I believe that my solution makes better sense than what the Star advocates. Look how poorly the City has handled the Tunnel: the declining volumes and increased costs. Why is the Star so interested in having a multi-hundred million dollar lawsuit between the Government and the Bridge Co?
My solution is a good middle position that accomplishes what I believe everyone can live with!
I never thought the Cleary performance where the City snubbed the two Senior Levels could be topped. But I was wrong. Provincial Liberal Ministers Duncan and Caplan announced out of the blue that the Province had committed $500 million of new money to Windsor for the border (although they were unable to provide specifics on the spending and it was not even available until 2010). The next day, they had to apologize for revealing it! The "Gong Show" as Gord Henderson called it.
What a dismal outlook, with no political leadership at any level in sight. Thank goodness for "private enterprise."
Thank goodness for the Ambassador Bridge Company!
There I said it. Like them or not, one has to respect that, while the politicians flail away, the Bridge Company moves forward with their vision of a reasonable and practical solution for the border. I am saying publicly what most in Windsor already know but which, for some reason, people are afraid or choose not to give Matty Moroun, the company's owner, the credit he deserves.
Forget the public/private arguments and the charges of monopolistic power which the Bi-national Partnership demonstrated are untrue. If you look at the numbers post 9/11including those at "public" crossings, the Bridge Company is slowly but surely building back its traffic over time. It must be doing something right.
Sure it is doing this to make money. What a crime that appears to be to some! But they have to stay in business also and be competitive so they have learned not to waste money either. Can we say the same for our politicians?
The Bridge Company solved our immediate border problem without spending $150 million of taxpayer money as DRTP wanted and without destroying the heart of Windsor. It fought the US Government for over a year to get the four new US Customs booths opened and staffed fully so that truck backups on Huron Church Road have virtually been eliminated. Ask our Deputy Chief of Police. His big problem on Huron Church is speeders today, not traffic jams.
Now its newest announcement surprises the City. The Bi-national engineers admitted that their truck traffic projections were wrong such that their projections are off by 10 years. The Bridge Company’s new short/medium term solution for the border addresses that issue and even raises the question whether we need another crossing. Simply put, if 4 new customs booths work to end backups so well, then dramatically increasing the total number to 200 ought to work even better! It ought to keep trucks from being backed up on Huron Church Road and cars from blocking Goyeau and Wyandotte. Our redundancy is provided by a similar project in Sarnia. It minimizes social and environmental concerns on both sides of the border while the Bridge Company finances the project at their expense, not taxpayers.
Our Mayor, who is on the Tunnel Commission, reacted by merely talking about protecting the Tunnel’s competitive position in the cross-border market-place. Never mind that what the Bridge Company proposed would help the Mayor salvage the Schwartz Plan, which the Senior levels are ignoring, and help boost our economic development. The Mayor seems more concerned with Tunnel and Duty-Free Shop Revenues than the well-being of Windsor.
Let’s get real. We cannot rely on our politicians. They have proven to be failures at all levels. It has been how long since Gridlock Sam has issued his Report. Where is the promised action?
Where is the Agreement amongst the three levels of Government on our side to move forward aggressively considering that the US Ambassador to Canada said that he wanted a crossing now and the US might even pay for 50% of its cost!
Aren’t we all tired of hearing the Federal lackeys come to town telling us how important our border crossing is for the future of North America and then do absolutely nothing. They hide behind the multi-year Bi-National process and set aside not one penny for the border in the Federal Budget. The Premier wants a new bridge built now but who is the proponent for the lengthy Bi-National environmental process: the Ontario Government. He offers only a fraction of the money needed to build the "horseshoe" road knowing the Feds won’t pay the balance and the City cannot. And then there is the $500 million Gong Show money.
Windsorites have to ensure that our politicians do not mess things up. What we must insist upon is that the City meet the Bridge Company to form a strategic alliance that is in the interest of all of the parties, whether in Windsor or the rest of Ontario and Canada. We need a real short/medium term solution, not a billion dollar pipedream, that leads to the best crossing, if one is actually needed, and at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.
The City needs a strong partner with money, clout and strong US connections, who knows how to run a border crossing and who is an employer and taxpayer of the City. And whom the Senior Levels fear.
Mayor Francis is a clever young man. It should not be hard for him and Council to work with the Bridge Company to negotiate a satisfactory arrangement that makes sense for taxpayers financially, environmentally and socially. The Bridge Company has said again that its solution can fit in exactly with the City’s preferred Schwartz corridor. Then Windsor and the Bridge Company can let the Senior Levels know that it is Windsorites that are calling the shots so that we may get finality at last!