Just some quick but colourful thoughts on some matters that interested me.
I had never seen this term before until I saw it in Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG. Wikipedia describes this as
- "economically obsolescent, outdated, failing, moribund and/or underutilized real estate assets or land. The term was coined in the early 2000s as a way to describe the sea of empty asphalt that often accompanied these sites."
They include obsolete shopping malls or commercial strips that are typical in inner-suburban and urban neighborhoods.
Wow, that sounds like downtown Windsor to me......oooops, Downtown Mosaic I mean.
By the way, will it be confused with Windsor Mosaic? Did the ad agency that created another Mosaic know about http://www.windsor-communities.com/
- "The Windsor Mosaic Project is funded by the Government of Canada. It is a Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Job Creation Partnership project."
What I find strange is the promotion by Gord Henderson of the Larry Horwitz dream for downtown yet the Mayor continues to allow massive non-downtown redevelopment without a negative word. The only comment seems to be let's build the big Engineering Complex downtown regardless whether it makes sense for the University or not.
Look what's not happening downtown:
- no Farhi development for several more years at one of the key spots in downtown Windsor
- no urban village after Beztac was chased out of town
- the arena was moved to the East End so we can see redevelopment in that part of the City
- no development at the Junction site
- giveaway subleases at Canderel
- dreaming of University students being the catalyst for a new downtown (Has anyone been to Wyandotte West recently?)
- no fully occupied office towers and retail shops but huge vacancy rates in commercial real estate downtown
That was however until I saw what the Auditor General of Canada charges for value-for-money audits that it undertakes on behalf of the Government of Canada. You remember that is the kind of audit or forensic audit that citizens were looking for. One that goes below the surface of the finances and answer some questions raised as a result of what the Mayor said in Council.
Here is how the Auditor General of Canada describes their special examinations:
- "A special examination is a type of value-for-money audit of a Crown corporation. It serves to provide an independent opinion to the board of directors on whether the corporation's financial and management control and information systems and management practices have been maintained so as to provide reasonable assurance that:
--the assets of the corporation have been safeguarded and controlled;
--the financial, human and physical resources of the corporation have been managed economically and efficiently; and
--the operations of the corporation have been carried out effectively."
The Financial Administration Act requires the Auditor General "to disclose its costs incurred in preparing...special examination reports on Crown corporations."
Here are some of their costs:
- "In 2005–06, the Office completed the special examination of eleven Crown corporations. The costs incurred were:
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian Dairy Commission
Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation
Canadian Tourism Commission
Cape Breton Growth Fund Corporation
Laurentian Pilotage Authority
National Gallery of Canada
Old Port of Montreal Corporation Inc.
Queens Quay West Land Corporation
Ridley Terminals Inc.
Royal Canadian Mint
FIRE ENGINE RED
Watch out for the arsonists in the West End. I'm sure that you saw the story in the Windsor Star "Rash of arsons plague West End."
After the propety owner charge case, if I was a Member of Council, I would be very worried about my own personal liability if there was personal injury or property damage in one of the vacant homes or damage to their neighbours.
Yes yes yes, I know that it is all about the Ambassador Bridge Company and consistency. But after four fires over the past few months, one costing $75,000 and the other $50,000, there is a real risk to the public. This would give me a real chill if I was a Council Member:
- "Tome said that once the list is complete, Windsor Fire and Rescue will sit down with other city departments " and come up with a plan to conduct some routine inspections."
Hardly a sense of urgency when it is said that patrols are needed.
It seems to me that what I would do is ensure that the Police department goes out there now to patrol the area to ensure that vandals do not cause further damage. I don't think that Council has the luxury of time. It is a very small area as well it appears so there is no excuse:
- "Basically, the area that we're talking about, more or less, is around the bridge where there's a number of properties in a condensed area that are vacant."
Councillor Halberstadt put it in a way that his colleagues better listen:
- "Obviously, arsonists are loose in that area."
"I think council should become realistic. Where there are properties at risk, demolition should be allowed....
(The bylaw) is actually accomplishing exactly opposite what it intended."
TURNING WINDSOR GREEN
It's the fifth, full-page advertisement in the Windsor Star.
The man who put the green in Greenlink is putting the green in the bank account of the major newspaper in town.
Is there a competition going on? Is our Mayor trying to outspend the former Mayor when he was buying all of those advertisements for DRTP?
What's interesting is that the result seems to be about the same. All that spending did very little for DRTP and not much more seems to be happening for the City if it has to beg people to sign up to approve Greenlink.
Trying to turning rail lands green didn't work for Mike Hurst and making Huron Church green won't work for Eddie either.
I happened to be driving on E C Row the other day and noted that asphalt had been laid on the Expressway exactly where there were overpasses over some city streets. I am very worried because I travel under the overpass on Dougall, you know the area, where the South Windsor Art Gallery is located.
As I believe I had blogged previously, I had seen the city workers tapping on the walls of the underpass presumably for safety reasons. As I told you before as well, there are some concerns about the safety of the overpasses:
- "It is understood that the existing condition of the concrete base on the expressway and at least several of the interchange structures is less than satisfactory due to alkali-silica reactions occurring due to the type of aggregate used. As a result, it may be appropriate to consider the possibility of coordinating the rehabilitation/reconstruction of the expressway at the same time that the median widening is undertaken to take advantage of the traffic staging and cost efficiencies."
Is this engineering gobbledygook for there is a problem? Is there a risk to public safety? Is the asphalt being placed on top of the roadway to prevent further deterioration of the overpasseses?
It is my opinion that the Mayor and Councillors must tell us immediately if there are any problems.
PUTTING CHRYSLER IN THE BLACK
Who needs the Chrysler land on Pillette Road for an automotive plant. It's never going to happen.
I assume that the University has already made a phone call to Chrysler asking the company to donate the 164 acres for the Engineering Complex. Can you think of a better site and with a better partner? It seems like a no-brainer to me.
Whether it's a donation or a good price for the property, Chrysler will do well out of it. That facility could be the center of an engineering renaissance for that Company and its automotive products.
Let me see now 164 acres of land for a cost of about $13.6 million or about $83,000 an acre. It is described as "The huge plant site -- which is rare in its proximity to the city core." Imagine if the City had any creativity what it could have done with that property for its new arena instead of putting it out in the east end somewhere.
What did the City pay for its arena land: $6 million for 30 or 40 acres or about twice as much and it will have to pay more for additional parking. And the Chrysler property has "all the services right to the road" so there would not be extra costs as there will be for the new arena in its East end location.
Let's assume that 60 acres would have been used for the arena and parking. If the city had bought the property they would have a hundred acres left so that it could create "shovel ready" land around the new and magnificent University Engineering Complex. Do you have any idea what land like that would be worth and how it could have been used to pay down the City's debt or to pay off the cost of watermains.
Did anyone from Administration actually consider that property and ask Chrysler if it was available or were they too busy looking in the East?
It will be interesting to see who buys the property. Very interesting.