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  #141  
Old Posted May 19, 2006, 1:59 PM
upinottawa upinottawa is offline
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Any recent pictures of the Club Lofts? Any idea as to how well they are selling? It looks like a very interesting project and I hope it does well -- its success could spur other conversions in Windsor.

If I was moving back to Windsor I would certainly give that place a second look.
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  #142  
Old Posted May 19, 2006, 4:30 PM
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I went by there last weekend and nothing much has changed. They're working on it though.
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  #143  
Old Posted May 20, 2006, 4:37 PM
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New regional board moves step closer
Local organization will prepare and execute a 5-year business plan

Dave Hall, Windsor Star
Published: Saturday, May 20, 2006

A new board of directors governing economic development strategies across the region is expected to be in place by early June, said Mayor Eddie Francis.

A member of a transitional board which is overseeing the process, Francis said the board met this week to review the applications and expects to establish a new board within two to three weeks.

"We're all anxious to get this process moving along and put the new board in place," said Francis.

The new board will eventually oversee a regional economic development organization which will replace the existing Windsor-Essex County Development Commission.

Others members of the transitional board are Essex County Warden Mike Raymond, city chief administrative officer John Skorobohacz and county CAO Brian Gregg.

Skorobohacz said the board received more than 50 applications.

"I'm confident we can put together a board which encompasses all the sectors across the entire region," Skorobohacz said.

"It's time to demonstrate that this organization is truly representative of the entire region and that starts with the makeup of the board," he added.

Gregg said that "while finding a representative mix would be ideal, what we're really trying to do is get the right people around the table -- people who are champions for the region."

The new 11-member board will consist of Gregg and Skorobohacz along with representatives from business, education and health care.

After picking a chief executive officer for the new regional organization by early fall, the new board will prepare and execute a five-year business plan.

It will include strategies to retain and expand investment, attract new investment and develop a support network for business creation, innovation and research and development.

FUNDING FORMULA

A new funding formula is also being recommended with cost-sharing on a per capita basis.

In the past, the city contributed roughly 80 per cent of the commission's $1.2-million budget but under this formula, its share would fall to about 52 per cent even though the dollar value of its contribution would increase over time.

"It's a fair formula and reflects the level of funding that will be required to allow us to be more proactive in selling the attributes of the region than we have been in the past," said Skorobohacz.

Under the new formula, the first-year rate would be $3.50 per capita for a budget of about $1.347 million, rising by 50 cents per year to a fifth-year figure of $5.50 for a budget of $2.117 million by 2010.

dhall@thestar.canwest.com or 255-5777, Ext. 408.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #144  
Old Posted May 24, 2006, 2:57 PM
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City, college reach impasse in Cleary negotiations

Windsor Star and News Services
Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A deal has not been reached between the city and St. Clair College over the conversion of the Cleary International Centre to an urban campus because the two sides cannot agree on who will own it in the future, Mayor Eddie Francis said Tuesday.

"We need to bring resolution to this matter one way or another," Francis said.

He met Saturday with college president John Strasser, along with other city officials, in an attempt to hammer out an agreement. Francis met with councillors Tuesday behind closed doors to read them a letter from Strasser. "There are things (councillors) do not agree with."

Francis was keeping a tight lid on the nature of the stumbling block, but indicated it was over the issue of future ownership of the Cleary.

"We're looking for some kind of certainty that it will remain as a community-use."

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #145  
Old Posted May 24, 2006, 2:59 PM
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Market to make core comeback

Vendors hit armoury June 2

Roseann Danese, Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Windsorites will once again be able to buy their tomatoes and cucumbers downtown.

A farmers' market will open in the Windsor Armoury on Fridays and Saturdays, starting June 2.

City council unanimously agreed to rent the space to the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Area (DWBIA) for a market that will feature locally grown produce and home-baked goods two days a week through to Oct. 21.

There will be room for up to 22 vendors.

Five are already committed.

"I'd like to do a little dance of excitement," said Coun. Joyce Zuk. "It's exciting for council when something is going downtown other than a massage parlour."

Judith Veresuk, executive director of the DWBIA, said the market will serve downtown Windsor, its residents and its employees.

15,000 PEOPLE

"Downtown Windsor, according to Statistics Canada, had a population of over 15,000 in 2004," she said.

More than 6,000 people work within three blocks of the armoury, and that figure doesn't include a multitude of small- scale businesses employing fewer than 20 people.

"These are the people we hope to attract to the farmers' market," Veresuk said.

In all, more than 16,000 people work downtown. Parking isn't a concern because of the target audience, Veresuk said. Cars will be able to park at lots near the Top Hat restaurant, Tunnel Bar-B-Q and in one of the city's two parking garages on Pelissier Street and at Chatham Street and Goyeau Avenue.

The DWBIA will pay a $540 daily rental fee for the facility and it will be responsible for cleaning up the trash and leftover produce. Veresuk said vendors aren't expecting to generate a lot of garbage because of the part-time hours and a downtown merchant has agreed to take the leftovers for his compost.

New, stricter health guidelines regarding farmers' markets expected to be introduced by the province won't be a problem. Veresuk said the DWBIA's policies and procedures already surpass the standards that will be set down.

Veresuk said the downtown venue will not compete with the market on Ottawa Street. In fact, some of the vendors there have called to enquire about having a smaller stand at the armoury.

"This is apples and oranges," she said. "We're running something that's operating two days a week and something that only has a fraction of the product being sold at the Ottawa Street market."

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #146  
Old Posted May 24, 2006, 7:33 PM
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I think that the market downtown is a great idea. People need reasons to head back down to the core. This to me looks like a good reason!
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  #147  
Old Posted May 24, 2006, 8:45 PM
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Good stuff on the market. That's the first time I've seen a stat for the number of people who live downtown. They better be able to get a deal worked out with the college.
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  #148  
Old Posted May 24, 2006, 8:55 PM
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I think the market will be a great addition, and I don't buy Gord Henderson's argument that the downtown market will compete with the Walkerville market. Downtown will be open two days a week and will be purely a farmer's market -- similar to the set up with the outdoors vendors in Ottawa's Byward Market.

Hopefully the downtown market will generate more foot traffic downtown on weekends and give people another reason to head downtown on Saturdays. It would be wonderful if they could close Freedom Way when the market is open and make Freedom Way a pedestrian-only zone during those hours.

With the smoking ban, the higher dollar, and the WHTI coming down the pipe, Windsor needs to get more urban (i.e. more residents, businesses, and things to do downtown and surrounding areas) in order to attract American visitors.
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  #149  
Old Posted May 24, 2006, 9:37 PM
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Quote:
With the smoking ban, the higher dollar, and the WHTI coming down the pipe
Those are three massive punches in the head to Windsor, it'll be interesting to see how things shake out. Not like we've never faced hard times before though.

A loophole should've gone into the smoking ban and that passport thing is just a joke.
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  #150  
Old Posted May 25, 2006, 2:50 AM
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As found on the globeandmail.com. Interesting note: this article comes from the American wire (Associated Press) rather than the Canadian Press (the story is even listed as being from Detroit).

The new provincial smoking law should have made some exceptions for the provincially owned casinos. I mean, the province could have mandated extensive upgrades to ventilation systems, because the money to fund such systems would come from the province. Smoking and gambling are both addictive activities, will patrons who suffer from both afflications stop one to partake in another?

Could Casino Windsor provide nicorette or the patch to customers free of charge?

Windsor fears tourism disaster from smoking ban

Associated Press

Detroit — Windsor gambling operators say they fear Ontario's new ban on indoor smoking will drive away Americans who are crucial to the economy of the border city.

The law takes effect May 31 and will ban smoking in all public facilities, such as bingo halls, bars, restaurants, sporting venues, stores and office buildings, and including Casino Windsor.

Fines for businesses violating the law will be up to $10,000, while individuals face fines of $87 to $600.

“We expect to be devastated by this smoking ban,” said Mike Duval, who opened Paradise Bingo 21 years ago in what used to be a bowling alley. “At least 70 to 80 per cent of our customers are smokers. If the players can't have a cigarette while they play, they just won't come any more.”

The smoking ban adds to the challenges facing Windsor businesses because of the rising value of the Canadian dollar and tighter border controls.

Mr. Duval said about half his customers cross the border from metropolitan Detroit. Some visit two or more times a week, and Mr. Duval said many have told him they will not come if they cannot smoke.

The ban could help the three casinos across the Detroit River in Detroit.

“We do anticipate a positive effect on our business,” said Roger Martin, spokesman for Greektown Casino in Detroit. “Like always, we welcome all guests to our casino.”

To keep his smoking customers, Mr. Duval said he is building two outside smoking patios at Paradise Bingo. He said he will offer free wireless Personal Bingo Verifiers that pick up the numbers and mark players' bingo cards.

Casino Windsor also is building two outside patio areas, which will be heated in cold weather.

“We fully expect in the short run there will be an impact in our revenues,” said Teresa Roncon, spokeswoman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., the government agency that owns Casino Windsor. “We just can't speculate on the impact.”
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  #151  
Old Posted May 26, 2006, 2:01 PM
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Drive bike lanes touted
Plans envision cycle, pedestrian friendly river route

Sonja Puzic, Windsor Star
Published: Thursday, May 25, 2006

If city council approves the Riverside Drive Improvement Project, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians will be able to enjoy Windsor's most scenic road, a project consultant said Wednesday.

IBI Group project manager Don Drackley thinks it's a win-win situation, but will wait for the public's two cents before handing over a final draft proposal to the city.

"We want to get some sort of a decision on support for the program before we do the final cost and staging," he said at the Cleary International Centre, where detailed plans for the reconstruction of Riverside Drive were unveiled to the public. "We looked at a lot of different alternatives, but people always want to come out and voice their opinions. It's a very sensitive issue."

Among the project team's recommendations are continuous on-road cycling lanes, a pedestrian promenade on the north side of Riverside Drive and a number of features designed to reduce traffic volume, including raised intersections and marked crosswalks. The proposed installation of barrier curbs would prevent parking on the public road right-of-way and the addition of exclusive turn lanes would divert traffic to alternate routes.

Since the $480,000 environmental assessment of Riverside Drive was narrowly approved by council in February 2005, councillors and residents have voiced concerns about its cost and the scale of the work involved. Coun. Alan Halberstadt said the project was too expensive and Coun. David Cassivi opposed additional bicycle lanes.

Drackley said he expects the proposed bicycle lanes will continue to be more controversial than other changes, even though the majority of Windsorites support them.

"If the public says 'We don't want on-road bike lanes' in each section of Riverside Drive, then the bike lane concept doesn't work," he said. "You can't be on a bike lane and then have to get off and get back on it. If that happens, the city will have to re-evaluate."

BIKE LANES DANGEROUS

Nicholas Patterson, a mechanic who drives on Riverside Drive every day, said the proposed bicycle lanes are unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

"I know the idea of separate lanes for bikes sounds good, but as an experienced driver I know how dangerous it can be to travel alongside cyclists," he said. "I've almost hit cyclists on Riverside Drive a number of times and not because it was my fault. Some of them just shouldn't share the road with drivers, even if they have their own lanes."

But Jana Petrovac, a Riverside Drive resident who stopped by the Cleary during her daily jog to look at the project diagrams, said she welcomes bike lanes in her neighbourhood.

"I know a couple of my neighbours don't like the idea, but I think it really creates a nice atmosphere for everyone," she said. "We have a beautiful riverfront and we should all enjoy it."

Drackley said the Riverside Drive project does not require alterations to private and residential properties. Only public parkland and a small strip of land on Walker Road will be affected.

"It's a big change from 10 years ago, when the last environmental assessment suggested additional lanes on Riverside Drive that would expand the road and affect private driveways," he said.

The public works department expects to evaluate comments from the public, confirm project costs and wrap up the environmental assessment by the end of June. The future of the long-awaited project will then remain in the hands of city council.

"There's no knowing how long that will take, but city councillors are certainly interested in reviewing these proposals and deciding on the best thing for the city," Drackley said.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #152  
Old Posted May 26, 2006, 2:02 PM
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Urban village in city core coming closer to fruition

Windsor Star
Published: Thursday, May 25, 2006

The city's vision to create an urban village downtown has moved another step closer to reality.

Developers will be given financial incentives to build projects that fit the design that city planners envision, if the Ministry of Municipal Affairs approves the plan.

The incentives include waiving development fees and park fees and offering up-front cash for storefront facade improvements. "There's 11 incentives altogether," said Jim Yanchula, manager of urban design and community development.

The incentives are based on how well the developers respond to the city's vision, Yanchula said. "The idea that they're performance-based incentives, where you have to meet a certain visual standard...that's unique. We don't know of any other jurisdiction in Canada that's done that."

Yanchula said the city expects the ministry to have an answer by the end of July.

The city owns most of the properties in the area that's been eyed for an urban village.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #153  
Old Posted May 26, 2006, 2:04 PM
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RC schools lacked OK of ministry
Pupatello talks tough on soaring construction costs

Monica Wolfson, Windsor Star
Published: Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Catholic school board started building St. Joseph high school five months before the province said it would pay the bills, board documents show.

"I would expect they would have ministry approval before they do something as serious as getting financial assistance," said Minister of Education and Windsor MPP Sandra Pupatello.

DON'T CLOSE DEAL

"That's my expectation. I don't close a deal on a house until I've gone to the bank to see if I can get a mortgage."

The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board voted to close St. Joseph secondary school in January 2004, a month after the province announced a moratorium on school closures. The board needed to get provincial approval before it could move ahead.

In June 2005, without provincial authorization, the board tried to get a $27-million debenture to pay for St. Joseph, but it was rejected. According to board documents, the Ontario School Board Financing Corporation refused to float the debenture until the board provided a letter from the Ministry of Education swearing it would provide the funds.

Despite the setback, the board started construction in July. It wasn't until mid-November that the board received a letter from the Ministry of Education saying it would provide the funds.

The board issued the debenture in March.

Pupatello said she won't allow school boards to push the Ministry of Education's back against the wall.

Trustee Shannon Porcellini said the board followed the province's criteria for school closures and thought a decision was imminent. The public school board, which voted to merge four elementary schools and build two new ones at the same time, is still waiting for provincial approval.

"There was never any indication from the minister that we weren't going to get approved," said Peter Marchini, superintendent of business for the Catholic board. "The board moved forward with the project. It was their decision."

It became public this week that St. Joseph and St. Anne high school will cost $22 million more than anticipated.

"I'm going to be very vigorous about builds," Pupatello said. "Cost overruns are unacceptable in today's construction world. It tells me the systems at that board are very different. The cost overruns can be so significant that it puts in peril the business of education."

Marchini said the board will pay for the extra expenses by issuing another debenture in late 2007. The interest and principal charges will be paid with provincial funding and possibly the building renewal budget, which pays for new roofs, toilets and parking lots.

Costs for the two schools spiralled out of control for several reasons, Marchini said. The construction manager at risk, Oscar Construction, was hired in April 2005, but wasn't given a complete set of drawings for the schools until April 2006, four months before St. Joseph is slated to open and six months after construction on St. Anne began.

"They were providing the construction manager with drawings, then proceeding with construction, and then giving him more drawings," Marchini said. "We've never done a school this way. We've always had the drawings 100 per cent complete first."

Marchini said the schools had to be built fast in order to qualify for grants.

Normally, a construction manager at risk is hired to control costs, although Marchini maintains Oscar was hired to build the schools quickly.

Usually the construction manager at risk bids on constructing a facility for a certain price. Unless there are changes to the plans, the price is guaranteed and any cost overruns are covered by that construction manager.

"If it comes over that price, he's on the hook," said Penny Allen, superintendent of business at the public board. "If it comes in lower, we keep the savings. But we have guaranteed him a certain amount to do the job."

The Catholic board started construction first, then got drawings and then settled on a price. On April 20, retired education director Michael Moher signed a maximum bid contract with Oscar for $30 million for St. Joseph and $35 million for St. Anne.

Those fees don't include another $12 million for architect bills, site acquisition and legal costs.

The contracts were sent to trustees three weeks after Moher signed them.

Despite the reversed way business was conducted, Marchini said the contracts are valid, even though they didn't go to trustees first.

"I think most trustees were quite pleased with it," Marchini said.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #154  
Old Posted May 26, 2006, 2:09 PM
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This is good news in the sense that the message is starting to get through. However, the immigration bill is reportedly very controversial and unlikely to pass the House. Hopefully, the passport delay amendment will be tacked on to a popular bill in the near future. Remember, in the US of A a bill must be passed by the House, the Senate and signed by the President. Getting closer but not there yet.

Also, a delay is better than no delay, but the only solution that works for Windsor (and most of Canada) is the enhanced drivers' licence option with enhancements that are similar to the US Real I.D. law (with place of birth included on the card).


U.S. Senate backs delay of border ID
Move may mean 18-month reprieve

Sheldon Alberts, with files from Dalson Chen, CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, May 26, 2006

WASHINGTON - Canada -- and Windsor -- received some good news on the passport front Thursday when the U.S. Senate passed comprehensive immigration legislation that included amendments that would delay the looming passport requirements by 18 months, to June 1, 2009.

The news came as Canada's new ambassador to the U.S., Michael Wilson, was making a rare appearance before a U.S. congressional committee.

The legislation would also authorize the State and Homeland Security departments to certify Canadian drivers' licences as acceptable identification at the border, providing they meet U.S. security requirements. That could be a significant development because Ottawa has rejected the idea of creating a new border ID card as an alternative to the passport, but the immigration legislation must still be reconciled with the House immigration bill that includes no delay provisions.

"We have a long way to go," Wilson told reporters after the hearing.

"I think the important thing is that the Senate has spoken. That is a very good message out there. The administration is not immune to what the House and what the Senate thinks. They will be paying attention."

'BREATHING ROOM'

Mayor Eddie Francis said that if implementation of the new border pass is delayed, he and the mayors of other border cities will have more time to discuss how to deal with it. "It's some breathing room, but not that much.

"I'll only be encouraged when the final bill is passed and it allows for a balance between security and cross-border traffic. There's a lot of work that needs to be done."

NDP Windsor West MP Brian Masse agreed. "We still have this process looming on us," Masse said. "We can't interpret a delay as a victory."

Masse vowed to continue to "pound away" in the House of Commons for answers on the passport requirements, and noted that the Tory government still doesn't have an official position on the matter. "If there's going to be injurious effects at the border, we should know how to ameliorate them."

Masse said the U.S. has yet to offer specifics on "the centrepiece of the design that they'll be implementing," and said a study needs to be done on how implementation will impact border communities like Windsor.

Even with Ottawa's new friendlier attitude, members of the congressional committee seemed to have little awareness of the plan to require all travellers to carry passports or another secure document to enter the U.S. starting Jan. 1, 2008.

Indiana Representative Dan Burton, the committee's chairman, was unaware of the looming deadline until Wilson mentioned it in his briefing.

"It looks like there (could be) a log- jam," Burton said.

The plan could cause "confusion and congestion" at the border because of the time crunch and a lack of technology to process the new ID requirements, Wilson said.

"We need a smart border, not a thick one," he said.

Wilson also told lawmakers that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be "proactive" in his efforts to repair Canada-U.S. ties and douse anti-American sentiment that grew because of the war in Iraq and the softwood lumber feud.

Harper plans a far more robust role for Canada in world affairs and will use his budding friendship with President George W. Bush to forge closer security and intelligence ties with the United States, Wilson said.

"He is willing to take a stand," Wilson told members of the House of Representatives committee on Western Hemisphere affairs.

The 67-year-old envoy touted the "closer relationship" that is developing between Harper and Bush following the two leaders' first meeting last month in Cancun, Mexico.

Wilson revealed Bush and Harper will meet again July 6, likely in Washington, in advance of the G-8 summit in mid-July. With Bush and Harper's personal ties cementing, "I think that is going to result in a closer working relationship between our security and intelligence forces," Wilson said."That was not as apparent previously."

Bush had notoriously strained relations with former prime minister Jean Chretien over Iraq. And while the U.S. president and former prime minister Paul Martin began their relationship on good footing, it suffered over the softwood lumber dispute, environmental issues and Liberal campaign ads that targeted Bush.

A recent Pew Centre poll said favourable views of the U.S. among Canadians had fallen from 76 per cent in 2000 to 43 per cent in 2005.

When asked by Massachusetts Representative Bill Delahunt why public opinion in Canada had soured, Wilson cited anger over Iraq and softwood as the central reasons.

"The prime minister is going to be very prominent in addressing ... the positive aspects of the relationship with your country," said Wilson.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #155  
Old Posted May 26, 2006, 2:11 PM
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Navel gazing morons.... The Big 3 will stop this senseless bill.


Michigan legislators move to kill DRIC

Dave Battagello, Windsor Star
Published: Friday, May 26, 2006

A bid by political leaders of a state transportation committee to kill Michigan's participation in the binational study to decide the next border crossing location is unlikely to reach final approval, said one House representative on the committee.

A last-minute amendment to the state's transportation budget calls for cutting off state funding to the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study.

It was introduced by Senator Jud Gilbert (R - Algonac), who is also co-chairman of the Senate and House transportation committee which last week completed hearings to determine the fate of the state's support of DRIC.

Michigan state politicians are in the midst of its budget process. Gilbert lumped in his amendment against DRIC with about 40 others at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, just before the Republican-led House passed its version of the budget around midnight.

Despite Gilbert's actions, Rep. Steve Tobocman (D - Detroit), whose district includes the Ambassador Bridge, said the amendment will likely not survive the scrutiny of full legislative debate and required approval of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

With so much at stake at the Windsor-Detroit border from an economic and security standpoint, federal Republicans may quell the uprising from their state counterparts, while automakers and other business leaders would also step forward should any attempt to kill DRIC at this late stage be pushed, Tobocman said.

"I think the Detroit Regional Chamber, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and other industries would feel strongly the border crossing study not be interfered with by any political wrangling," he said.

"Should anyone politically be serious about terminating the study, you will see them start to speak out. I don't think (Gilbert and supporters) fully understand the national security and economic impacts of this."

DRIC includes four partners -- the U.S., Canada, Michigan and Ontario.

A final DRIC decision on the exact location for a new bridge and feeder roads is expected in 2007.

The process was called into question earlier this year by a handful of Michigan politicians and the transportation committee hearings were launched in March.

At the end of the hearings last week, committee co-chairman Rep. Phillip Lajoy (R - Canton) called for an end to the DRIC study, followed by Wednesday's move by Gilbert to cut off funding within the state budget.

Senator Ray Basham (D - Taylor) attempted to block the amendment.

"Why are they suddenly opposed to (DRIC) after all these years?" Basham said. "Obviously I oppose this and hopefully the legislature will see through this."

Gilbert's amendment to the budget will go to the conference committee where it must receive approval from the full legislature, then eventually be approved by Granholm. That could play out in as little as two weeks, Basham said.

Despite the national, state and provincial economic implications, a majority of members who sit on the transportation committee seemed largely uninterested during the hearings.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #156  
Old Posted May 26, 2006, 2:14 PM
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Score one for Windsor!


We're No. 3 city for U.S. visitors

David George-Cosh, Windsor Star
Published: Friday, May 26, 2006

Tourism officials anticipate a boost to the local economy after the city was listed as one of the top three cities to visit in a recent survey published by an influential American trade organization.

The survey, conducted by the American Bus Association, puts Windsor in a third-place tie for "Top Canadian cities to visit" with Winnipeg and Montreal, behind perennial favourites Toronto and Niagara Falls.

"In the last couple of years, tour operators have been looking for new and diverse destinations for their customers and certainly Windsor fits that mould," said Lori Harrison, the association's communications director.

With a strong Canadian dollar, the cancellation of some bus lines in April, and the no-smoking ban taking affect at the end of the month, tourism officials have been worried about the potential negative impact on the local economy.

However, the third-place ranking will encourage tour bus operators to add Windsor to their schedules and help bring any lost revenue back to the city, news which thrills Sandra Bradt, tourism director at the Windsor-Essex Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"I'm ecstatic," Bradt said. "Having that designation gets awareness of our city out to thousands of tour operators who plan trips. We couldn't have paid for this kind of publicity."

Jack Goebel, vice-president of Lakefront Lines in Cleveland, Ohio, isn't surprised at Windsor's high ranking.

"I've been running daily bus routes over to Windsor for the casino and the winery. It's been a really successful destination for us," said Goebel.

Goebel also feels the law to ban indoor smoking won't be affecting the economy as much as some have predicted, citing Winnipeg as an example.

"Last year after they passed the bylaw, they had around three months of slow business at their casino but they were fine afterward," Goebel said.

"I'm not too worried about it affecting Windsor too much. Maybe in the beginning for a bit, but in the long term it'll be fine."

Less than 240,000 tourists visited Windsor on bus tours in 2005, a figure that has steadily declined after reaching record numbers in 2001, Bradt said.

Bradt credits the growing popularity of tours aimed at specialty groups to help turn a declining area of the industry into bigger profits.

"With the population aging, traditional motorcoach tours are starting to decrease in popularity," said Bradt.

"But an emerging trend are new 'affinity' or specialty groups and is accounting for probably 20 per cent of all bus tours."

Specialty groups are smaller and more targeted, but more importantly, spend more money, Bradt says.

Connie Pare, a retail manager at the Pelee Island Winery, agrees speciality bus tours are helping spur more interest in local tourism.

"We usually get about three or four VIP tours each week here at the winery. It's definitely a reason why we've expanded our facilities to accommodate larger groups," Pare said.

After a disappointing start to the year, recent statistics suggest the drop in visitors from across the border is starting to rebound.

Same-day car travel from the U.S. increased only slightly in March after falling to its lowest level the previous month, according to Statistics Canada.

More than 1.2 million Americans crossed the border during same-day trips in March, compared with 1.1 million in February. Overall, 2.5 million Americans visited Canada in March, a 0.9 per cent increase.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #157  
Old Posted May 27, 2006, 3:27 PM
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Cleary talks revived

Windsor Star
Published: Saturday, May 27, 2006

Negotiations between the city and St. Clair College about the school's establishment of a downtown campus in the Cleary International Centre appear to be back on the rails.

Mayor Eddie Francis and St. Clair president Dr. John Strasser met Thursday and Strasser provided Francis with a new proposal on Friday.

"All I can say is we're chatting," said Strasser.

"I think we clearly understand the concerns for both sides."

Strasser would not discuss the details of his proposal.

Earlier this week the deal appeared to be at an impasse over concerns about future ownership of the Cleary.

Francis met in-camera with council Tuesday and read them a letter from Strasser which contained items some councillors did not agree with.

Francis said the matter will be before council again at their meeting on Monday.

Asked for his assessment of the negotiations, Francis said that he shared council's concerns at the last meeting, but added: "Dr. Strasser and myself have had very productive discussions.... I think there's something to report back to council for their consideration."

The Cleary International Centre will become a redundant city asset after the new 100,000-square-foot auditorium at Casino Windsor opens.

The new downtown campus would first house about 550 students but that number could grow to as high as 1,000.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #158  
Old Posted May 28, 2006, 8:06 PM
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City No. 4 for incomes
National report shows median family earnings of $77,200

Dave Hall, Windsor Star
Published: Saturday, May 27, 2006

Windsor's image as a "lunch-bucket town" has been transformed into one of a city full of workers with highly paid technical skills not only in the automotive industry but also in the health sciences, finance and software engineering fields, said a former business professor at the University of Windsor.

A recently released Statistics Canada report shows that Windsor's median, two-parent family income in 2004 was ranked fourth in Canada and trailed only Oshawa -- another city dominated by the auto industry -- government-heavy Ottawa-Gatineau and booming Calgary.

MARKETABLE SKILLS

Alfie Morgan said "it's a testament to the fact that many workers in this city have highly marketable technical skills across many different employment sectors.

"This notion of Windsor being a lunch-bucket town in the sense that all we have here are low-skilled or semi-skilled labourers has been rejected by the numbers in this survey," said Morgan. "It's historical data in that it's based on 2004 incomes and while it may have eroded somewhat, it certainly hasn't plummeted."

HAS DROPPED

Windsor's median family income was $77,200 in 2004, which is a drop of one per cent from the previous year.

Doug Newson, central region director for Statistics Canada, said "a large concentration of high-paying jobs such as those in the auto sector is what drives up the median figures.

"It's that heavy concentration which drives up the numbers and where there are good unionized, largely stable jobs, average incomes tend to go up," said Newson.

Morgan said a large number of Windsorites with high-paying professional careers in Detroit is another reason for our high median income.

"Clearly these people working in consulting, software engineering, mechanical engineering and the health sciences field shows they have highly marketable, desirable skills, not only in Windsor, but across the border," he said.

TECHNICAL WORKFORCE

Morgan said the absence from the top five of such cities as London, traditionally thought of as a white-collar employment-rich community, is further evidence of a shift toward a more technical workforce.

"One would think that London with its large numbers of highly paid people in the health sciences sector such as doctors, nurses, technicians, researchers and such would be near the top of the rankings," said Morgan. "London's absence speaks volumes about the lucrative nature and skill levels of tool and die workers, CAD/CAM technicians, mouldmakers and others in our community."

And while Windsor's numbers are boosted by commuters to Detroit so too are Oshawa's, where large numbers of residents commute to Toronto for high-paying positions.

Newson said in recent surveys it was found that for Oshawa residents, their travel-to-work distance is fairly high and "one of the major reasons for that is travel to high-paying jobs in Toronto.

"People tend to commute for a reason and the reason is usually a good job," said Newson.

The report, generated from income tax returns, only compares large urban areas and not those such as Fort McMurray, where high-paying oilsands jobs have lifted family income beyond $120,000, and Yellowknife, where the diamond industry has pushed median family incomes above $115,000.

BY THE NUMBERS

Median total income of two-parent families for 2004:

Top Five

Oshawa $83,100

Ottawa-Gatineau $82,100

Calgary $77,800

Windsor $77,200

Kitchener $75,700

Bottom Five

Vancouver $61,800

Saguenay $61,200

Sherbrooke $59,400

Abbotsford $59,000

Trois-Rivieres $57,700

Canada overall $64,800

Source: Statistics Canada

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #159  
Old Posted May 31, 2006, 3:33 PM
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I may be the last person in support of a downtown arena, but I think that having Windsor's premier arena out at the track will benefit no one other than the owners of the track. There will be little spin off benefit for the city.

People of Windsor: drive the 180 kms to London. Check out their new arena. See what it has done for that city!


Raceway arena idea resurrected
Mayor confirms new offer to build facility on land next to track but mum on details

Roseann Danese, Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Windsor Raceway wants to slide back into the arena debate.

Mayor Eddie Francis confirmed Tuesday the city received a new offer from the raceway, renewing its interest in building an arena on land next to its track. A new partner has been added to the raceway proposal to help pick up the funding shortfall that caused the deal to fall through a few months ago.

"They're now proposing to deal with some type of partnership," Francis said. "They made a proposal on paper and they asked me to submit it to the administration."

Sources say the proposal for 6,500 seats includes a $15-million capital contribution from the city, along with $3 million that has been accumulated in the Chimczuk museum fund.

Francis would not release details of the raceway offer. He said the proposal includes a second ancillary ice pad and will deal with the issue of building a two-pad arena on the east end to address the problems facing aging Riverside and Adstoll arenas.

Francis said it is now up to city staff to prepare a report that will come to council in June.

Last month city council voted to further study building a 6,500-seat arena on the city's east side, with three additional community pads that would replace the older arenas in the area and a community centre to replace the Edward Street centre.

PRICE TAG

That concept comes at a price tag of about $55 million. Despite the price, councillors were uncharacteristically in agreement the project should be pursued.

That may have spurred the raceway group into action, sources said. Windsor Raceway president Pat Soulliere did not respond to a request for comment. Windsor businessman David Batten, who is involved with the Jebb Group, referred all questions to the mayor. The proposal may still include a Gretzky-99 restaurant, which was one of the features proposed several years ago during another round of failed negotiations.

Don Sadler, executive director of parks, said a 6,500-seat arena alone can cost roughly $30 million.

Councillors have been sold on the idea of consolidating a community centre and the older east-end arenas under one roof to save operating costs. "That was very appealing to council," Francis said. Windsor Arena loses about $300,000 per year while Riverside Arena loses about $86,000 annually. A consolidated centre would turn a small profit, according to figures presented earlier to city council.

Francis said council will likely be presented with the two options: build a four-pad arena complex under one roof somewhere in the east end or partner with Windsor Raceway for a two-pad arena on land owned by the track.

The city will have an extra $15 million in 2008 after other projects are paid off. In 2009, $23.5 million will become available and in 2010, $36.4 million will be free to use on arena infrastructure.

Sadler said councillors may have to choose between the two scenarios: "It all boils down to what makes the best business case."

The first raceway proposal included offering the city free land for the facility. An arena on the east end would likely require the city to purchase the land.

CHIMCZUK FUND

Retired autoworker Joseph Chimczuk left $1 million to the City of Windsor when he died in 1990. In his will, he instructed the city to use the money for a museum, archives and library. The money was invested and has now grown to about $3 million. It has never been spent. Over the years, groups have asked the city for the money to fund everything from a science centre to municipal archives and a library.

© The Windsor Star 2006
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  #160  
Old Posted Jun 1, 2006, 3:57 PM
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When will this arena at the raceway scenario just die already?
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