whopping 37 per cent of Downtown Windsor BIA money goes directly to administrative costs.  Compare that to Old Riverside BIA (23 per cent) or Ottawa Streeet BIA (22 percent)

 

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Mark S. Lee dedicated his entire show – Small Talk Detroit – on CBS Detroit to Hacking Health Windsor Detroit that was broadcast and podcast in Detroit and coast-to-coast.

You can catch the podcast if you CLICK HERE

I was honoured to join the Vice President of Research at Wayne State University – Dr. Steven Lanier; the Dean of Graduate Studies at Madonna University – Dr. Debbie Dunn; and the Director of Technology Based Entrepreneurship at Tech Town Detroit – Paul Riser Jr.

Mark led a fantastic conversation about the awesome potential of deepening cross-border collaboration between Windsor and Detroit – in addition to the potential of breaking down barriers between the health and IT sectors.

I was really delighted to hear our counterparts in Detroit speak so highly of Windsor as a partner in economic development – and the need to drive the innovation agenda forward through more extensive crossborder partnerships

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1 – Partners for Climate Change Yes 10-0 Consent
2 -10th Concession Drain Yes 10-0 Consent
3 – Municipal drains charges Yes 10-0 Consent
4 – Herb Gray Pkwy closure Yes 10-0 Consent
5 – Lauzon Pkwy EA Yes 10-0 Deferral
6- Building permit fee reserve fund Yes 10-0 Consent
7 – Snow Angels Volunteer acknowledgements Yes 10-0 Presentation
8-Maintenance trust fund Tecumseh/Brock memorial Yes 10-0 Consent
Report No. 281 – Heritage Property Tax Reduction Yes 6-5 Presentation
Council Question      

 

Council Question: On Tuesday I asked the following Council Question:

(1) The Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association (OHMPA) has established a Quality of Asphalt Pavement Task Force. A Press Release from the OHMPA states: in recent months, we have become acutely aware of some hot mix asphalt performance problems that are in need of our attention immediately.

In light of the terrible condition of some of our newer roads – roads such as Banwell – is administration concerned about the quality of the material used in the construction of our roads? And second – what is the City’s response?

(2) A recent article on the CBC website talked about how Edmonton is using different hot asphalt mixes to deal with pot-holes. The article had a glaring figure that jumped off the page: Edmonton spends $5.9 million on pothole patching and $55 million on arterial road rehabilitation. How much bigger is Edmonton’s pothole and road rehab budget compared to Windsor? (The answer is 10 x bigger for a city that is only 3.5 times as big). Is it fair to say that our road rehabilitation budget is grossly underfunded?

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If you reside or conduct business in the East End – you’ve noticed the deplorable state of Banwell Road.  Seems like the Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association (OHMPA) has finally woken up and noticed the problem is widespread across the Province by launching a Quality of Asphalt Pavement Task Force.  We await with bated breath the results of the Task Force in the coming months – and expect that it does more than just tell us our roads are in bad shape and that it’s the fault of Mother Nature.

For the full article CLICK HERE

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1 – John McGivney Children’s Centre Yes 10-0 Deferral
2 – Lou Romano tank refurbish Yes 10-0 Consent
3 – Local Immigration Partnership Yes 10-0 Consent
4 – Social Housing Reserve Fund withdrawal Yes 10-0 Consent
5- Lou Romano turbo blower Yes 10-0 Consent
6- Housing supports standards Yes 10-0 Consent
7 – Combined heat/power at WFCU Yes 10-0 Consent
8 – Ministry of Education agreement Yes 10-0 Consent
9 – Power washing and graffiti Yes 10-0 Consent
10 – Site plan approval – Huron Church Yes 10-0 Consent
11 – Windsor Professional Fire Fighters award update Yes 10-0 Presentation
12 – Solar panel roof installation Yes 10-0 Consent
13 – Fairview road rehab RFP Yes 10-0 Consent
14 – 2014 investment report Yes 10-0 Consent
15- GHD scope change for asset planning Yes 10-0 Consent
16 – Solid Waste Authority 2015 budget Yes 10-0 Consent
17- Learning and organizational policy update Yes 10-0 Consent
Report No. 277 – Social Development Compassionate Charter Yes 5-5 Presentation
Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation  (WEEDC)– Receive for Information Yes 10-0 Presentation
       

Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC):  It is important to begin by noting that the Waterloo Region—which is composed of eight (8) municipalities and townships such as Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge—just concluded an intensive three year review of their entire economic development ecosystem – reviewing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and gaps that exist among all organizations and institutions operating in the economic development sphere.  They had a very frank discussion about what works and what doesn’t, about where there is overlap and inefficiency.

This is important to note because the Waterloo Region is one of the best performing economic regions in Canada and North America.  Its unemployment rate is less than 6 per cent – way below the provincial average.  In fact, more remarkable is the fact that Waterloo has the highest job participation rate in Ontario.  The area is economically diverse and is home to thousands of companies including giants such as Blackberry, Toyota, Manulife Financial.

And yet despite being one of the best economic regions in Canada and North America – rather than rest on its laurels and be satisfied, they are constantly reviewing the region’s performance trying to find ways to do economic development better.

Surely, if Waterloo is constantly measuring and rethinking its economic development – then Windsor ought to be doing the same.  We must constantly review the performance of our economic development ecosystem and seek ways to improve it, to make the organizations that operate in that sphere more accountable, more accessible, more effective and more efficient.

But here is the other remarkable fact about the Waterloo Region and its comprehensive review of economic development: after their three year review – which included an independent third-party report—they concluded that the best way forward is the establishment of a Regional Economic Development Corporation that is almost identical to the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation.  The one difference is that the Waterloo organization is even more arms-length and independent of political oversight.

The Waterloo board has no elected representatives of government on their board.

Windsor’s economic development agency has two elected representatives of local government: the Mayor and the Warden of Essex.

This is important because on the one hand it validates that we in fact have the right economic development structure in place in Windsor: a blend of arms-length, industry-driven know-how with a measure of elected oversight.

But on the other hand– the report also demonstrates that even the best performing regions constantly review and improve their performance.

I believe we can start that process today by introducing the following measures which are not costly nor time consuming on the part of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation – but which address the communication gap at the heart of the recent debate:

  • WEEDC should provide quarterly written reports to City Council – not annual – which provide clear performance measures
  • WEEDC should open its meetings to the public – with in-camera meetings maintained where appropriate e.g. where sensitive information is shared
  • WEEDC should fund out of its own budget a review modelled after the Waterloo Region Report (2013) – a cost of $100, 000—which would study the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and gaps of the economic development ecosystem in Windsor-Essex.

Finally, it should be noted that in the grand scheme of things, the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC) is a small piece of the economic development puzzle in our region.  Other important actors include the solar system of industry partners and economic development organizations as well as the University of Windsor and St. Clair College.  Most importantly, Windsor City Council – overseeing a $750 million annual budget – has a tremendous impact on the establishment of a business-friendly environment that invites investment and job creation.

The two fundamental questions we should be asking ourselves are:

  • How can we work together better to build up the economy of our region?
  • Is Council making the right investments that create an environment that is attractive to business and that helps make our region competitive in today’s global economy?
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The Windsor Star published a very good write up of our upcoming Windsor Detroit Hacking Health that is being oranized for May 1-3, 2015: CLICK HERE

Bringing together doctors, nurses, pharmacists and hospital admin to team up with computer programmers and designers to dream up, design and build mobile applications for health care holds the promise of improving patient-centric while contributing to regional economic development by fostering the kinds of collaboration that lead to technology startup companies being launched in the mHealth sector in our region.  We need to drive forward an innovation agenda in our City – and Windsor Detroit Hacking Health is a good step in the right direction.  For more information visit windsordetroit.hackinghealth.ca

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WANTED: innovative and creative nurses, doctors, pharmacists and hospital admins as well as computer programmers and designers to register for the first cross-border Hacking Health in the world that teams up professionals and students from the IT and health care sectors to dream up, design and build mobile apps for the health care sector.

According to PwC, the mobile health or mHealth sector is slated to grow to $23 billion by 2017.  Imagine our Windsor Detroit Hacking Health participants teaming up to improve patient-centric health care and also spinning-off some tech startup companies in mHealth.

For more information and to register – visit windsordetroit.hackinghealth.ca

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Here is a link to the Windsor Star article: CLICK HERE

Communications Item No. 5 on the March, 02 meeting of City Council provided the Annual Report for Year 2014 by the Windsor Utilities Commission (WUC).  The report included a summary of testing that was carried out and the sample results for various organic and chemical elements in the water from A to Z.  The report neglected to include what the Ontario Safe Water Drinking Standards were.  It also failed to highlight when samples exceeded the Maximum Allowable Concentration (MAC).  After some additional homework – looking up the Maximum Allowable Concentration (MAC) set by Ontario — it turned out the sample for Bromate exceeded Maximum Allowable Concentration (MAC) on March 18, 2014. Subsequent inquiries revealed that in 2013 there were 71 samples taken that found Bromate levels which were at OR exceeded the Maximum Allowable Concentration (MAC).

I requested at Monday’s Council Meeting for administration to report back on:

  • What is Bromate?
  • How significant is the fact that samples exceeded MAC for Bromate?
  • What steps are being taken to address the problem?

In addition, I will be pushing for improved communication of sampling information from WUC to City Council.   For a better reporting format, chekc out a Halton District drinking water report: CLICK HERE

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