ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
10.1 & 10.2 & 10.3 Downtown Windsor Enhancement Strategy Yes 10-0 10-0

 

10.1 & 10.2 & 10.3 Downtown Windsor Enhancement Strategy: City Council approved 36 of 39 recommendations of the Downtown Windsor Enhancement Strategy unanimously. This is a strategy that provides incentives for private sector investment in the downtown core.

The majority of the incentives were aimed at improving and increasing commercial & retail space as well as residential offerings by, for example, providing grants to landlords to improve store fronts, or providing grants to entice landlords to convert upper floors of commercial buildings to residential apartment units.

There were three recommendations that invited debate and that ultimately did not pass.

I voted in favour of the first two: a Small Things Matter Community Grant would provide neighbourhood organizations a matching grant up to $1000 to help improve public spaces like boulevards and parks. The Alley Improvement Program would also provide incentives for community groups and commercial business owners a matching grant to improve public back alleys e.g. lighting etc.

I felt that both of these programs empower neighbours and leverages their energy and civic pride to improve public spaces in our community. I felt the City could be a great partner in such a program and the results could be reviewed regularly to make sure the results match the intent.

The one recommendation I voted against was the Small Things Matter Micro Grant program which would provide private home owners in the core with up to $1000 to make small improvements to their homes such as putting in a garden, or painting a fence or fixing a porch. I voted against for two reasons (a) the first is based on the administrative and operational challenges this program presents, namely, that staff time and resources would be tied up processing, administering and reviewing a lineup of very small projects – for example even small DIY projects valued at $50 (b) the second concern was with the fact that public dollars were being used to improve private property without a clear public-benefit. One can argue that incentives which leads to the opening up of a new store in the downtown core has the public benefit of (a) bringing a new service to the core that is open to the public (b) bringing job creators to the core in the form of a small business.

At the end of the debate – I was content to support 38 or 39 recommendations for the downtown core.

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