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  #101  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2006, 3:44 AM
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no, for sporting events in Detroit they have special express buses that you can only catch at the bus station.
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  #102  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2006, 1:37 PM
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Can't blame them for trying...however this option has been rejected by the joint committee. The Bridge company appears to be willing to do what ever it can to maintain its monopoly and the resulting profits.

Bridge forges ahead with twin span

Dave Battagello, Windsor Star
Published: Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ambassador Bridge officials are pushing forward with plans to build a twin span and have killed a controversial feeder road through Windsor's west end.

Owner Matty Moroun's bridge "Enhancement Project" calls for a new six-lane cable-stayed bridge metres west of the existing 77-year-old crossing, according to environmental assessment documents obtained Wednesday by The Star.

The bridge company plans to use the same Huron Church Road access route and keep the new span contained within existing plazas and property it already owns.

A controversial four-kilometre "ring road" through the city's west end, proposed as a new truck feeder route has been discarded from the company's plans, according to the 34-page package filed three weeks ago with federal and state authorities on both sides of the border.

The new span would allow traffic to continue uninterrupted while the old bridge "is evaluated and rehabilitated, if found to be economically feasible," say documents prepared by American Consulting Engineers of Florida.

The existing bridge would provide "reserve capacity for any unforeseen event until the end of its useful life."

It appears the bridge company is striving to undermine the government's bid to build a public downriver Sandwich-Delray bridge and pre-empt pending federal legislation in Canada, which threatens toll, security and maintenance control of their crossing.

Since it's being unveiled as an expansion of the existing bridge and not a new crossing, bridge company officials are also hoping to avoid the many federal approvals normally required.

Bridge president Dan Stamper did not respond to a message from The Star.

"This project will allow us to maintain traffic on the current corridor," said Scott Korpi, project manager for the Florida firm who is leading the early phases of the bridge twinning application. "The Ambassador Bridge is aging and there needs to be repairs."

Design of the twin span has already begun and is expected to be completed within 18 to 24 months, according to Korpi's document. The bridge's "ring road" is no longer under consideration, Korpi said.

"Huron Church Road currently has and will continue to have more capacity than the proposed bridge crossing," he wrote in a response to Transport Canada included in the documents.

There is no target date slated by the bridge company for construction to begin.

"They want the approvals ASAP, so they can build right away whenever they feel traffic demands it," Korpi said.

The bridge company and engineering firm have been in discussions with Transport Canada to quickly set up a meeting so the next phase of the required environmental assessment can be discussed.

"They will give us a road map on where we have to go," Korpi said. "Whatever we need to do, we will do."

Transport Canada has been speaking with the bridge company about meeting dates and should be getting together sometime within the next few weeks, said spokesman Mark Butler.

"We are obliged to take a look at any project that comes our way," he said.


The federal ministry is a partner in the binational Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study, the government effort to determine the next crossing location.

"There are two distinct proposals for a new crossing -- one by the private organization and one under consideration by four levels of government.

"You can't characterize it as a race. They have to meet certain requirements. There are certain hurdles they have to cross."

The binational team is no longer considering any proposal brought forward by the bridge company, said Dave Wake, project manager for DRIC.

"Their recent submission is a separate process," he said.

"We are proceeding as planned and are on target for our timelines. I've seen nothing to date to cause any changes in our timelines."

DRIC hopes to complete construction of a new bridge in 2013.

A new six-lane twin span west of the bridge would move air and noise pollution closer to Sandwich which is "totally unacceptable," said Mary Ann Cuderman, leader of resident's truck watchdog group. She also had serious doubts about the bridge's dropping of its ring road plan.

"I don't trust them for a minute," she said. "Until I see an official notarized document on that -- and even then I won't believe it. They can change their mind on that at any time."

MP Jeff Watson (C -- Essex) said the bridge was welcome to put forward their best case on why the bridge should be twinned.

"(Transport Canada) can determine whether it's in the best interests of the country," he said. "The DRIC has already rejected that scenario."
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  #103  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2006, 4:27 PM
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i really hope that the federal government slaps this proposal down. and i have to say that i don't like anything that the bridge company has been up to recently. it all seems so slimy and underhanded and potentially disasterous to both downtown windsor and downtown detroit not to mention what it will do to windsor's west side.

like this stealth bridge twinning, the ring road through sandwich and that idea to route all tunnel traffic along the detroit side of the river and out to one massive customs holding pen... they all benifit no one but the bridge owners.
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  #104  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2006, 5:02 PM
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^ Yah, that Detroit plaza plan with the dedicated road running along the river is an incredibly stupid and destructive idea. I think that Kilpatrick accepted it only because it offered short term cash to the City of Detroit. Good thing that Detroit's city council objected.

The Bridge Company's plans continue to run in the face of the international committee's recommendations: it keeps trucks on Huron Church and funnels all traffic to one bridge.

The reason the Bridge is proposing such "solutions" is that the Bridge continues to argue that there is no problem with the current infastructure, there continues to be excess capacity on the bridge and the road, and that US Customs is the real reason for any back logs of traffic.

The Bridge continues to ignore the redundancy arguments, the use of local streets arguments, and the noise and pollution arguments.
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  #105  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2006, 4:57 PM
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here, i guess its my turn to submit a newspaper clipping...

City's goal: $55M arena
Councillors rule out retrofit of Old Barn

Roseann Danese
Windsor Star


Friday, April 28, 2006


In an unusual show of solidarity, city council voted unanimously to forge ahead with plans for a $55-million, four-pad arena, featuring a 7,200-seat rink somewhere in the east side of the city.

Entitled Greater Windsor Multiplex Arena, the proposal was presented Thursday by senior city administrators in response to a council request to "cost out" two options: renovations to Windsor Arena versus building anew.

But council's vote doesn't mean there will be a shovel in the ground anytime soon. "We voted for more information, is basically what we voted for," Coun. Alan Halberstadt said.

SCRAP PROPOSAL

But in doing so, council also opted to scrap the alternative proposal to retrofit Windsor Arena and twin two community ice pads at a cheaper cost of about $39 million. Under the new multiplex scenario, Windsor arena would become a community rink after the new facility is built. Riverside and Adstoll arenas in the city's east end would close.

It was hailed by the new owners of the Windsor Spitfires as a move in the right direction.

Spokesman Warren Rychel said it will be a lot easier to attract young, talented players if a new arena is in the offing -- even if it's three years down the road. "I'm surprised and happy and relieved all in one," Rychel said Thursday.

He said his first move will be to "build a good hockey team."

But he would not say much about whether the new owners are prepared to contribute financially.

Renovating Windsor Arena would not have been a good option for the team.

Rychel said they have no preference for a site, as long as it's easily accessible for fans. He said the 7,200 seats won't be hard to fill. "It's not just about the Windsor Spitfires. It's about getting events here -- figure skating, lacrosse, concerts."

The meeting to present the proposals came out of the blue and had a few councillors concerned about the lack of public notice.

Coun. David Cassivi, the longest serving councillor, left the meeting before the vote, but suggested it was premature to make decisions before knowing whether Windsor Raceway is still interested in a partnership.

"There's been an impression created in this community that the mayor and city council do not care about the success of Windsor Raceway," Cassivi said.

Mayor Eddie Francis said he will be meeting with Tony Toldo Sr. soon to discuss the city's role in helping the raceway succeed.

But several councillors confirmed the east-end location is a done deal. It's now a matter of finding the land. At least 30 acres will be required for the proposed complex.

'Heard rumours'

Coun. Tom Wilson said he's "heard rumours" about land available on Lauzon Road, next to the Lear plant, but nothing is confirmed.

But Wilson said word is spreading among developers in town. If the new four-pad multiplex is built in the east end, there would be eight ice pads within a short distance of each other, if the rinks in the Town of Tecumseh are counted. The cluster of rinks would make the city a sports-entertainment destination for hockey tournaments and other ice sports.

"You've got developers who want to build hotels out there," he said.

The new arena could be paid off by 2010, without borrowing a penny, according to city treasurer Onorio Colucci. Money will be freed in 2008 after many of the city's larger capital projects are paid off through a pay-as-you-go plan that was implemented in 2002. In 2008, $15 million will be available. In 2009, $23.5 million will become available and in 2010, $36.4 million will be free to use for a new arena. A one per cent capital levy that was tacked onto tax bills back in 2002, to pay for large projects, was to have ended in 2009, but could continue in 2010 to help pay for the arena, according to Colucci.

THREE PHASES

The arena could be built in three phases, with the two regular-sized ice pads going up first, followed by the Olympic-size pad and then the main rink.

Rychel said the sooner it begins, the better.

"The draft is two weeks away and we've been on the phone talking to people and the big concern is what's happening with the arena.

"We have total faith in the mayor and city council."

The $55-million pricetag includes basic "fit-up costs," such as a basic scoreboard versus a Jumbotron. The construction cost also does not include land costs, architectural and project management costs or cost overruns, which could be as high as 10 per cent.

But the facility would generate a profit, according to early projections, mainly because of operational efficiencies and greater revenue opportunities.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #106  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2006, 5:18 PM
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It's about time you started pulling your weight around here Arnold! As for the arena thing, I'll believe it when I see it. Now they're talking about Lauzon Road? Wtf?
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  #107  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2006, 6:05 PM
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yeah i noticed that comment as well. and although nothing is certain, my bet is that city council is going to duff this one. they're going to go the same route with this new arena as both mississauga and brampton did with theirs... they're going to put them out in a big box strip mall on the fringes of town. which sucks because its a huge wasted opportunity.

but by going this big with one four-pad complex, i guess it limits the amount of sites you'll be able to find inside of the city proper thus making it more of a suburban proposal.

but just think of it this way, now junior hockey teams from all over ontario will be able to take the train to attend the games in windsor, because the new VIA station at the airport (!) will be so close and convenient to the new rink.


seriously though, windsor has a few major urban planning decisions pending that will really shape the city for the next few decades. like the urban village, the location of the new VIA station and this arena. and given the city councils past track record... i'd say that anything (good or bad) is possible. i've really got my fingers crossed.
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  #108  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2006, 6:17 PM
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Well, it's an election year so of course the arena is making headlines again. I'm not fully confident in this council handling the arena issue. I expect Francis will have no trouble being re-elected, some of the councillors may be on thin ice though.
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  #109  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2006, 8:00 PM
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I see no problem with consolidating the "community arenas" although such a consolidation is actually building more of a regional sportsplex to replace community arenas.

However, I would like the city to build a stand alone main arena for the Spits, University of Windsor varsity, St. Clair College varsity, figure skating, concerts, curling championships, etc. Look at the success London has had with the JLA. Look at the civic pride that facility has generated! People from out of town see that facility and are impressed. If Windsor had built its new arena out at the race track, no one from out of town would ever see it. Ottawa's Scotiabank Place is a great example of a suburban arena in the middle of nowhere that does nothing for civic pride.

Anyway, here is Gord Henderson's take on the arena situation (it is unfortunate that Gord essentially has a monopoly on print column's with respect to Windsor):

Cautiously optimistic

Gord Henderson, Windsor Star
Published: Saturday, April 29, 2006

Ooh boy. Here we go again. That was my gut reaction as I moved my battered wallet to a more secure place while nervously appraising the news that the City of Windsor is contemplating a $55.4-million arena project.

Could this be 2002 revisited? Could it be a replay of the gruesome exercise that saw $3.5 million squandered in former mayor Mike Hurst's go-it-alone downtown arena crusade that, in the end, proved much too costly at $52 million and change? If $52 million was, in Hurst's words, "simply too expensive to go forward," how could $55.4 million be a reasonable price four years later?

The answer, of course, is that there's been a mind-boggling transformation of Windsor's finances over the past two-and-a-half years, from fiscal basket case to a city that has cash jingling in its pocket and revenue streams in its future to match its aspirations.

Concerned that this could be another half-baked dream chase, I asked Mayor Eddie Francis to walk me through the numbers Friday. He did. And at the end of the process I understood why councillors agreed unanimously to move on to the next stage and get more detailed information.

Bottom line. Thanks to the pay-as-you-go policy introduced by former finance czar Roman Martiuk and, especially, the current council's debt reduction strategy, Windsor's longterm debt is more than $100 million less than had been anticipated. Instead of the $276 million debt projected for the end of 2006, it's expected to come in at $161 million.

I'm no accountant. I still have nightmares about high school algebra exams. But it doesn't take a mathematical wizard to recognize that Windsor, under its current leadership, has made a spectacular financial comeback.

And it gets better. By turning its finances around and funding major projects out of revenues, Windsor is saving $81.7 million in interest payment over 20 years, more than $4 million annually, that would have been paid on debentures.

TORRENTS OF MONEY

By 2009, when major projects like the Norwich Block fiasco, the city hall welfare tower mistake and the new Huron Lodge at St. Clair College have been paid off, the city will find itself with torrents of money flowing in and no major funding obligations. In 2009 it will have an additional $23.5 million available, in 2010 $36.4 million and in 2011 another $36.4 million.

Taxpayers like me, long accustomed to thinking of Windsor as being one step removed from the poorhouse, have a hard time getting our heads around the concept of this city keeping a lid on taxes while having cash available for big projects.

"If this was 2002 financial circumstances, it wouldn't even be talked about. But our financial prudence is paying off and giving us flexibility. We can pay for this (the arena complex) without going to debentures and without going to the taxpayers," explained Francis. He cautioned that this is still early in the process and the numbers are preliminary. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done. And unless there's a solid business case that can be justified, nothing will happen."

One of the stronger arguments in favour of building this four-pad arena complex is that it will generate significant savings in operating costs for decades to come.

Riverside Arena, Adstoll Arena and the Edward Street recreation centre are all money losers that require subsidization by city taxpayers and are in urgent need of replacement. Moving those operations to a four-plex that would turn a small profit annually and turning Windsor Arena into a civic rink could generate savings of as much as $700,000 annually over the status quo.

You never know. The price might mushroom out of sight by the time the experts finish crunching the numbers. If so, the project will end up on the shelf and planning for the Barn's centennial bash will move into high gear.

But I have a feeling that this time it might be for real. A city council that's facing re-election in November would like nothing better, especially given the buzz around the new Spitfires ownership, than to be able to boast that it got the arena monkey off Windsor's back and managed to do it without bashing the taxpayers.

Success has its rewards. And the reward for the city's fiscal rectitude, for paying off the mortgage and cutting up the credit cards, so to speak, would be a spanking new arena to rival the likes of Mississauga, Barrie, Sarnia and London.

And if it doesn't happen this time? Kiss it goodbye for a generation.

ghenderson@thestar.canwest.com

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #110  
Old Posted May 1, 2006, 6:57 PM
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Could Metro Detroit be getting its act together on a new rapid transit system? It looks like the proper legislation will soon be in place to make this happen. If Metro Detroit is able to develop a somewhat comprehensive system, will Windsor commuters use the system? Will the city/provincial transit systems tap into and connect with the Detroit system? GO Transit south anyone? I should take my medication....



Detroit-Ann Arbor mass transit would get funding from new deal

By Amy Lane
6:00 am, May 1, 2006

LANSING — Local funding for light rail or other mass transit between Detroit and Ann Arbor could be back on track, under an agreement struck between Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Republican legislative leaders.

The agreement breaks a political logjam and will allow for a to-be-created Southeast Michigan transit authority, and others in Michigan, to levy property taxes for up to 25 years to provide a federally required local funding source to operate projects like light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit.

Past bills gave that funding mechanism only to Grand Rapids, prompting dispute over why just one area of the state should benefit, and concern that the exclusionary measure would threaten the future of a Southeast Michigan light-rail system or other options under study.

The new legislation being drafted by state Rep. Jerry Kooiman, R-Grand Rapids, “provides a level playing field for all areas of the state to access federal funding. I think that’s the bottom line,” said Sarah Hubbard, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The bill will allow local governments that form an authority under 1986 Michigan law to levy the 25-year millage, with voter approval. Public Act 196 of 1986 currently allows the authorities to levy such taxes for no more than five years. The authorities can include two or more counties, cities, villages and townships.

Kooiman said the federal government requires agencies that move forward with rapid transit to demonstrate they can operate the system for 20 years. He said the government doesn’t want to invest in infrastructure “that can’t be operated long-term.” The millage is the type of financial commitment needed to secure federal transit dollars.

The federal government awarded the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments a $100 million grant to study and enact mass-transit alternatives. Consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff of Michigan is analyzing five options for bus rapid transit, commuter rail and light rail, running between Ann Arbor, Detroit and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Carmine Palombo, SEMCOG director of transportation planning, said the consultants should complete their analysis by month’s end and SEMCOG hopes in early June to release the findings.
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  #111  
Old Posted May 1, 2006, 7:31 PM
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Originally Posted by upinottawa
Success has its rewards. And the reward for the city's fiscal rectitude, for paying off the mortgage and cutting up the credit cards, so to speak, would be a spanking new arena to rival the likes of Mississauga, Barrie, Sarnia and London.
sure... all of these cities have their shiny new OHL arenas. but like i said before, mississagua's new rink is located in a sparsely populated office park just off of the 403 and basically contributes nothing aside from the fact that its an arena. same with its neighbour in brampton.

on the other hand, london's highly acclaimed downtown arena is a run away success and a huge boost to downtown london's urban fabric. it draws crowds of people downtown for hockey games, concerts and various other "sporting events" (read: pro wrestling). but these crowds come downtown and spend money in all of the local shops and resturants. all of which is highly desireable stuff. in fact, its what most cities and towns have been trying so hard to do for the past decade or two.

so IMO, by deciding to build this mega-pad complex, coupled with the proposed location out on the fringes of town, windsor city council is missing out on a great opportunity to positivley impact a more deserving part of the city. like downtown. or the university. or midtown.

this approach reeks of short-sighted, big box store mentality where all that matters is the end result.
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  #112  
Old Posted May 1, 2006, 8:04 PM
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Arnold, I agree.

I think a London-style arena would add a lot to the city (and more importantly add to city's self-esteem). Building a multipad sportsplex outside the city centre may be a cost-effective solution for the short-term, but it would be a missed opportunity. London managed to incorporate private funds into the building/operation of the JLA, Windsor should follow that model (and even seek partnerships with U of W and the College).

With the Senators now in the second round of the playoffs, I can only imagine what it would be like to the have the Sens play downtown and the spin off business that would be generated.
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  #113  
Old Posted May 1, 2006, 8:52 PM
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The main issue seems to be where are they going to build it if they don't use the City Centre West lands. The city is really high on an urban village there but if they do go ahead with an urban village, they better damn well do it right.
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  #114  
Old Posted May 1, 2006, 9:06 PM
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If my memory serves me correctly...

the "Urban Village" idea was the brainchild of a Michigan company that wanted the exclusive right to build an urban village and an arena on the Western Super Anchor site.

I know that the city's plans have changed, put there must be enough room on that site to build the urban village and a single pad arena (without surface parking). Any thoughts?
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  #115  
Old Posted May 1, 2006, 9:19 PM
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Here is the area. The city website says it is 50 acres. Done properly, I think an arena could be placed in there.

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  #116  
Old Posted May 1, 2006, 11:24 PM
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^ yeah, i think that they could definatley cram a single pad arena into that area as long as parking was burried. and there are probably a few other places scattered around the downtown/midtown/university area that they could try. what about all of the rundown warehouses and vacant lots on and around wyandotte inbetween downtown and the UofW?

i'd even prefer to see it go out near "market square" at the end of ottawa street. at least that way, buisnesses on ottawa could benifit from the increase of foot traffic. i mean, they have such a great opportunity to design a really great public space and enhance some of the existing shopping streets...
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  #117  
Old Posted May 1, 2006, 11:31 PM
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They could certainly fit it in if they didn't build any parking but I can't see them going the non-parking route.
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  #118  
Old Posted May 2, 2006, 1:12 AM
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Does Windsor Arena have a surface lot? For some reason I think it doesn't, but there must be plenty of adjacent lots nearby.
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  #119  
Old Posted May 2, 2006, 2:08 AM
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i believe that it has a small lot attached that is used by employees and players. but yeah, downtown windsor has several parking garages (at least four sizeable ones that i can remember) that could be used for event nights. add in street parking and/or access via windsor transit and i bet that they could accomodate the crowds without problem.
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  #120  
Old Posted May 2, 2006, 1:35 PM
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From today's Windsor Star:

Parks to replace rails
Long-term urban renewal to convert 55 km of track

Dalson Chen, Windsor Star
Published: Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Windsor will be transformed forever by an ambitious plan to replace its train tracks with green space, says Mayor Eddie Francis.

"These old rail lines act as barriers," said Francis in his annual state of the city address on Monday.

"They produce noise and vibration impact that reduces the quality of life in our city."

Standing before an audience of hundreds at the Chrysler Theatre, Francis described a long-term urban renewal project that will convert 55 kilometres of rail lines currently crossing the city from "a rundown, divisive old web" into a system of trails.

"It will run through all five wards, connecting neighbourhoods to one another, creating green space and recreational paths, converting brownfields and scrap yards -- all the way to the riverfront," the mayor said.

REMOVING OLD LINES

Francis said a nearly completed rail study conducted in partnership with Transport Canada will provide a framework for consolidating the city's six major rail corridors into one, allowing old lines to be removed with little impact to train traffic.

Although planning documents are still in development and funding has yet to be secured, Francis said he hopes for work to be underway within five years and compared the concept's magnitude to the remaking of Windsor's riverfront in the late '90s.

"If the riverfront was the urban renewal project for the 20th century, then we must build upon that legacy and begin the urban renewal project of the 21st century," he said.

Other quality of life issues were also highlighted in Francis's 2006 state of the city address -- the third he's delivered during his term as Windsor's mayor.

Francis said he and council are developing Windsor's first environmental master plan, and it will see one million new trees planted throughout the city.

But Francis saved his strongest comments for the coming third border crossing, vowing that he and council will stand with citizens. "We will defend this city against any cheap intrusion into our communities," he promised. "I will not sacrifice the interests of our citizens for a quick fix, or a cheap fix."

Francis criticized the Detroit River International Crossing process for not making air quality improvement a part of its mandate. "Their mandate is only not to make it any worse," he said. "I find that absolutely unacceptable."

Francis said he also won't accept a 12-lane at-grade freeway, which is one of the options under consideration by the DRIC.

"We believe we can get trucks off our city streets and out of our neighbourhoods," Francis said.

Asked to be specific about what recourse the city would take, Francis said: "There are a number of options available to us. Let's just hope it doesn't get down to that."

- - -

CITY DEBT TO FALL

Financial stability will continue to be an area of focus in city council's vision for Windsor, Mayor Eddie Francis said Monday in his 2006 state of the city address.

According to Francis, Windsor's municipal debt is projected to be $161 million by the end of this year -- down from initial projections of $276 million.

Other areas of focus include corporate stability and infrastructure development.

Francis said that 69 per cent of this year's capital budget will be devoted to roads and sewers, up from 54 per cent in 2005.

"One of the complaints I'm getting now is that there's too much road construction, and too much sewer and water work happening," Francis said. "If that's a complaint, then I'm happy."

© The Windsor Star 2006
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