I put forward a motion at the City Council Executive Committee meeting on February 24, 2014.  The motion addressed the schedule of audits planned by the auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) for the City’s agencies, boards, and committees (ABCs).  If you take a look at the Audit Schedule (see image attached), you’ll notice six agencies, boards and committees are going first including Transit Windsor and The Airport (2013-14) followed by Tunnel, Solid Waste, Library and Community Housing (2014-15) .  ENWIN is scheduled to go last in 2015-16 – two years from now.  I put forward a motion that Council change the schedule and start with the ENWIN audit.  There are several reasons for this.

First, when I was knocking on doors during the by-election campaign in December, the issue of accountability and transparency came up frequently and by far the object of those discussions was ENWIN.  Not the airport. Not the tunnel.  Not Transit.  It was ENWIN.  The concerns I heard at the door regarding accountability are reinforced by the fact that a petition was organized in support of an audit at ENWIN which gathered 800 signatures across the city.  That is significant. In light of this existing demand, it makes sense to respond proactively by focusing the first audit efforts at ENWIN.  If something comes up, we fix it.  If nothing comes up, we move on with a greater degree of public confidence.

 Second, we know and recognize the fact that we have a highly professional and highly dedicated City Administration that often goes above-and-beyond to serve residents of the City of Windsor.  I’ve seen the long, tough hours they put in.  But we also know that–as with any large organization–there is room for improvement and ENWIN is no different.  For example, from a recent article in the Windsor Star titled “Tortuous ENWIN Response” we learned that it took a Windsor Star journalist nearly two years to receive the documentation she requested from a Freedom-of-Information (FOI) request that asked for something as simple as the length and attendance of past ENWIN meetings.   Surely we can do better than two years, and that’s one of the things this audit would examine.
Third, many of my Council Colleagues put forward the argument that Professionals and City Councillors sit on the Board of Directors of ENWIN, and hence implied there is enough oversight already.  I trust the integrity and professionalism of both my colleagues and the members of the board. However, as former President of the United States Ronald Reagan often stated: “TRUST, BUT VERIFY”.  The point of an audit is not to confirm what we already know, but to identify the blind-spots.
The true value of this audit will be if we can use it to improve the accountability, transparency and responsiveness of our City government.  With ENWIN at the top of people’s minds and in the news, it’s the natural first place to start.

Audit Schedule

Item # and Description Irek Voted Council Voted Type of Item
1 – Internal audit dashboard Yay 10-0 Presentation
2a – Internal audit revised Yay 10-0 Presentation
3 – Internal audit – governance Yay 10-0 Presentation
4 – Concerned citizen hotline Yay 10-0 Presentation
2b – Motion to audit Enwin first Yay 2-8 Presentation
Report #200 – North Portion OPA 94 Yay 10-0 Delegation
Report #160 – WCF Access Yay 9-2 Delegation

Item #2b – I put forward a motion regarding the schedule of audits planned by the auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) for the City’s agencies, boards, and committees (ABCs).  Take a look at the Audit Schedule (see image attached).  Notice that Enwin Utilities is scheduled to be audited two years from now in 2015-16.   Six other agencies, boards and committees go first starting with Transit Windsor and the Airport this year.  I put forward a motion that Council change the schedule and start this year with an audit of Enwin. That motion was defeated 2 to 8.

Audit Schedule

At the WESucceed Call-to-Action empowering young women to enter underrepresented fields such as science, engineering, skilled trades and politics where I announced my plans to take on University and College students to serve three-month stints as my Council Advisers – joining me for council and board meetings (e.g. Health Unit, Public Transit, Conservation Authority etc.) to study and shape public policy.  My hope is that this program encourages more young women and young people in general to take leadership positions in our community on boards, on council, and ultimately in parliament.

Bring your questions, your ideas and your concerns to the Ward 7 Meeting.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 4th at 6pm

WHERE: Forest Glade Arena – Siro Martinello Room

Officials from City Departments will be in attendance and available to provide answers and explanations.

Friday, February 28 – COFFEE CABINET

whelanI will be at Lily Kazilly’s from 4:30pm until 5:30pm to chat with Ward 7 residents about their concerns, Ward 7 issues, how I voted and upcoming Council meetings.  Join me for a coffee and make sure to bring your favourite political souvenir e.g. campaign button, poster or brochure!


Item # and Description Irek Voted Council Voted Type of Item
5 – Solar Panels on Aquatic Centre Yay 10-0 Consent
7 – Construction of Fire Hall no. 2 & 5 Yay 10-0 Delegation
10 – Closing Sandwich Street for St. Patrick’s Day Party Nay 9-1 Delegation
1 – Windsor/Sarnia Border System Yay 10-0 Consent
2 – Construction of curbs and gutters Yay 10-0 Consent
3 – Herb Gray drainage Yay 10-0 Consent
4 – Waste disposal site Yay 10-0 Consent
6 – Ditch cutting program Yay 10-0 Consent
8 – RFP for outdoor furnishings Yay 10-0 Consent
9  – Bylaw amendment Yay 10-0 Consent

***Consent items are normally administrative “housekeeping” matters, typically non-controversial, that are passed unanimously without discussion.

Item #10 – Sandwich Improvement Area came before council requesting the closure of Sandwich Street from Brock Street to Detroit Street from 11am to 11pm on Sunday March 16th and Monday March 17th for St. Patrick’s Day in order to establish an outdoor party area where people can consume alcoholic beverages purchased from the bars.  I voted against closing off the street for two consecutive days for the following reasons (i) above all, General Brock Elementary School is located just outside the party area, and I did not feel comfortable knowing there would be St. Patrick’s Day revelry on Monday so close to school children AND the potential of impaired patrons and drivers near the school (ii) In total, 76 Transit Windsor buses would have to be rerouted on Sunday and 252 buses would be rerouted on Monday, representing a disruption to service (iii) closing a busy arterial road like Sandwich Street for two days not only creates traffic issues, but also creates disruption for small business owners in the area.  As last year, I would support closing the street on the Sunday, but not for two consecutive days.

Item #7 – Confirmed the overall budget for the design and construction of two new fire halls no. 2 and no. 5 at a cost of $9 million to be completed by December 31, 2014.

Item #5 – Authorized administration to enter into agreement with Kiwi Newton Construction to build solar panels on the roof of the Aquatic Centre.  I supported this project for environmental and economic reasons.  The photovoltaic system (PV) is clean energy that reduces our carbon footprint and our emission of airborne pollutants that negatively affects Windsorites’ health.  The PV system will also generate 320kw of electricity, which will be sold to the province and deliver $250,000 each year to the city.  Hence, in four years the system will pay for itself, and after that the City of Windsor will enjoy clean profit.  I raised the concern, which administration addressed, whether the PV system will negatively affect the ability of the City to fix any potential problems with the roof of the Aquatic Centre. It will not.  Councillor Gignac also inquired about warranty, which would cover the first ten years of the system.

Thirty years ago, my brother Andrew and I began school in Windsor at St. Jules elementary on Norman Road where–among an incredibly dedicated faculty and staff that included Principal Sr. Doreen Park, Mrs. Murphy, Mr. Caspick, Mr. Veitch, Madam Wong, and Mr. Goggins–there was a custodian named Mr. Janisse who all the kids absolutely adored. Funny thing, you see, that the person who welcomed me to my first ERCA board meeting last week was none other than Mr. Janisse…..Councillor Janisse of Lakeshore.

robotics st. clairI was honoured to join St. Clair College President John Strasser and students representing 13 high schools across Windsor Essex–including St. Joseph’s H.S. and Tecumseh Vista–at the Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing where St. Clair College announced a $1000 sponsorship for each one of our 13 Robotics Teams.  In addition, St. Clair College assigned a technician at the FCEM to serve as a liaison with all high school robotics teams who require a machine shop for their machining.  Earlier this year, St. Clair College also established a $1000 scholarship for every high school student who competes in our upcoming Windsor Essex Great Lakes Robotics Regional (April 3-5, 2014).

Here is an article from the event: click here.

And here is a link to video from the event: click here.

Here is my speech from the ceremony:

Good Morning,

Today is about tomorrow.

President Roosevelt once said, “We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”.

This is what FIRST Robotics is about, and St. Clair College is once again looking beyond the horizon and demonstrating its leadership in preparing our young people for a future that is more and more dependent on technology, robotics, and innovation.

Over the last six weeks, students across 13 high schools in Windsor and Essex have been working hand-in-hand with engineers, skilled workers and programmers from companies such as Valiant, CenterLine, and Chrysler to design and build 120 pound robots.  These students are also working together with mentors from the University of Windsor and St. Clair College.

In Windsor, we know how to build.  We are the Automotive Capital of Canada.

But what St. Clair College is demonstrating here today, is that we have community leaders like President Strasser and his team who know how to build the kinds of partnerships we need to build our region’s future.

Education is economic development.  And today is about tomorrow.  It is about cultivating the next generation of engineers, skilled workers and technology entrepreneurs who will drive our economy forward well into the 21st century.  It is about industry stepping off the sidelines and into our schools.

In just over a month, thirteen high school robotics teams from Windsor and Essex will join 1,500 high school students from across North America for a three-day robotics competition at the University of Windsor.  This program would not be possible without the support of St. Clair College.

It is my sincerest hope that others will follow the leadership St. Clair College has demonstrated today and come onboard this remarkable program.