Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, July 14, 2006

Competing MFOIA Interests

"While I recognize that the formulation of government policy in a confidential environment is also an important public policy concern, I have decided that this case represents an instance where this objective must yield to the public interest in disclosure."

Bordering On A Diverticulitis Pandemic

Do you think that Kirk Steudle, MDOT's new Director, has learned yet not to cross Michigan Legislators? Do you think he remembers what happened to the former Director, Gloria Jeff when she did? Will he be that foolish not to learn from her mistakes?

I was intrigued by the Star's story yesterday "Mich. ends funding for border land. Politicians want more control over decision-making process for new crossing." I was surprised that the Star finally understood what was going on.

There was no comment as before by Steve Tobocman, a Michigan Representative from the minority Democrats, telling us that nothing would happen. So much for him saying "His counterparts are about to "get informed from the other players" -- manufacturers, chambers of commerce and automakers-- -- about the economic need for a new Windsor-Detroit bridge." So much for his prediction "[the Republican action] will likely not survive the scrutiny of full legislative debate and required approval of Gov. Jennifer Granholm"

A big loser, Canada's Transport Minister "Lawrence Cannon [who] sent a June 7 letter to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Michigan's House leaders urging them to continue with the DRIC study." They ignored him.

Poor Governor Granholm. If she vetoed the Legislature's language, she was costing the State $3.5 billion and if she did not, the Republicans will take the credit. She made the wisest move by doing what she did. The question remains: what will she do to salvage her situation. She really has no choice but to listen to the Mayor of Detroit.

The big winner, obviously Kwame Kilpatrick. He got what he wanted didn't he. The big mistakes that the Democrats and the Governor's staff made were not taking his letter to the Governor about killing DRIC seriously and mocking his Deputy at the hearing! You just do not go after him, as our Mayor has learned to his detriment. There are consequences to pay. The Republicans listened and were respectful. [Do you think that Kwame's diverticulitis may mean that he cannot campaign actively now for the Michigan Governor? If so, he will not be the only one with intestinal pains!]

The language of the Budget was a lot different than originally passed:

  • (Actual amendment) Sec. 384 The department shall not, directly or indirectly, expend any funds appropriated in Part 1 for design or right of way acquisition associated with a new crossing of the Detroit River between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. "

    (Former language)
    Senate Bill 1097, as amended May 24, 2006: “Sec. 384. From the funds appropriated in part 1, the department shall not use any funds to support the Detroit river international crossing study or to implement any recommendation made from such study.”

    House Bill 5796 (H-2), as amended May 24, 2006: “Sec. 384. No funds appropriated in part 1 may be expended for the study of a new crossing of the Detroit river between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario without prior approval of the house and senate committees on transportation.”)

It will be fun to see if MDOT will dare spend a penny on "design" work and how they will deal with expropriations in Delray now. My belief is that MDOT is being challenged to try to defy the Legislature, knowing the Governor will not and cannot help. They are looking for someone to fire, to make an example in an election year!

Here is some background information for you. This final language, which was adopted unanimously by Republicans & Democrats as part of the State process, was much tougher than either the House or Senate passed in May as you can see from above above. It takes away the gray and indicated “directly or indirectly.”

I expect that the Legislators figured out that MDOT had already all the money they needed to do the study so changed the "study" language. Talk about MDOT arrogance! The Legislature’s inquiry was the desirability of the effort, not IF the money was available.

MDOT are able to study, but it is at their peril. It is a study that will go nowhere at a cost of millions. Poor Governor Granholm if she allows it to happen. Poor director Steudle if he allows it to happen and DeVos wins! The Michigan legislature drew a line in the sand. If MDOT is short sighted enough to spend money they have like a drunken sailor on the DRIC when they know how the Legislature feels about it, then they deserve what they get from the Legislators. (Can you imagine if Canada spends the milions to drill brine holes on our side and the Americans don't---what a waste of taxpayer money)

It's not the first time that MDOT has been reminded who calls the tune. Just a couple of years ago MDOT Director Gloria Jeff initiated her “Fix it First” campaign, which unilaterally halted 34 major transportation projects around the state. This arrogance of “MDOT knows best” landed the department in front of the Transportation Appropriations committees in numerous hearing around the state. The result was that 17 projects were restored and the remaining served as a constant reminder to elected official around the State that MDOT failed to remember where their bread was buttered.

And where is Gloria Jeff now? No longer employed in Michigan. She was never able to heal the rift with members of the Transportation and Appropriations committees.

But there is more. Isn't the Legislature saying that they do NOT want Government involved in this project? Do not design or expropriate! Well if Government cannot do it, then who can other than private enterprise. And which owner of a bridge in Detroit is in the best position to do so?

The other interesting aspect is that Michigan Legislature acted without conferring with Canada or Ontario (and it seems contrary to our wishes), just like when the Governor acted alone to kill the Downriver and Belle Isle crossings. Michigan is doing what is right for Michigan. Is that "politics" or"toying" as Eddie claimed? If so, the Legislators across the river do not care.

Our politicians do not seem to know how to act in the best interest of Ontario and Canada never mind Windsor. The Senior Levels are sitting doing nothing while Eddie talks about tunnels that will never be built. Perhaps the border file is giving our politicians diverticulitis attacks too now.

Eddie's Finger

Please, will someone send our Mayor a copy of Dale Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" or at least give him the section on "Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment."

Can you believe his arrogance? First he snubs the Senior Levels on our side, not once but twice on the border issue (and then his Councillor colleague asks why no one listens to Windsor). Then he tells the Mayor of Detroit that he knows better than Kwame what is good for that City on the border, right before the Detroit Mayoral election and then tries to circumvent him by setting up the Joint Councils meeting. Now his target is the Michigan House and Senate. (He needs the Governor's hubby to help his dysfunctional Council so she is safe, so far!) Can President Bush be far behind?

Did you read his comment in the Star yesterday about Michigan pulling the DRIC funding:
  • "Given the vital economic importance of the Windsor-Detroit border corridor, which handles 25 per cent of trade between the two nations, state politicians in Michigan should not be toying with the need for more border infrastructure, said Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis.

    "Michigan is a 25-per-cent partner (in DRIC) and they need to put progress ahead of politics," Francis said. "It's absolutely critical."

    If the goal of having a new bridge open by 2013 is to be met, "you need to start acting today," he said."

That is so typical of our Mayor. Dare attack him---for sitting on $300 million BIF funding as Michigan did---and he lashes back. I am afraid that it is a sign of his immaturity a la his attack on CPOW's Alan MacKinnon at the Tecumseh meeting, not leadership. Someone needs to explain to him about the potential $3.5 billion loss to Michgian so that he will understand why the Legislators acted as they did.

Talk about "toying" and playing politics. Who tried to sell the Schwartz Report for months and then had it called a "starting point" by his trusted Colleague on Council just before Cansult Limited Report killed the concept. Who became an advocate for a tunnel for the border crossing about a year after Schwartz came out? Who has no Plan for the border that he is prepared to share with his electorate? Yup, you guessed it, the Mayor of Windsor.

Don't the Michigan Legislators understand----Eddie needs DRIC to kick around so he can be re-elected. Without DRIC, whom would he blame for his failure to do what he was elected to do. Eddie is not playing politics now...he is desperately practising it!

Labouring Under Fiscal Responsibility Myths

As a dedicated reader of this Blogsite, I am sure that you understood the real reason for the Henderson column on the Windsor District Labour Council "A Spent force."

It really had nothing to do with Councillors Gignac and Brister (and Halberstadt and Valentinis).

Oh sure Gord had to boost Councillor Budget's re-election bid since his re-election may be in doubt now since his Wardmate announced she was not running for Council again. Clearly all of the Ward 1 candidates will be targetting the former Chair of STOPDRTP and his lack of action and visibility over the last three years on the border file. And Gord had to help out the other three "fiscally responsible" Councillors from what are going to be tough fights against rumoured candidates.

WhatI found truly hilarious though about Gord's support of Brister was the excerpt I found from a Henderson column a year ago:

  • "Brister...sees "a number of big-dollar issues on the horizon that lead me to believe we should not be proceeding this way ["pour tax dollars into an arena]. I don't think we need to be spending more tax dollars on bricks and mortar at this point. In my opinion, we're going to need those funds."

    The budget chairman said he cannot provide any details but there are major issues pending involving the Windsor-Detroit tunnel and Enwin that will consume "a significant amount of taxpayer resources."

And Gord was "And damn anxious to know what misery is coming at Enwin and the tunnel." Of course, if his Councillor buddy and Mayor friend have let him know, he, and they, have chosen not to share the secrets with us. Sure Councillor salaries increased dramatically since they had to attend so many extra meetings to solve the problems but why tell taxpayers in an election year!

But I am sure that you read between the lines and understood that this was another "Re-elect Eddie for Mayor" piece. After all, the Mayor did not receive Labour endorsement last time around and the column suggests that he may not get it this time either notwithstanding his good friend Junior being on City Council. So we learn that Labour endorsement is no big deal.

We heard the financial myths again---the incorrect debt number (only about $200 million short), the failure to add in the $50 million or so of new debt to be added in 2007, the election year budget holding the line on taxes. I wonder how many times those fairy tales can be told.

Then there was the required Bill Marra attack if he dares to run for Mayor "That was amply demonstrated in the 2003 mayoral race when Bill Marra, who said he was "humbled" by a labour council endorsement, got humbled further in losing every ward, including his own, while being whipped by Eddie Francis." Gord knows better than most that if Bill can convince only 4% of Eddie's supporters to switch sides, Marra will be the new Mayor. After all Eddie only received 53% of the vote in his "landslide." Now that he has a record, not even a Windsor Star endorsement can help Eddie if he has a credible opponent.

I particularly enjoyed the last two paragraphs of the column because it points out how Eddie will try and deflect the blame for the economic melt-down in Windsor. He tried the "It's not my fault that immigrants move here and cannot get a job" line that was an insult. So if you are not going to get their support anyway, blame our economic decline on Labour:
  • "In pushing to get rid of Windsor's most effective councillors and crank open the spending taps, the labour council is perpetuating stereotypes about a militant union-dominated city that's stuck in the past and hostile to investors.

    It's their call. But it's a dumb, shortsighted message to send from a city with a high jobless rate, a city that's been bypassed by the economic boom most of Canada is enjoying."

Quite a slap to Buzz and Ken Senior who backed Eddie on Schwartz don't you think!

Oh this election will be so much fun when Labour this time around sends out the bodies to actually help Marra and several others beat incumbents!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

MFOIA: Government In A Modern Democracy

In speaking to the practical reality of government in a modern democracy, Justice LaForest said:

The overarching purpose of access to information legislation, then, is to facilitate democracy. It does so in two related ways. It helps to ensure first, that citizens have the information required to participate meaningfully in the democratic process, and secondly, that politicians and bureaucrats remain accountable to the citizenry.

Parliament and the public cannot hope to call the government to account without an adequate knowledge of what is going on; nor can they hope to participate in the decision-making process and contribute their talents to the formation of policy and legislation if that process is hidden from view. Access laws operate on the premise that politically relevant information should be distributed as widely as possible.

Here We Go Again

I just took a few days off to recharge my batteries so I did not post a BLOG for the past few days. But I am back now and so I see is the DRTP CEO.

Mike Hurst is still trying to get someone to buy or use the DRTP corridor so that OMERS and CP Rail can recoup some of the millions wasted in their original plan that was rejected in Windsor and by Schwartz and DRIC as well.

I know that they did a Community Information Session last night but I was unable to go. If it was similar to the presentation they did at the recent tunnel conference, then it was pretty slick. They even had a slide of a truck in it with "Rails to Trails" painted on it! Now that is timely and sucks up to the Mayor too! Can you believe it, both Eddie and Mike both talking tunnels at the same time.

You remember DRTP don't you as originally conceived: an intrusive truck expressway through the heart of Windsor with a golf-coursed sized U.S./Canada Customs plaza on the Canadian side. I guess that the criticism of the project by many Windsorites was bang on because now DRTP has been transformed into the "Green Solution" which will "build a corridor and new crossing that is virtually invisible."

I really do not intend spending much more time on DRTP when one of the senior Transport Canada officials in a Letter to the Editor in the Windsor Star identified already where the corridor is going [Blog Border Bunch July 9, 2006]. It is NOT going down the DRTP corridor!

Moreover, I am still of the view that, even if that corridor was picked, a tunnel would never be built because of the huge cost and we would wind up being stuck with a truck expressway above ground.

There are a number of reasons why I don't think the DRTP serves a purpose any longer. Here are a few questions for you to ask Mike to answer next time if you attend one of his performances. Let me know how he responds:
  1. How much will the DRTP Green Solution cost to build and who will finance it? If DRTP needed $150 million of taxpayer money to build their original plan, how much more would be needed now? If OMERS/Borealis has so much cash to throw around in the UK to buy ports, will it finance the entire project and if not, why not?
  2. Does DRTP have a business plan that shows that the project can compete sucessfully and actually make money? (I see that, according to Bloomberg news, "Eurotunnel SA, which operates the rail link between the U.K. and France, will pursue bankruptcy protection after talks to restructure 6.2 billion pounds ($11.4 billon) of debt collapsed.")
  3. Given that DRTP lost in the Rail Lands By-law hearing, how do they intend to build their tunnel without the proper zoning? If they apply for rezoning, do they really think they will get it?
  4. Has DRTP shown yet to the US Highways Authority how they can connect to I-75?
  5. Has Detroit sold to DRTP yet the lands they need in that City to connect to I-75?

By the way, if you want to get an idea of what it would be like for a truck driver to drive through a tunnel the length of the one being proposed by DRTP, head out of Windsor along Highway 401 to the new road construction area. One of the routes under construction is about 15 Km long and one way in each direction. Try and stay behind one of the big transport trucks to get a feeling about it.

Are you claustrophobic? Imagine that you were in an enclosed tunnel for that distance rather than in open air with concrete barriers beside you. As you see the truck swaying every so often from side-to-side, you figure out the consequences of one small moment of driver inattention.

Tunnel At Risk

It would seem that my BLOGS about risks to the Detroit Windsor Tunnel are not so far-fetched after all given the story about the possible threat to the Holland Tunnel in New York City. (See the news story below)

What steps are Windsor's Mayor, Eddie Francis, and the Windsor Tunnel Commissions's Chair, Eddie Francis, taking to ensure that they have covered off all of the risks? Is Sam Schwartz, our Guru from NYC, going to tell us about risks to tunnels now? What about Transport Canada, is this a case-study about what they should be doing under Bill C-3? How about Brian Masse, would he be so silent if it was the Bridge at risk? Is Senator Kenny going to issue a new report revising what he said about redundancy and arguing that wartime urgency requires action at the Tunnel now?

I wonder if Eddie would have the nerve now to call the Prime Minister, after he insulted him, and demand that reverse customs be implemented immediately to reduce the risk of problems at the Tunnel and the Bridge. He would have to adopt what the Bridge Co. has been saying but it seems they are always ahead of others anyway.

Bomb tunnel, flood city
One man is busted in Beirut, others hunted across globe and terrorists are seen linked to Zarqawi


New Jersey-bound traffic speeds through Holland Tunnel beneath more than 40 feet of earth and concrete - and the Hudson. Experts say that terrorists would need huge amount of explosives, and even more expertise to have a chance to rupture the tunnel.

The FBI has uncovered what officials consider a serious plot by jihadists to bomb the Holland Tunnel in hopes of causing a torrent of water to deluge lower Manhattan, the Daily News has learned.

The terrorists sought to drown the Financial District as New Orleans was by Hurricane Katrina, sources said. They also wanted to attack subways and other tunnels.

Counterterrorism officials are alarmed by the "lone wolf" terror plot because they allegedly got a pledge of financial and tactical support from Jordanian associates of top terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before he was killed in Iraq, a counterterrorism source told The News.

It's not clear, however, if any cash or assistance was delivered.

The News has learned that at the request of U.S. officials, authorities in Beirut arrested one of the alleged conspirators, identified as Amir Andalousli, in recent months. Agents were scrambling yesterday to try to nab other suspects, sources said.

They didn't indicate how many people were the target of the international dragnet but said they were scattered all over the world.

"This is an ongoing operation," one source said.

U.S. agents were allowed to take part in the interrogation of Andalousli, a source said.

FBI and New York City Police Department officials would not comment yesterday about the investigation, which has been kept under wraps for months.

The plotters wanted to detonate a massive amount of explosives inside the Holland Tunnel to blast a hole that would destroy the tunnel, everyone in it, and send a devastating flood shooting through the streets of lower Manhattan.

It is assumed by officials the thugs would try to use vehicles packed with explosives.

Sources said that New York City officials believed the plan could conceivably work with enough explosives placed in the middle of the tunnel, which runs underneath the river bed, a source said.

But others doubted the plot was feasible.

"You are talking major, major explosives and knowledge of blast effect to make this happen," said another senior counterterrorism source.

Besides bedrock, the tunnel is protected by concrete and cast-iron steel.

Experts also said that even if the tunnel cracked, the Financial District would not be flooded because it is above the level of the river.

The FBI discovered the plot by monitoring Internet chat rooms, where the aspiring terrorists discussed striking the U.S. economy, rather than causing mass casualties, a source said.

"They're hell-bent on destroying the economy in the U.S.," a counterterrorism source said.

Al Qaeda founder Bin Laden has often urged his followers to "bleed" America financially.

The Lebanese government had been expected to release a statement about Andalousli's arrest but was asked by the U.S. to hold off while operations to disrupt the plot continued, sources said.

Sources contrasted the chat room jihadists to the seven wanna-be Al Qaeda cell members arrested in a poor area of Miami by the FBI last week, who appeared to have no capability of carrying out plots they hatched to bomb FBI offices in several cities including New York.

"This is more advanced than the Miami Seven," said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The disclosure of the Holland Tunnel plot came at the same time Homeland Security Department officials announced a boost in funds to protect rail and transit lines in the New York City area yesterday.

Last month, DHS cut New York's high-threat grants by almost half. But yesterday, DHS Undersecretary George Foresman said the $47 million rail security grants, which were 25% higher than last year's, were in response to increased risks after the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London rail bombings.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

More MFOIA Background

"Heads of government institutions are not disinterested in the interpretation and application of the Access to Information Act and are likely to have an institutional predisposition towards restricting the public right of access and construing exemptions broadly.

. . . [I]f the Court were to confine its duty under section 41 to review ministerial refusals of access requests by deferring to ministerial interpretations and applications of the [Access to Information Act], it would, in effect, be putting the fox in charge of guarding the henhouse."

Joyce Zuk

"If you can't chair the meeting according to the rules then step aside for a councillor who will!"

That was the defining moment for me about Councillor Joyce Zuk. When she confronted the all-powerful Mayor, Mike Hurst, and told him exactly what she thought of him! I remember being at Council when she said that. There was an audible gasp in the Council Chamber. Someone standing up to Hurst and in public. Unheard of! It was all part of the border fight that pitted the majority of Council aginst the Mayor and Joyce was there scrapping for her constituents.

I was shocked frankly that Joyce was not going to run again. Oh I had heard that rumour so many times before. I knew that she wanted to be Mayor one day. It was the same thing before the last election. But this time it was true. I wondered what changed this time although I had heard some reasons.

Mentally tough, with a sharp mind, she seemed to me to be the quickest on Council to figure out what to do with an issue, especially the difficult ones. Ever so often, you could see her snap at her colleagues when they took so long to do the obvious.

But it was not the same Joyce in the second term as in the first. [BLOG December 10, 2005 The Scorecard] She seemed too determined to be nice. She lost her edge I believe. That was not why I voted for her!

You'd think it would have been easier for her with the other women on Council. She played the "mother hen" for them at first, helping them get around and learn the ropes, something she did not have when she was first elected. Instead, she seemed much more tense, uncomfortable in the second term. To be honest, to me, there was not the fire in her that there was the first time around. She just seemed under so much pressure.

She was hurt badly by the border file. Yet, she was one of seven Councillors who saved the City from disaster in her first term. The vast majority of the Ward supported her position--I was shocked at how strong her electoral support was when she was re-elected. It demonstrated to me that she was a fighter who ran a great campaign. But the personal animosity directed to her by certain segments of her electorate was shocking. She was threatened and harassed. I personally witnessed a person at a meeting rip up a piece of paper and throw it in Joyce's face because Joyce took a position that the resident did not like! I saw the hate mail. After awhile, you have to wonder if it's really worth the aggrevation.

While publicly she supported the unity of Council, behind closed doors it was different. Her relationship with her Wardmate, Councilor Brister, was horrible from what I heard. [BLOG January 16, 2006 Ward 1 Showdown At The Council Corral] In fact, their relationship was so bad I was told that they had difficulty in agreeing on which projects to spend Ward money. I am sure that spending 4 more years with Councillor Brister, assuming he was to be re-elected, was not something that was on the top of her list as something she was looking forward to do.

Council itself was not all that pleasant. She was viewed as one of the group of "spenders." She played Santa Claus to her Wardmate's Scrooge and did not care. That is not something that wins you friends when the mantra is "fiscal repsonsibility." In Gord's report card, she fell from a B+ to a D+ in only one year. (In some circles, that is a badge of honour these days!)

She had to support a failed Schwartz Report even when she knew it would not work. She pretended that Council worked together when she knew there was no leadership. I think she also got tired of being undercut on matters in which she had responsibility, as with Transit Windsor as an example.

It should be interesting with Joyce on Council for the next few months. She may not care any more to put up the facade of niceness any more. She will undoubtedly speak her mind and be much more vocal. I am not sure that I would want to be the Mayor or her Wardmate either if she gets angry at something

Is this the end of Joyce politically in Windsor? Nawwwwwww. My best guess: when Sandra Pupatello decides to leave to join her husband in Newfoundland, her seat will be open. Who will be asked to run---the former Ward 1 Councillor. She will have left Council a winner, a nice position to be in when she runs for the nomination!

Border Bunch

Just a bunch of small stories that I thought you might find of interest dealing with border matters.


The gold is what the consultants will be receiving for a multi-million drilling program on both sides of the border. They are drilling to ensure that the new bridge will not be built in a sink hole or salt mine or some such other spot where it might come tumbling down.

Interestingly they are also drilling near the Sterling Fuels location. I asked at a Community Consulting Group meeting why they are spending money to do that since a bridge would have to go over petroleum tanks. That did not seem to me to make much sense. I asked if the tanks were going to be removed or relocated. They did not have an answer for that yet.

Seems to me that there is no point in drilling at about $500K to $1M per hole in that area (I think they need 5 or 6 holes) unless a decision has been made about the tanks first.

Then I learned that there are underground storage points for various fuels. Do you think it makes sense to build a bridge over or near them? What happens if there is an explosion, even if it is underground? Would that be a risk to a bridge and make for an obvious terrorist target

Imagine if they built a twinned bridge beside the Ambassaador Bridge. They could have saved $6-10 million of taxpayer dollars and not had the storage problem.


I got annoyed about all of the spending going on so I asked MTO's Dave Wake at a CCG meeting the other evening what their position was now that Michigan's House and Senate pulled the funding from DRIC.

Dave's response was the that they hoped that money would still come. I asked how that would happen unless the Governor vetoed the resolutions, something unlikely in an election year. When I challenged that assertion I was told my question had been answered.


Here is the route and what will be built from Highway 401 courtesy of Sean O'Dell Executive Director, Windsor Gateway Project, Transport Canada in the Letter to the Editor section of the Star.
  • "The DRIC study, in consultation with the community, is thoroughly investigating a range of options for a six-lane controlled access highway from the 401 to the new river crossing, which will provide for non-stop traffic from Highway 401 to the border, reduce truck emissions by eliminating stop-and-go traffic, and quite possibly, return Talbot Road and Huron Church Road south of E.C. Row, to municipal use.

    After the investigations and analysis are complete, it is possible that the best option for the route might be a combination of tunnelling, at-grade roadways (parallel to Huron Church Road), and depressed roadways.

    While the configuration for this controlled access highway has not yet been determined, none of the options currently under consideration proposes combining the existing roads with the proposed highway."
So we are told what the "best option" would be even though it is in "qualified" language. A man in Sean's postion would not say something unless he knew it was true.

Interestingly, he did not talk about what would happen north of EC Row. I can tell you the answer to that. A road will be built along the WALTS/Schwartz suggested routing but to the Ambassador Bridge with a possible link-up to a bridge to be built in the Ojibway area at some future indefinite time. That will be how the Senior Levels justify what is inevitable.



Did you see the big announcement about construction in London:
  • "The governments of Canada and Ontario and the City of London today announced the start of construction to widen and improve Highway 401 in London, which leads to Canada's two busiest international border crossings at Windsor and Sarnia."

London's acting Mayor said in the press release:

  • "This updated interchange is great news for London's economy as it promises to ease traffic congestion and provide our business community with significantly enhanced access to the 401 trade corridor and the United States border... And, by partnering with the province and the federal government on this infrastructure fund project, we're also reinforcing London's Transportation Master Plan and Industrial Land Strategy. Aecon Construction will start construction immediately this week, and expects to complete it by 2007."

They also stated that "The governments of Canada and Ontario continue to work together to tackle congestion at Canada-United States border crossings. They are investing $323 million for improvements to highways and border crossings in the Sarnia, Niagara and London areas under the Border Infrastructure Fund. The fund is designed for projects that reduce border congestion, improve the flow of goods and services, and expand infrastructure over the medium term."

The moral of the story for the benefit and information of Councillor Valentinis and his colleagues is "Press release and ye shall receive!"


I received this note from a gentleman at a leading, full service Customs Broker in Windsor

  • "I recently sent a letter to Eddy Francis to request the Windsor Tunnel Offsite (northeast corner of McDougall & Hanna) facility be closed. It is the opinion of Customs Brokers, upper management of Canada Customs (CBSA), Windsor Commercial Operations and the city of Windsor, Corporate Services Department that this operation has become much less of a contribution to border management. Furthermore, the resources at this location could be more effectively used at locations that handle greater volumes of commercial truck traffic and offer more security, not to mention the revenue to the city of Windsor from the sale of this property.

    When I first sent a letter to Mike Hurst back in 2003 there were approximately one hundred trucks per day inbound that use the Detroit Windsor Tunnel crossing, not all of which reported to the Tunnel Offsite due to pre-authorized customs clearance. The number of commercial clearances has further decreased due to Canada Customs reduced hours of service. Daimler Chrysler is the largest user of the tunnel yet they do not report to the offsite because of their line release authorization. Canada Customs and Customs Brokers are finding this location difficult while costly to manage because of the additional staff and equipment required at an underused facility. More importantly, these resources could be utilized more effectively at facilities which handle the majority of commercial truck traffic and the Windsor Airport where there is potential for increased volumes of commercial air traffic. The tunnel offsite is not a competitive business entity given that most commercial trucks use enhanced electronic release programs, and secondary facilities that provide 24/7 service by Canada Customs. The primary station/booth located at the corner of Goyeau and Wyandotte would service the majority of commercial trucks that are pre-authorized or use line release and direct others to the secondary offsite facilities with longer hours of service much like what has been done on the Detroit side of the Tunnel that has been successful. The Nexus program could also be handled from the Tunnel truck primary location. The sale of this property would provide the city of Windsor a better return on their investment and create a more concentrated Border Management approach.