IREK’S TOP 21 CITY COUNCIL MOMENTS OF 2015

√  Campaign promise fulfilled

  1. Balance the budget with zero tax levy increase  √
  2. Improve transparency by voting YES on Auditor General √
  3. Support job creation and retention by voting YES on three Community Improvement Plans (CIP) and a Brownfield Redevelopment CIP to support local industry expand factories and create jobs √
  4. Take a pause on big ticket purchases by putting forward motion to eliminate $2.5 million Riverside Tunnel Underpass √
  5. Build strong neighbourhoods and improve quality of life by voting YES on East End Community swimming pool √
  6. Build strong neighbourhoods by voting YES to keep open Windsor Water World, Adie Knox and Seminole Public Library √
  7. Prioritize key infrastructure such as roads by introducing motion to bring in outside expert to review asphalt specifications while reassessing City’s quality control & maintenance programs √
  8. Mill and pave Tecumseh Road East from Forest Glade Drive to Banwell Road √
  9. Maintain Lakeview Park Marina as public marina with increased capital investments
  10. Improve accountability through performance review of Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation
  11. Improve accountability and transparency by publishing entire 2015 voting record online @ www.irek.ca √
  12. Support a 20-Year Strategic Vision for the City of Windsor
  13. Windsor Essex Youth Advising City Councillors (WEYACC) – a program that engages youth in local politics supported by myself and Councillors Bortolin, Holt, Marra, Bachetti – successfully brought forward resolution to support amendment to Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include the Right to a Healthy Environment
  14. Putting taxpayers first by voting NO on New City Hall that went $8 million over budget despite major reductions in design and not counting $7.2 million parking garage √
  15. Introduced motion to support homegrown cultural and sporting events such as the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) and Tour di Via Italia cycling race
  16. Voted YES to support the Downtown Windsor Farmers Market
  17. Put taxpayers FIRST by voting NO on new $300,000 sports tourism office and unnecessary $186,000 recycling guru for City staff √
  18. Protected Windsor’s architectural heritage by voting NO on demolition of St. Barnabas Church
  19. Voted YES on consolidation and expansion of Windsor Public Library
  20. Successfully included High Tension Cable Barriers in upcoming EC Row Environmental Assessment (EA) to improve transportation safety
  21. Successfully convinced administration to remove concrete jersey barriers from residential areas and replace with more aesthetic planters
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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1-      2016 Council Schedule Yes 10-0 Consent
2 – Outsource caretaking No 5-6 Delegation
3 – Photocopier lease Yes 10-0 Consent
4 – Grand Marais Drain work Yes 10-0 Consent
5 – Exemption from Sandwich Demolition Yes 10-0 Consent
6 – Naming rights – WFCU Centre Yes 10-0 Consent
7 – Repairs to Charles Clark Square Yes 10-0 Consent
8 – 2016 Operating Budget meeting Yes 10-0 Consent
9 – UBER consultant report No 7-4 Delegation
10-WECHC Recommendation – Atkinson Yes 10-0 Deferral
Report 312 – Little River Park Yes 10-0 Delegation
Report 303 – Improve cycling/ped markings Yes 7-3 Delegation

 

Item No. 2: Outsourcing Caretaker/Janitorial Services

I voted NO on outsourcing caretaking services.

The debate over outsourcing caretaker services was the hardest decision I have had to make in my two years on City Council.  That is the reason why on Sunday – before our meeting – I spent the afternoon going door-to-door talking to residents of Ward 7 to get their opinion.  I was looking for a clear mandate.

Instead, out of the residents I spoke to about 1/3rd said they supported outsourcing, 1/3rd say they opposed it and 1/3rd were undecided.

I never once sought or received any direction on this issue from any group other than the residents of Ward 7.

To be clear – I support the outsourcing of garbage disposal for the very same reasons that were put forward in support of outsourcing caretaker services: the opportunity to reduce costs, balance our budget and keep taxes from going up.

However, there are significant differences between outsourcing garbage and caretaker services which made this decision on balance less clear-cut.  Here are a few of those points:

  • The garbage outsourcing did not lead to any layoffs as all affected workers were redeployed in the corporation, WHEREAS the caretaker outsourcing would lead to significant layoffs as the City could not absorb the affected workers.  My position is that in a City with 10 per cent unemployment – the highest in Canada – we should first look to other areas to find savings – and that includes cutting capital projects that are wants and not needs.  In short – let’s not look to cut costs on the backs of our employees as a first resort.
  • There was a significant risk that approximately 300 summer student positions would be cut as a result of the Collective Bargaining Agreement which states that no summer student position can be filled while any regular full time staff members are laid off.  These students depend on this income to continue their education and also to support their families.
  • Administration clearly stated that the in-house caretakers provide the Administration with flexibility that lead to a high level of service delivery and service efficiency that save the Corporation costs e.g. our caretakers not only execute janitorial services, but they also do snow removal, pool services, minor maintenance, event set up AND they are available weekends and nights – whereas a private company would charge extra for all those services.  Administration highlighted the fact that outsourcing could create significant disruptions to service delivery.
  • It has been repeated that the savings would potentially amount to $1 million.  However – this amount has never been tested and represents an overly optimistic best-case scenario which is reminiscent of the rosy cost-saving predictions for the Family Aquatics Centre which was presented as an efficient cost saving reorganization of recreational services that has quickly turned into a serious operating cost that is $2.2 million over budget -  annually.

As I stated, this was a tough decision because my first instinct is to find efficiencies and reduce costs for the taxpayer.  My record over the last two years speaks to fiscal responsibility and the fact that I have the highest respect for hard earned taxpayer dollars.  That is why I have voted NO on the following big ticket items:

  • $2.5 million Riverside Tunnel Underpass
  • $7.2 million Downtown Parking Garage
  • $45 million new City Hall
  • $300,000 sports tourism office

Most recently, I voted against a $30,000 consultant for Uber and against a $180,000 waste auditor.

TOTAL TAXPAYER SAVINGS: $55 MILLION+

I also voted FOR the position of an Auditor General exactly because an Auditor General has a proven capacity to save taxpayers money by conducting Value-For-Money audits and finding efficiencies.  For every $1 invested in an Auditor General – there is an $11 return in the way of efficiencies.

In Conclusion …

In the absence of a clear mandate from my polling of residents, I weighed the potential disruption to service, layoffs of full and part-time staff in a city with the highest unemployment rate in the country, as well as the risk to the summer student program which provides a source of income to 300 students – and I made the determination that this particular outsourcing at this particular time would do more harm than good.

There are complaints that Council should at least have sought additional information by undertaking an RFP.

To that I say – the information I had on hand after reading the administrative report, consulting with residents, and deliberating at Council was sufficient in my estimation to make an informed decision at that time.

Another important consideration underpinning the need for decisive action is that this also saves administration from committing a significant amount of staff time and City resources preparing what would be a complex RFP and service reorganization.  At the same time, I was sensitive to the fact that a prolonged RFP process would cause the affected employees and their families significant anxiety as we wait 9 – 12 months for a report and a resolution.

Hence, my preference for a decision rather than a protracted examination.

 

Item No. 9: Hiring Consultant to Study Taxi Bylaws in Face of Uber Challenge

I voted NO on spending $30,000 to hire a consultant to study our taxi bylaws in the face of the challenge from Uber – a mobile app based ride sharing service that is very similar to a regular taxi service.

Four other cities have already hired a consultant to study their bylaws and are awaiting the results any moment which will be public.  Surely, we could have waited a few weeks to study the results of these consultant reports and saved the taxpayer $30,000.

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1-Malden landfill tender Yes 10-0 Deferral
2-Ash Grove Manor parking Yes 10-0 Referral
3-Sports Tourism No 7-4 Presentation
4-Tilston Armoury upgrades Yes 10-0 Consent
5-Corporate radio upgrade Yes 10-0 Consent
6-Subdivision draft plan Yes 9-1 Delegation
7-Public Works capital budget pre-approval Yes 10-0 Consent
8-Downtown Farmers Market Fee Waiver Yes 8-2 Delegation
9-Flu vaccine clinics Yes 10-0 Consent
10a-Waiver of Fees Policy Yes 10-0 Delegation
10b – Waiver of Fees for Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) Yes 4-6 Delegation
11 – Signing authority for corporate accounts Yes 10-0 Consent
Report No. 339 – Windsor Express Yes 10-0 Delegation
Report No. 330 – KEK Investments Yes 10-0 Consent
Report No. 331 – 1290 Tecumseh Rd. E. Brownfield Redevelopment CIP Yes 10-0 Deferral
       

 

Item No. 3: Vote to Establish the Office of Sports Tourism

Council voted twice on the Office of Sports Tourism.

I put forward the original motion – which was defeated 7-4.  This first MOTION read:

(a) That the City maintain the STATUS QUO and not fund the establishment of a Sports Tourism positions.

(b)   That administration come back with a report on the cost of a Value-for-Money audit by PwC of the International Children’s Games, CARHA and FINA

c) That administration report back with an item-by-item account of how the Estimated Return was calculated for the four events listed on Page 7

Subsequently, the second motion – put forward by Council Gignac – was to establish the Office of Sports Tourism at a cost of $300,000. I voted NO on this motion.  Here is my explanation:

City Councillors repeat the need to hold the line on taxes.  We heard that refrain over and over during the Auditor General debate held just three days prior.

Voting in favour of establishing a Sports Tourism office does the exact opposite of that.  It requires reaching deeper into the pockets of taxpayers without even a single independent study – without any evidence- to demonstrate that taxpayers are receiving a Return on their Investment.

By next year we will have hosted four major sporting events.  The prudent course of action would be to conduct an independent Value-for-Money audit to see what financial benefits these sporting events have brought to the City.  Only then should we talk about spending additional funding on sports tourism.

At the end of the day it is about priorities.  Do we want to continue to spend millions of dollars on sporting events that last one week and bring little long term benefit to the City?

Or do we spend on priorities such as infrastructure – roads , parks , community centres, libraries – things that will improve the long term Quality of Life of our residents.

Don’t get me wrong – I support the City leveraging home grown sporting events – like the North American Basketball Association championships that was organized by the Filipino Community last month.  The local organizers were responsible for 100 per cent of the fundraising, 100 per cent of the risk and 100 per cent the organization.  The City came onboard as a partner by offering to reduce some of the permit fees.  That is a win-win for the community and for the taxpayer.

Item No. 8 – Downtown Farmers Market Fee Consideration

I support the Downtown Windsor Farmers Market.  In essence – City Council voted to reduce 70 per cent of the permit fees for the Downtown Farmers Market.  That is a solid partnership and a solid vote of confidence.

Item 10: Permanent Fee Waiver (WIFF)

I am a huge fan of the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) and I strongly believe that the City of Windsor should partner on this remarkable homegrown festival that puts Windsor on the map.

Here is the motion that I put forward – and which was eventually defeated 6-4.

MOTION:  I move the recommendation with an amendment to include the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) on the Permanent Listing of Grants and Waivers of Fees.

Over the last ten years, the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) has grown into an institution in Windsor and has grown into a top ten film festival in all of Canada.

Sixteen thousand tickets are sold annually.  The sixteen thousand people who flock to the Capital Theatre help revive downtown – they go to coffee shops and restaurants.  They create a buzz.

WIFF attracts visitors from out of town and has the potential to be a real draw for film buffs from across the Great Lakes region.

WIFF also celebrates and highlights the fact that our City is the fourth most culturally and ethnically diverse city in Canada.  It makes so much sense that we have a vibrant International Film Festival – not just because it strengthens our City’s brand – but because through international films we get a glimpse into the culture and history of our neighbours who come from different countries.

An international film festival has the potential to bring our diverse City together.

On top of all that – WIFF contributes $20,000 to the Capitol Theatre every year and has been contributing $10,000 to the City of Windsor through ticket surcharges.

The WIFF is not looking for a handout – but a true partnership with the City of Windsor.

The City of Toronto provides the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) about $800,000 every year.  And in return – the City receives a $180 million return on investment – according to a consultant report.

The potential economic return for the City is tremendous.

WIFF and its 250 volunteers do 100 per cent of the heavy lifting in organizing the festival.

They take 100 per cent of the financial risk and are responsible for 100 per cent of fundraising.

WIFF is not asking for any grant.  They are not asking the City for a penny.

They are just asking that the City remove a financial obstacle and waive the $10,000 ticket surcharge.

The benefits of a true Partnership between WIFF and the City of Windsor is tremendous.

 

 

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1 – PWC Final Audit Report Yes 10-0 Presentation
2 – PWC Dashboard Yes 10-0 Presentation
3- Public sector accounting board Yes 10-0 Consent
4 – Corporate gift policy Yes 10-0 Consent
5 – Improvement to Lou Romano Plant Yes 10-0 Consent
6 – Recycling contract extension Yes 10-0 Consent
7 – 2015 3rd Quarter Variance Yes 10-0 Consent
8 – Charles Clark Square – Fake Ice No 6-5 Delegation
9 – Auditor General Yes 4-6 Delegation
 10 – Science Centre  Yes  10-0  Consent

 

Item No. 8: Installing “Fake Ice” in Charles Clark Square:

I voted against installing “Fake Ice” in Charles Clark Square.  We can do better than that.  Residents rejected the ice once already.  I was surprised to see this issue return for a second time.

Item No. 9: Hiring of an Auditor General

I voted YES in support of hiring an independent Auditor General.

Let’s not focus on the fact that 33 per cent of Ontario residents – one in three – reside in a municipality that has had an independent Auditor General in the last three years.

Let’s not focus on the fact that reports demonstrate that for every $1 spent on an Auditor General – there is an $11 return on that investment for taxpayers in terms of savings and cost efficiencies.

At the end of the day – you can boil this entire debate to one word: information.

In order for City Council to make the best decisions about how we use taxpayer money – we require the most reliable and the most complete information about our performance as keepers of the public purse.

In order for us to build and maintain the public’s trust – we have a responsibility to provide citizens with the best, most reliable and most complete information by maximizing transparency, accountability and openness.

An Auditor General is the Gold Standard for openness, transparency, and accountability.

And so the real question on this night is which Councillors are prepared to invest an additional $200,000 to provide our residents with the Gold Standard for transparency and accountability.

PwC in its Report to the CAO states clearly and concisely: This Engagement Does NOT Constitute an Audit with the Canadian Auditing Standards

I voted YES on the Auditor General because:

  • It would have improved the calibre of decision-making at Council
  • It has the potential to find efficiencies and save the taxpayer significant money
  • It maximizes transparency and accountability
  • It will build trust between the Citizens and Council

Last but not least – I voted YES because I owe it to the residents who I met at the door during the campaign to follow through on my pledge to vote in favour of an Auditor General

Communications Item No.  10: I was delighted to read the report from the Director of Water Production at ENWIN which states that necessary steps have been taken to address the issue of Bromate in the City’s water and that there have been no incidents of exceeded levels of Bromate since March 18, 2014.

I directed Administration to formally request that in future reports to Council any incidents of exceedance are highlighted AND that the provincial Maximum Allowable Concentrations (MACs) are included and highlighted in the chart.

Roseland Board of Directors Committee Report:

I would like taxpayers and members of the Little River Golf Course to know how much revenue the course brings in and how much of that money is reinvested back into Little River Golf Course.  Hence, I asked that in the future Administration separate the financial statements for Roseland and Little River Golf Course – which until now were reported as one.

 

 

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1 – Award of tender – Malden Landfill Yes 10-0 Deferral
2 – Chimczuk bequest – agreement change No 8-2 Presentation
3 – Sports Tourism Office No 9-1 Deferral
4 – Bylaw establishing PHEDSC Yes 10-0 Consent
5 – Authorize local improvement charge Yes 10-0 Consent
6 – Stage lift for Capitol Theatre Yes 10-0 Consent
7 – Update on Climate Protection Plan Yes 10-0 Consent
8 – Expression of interest Pelissier garage Yes 10-0 Consent
9 – Waste Bins for City Facilities Yes 6-5 Regular
10- Purchase loader for Parks Yes 10-0 Consent
11 – Ward park allocation Yes 10-0 Consent
12 – Winter maintenance tender Yes 10-0 Consent
13 – Declare municipally improved lands Yes 10-0 Consent
14 – Declare municipal improved lands Yes 10-0 Consent
15 – Review municipal act Yes 10-0 Consent
16 – Interim control bylaw for parking areas Yes 10-0 Consent
17 – Review of Conflict of Interest Act Yes 10-0 Consent
18 – Town of Tecumseh – Transit RFP Yes 10-0 Consent
Notice of Motion – Direct Administration to provide information on setting up Office of the Auditor General Yes 10-0 Consent

 

Notice of Motion – Direct Administration to Report on Setting up Office of the Auditor General:

I supported this motion.  This is a responsible first step that will provide Council with information necessary to have an informed debate about setting up the office of an Auditor General.

Maximizing both transparency and accountability were included as goals in the draft of the 20 Year Strategic Vision.

 

Item No.9: Establish Waste Coordinator for City Facilities:   Originally, the Administration recommended spending $153,000 to establish the position of a Waste Coordinator that would help City of Windsor employees improve recycling at City facilities.

Whereas I recognize the value of recycling, I did not support establishing this position as it does not represent a proper investment of taxpayer dollars.  Simply put, we already have the internal resources in place to improve recycling by City employees.  We can improve recycling by asking our CAO and Management to remind City employees to recycle while AT THE SAME TIME making it more convenient to recycle by adding waste and recycle bins.

Evidence supporting this position comes from Adventure Bay.  After additional waste and recycle bins were added – with some education of staff – the recycling rate increased from 10 per cent to 51 per cent diversion.

Hence, we do not need to spend an additional $153,000 of taxpayer money to see positive results.

Instead, I put forward the following motion at City Council on Monday:

(a) That Administration increase the number of blue and red recycle boxes throughout city facilities

(b) That Administration transfer $15,000 from the Public Spaces Recycling Project in order to fund the purchase of 15 Waste Stations in 2016

c) That Administration report back in 2017 on the performance of these incremental improvements on Waste Diversion in the Corporation

(d) That the Communications Director establish a communications strategy to improve recycling in City facilities

 

Item No. 2 – Chimczuk Museum: Twenty-five years ago, Mr. Joseph Chimczuk generously bequeathed $1 million to the City of Windsor to build a museum.  It took 10 years for the City of Windsor to come to an agreement with the Chimczuk Museum Inc. (CMI) to use the funds to build Museum Windsor – which is nearing completion.  It took 25 years to fulfill the wishes of Mr. Chimczuk – which included a very long, drawn out negotiation with CMI.

The agreement which finally closed the chapter included – at the City’s request – the dissolution of the CMI organization and relinquishing all trademarks and claims to the Chimczuk name by CMI to the City.

Just as the chapter appeared to be closed, another organization stepped forward requesting that the CMI not be dissolved.  Rather, the organization wanted to keep alive CMI’s registration as a charity with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) so that the new organization could take donations.

The organization in question is a not-for-profit which is working hard to establish a Windsor Centre for Film, Digital Media and the Creative Arts.

I could not support this motion for the following reasons:

(a)    It took 25 years to close the chapter on the Chimczuk bequest – including 10 years of hard negotiations with CMI that ended with an agreement that administration worked hard to attain.  I cannot support any action that could undermine that hard fought agreement.

(b)   The Administration admits that such a move – which has no precedence with the City of Windsor – may have unintended consequences

(c)    In essence – the unusual move by the City conferred a benefit on the Windsor Centre to the exclusion of any other organization

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A very good article published by Frazier Fathers on his blog Ginger Politics that talks about the opportunity costs of building a New City Hall that is growing more expensive by the day.

I voted NO both times on the New City Hall – whose costs have escalated by 25 per cent.

Opportunity costs basically means – what investments are we not making as a result of committing more and more dollars to the New City Hall.

I have pasted Frazier’s blog post below – and here is the link to his Ginger Politics website which you can access by CLICKING HERE

Opportunity Costs of City Hall

I can appreciate the tough job that City Councillor’s have, stewards of taxpayers dollars they have to make tough decision about how to spend the dollars collected from citizens. This was why I was surprised to read today that work had already begun for the new City Hall. Council narrowly voted 6-5 (Mayor casting the tie breaking vote) and although a call for tender is still needed, it seems that another major decision has reached a forgone conclusion.

Our future new city hall.

Faced with that realization I decided to see what may have been given up on in order to build a $43.3 million City Hall.

  • According to the CBC reports to grind and repave one block in Windsor it costs approximately $600,000  = 144.3 blocks repaved
  • Windsor Water World  at full operation levels costed approximately $418,068 annually = 103.5 years of operation
  • Almost build a new central library and innovation hub at a cost of $50 million or build many small libraries across the city at that cost of the new Optimist Library at a cost of $2,463,000  = 17.5 libraries
  • According to the 2011 Census there were 87,830 residential households in Windsor = a one time tax rebate of $492.99
  • Just over 1/5 of the total municipal costs for the new Windsor Regional Hospital being paid for without a levy on taxpayers.
  • A one time 20% increase to all department budgets
  • City Buses run between $600,000 and $900,000 for their life cycle per bus (depending on the type – see pg 21 of linked report, costs divided by 100 to get a per bus cost) = 48.8 buses fully funded for their life cycle
  • Almost meet the low end cost estimate for a Street Car running from University of Windsor to Via Rail Station = $50,000,000

That being said, something will need to be done with the existing City Hall. Repair costs were estimated between $20 million to $35 million  which is $8.3 million under the current projected budget. If I were to recalculate many of the above alternatives we get- 13.8 blocks of streets repaved; 3.38 new libraries; $94.50 tax rebate; a 3.8% budget increase to city departments; 9.2 buses fully funded or keep Waterworld open for almost 20 years.

Given the broader needs in our city, any number of these other would in my opinion have a greater positive impact on the day to day lives of Windsorites than a new City Hall.

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Another great article from Anne Jarvis of the Windsor Star talks about the benefits that a world class science and innovation centre would provide the City of Windsor.

Here is an excerpt:

Think of what we could do if key players — the city, school boards, university, college, industry and community groups like Hackforge — joined Science City and committed to a centre for science, technology and innovation. No one is expecting to build a new science centre. The city’s capital budget is largely already spent until 2020. But one of the planned projects is a new main library, and some councillors are talking about the new library including a centre for science and technology, an innovation hub.

“That has tremendous potential,” says Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk.

Why science and technology? Because Windsor, says Kusmierczyk, is a city that builds things, and technology is exploding in advanced manufacturing. Because we live on the Great Lakes, where a growing cluster of clean water technology companies are addressing the global water shortage. Because we already have leading scientists in fields like invasive species at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research here. Because we’re grappling with the issue of toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The majority of new jobs require skills in the so-called STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math. But Kusmierczyk goes further, including the arts. He read University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman’s passionately argued essay in The Globe and Mail last week on the value of  humanities and social sciences.

“A centre that awakens in our young people a love of inquiry and innovation,” Kusmierczyk called it.

Locate it downtown, he said, to continue revitalizing the core and to give kids from vulnerable neighbourhoods the opportunity to continue learning after school, on weekends and in the summer.

For the whole article CLICK HERE

And the same week Maclean’s Magazine published an excellent article highlighting libraries as engines of innovation and economic development.

Macleans_-_Libraries_2015

In order to read the whole article CLICK HERE

The simple fact is – Windsor must keep pace with cities like Toronto, Kitchener, Halifax and even our own Detroit in putting in place the kind of infrastructure that will diversify our economy, boost innovation and support homegrown entrepreneurship.

This is an important piece of the puzzle for a City wanting to compete in a 21st century knowledge economy.

An innovation hub that combines a maker space and tech-infused library is a potent tool in the hands of Windsorites – especially considering our 100 years of manufacturing know-how.  We know how to build things.

And of course, education is the foundation of economic development – hence we must do what we can to bring more resources and partners to the table when it comes to preparing our young people for success in today’s economy.

Let’s start here.

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Anne Jarvis wrote a great piece in the Windsor Star titled New Dynamic at Windsor City Council.  For the full article CLICK HERE

Here is an excerpt:

Windsor_Star_-_New_Dynamic

 

“There’s more debate,” said Kusmierczyk. “Councillors feel they can ask tougher questions. I’ve seen administrators’ reports challenged more. Councillors push each other as well. You’re expected to come to council with more research, look for more best practices from other jurisdictions.”

And they are less hesitant to vote against big projects. Five councillors voted against proceeding with the environmental assessment for the Riverside Drive underpass. Fivealso voted against more money for the new city hall.

They’re more likely to introduce new ideas, even risque ideas, like paying for parking at all city facilities to raise revenue for public transit. All of which, in turn, is more likely to engage the public.

How could this be bad?

We expect council to get things done but that shouldn’t preclude accommodating new ideas and different perspectives that fully reflect the community.

And what of the so-called “left-leaning big spenders?” They voted against an additional $4.4 million for the new city hall and against the $3-million underpass. They’re also the ones questioning how the heck the city ended up spending $2.2 million more — more than double the estimated cost — to operate the aquatic centre. Sounds more parsimonious than profligate.

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ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1 – Pedestrian Lighting on Ottawa Yes 9-0 Deferral
2 – Tax reduction applications Yes 9-0 Consent
3 – Riverfront brick program Yes 9-0 Consent
4 – Relief from property taxation Yes 9-0 Consent
Report No. 293 – Traffic Calming Policy Yes 9-0 Regular
Communications No. 12 – WUC Financials Yes 9-0 Communications
 

 

Communication No. 12 – Water Utilities Canada 2rd Quarter Financials: I asked a simple question, why the 2nd Quarter Financials for WUC reported a huge $3 million increase in administrative costs and also a significant decrease in revenue.  I asked Administration to find out and report back.

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