Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, July 20, 2007

New Sandwich Art Gallery Opened

In a generous act of philanthropy, the Ambassador Bridge Company today unveiled the new Sandwich Art Gallery for pre-opening review. The gallery is located along Indian Road just on the edge of the proposed Heritage District for Sandwich.

A spokesperson for the Company said that it wanted to combine the best of the Odette Scultpture Park on the river nearby and the giant work of art that the City hung in the South Windsor Art Gallery under the Dougall underpass entitled "Take the Tunnel."

"We wanted to do something to help out in Sandwich since we are one of the largest residents in the area. We have been here for almost 80 years and intend to be here for a very long time in the future!" said the spokesperson.

The Company commissioned a group of local artists to create a number of murals which were hung on the gallery walls. It is probably one of the finest collections of "urban art" in the world. Included in this BLOG are photographs of only some of the many murals that were created by the skilled artists of Windsor.

The spokesperson stated that the theme of the collection was "Now and in the future." It shows the interaction amongst the neighbourhood and the homes now and what it can look like in the future. One can almost feel in the art the passion, hope and desires of the artists who created the works of art for a "green" solution for an urban environment.

The official date of the opening of the gallery is to be announced. One can hope that Mayor Anything That Works, Councillors Big Cheese and Heritage will be in attendance to assist in the formal opening.

The public is welcome to attend. In an unusual gesture, the art gallery will remain open 7 days a week for 24 hours per day since the Company anticipates a huge demand for visitors who want to see the collection. The Company has decided that there will be no entrance fees for visitors. Families are encouraged to attend and picture-taking of the murals will be permitted.

Indeed, another new tourist site to draw visitors to Windsor!

Capitol Theatre Follies

Hahahahahahaha...the dénouement of the drama at the Capitol is about to take place. And I was absolutely correct in my prediction. No wonder no one called me to help solve the Capitol mess. It had been solved for a long time already except someone forgot to tell us.

If Councillors are not absolutely furious at how they were played, especially after the recent Eddie scoldings, then they are truly nothing more than wusses! They were made to look like fools again while the Mayor was conveniently absent from the Council meeting dealing with the Capitol, changing diapers.

After all...anything that works for Eddie.

You remember what happened with the strange deal put forward in the Memo of the City's outside solicitor. Now you know why a solicitor-client memo that is normally kept secret was revealed. It was disclosed to work up Councillors into a frenzy so that when Eddie puts forward the real deal, it will be accepted as a great victory.

Why Councillors were so shocked and disgusted: absurd, a sham, "it gets even more ridiculous," "People who suggested this should be rather embarrassed," "The city would be obliged to run the theatre for that period [five years] and essentially be responsible for any operating losses."

As I pointed out at the time, Henderson in his column gave away the ending:
  • "The disturbing thing is that those who spawned it surely understood it was a political non-starter and would be rejected out of hand."

Exactly! That was the whole point of the exercise.

It was all a set-up and we are the fools. Eddie's baby was not the only human born at the time: 200,000 Windsorite suckers were born also if you believe what happened. That Eminence Grise is good though but becoming too obvious.

Here is what is going to happen as "leaked" by that Leakor par excellence, Councillor Halberstadt, who put an Ed Agnew letter on his BLOG outlining the deal:

  • ---"The Capitol Theatre Board of Directors would accept payment from the City equal to the creditors that have put us into bankruptcy, which approximates $310,000, including trustees fees.
    ---All of the debtors would be paid.
    ---The trustee would now be out of the equation.
    ---The Capitol Theatre transfers the ownership of the assets to the City of Windsor.
    ---The City of Windsor appoints its own Board of Directors, still retaining the entity Capitol Theatre & Arts Centre Inc.
    ---The Capitol Theatre & Arts Centre Inc. is now entitled, once again, to the anonymous bequest which now amounts to approximately $240,000.
    ---At this point, the City of Windsor owns the Capitol Theatre and all its assets outright, has an appointed Board under its control and the entity is still entitled as an arts organization, to the bequest. At this point the net cost to the city taxpayers is approximately $70,000. ($310,000 less $240,000)

    In addition, there may or may not be an obligation to I believe, three employees, that were permanent full-time employees at the time of bankruptcy. Their wages were paid in full up to the point of bankruptcy; however, they may be entitled to severance pay. I would say the maximum amount that would be paid out would be less than $50,000. So at this point the City would have an additional investment in the facility of $120,000. ($70,000 plus $50,000)

    The next step would be to have discussions with St. Clair College. I have had correspondence with the President John Strasser and he is of the opinion that the Capitol Theatre & Arts Centre can be operated at substantially less cost than before because of the synergies created as a result of their operating the Chrysler Theatre. There would be no need for an additional General Manager, an additional bookkeeper, an additional marketing person, an additional box office individual, the technical requirements would be reduced substantially, the maintenance of the building would basically fall under the maintenance of all of the education facilities owned by St. Clair College. Therefore, the general thought is that if the City were prepared to pay the operating cost for a period of two years, which in my opinion would be a maximum of $500,000, St. Clair College would operate it for those two years and then it would be part of the educational system. There would be no further responsibility of the municipal taxpayer."
Gee, Ed Agnew's letter was dated June 28, the day of Henderson's column and 3 days after the great Council debate. Amazingly as well, the Star reported on June 26 that Agnew "has stepped down as the city's grants commissioner -- but don't take it as a sign he will be slowing down."

Strangely, his letter was not revealed by the Great Leakor until almost 3 weeks after it was received, after the big meeting of arts group in Windsor who were all so upset about the Capitol dying and the sad story that the Film festival was in jeopardy. Poor Trustee Funtig--was the so-called desire to remove him as Trustee all part of the drama too? Please do not tell me that Councillor Dilkens was in on the drama too as the designated actor for Council given his sterling performance at the Capitol meeting. I would be so disappointed in him. Check him out at

Do you see how Windsorites are being played as suckers. I can just hear it at the next Council meeting:

  • We cannot let the Capitol die can we and look how much it would cost us otherwise if the City ran it. Imagine the synergies, the reviyalization of downtown, the use of the bus terminal if all of those arts students joined the Cleary students.

Someone at City Hall will merely have to plagiarize the Cleary justification language in order to get Councillors onside to save their political scalps!

As for me being right, check out my BLOG of July 04, 2007 "Suckered Once Again," where I predicted what would happen and that it would involve St. Clair. (Oh, I mentioned the University just to throw people off track to protect my inside moles who fed me the information.)

I hope by now, dear reader, you have learned never to trust anything that comes out of City Hall. Never take anything said at face-value. Isn't that why you really read the BLOGs in town!

And the Capitol Follies---it was all about how to give taxpayer money to St. Clair and get a standing ovation for doing so!

Reneging On A Doomsday Clock Promise

I figured it out. Eddie may really be the re-incarnation of former Prime Minister William Lyon McKenzie King. It is said about King that:

  • "Privately, he was highly eccentric with his preference for communing with spirits...His occult interests were not widely known during his years in office, and only became publicized later."

However, that is not why King interests me. He is the wartime leader in Canada who said the famous line:

  • "Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription."

I want to demonstrate conclusively that Eddie has carried on his tradition. I want to prove to you that Eddie is a true "politician" as was said about him in the Senate.

A reader wrote the following to me and I promised to carry out his wishes:

  • "Can I very humbly suggest you could put your FOI request calendar back up again, but this time count down to the DRIC open houses in mid-August as Eddie/Sam's doomsday clock."

Actually what I was going to do instead was to guess when Sam was going to present his proposal to Council and use the clock for that. I really intended to do that. Honest. I thought I could guess the day since it was to be presented before DRIC. Then I heard Eddie's interview on CKLW. I could not do it. No mortal could read Eddie's mind now. I had to break my promise to a reader.

Oh sure, you think you are smarter....well then what is the answer

(I think the host was Peter Langille instead of Melanie) [NOTE: I tried to cut out most of Eddie's irrelevancies as easy as that was to do. It made the quotes much shorter]

  • Peter: First off, do you have a date for the city's announcement?

    Eddie: The issue that we are dealing with is, we are responding to DRIC and this is not the fist time that the city has responded to DRIC... The same thing is true this time around Peter. We know that DRIC has now established a timeline with regards to when they will be coming out and what their proposal will or may not be. We will find out on the 14th or the 15th... We will be taking their information and our experts will be reviewing their information and making formal submissions to DRIC on behalf of the community once we know what it is that they are announcing.

    Peter: ...Your response will come clearly after the 14th or 15th?

    Eddie: It may. We may have, we have enough information right now I believe based on the last time DRIC came out.... so there may be opportunities for us to have open houses but right now. What we have told our team is to review the information that DRIC has out there, come back to us and if we need to come out before, we will, if we need to come out after, we will and it could be a combination.

COME ON. Be fair. Is it before or after or both? He may surprise us and not do anything. Or it may be any combination of the preceding.

However, I can hear some naysayers complaining that I am just being selective. What else did he say in the interview? Let me oblige:

  • Eddie: And through those discussions we have indicated to them as we have in the past that we believe that tunnelling needs to be part of the solution.

    Peter: I am going to hang on one word you said there and that's tunnelling be part of the solution... do you mean that the tunnel could start somewhere other than at highway 401 and highway 3 intersection - it could be further down the route?

    Eddie: The community has spoken loud and clear. They want tunnelling, they want a tunnelled route...So when I say that tunnelling is part of the solution, we believe tunnelling needs to be in the solution.

    Peter: What about concerns from organizations like the Windsor Crossings and the college that a fully tunnelled route past them might be problematic?

    Eddie: Well that is why we say that those are the consideration need to be certainly taken in account... There may be, there may be a better way of constructing a road and our position has always been that you don't build roads today that you did in 1950

So much for the Marra Motion and tunnelling! Yes I know. As the Mayor said before, tunnelling is just a starting point.

Want more huh...glutton for punishment

  • Peter: Is there any possibility that what the city will respond with could be outside of the area of continued interest.

    Eddie: We already have past submissions and I think we have a sufficient amount of information in front of DRIC as to other possible corridors in the past. Right now I think our focus is on the existing corridor... They have told us flat out, this is the corridor. I think what we have to rely on is our past submissions as to why they are perhaps better choices for corridors but right now we need to focus in on what is the best option here.

So what route does he really want?

Funniest lines of the interview have to be the following:

  • Eddie: "We've communicated to the residents and we feel for the residents. We are on their side.. There is no reason why residents should be put through what they are being put through."
Four years of inaction under this Mayor, meaning an investment of the $300M BIF funds is not being used resulting in over 10,000 high-paying direct and spin-off jobs badly needed in this area at this time in limbo. The program ends in September. Stop "feeling" for us and do something!

And finally, the best example of firm leadership and decisive action:

  • Peter: Now first a much more important question - pampers, huggies, no-name or cloth?

    Eddie: Anything that works.

Yuppers, that's my Mayor---anything that works. For him!

Mailman Here

Some more postings from readers. Hey....I have not received yours yet!

1) Nina Van Horn performs at Le Steak at Fillmore East

Le Steak at Fillmore East announces that French Blues Great Nina Van Horn will be performing on Thursday August 16th, 2007. Tickets are $65 per person (plus tax & gratuity) which includes a five course meal. The event starts at 7:00 PM with opening act Claudia DiNatale and James Walls; dinner is served at 7:30 PM; Nina Van Horn performs at 9:00 PM. Le Steak at Fillmore East is located at 53 Pitt Street East, Windsor, ON.

2) What I read is just amazing.

1) They cannot bore a tunnel because a tunneling machine that big does not exist.
2) The ground is way too soft even if there was one.
3) If they build a tunnel it must be dug down and then covered.
4) That type of tunneling destroys acres of land around it. So much for the envoirnment.Can we say destruction of heritage land?
5) Tunnels just blow the exhaust into the surrounding area. It does not catch any fumes and remove the hazardous toxins.Whose neighbourhood would get the brunt of it? I see the new bus routes are effecting people almost 20 hours a day. The excuse is that they cannot please everyone but they will look at it. Same scenario different picture.
6) Fire hazard. Many trucks could not use a tunnel due to potential fire hazards. Even flour trucks could not use it. They would end up using city streets anyway.
7) Emergency planning. How would they get into the tunnel if there was an accident? Response time is a critical aspect.
8) Why is it the bridge twinning is the only project that is related to as not being redundant?

Does this mean two of everything must be built just so there is redundancy, and they cannot be built close to each other for security reasons. It seems to me the ferry is not redundant yet poses the greatest threat to the envoirnment if there was a spill.

Since we are on a "pipe dream", why doesn't Eddie propose to send trucks to the newly acquired airport and fly trucks across the river?

I'm being sarcastic. How else is there to react these days?

If the city is worried about heritage areas then they better get out their war drums because the tunneling will change the land and not for the good.

Ed, where do you find the time.........

3) DesRosiers on the Chinese Threat to the auto market:

Observations on the so called China threat. In a few words, the same was said about the Korean threat ..

20 years later they sell about 600,000 units and a third are build in North
America. They account for about 3 percent of the North American market,
there were not thousands of jobs lost and the millions of vehicles that were
suppose to be imported never materialized ..... why would the China
experience be any different??? [NOTE: He has written an article on this if you want to read more]

4) With all the fanfare that is going on you would think the City and Eddie should keep an eye on what is happening today.
The 401 will be finished up to Manning Road.
Tecumseh has gotten border money to fix the corner at the expressway and Manning.
Would it be cheaper and easier to widen Manning Road for truck access to EC Row and then to Huron Line?
Even if it is only temporary until the new road is built, I would hazard a guess and say that would most likely turn into a major corridor whether we like it or not.
The tunneling bylaw??? put forth by council was a waste of paper and breath. Besides, they know it is brake dust that is the foremost irritant. That comes from every vehicle stopping. Could it be caused by traffic calming measures? Stoplights and stop signs.

The Windsor Tunnel or let's coin it the "Wunnel."
1) Its way too expensive.
2) The timelines just would not fit for completion
3) The safety factor and emergency access would be horrendous
4) Tunnels just blow the fumes out into the open (See Windsor tunnel)
5) The tunnel would not let motorcycles in as the oils would create a hazard
(See Windsor tunnel)
6) Politicians come and go. We would be stuck with a huge maintenance problem (See Windsor Tunnel) whether it be municipal, provincial or federal.
7) A local corporation wants to carry the cost burden of a new crossing and Windsor won't let them. No names need to be mentioned.

The one that stands out is the timeline. In the last 6 years alone so much wasteful money has been put AGAINST the improvements, yes IMPROVEMENTS, that the powers that be will still be arguing long after they have been replaced.

5)Hello Ed,

I run the local website Art Windsor and I've posted many videos today that I filmed last night at Artcite for the Citizens For The Capitol Theatre meeting. There's some very good clips with Stephen Funtig and Drew Dilkens as well as others that may interest you.


Another success for your esteemed Mayor. Housing starts in Windsor are down this year by 55 percent the lowest of all CMAs in Canada. I suspect the blinders are still on though. This means that lay offs in the construction trades must be brutal but hey as long as you have rose coloured glasses. After all Windsor is the City of Roses!

7) Ed, I would really like to see that tender for the tunnel scrubbers that the City does not feel necessary. Why is the health of the downtown core not worth it? Maybe this should be a health and safety issue. Do you have that number of the lady that poured bleach on the eggs? She should have a field day with this one.

With all the complaints about diesel exhaust along Huron Line you would think it would be a priority. Can we say hypocrisy?

Besides, what tunnels have these scrubbers? I haven't found any yet. They just use blowers to change the air. Just like the Windsor tunnel does now.

The city is not telling any truths; rather they are placing restrictions on others but not following their own rantings.

With the new bridge there is no redundancy. The tunnel has been like that since the beginning.

That is getting really old.

Personally, I do not like to use the tunnel. Not because it costs more, it is that in the event of an accident or fire there is no escape. Tunnel fires burn hot, smokey and quick. But, that's just me. Being safe.

8)Hello Ed

I'm still enjoying your blog.

Question. If the mayor and council are adamant that there should be no U.S. bound trucks on City of Windsor surface streets why do we need to build any accommodation for trucks at the new tunnel plaza? No U.S. bound trucks could get to the tunnel without using CoW surface streets.

Could there be legal action against the city if they are acting in bad
faith (against their own published statements) against the wishes of the
majority of Windsor's citizens?

On another note, I was voicing my complaints about how our city was being run the other day and a friend asked me what I would do if elected mayor? So I thought about it...

1. First order of business would be a meeting with the bridge company. I would encourage them to build their second span and I would want to know how I as mayor could help them. In exchange for my support I would want the bridge company to establish their construction office in the abandoned CIBC at Sandwich and Mill and I would want them and the local construction labourers union to work together to actively recruiter workers from Windsor's west end.

2. Then I would ask the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Committee to locate a group of investors to purchase the Hiram Walker distillery from Pernod. I am offended every time I drive by and see the "Proud home of Wisers Whiskey" sign. The new buyers would restore the Canadian Club brand and identity, especially the lighted sign on top of the grain elevators (using energy efficient LED lights of course).

3. The tunnel deal needs to be examined in the light of day. In fact every city meeting, unless it is really and truly sensitive, should be open to the public. The city government and bureaucracy should be serving the citizens and the public should have some input.

4. City owned assets have been reviewed before but they should be looked at again. The corporation of the city should not be in competition with any private sector business.

5. The city has sprawled and spread itself too far. It makes no sense to service farmland for expansion when the existing infrastructure is deficient and there are several industrIal sites available, especially in the core of the city. These areas are convenient to public transit and the tunnel and bridge.

I could go on.

So if you know anyone that wants to back my run for mayor let me know...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Is E C Row Safe

No I am not trying to fear-monger but some may soon.

You remember the story from last year in Montreal:
  • "A stretch of three lanes of the viaduct, part of Boulevard de la Concorde, gave way, dropping onto Highway 19 below, causing three vehicles and a motorcycle on the overpass to plunge 15 metres."

In that tragedy, five people were killed and six injured.

I was going through the Cansult study section about E C Row recently. That Report raised a controversy that the expressway would be used for international trucks. In reading it, the following jumped out at me:

  • "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."
That paragraph scared me after Montreal! Remember how much of our budget is going to be used for roads this year. It's about time. I did some research and found that:
  1. "[In 2004] E. C. Row Expressway from

    "Very dangerous, especially to people from out of town. Too many on/off ramps that are too close together.

    "Daily incidents of road rage are caused by (the) design of (the) road. This so-called expressway needs to be completely rethought."

  2. "[In 2004] John Tofflemire, city engineer, said the E.C. Row is a rural expressway based on a decades-old design that's functioning in a congested urban setting."

  3. "[In 2005] The city has close to 1,000 kilometres of roads, excluding E.C. Row Expressway, with 20 per cent rated as "deficient," meaning they need immediate work. In order to prevent further deterioration, an average of $13.8 million needs to be spent annually.

    This year $8.4 million for road rehab is budgeted, although that is up substantially from last year's $4.55 million.

    We have an overwhelming infrastructure deficit," Tofflemire said. "Even before a nickel gets cut out of this year's budget, it's going to be inadequate. What councillors have to decide is how much can be deferred...

    The council committee did cut funds for E.C. Row repairs from a budgeted $2 million to $1 million. The perpetual cost to preserve the road is listed at $2.5 million by public works. Council spent $900,000 on the expressway this past year."

  4. In 2003, we learned that maintenance costs then an "estimated $2-million-per-year pricetag for annual upkeep of the roadway."

Windsor has a mess with E C Row since it is our road and it is our obligation to maintain it before we have a tragedy here.

I wanted to find out if the Ministry of Transportation had any studies on E C Row. I heard they did and so I sent out an email yesterday asking but I have not heard back yet.

I just wish that decision-makers were honest with us and tell us what is really going to happen with the border but no such luck given what has happened so far. If I am right about the use of E C Row, then I can imagine what may happen.

I expect that we will hear soon that E C Row needs significant upgrading costing many mega-millions of dollars. We don't have the money for it and its maintenance has not been budgetted by the Province either. However, if it were a border road, and perhaps uploaded back to the Province then there is the $300M BIF fund money set aside, $400M in the Federal budget and even more from the Fiberals before the election as a promise. I am sure that you remember the Gong show $500M available after 2010.

It will be put as Cansult said:

  • "If the widening of E.C. Row Expressway to six lanes were undertaken, some spare capacity may exist in the mid-term to consider the use of E.C. Row itself as a secondary route to Huron Church Road, in lieu of the over $200 - $300 million truck bypass route proposed in the Schwartz Report. In the anticipation that the use of E.C. Row Expressway as a secondary route would only be a mid-term condition (until a new border crossing is constructed), the work associated with the widening and upgrading of the expressway would serve a double duty in satisfying both the mid-term and longer-term needs of the City of Windsor."
Eddie will hate the idea but what can he do with that huge cost. He does not want to burden local taxpayers since we have arenas and Engineering buildings to finance. And it is not such a bad idea if it can be used for his transportation hub. After all, it will take vehicles away from Talbot Road and Huron Church too.

If it can be done properly, then perhaps he will not be so hostile after all.

Remember he used this strange phrase the other day:
  • "Our experts have told us there is a way to get trucks across the border without having to carve through a community."
Heck, even Sam's arm might be twisted too. He had proposed that "improvements to Lauzon Parkway and Manning Road were to be implemented at the end, so they would serve only as local access roads and as feeder to a potential transportation hub at the airport." But there would be access to E C Row with Sam too but not at the beginning as the Senior Levels wanted.

Things were starting to fall into place slowly but surely. We were being conned by all levels.

I looked at the Cansult map about roads to the border. See below

Amazingly, it looked an awful lot like the Joint Management Committee map which started all of this mess. You know what, it may wind up being our road system except it took a few extra years to get there didn't it. The Senior Level bureaucrats may have outlasted us since our Mayor and Council are so weak with their own border agenda.

The other odd feature....all roads on the map lead to the Ambassador Bridge with not a DRIC Bridge in site. Cansult was issued in September, 2005, just weeks before DRIC kicked out the twinned bridge from their study.

And you thought my idea that DRIC was a phony process designed to force the Bridge Co. to sell out was merely a theory. Look at the map and dare tell me I am wrong!

PS. CTV just reported:

  • "MONTREAL -- Quebec's transport department is preparing to limit heavy trucks from crossing 135 bridges and overpasses around the province until it can ensure the structures are safe.

    Transport Quebec wants to ban certain tractor trailers and heavy-load trucks from parts of its road network so it can inspect structures thought to be at risk."

Eddie And The Fiberals

It's a catchy name for a rock group that might appear on Canadian Idol don't you think. You know, our next big smash group that breaks all records and election promises too.

There they are walking across Sam's new Champs Elysee in the heart of West Windsor---Donna, Eddie, Dalton and Dwight. (Haven't you learned yet that Sandra does not count any more) They sure as heck are trying to make sure that no international trucks can go on Huron Church aren't they, squeezing the 6 lanes down!

The Eminence Grise worked hard to get a deal between Eddie and the Province. He has been successful it seems. Clearly his connections (or his threats) worked especially with the Minister of Finance. There have to be financial goodies coming our way.

The climax came at Sandra's nomination meeting when the Star reported:
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis sent in a letter of support."
Naturally, with the Star, you had to read to abolutely the end of the story to get that important and surprising information.

I must admit that I should have expected this after the Star reported:
  • "I think we are being respectful of the city because we all want the best solution," [Sandra] said. "In my discussions with the mayor I feel we are very much of the same mind on what we would like to see. "
If you think we have problems now with the Provincial Government, can you imagine what Windsor's name will be like if John Tory becomes Premier, especially when Eddie chose not to run for the PCs. Didn't Eddie guess wrongly during the last Detroit Mayoral campaign too and we are still paying for it...US$75M worth!

You have to ask the obvious question why he got mixed up in a Provincial campaign. Is that what Mayors do? I do not remember anyone saying he sent in a letter of support at Dwight's nomination meeting. The Eminence Grise worked the pressure on Sandra so that the Liberals had to capitulate. Mind you, it is a long time until October so Eddie has been neutralized as well and not necessarily to Windsorites' advantage!

I wonder what Eddie got in exchange for "supposedly" leaving Sandra alone so she could get re-elected. Hmmm do we get
  • a Univeristy Engineering complex downtown (I hope the financing structure is not like that of the Medical School....a big amount BUT payable over 20 years).
  • a transportation hub at the airport with money to create "shovel ready" land?
  • a brownfield redevelopment of the Zalev lands?
  • another few million for the Tunnel Plaza Improvements (whatever happened to that)
  • money to do the Tunnel deal with Detroit (whatever happened to that)
  • the big prize, Sam's road.

It should be interesting to watch what happens over the next few months.

I hope the Fiberals' negotiator was smart enough to include the Windsor Star's support of Sandra and Dwight as part of the deal. Otherwise they will continue hammering the Fiberals and Sandra in particular. Eddie would be able to look innocent and say straight-faced that he has no control over the press. But then again, we know that the Star could never be part of such a deal or their credibility as a newspaper would be destroyed.

So I am not so sure what the Fiberals accomplished but they must think it was something. My expectation is that they know that Eddie's support is worth nothing but it is a way to keep pressure on the Feds in Windsor to get more money for whatever plans McGuinty has for infrastrucutre. He clearly wants more than the 50% split the Feds offered in their last budget. The Province can also take credit for getting E C Row for the Senior Levls so that is worth something.

The deal gives DRTP and Borealis/OMERS, the Province's financial source, a new lease on life. In reality, what they get is a stronger position over the Macquaries and Alindas of the world to be the P3 partner of the Governments for the new crossing.

Of course after Sam's new presentation comes out, Dwight, especially since he is the stronger Minister of the two in Windsor, and Sandra will say things such as:
  • the premier has stated that the Windsor border crossing is his government's No. 1 capital priority
  • Improving the flow of people and goods through the Windsor- Detroit gateway is a top economic priority for our government... It's part of our plan to strengthen our economy by investing in our critical transportation infrastructure.
  • expects work on Schwartz plan to move 'extremely quickly.' Everyone is very happy to see the city finally move forward. Now that the report has been tabled, I think you will see everything moving extremely swiftly."
  • described the Schwartz plan as "extremely well done and well thought out."

    "This is the foundation for a long-term solution," said Duncan. "This is a very high priority for Ontario. We are going to do what it takes to solve the problem. We believe we have to spend the money to do this right," said Duncan. "The border is essential to the economy of Ontario. If it requires more money we will find a way to get it there."
  • the $300 million already pledged by the federal and provincial governments is "not enough." ..the province is working on an agreement for "Phase 2 funding" that would use the recommendations of U.S. traffic expert Sam Schwartz as the foundation for easing the area's traffic woes.

    "We will invest in our roads, rail, highways, the ferry, intelligent transportation systems as well as the bridge and tunnel plazas,"
  • the Schwartz Report, which was commissioned by the city, was "extremely well done, well thought out and gets it right. It offers a foundation for a long-term local solution with national vision and accommodates the needs of both the business community and local residents
  • We are taking the first steps to implement the Schwartz report," "Have there been discussions around E.C. Row? Of course, there have been.
  • Both Dwight (Duncan) and I have said E.C. Row will not be used for trucks -- period," Pupatello said. "I can't be more emphatic than that."
  • It's not our intent to use the expressway as a truck corridor
  • the increased truck traffic would be temporary until the city's preferred option becomes a reality.
  • Everybody knows Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello have been working on (the border issue) since the beginning of time,"
  • Here's the $500M Gong show money.... but not until after 2010...We wanted to show a full commitment to the Schwartz Report...I suppose we should have held it back, but good news is good news at any time."
  • we hope the funding announcement would "spur our federal counterparts to move quickly to come to the table as well."
  • DRIC will only provide recommendations and final decisions on the access route and tunnelling will be made by the provincial government and its cabinet, they said...

    "My expectation is to have the province and city be on the same page on this and we are working towards that."

    Duncan said he has seen the options Schwartz offered to DRIC.

    "I thought they were fascinating," he said. "They show his insight and talent. I look forward to speaking with him and hearing more of what the city has to say."

    Pupatello called the delay announcement a "good sign" since it means serious discussions are taking place."
  • the provincial government was "endorsing the Schwartz report as the guide for future improvements" to fix Windsor's truck problems.

I was just trying to be helpful. That is what was said after the first Schwartz Report came out. It played well in the boonies so may as well do it again. Perhaps that was all the deal was about. Eddie gets his stall time again and the Fiberals get more time to pressure the Feds with Eddie on their side

And just so you know, if a renewed Nine Point Plan comes out, Eddie won't dare snub THAT meeting.

BLOGEXCLUSIVE: Gentlemen, Start Your Lawsuits

George Sofos' lawyer was not kidding on Monday at Council. The sign went up today. The Junction is for lease!

Rumour has it that the Junction owners are interviewing out of town lawyers to start a legal action. If true, all I can say, is that it will be ugly. Make sure you come early for the trial to watch the parties being examined and cross-examined since the Court room will be packed. Who knows, we may be lucky and be able to watch it on TV too once cameras are allowed in the court-rooms.

If you know anything about George, he left a dictatorship to come to freedom in Canada. He worked hard to be successful. Unlike some, he is NOT going to be pushed around.

And do you know how bad this part of the City is doing. When I was driving back I saw this sign across the road from the Junction on another building

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Very Short Shorts

Here are some quick comments


I am glad to see that both A-channel and the Star took my BLOG about the law firm and expropriation and talked to people along the corridor who are waiting for an offer from the Province to buy them out.

As the home/business owner said on the TV News broadcast said, all they are doing is waiting! And as they are waiting, the uncertainty is driving business away from them. After all who would put a deposit down for a wedding two years in the future if they do not know that the business will be around.


Brian can cry crocodile tears for the Talbot Road residents but if it comes to something in his backyard, literally, why it's a whole different story!

Obviously, my BLOG hit a nerve. Readership increased dramatically yesterday. I am not sure though if the new readers are residents or law firms who are looking for new business!

It looks like my comment yesterday has a great deal of truth to it especially if the ultimate game is to use E C Row. Could this be the reason that there have been no significant purchases:

  • "Is the whole DRIC road exercise just part of the move to build the preferred E C Row corridor international road? Have the people on Talbot Road and the businesses on Huron Church for years and the "Tunneleers" for the last year been used as pawns in a cynical chess game? Has the law firm fallen victim as well? If true, then those who perpetrated such actions ought to suffer severe consequences for causing disruption in our Community --- and in Delray as well!"

Oh this is so tiresome. Eddie's comments in the Star today are so bizarre now. Was the latest Schwartz negotiation with DRIC designed to fail? Does Schwartz really have a new plan with a new route that he is going to spring on everyone whenever he appears in front of Council or is it as Henderson described....merely a bunch of short "tunnels" with parkettes?

Of course, the Senior Levels and DRIC would have to dismiss a new route out of hand because the EA process would have to start all over again. But hey, it means more stalling!

Here is the strange comment Eddie made in today's Star:
  • "Our experts have told us there is a way to get trucks across the border without having to carve through a community."
Does this mean tunnel(s) "under" the ground rather than "through" or a new route completely? E C Row has already "carved" through the community hasn't it and it has room to expand. It is exactly like Highway 401 through Toronto that expanded and Sam specifically mentioned the roads in Toronto didn't he:
  • "The road should fit itself around the community rather than the community around the road. You see this in Toronto and other places. "

The pesky environmentlists have to worry again that Ojibway is at risk for having a tunnel underneath it. That would put the City at odds with Minister Cansfield wouldn't it. If environmentalists are not worried, they should be since Eddie has said in the past:

  • "Given the alternatives we're facing, I would far rather see truck pollution filtered by trees than by lungs."

It was also said in the Star:

  • "Under a $1-billion plan unveiled recently by traffic expert Sam Schwartz and Mayor Eddie Francis, a new truck route would be built along the edge of the Spring Garden area. It would then cut through, around or under the Ojibway tall prairie grass preserve before emerging on Ojibway Parkway and heading south to a potential new crossing."

And this:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis insists city council is committed to an environmental assessment process that ensures no project proceeds unless it can be demonstrated it won't have a negative impact.

    "People think we're going to plow a road through environmental lands. That's not what Sam's report talks about," says Francis. Council favours a full EA that meets requirements of both provincial and federal regulations -- the most stringent possible.

    Schwartz's report says there are ways to run a bypass through the area using tunnelling and other methods without disrupting environmental lands."

Eddie can never be wrong can he!

Perhaps Eddie already has a deal with the Province since he "approved" Sandra in Windsor West so there has to be a quid pro quo. Is this all another charade masterminded by the Eminence Grise?

Surprise, surprise....Eddie and the Province become best of friends again with Eddie's "compromise" errrr "concession" saving the day. And after all we have a Provincial election coming up and didn't Dwight say for the umpteenth time that the politicians would make the ultimate decision. So Eddie is the genius negotiator and Dwight and Dalton (with Sandra grudgingly included) look strong by kicking around the DRIC bureaucrats.

Oh dear, I can see another Eddie/Province vs. the Feds battle coming up especially if the Feds have NOT been involved so far and they will be asked to pay over 50% or more of the extravagances.

Oh don't ask your Councillor for an answer . He/she has not yet been let in on the final secret have they? And they do NOT have the guts to ask the questions to which Windsorites deserve answers. They do not want to be scolded publicly again by the Mayor as he did at Council last Monday. Being made to look so stupid is just so embarrassing isn't it


Speaking of guts, which Councillor or media person has the nerve to ask the Mayor and then tell the public what is going on with the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel deal and the Tunnel Plaza Improvements.

As I am sure you saw at Council when I was talking about the Tunnel deal, the Mayor refused to answer my questions!


Check out Chris Schurr's BLOG on the Junction. He picked up on an item I mentioned about how the City could have helped George Sofos out.

Why didn't they? He gives a positive way that Council can act since their Administration and the Mayor seemed to have failed them on this one. They have no choice but to do so given this new information or face potential personal consequences for which they cannot be indemnified by the City in my opinion.


Thanks to Windsor Municipal Shadow for posting this CBC News clip on his website

Poor Councillor Postma. (I won't call her Councillor Rat....she is self-destructing politically on her own so she does not need me to help speed up the process). She seems so terrified to speak to the Ambassador Bridge people even though they are located in her Ward and probably are her biggest taxpayer!

But then again, she does not dare or the proposed Integrity Commissioner could be sent after her too for breaking the Mayor-Is-The-Voice-Of-Council rule.

It's so strange that Councillor Jones does not support her publicly since they are such a two-some. Is he smart enough to keep his head down on this one and let her take the hit? It's much safer talking about heritage and how Sandwich is such a "jewel."

What's really strange is that the Councillors talked about some investor who wanted to put $100K into Sandwich some years ago. Has the person done so? I thought the investor was out of New York City! Here they have an investor from their Ward who wants to invest hundreds of millions of private dollars to create jobs in their Ward and to help beautify it without destroying Sandwich and they won't even talk to them. Strange.

Oh well, I guess Councillor Postma is pleased with Ward 2's redevelopment: stopping the Junction and having a new Tim Hortons built!

Good Old Mister Wilson

Now I know why Canada's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Wilson, started making speeches about the border crossing matter and attended the Mackinac Conference. It is becoming clearer and clearer that Transport Canada has lost control of the border file and that the Foreign Affairs Department is now in charge, along with Finance who are the money boys after all.

It has to be a blow to Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon who was appointed as the Conservative's Quebec lieutenant and was to help them get a majority government by winning seats in that Province. He was described as the "Deputy Prime Minister in fact if not in name."

However the Tranport Minister's star is fading badly and I am not sure that his desperation trip to meet Governor Granholm will save him now. All it showed up was his powerlessness.


That story in the Globe about the Bridge Co.---2 1/2 pages including a half front-page full-colour photo of the Enhancement Project bridge in the Saturday Business section---must have terrified the Prime Minister's Office.

It was all going so smoothly the PMO must have been told by Transport Canada...Bill C-3 was in place, DRIC had kicked out the twinned bridge, the road to the Ambassador Bridge under BIF was not being built. The Plan was to scare Matty Moroun, or more likely his family, into selling the bridge now at a low-ball price or else take the chance of losing everything.

The Globe story and the aggressive communications campaign by the Bridge Co. coupled with the good showing by the Bridge Co. Execs in front of the Commons and Senate Committees on Bill C-3 finally woke someone up to the fact that Transport Canada had blown it.

It was damage control time and ergo Ambassador Wilson. The underground turf war between Transport and Foreign Affairs was now out in the open for everyone to see. And Cannon did not have the credibility of Wilson either inside or outside of Government.


As far as Quebec goes, it may be that someone in the PMO wants him working there rather than fussing with Transport matters. And he had better start producing.

Back in mid June, a

  • "poll by Decima Research, provided exclusively to The Canadian Press, placed Liberal support at 32 per cent, the Conservatives at 29 and the NDP at 18. The Bloc Quebecois and Green party were tied nationally at nine per cent."

Just the other day, in an Environics Research Group poll,

  • "One of the surprises in the poll was that Layton was the most popular leader in Montreal, where the NDP has never elected an MP.

    Among Montrealers polled, Layton scored 24 per cent, compared with 19 per cent for Harper, 16 per cent for Dion and 12 per cent for Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe."

It was said as well that "Liberal voters may be turning to the NDP in the urban area." Instead of to the Conservatives I must assume as was hoped by the Party! Cannon's history was with the Quebec Liberals after all. (His son Philippe Cannon ran as a Liberal candidate in Quebec City).

It is not all bad news for Cannon however and may be the reason why he is being shifted out of Transport into a more political role:

  • "In Quebec, the Bloc was at 31 per cent, down a healthy 11 percentage points from its level of support in the January 2006 federal election. The Liberals were pegged at 17 per cent in Quebec, down three from the last Environics poll conducted in March, while the Tories sat at 28 per cent, up two percentage points from the last poll and 3 points higher than they scored in the election."


Michael Wilson has some experience with the Bridge Co. from the past. As you know the Bridge Co. fought Canada for about a dozen years over the ownership of the bridge. That litigation started under the Liberals but the Conservatives settled the matter. Wilson was in the Cabinet when that was done and must have had some knowledge of what went on.

Accordingly, who better today to talk to the Bridge Co. to see if a solution can be reached. The Ambassador held out an olive branch at Mackinac that even Transport Canada must have recognized when he talked about private interests when answering Bridge Co. opponent Rep Steve Tobocman's question.

Moreover, Harper has enough problems with the Liberal Senate that he does not need another one given the favourable "Observations" made to the Bridge Co. by Senators. Their Report would make a tremendous litigation tool for the Bridge Co.


In the end however, Wilson is involved because someone figured out that Canada does not need another softwood lumber war over the Ambassador Bridge.

It boggles my mind that the Canadian Government has not taken seriously for so long that the US State Department, on behalf of the President, has decided that the Bridge Co. does NOT need a Presidential Permit for what they are doing. Perhaps Foreign Affairs has finally realized that the State Dept has effectively told DRIC that their new Bridge in their central corridor makes no sense.

But it is the following article that may have finally scared Canada and the Canadian Ambassador to the US. It is such a petty story and it seems such an insignificant one as well. Yet it opened up their eyes to the fact that President Bush is more concerned with American private property than a treaty with Canada.

And as Dan Stamper said in a recent Today's Trucking article:

  • "Stamper, though, suggests that Windsor politicians, as well as officials in the other two levels of Canadian government, are the main driving forces behind DRIC.

    "Essentially, anti-American ownership from a Canadian perspective is the issue here,” he says. “That's the basis of DRIC."

With this background, is there any doubt but that Ambassador Wilson is in control. He and his predecessor Canadian Ambassador to the US Michael Kergin who works for the Province can work a nice solution with the Ambassador Bridge Co. I am certain.

  • Bush fires U.S. representative to International Boundary Commission

    In a bizarre twist to a dispute over a four-foot-high fence near the U.S.-Canada border in Whatcom County, President Bush on Tuesday fired Dennis Schornack as U.S. Commissioner to the International Boundary Commission and member of the International Joint Commission.

    "I would like to extend my best wishes in your future endeavors," wrote presidential assistant Liza Wright in conveying Bush's order. The letter told Schornack that he is "terminated effectively immediately."

    The firing came without warning. The legal counsel to the International Boundary Commission described Bush's order as improper. He argued that Schornack holds a quasi-judicial position with an international body.

    "First of all, he can't fire him: He can appoint him but he can't fire him," said Elliot Feldman, the IBC's legal counsel.

    Schornack was in Michigan and not available for comment. But Feldman had plenty to say when interviewed by the P-I.

    "The President has a fight on his hands," he said. "There has been quite a lot of threats and bullying to the commissioner. We thought it was all rather hollow."

    The IBC and IJC are low-key bodies, composed of commissioners appointed by the U.S. and Canadian governments.

    They are charged with overseeing the world's longest peaceful border, and working out trans-boundary disputes between the two countries.

    They're best known for midwifing settlement of a longstanding dispute between the city of Seattle and British Columbia over the raising of Ross Dam, and for intervening when the pollution from the Trail Smelter in B.C. killed trees on the U.S. side of the border.

    But Schornack appears to have run afoul of a powerful right-wing legal group with deep, longstanding ties to the Republican Party.

    Herbert and Shirley-Ann Leo of Blaine, who live just south of the border, built on their property a four-foot-high, 85-foot-long concrete wall. The wall intrudes into a 10-foot-wide "clear boundary vista" maintained at the 5,000-mile-long border.

    The boundary vista area has been maintained for a hundred years, but has assumed additional importance due to an upsurge of smuggling of illegals and "B.C. Bud" marijuana across the border.

    According to the commission, the wall was "severely hampering the ability of the U.S. Border Patrol and Royal Canadian Mounted Police to protect the border." The IBC asked the Leus to remove the wall.

    The couple refused, and have received assistance from the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation on grounds their private property rights have been violated.

    After being refused legal help by the U.S. Department of State, the Commission retained private legal counsel, which filed papers in the case in Seattle defending the Commission's right to protect the border.

    At that point, however, a dispute broke out between agencies.

    The U.S. Justice Department asked to take over the case, and negotiate a compromise that concedes the couple's private property complaints. But the Commission argued that it is an international body.

    In its defense, the IBC said in a statement: "Sooner rather than later, the Administration will be seen to prefer private property rights over national security and ready to undo an international treaty with Canada to serve that preference."

    Schornack has impeccable Republican credentials. He was a longtime aide to Michigan's longtime (1990-2002) Republican Gov. John Engler. But he became outspoken in the case of the four-foot border fence.

    "We are not interested in taking the Leus' property," Schornack said. "We are only interested in keeping permanent obstructions, such as walls, away from the border site lines, a mere 10 feet."

    The Treaty of Washington between the U.S. and Canada directs the Commission to keep the boundary vista clear. The 1925 treaty was ratified by Congress, making it a law of the United States.

    The Commission offered to remove the Leus' wall at its own expense.

    Feldman said he believes the Department of Justice and White House made a backstage deal with the Pacific Legal Foundation.

    "We believe they have made a deal and are selling out the national security of the United States," he argued. "We know there is someone in the White House who went there from the Justice Department. This has all the same features and it involves the same people as the firing of the U.S. attorneys."

    The Justice Department could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

DRIC Expropriations And Law Firms

How interesting. It looks like I am NOT the only person in town who reads DRIC ads in the Star.

The above circular was distributed recently by one of the local law firms. I guess the firm wanted to get the jump on the competition by becoming the lead expropriation firm on the DRIC file. Wait until the Toronto and London firms hear of the money to be made in legal fees if you want to see competition, never mind what other Windsor firms will do now!

Gosh, with my border involvement and contacts, perhaps I better consider associating with a firm too just for this one file. I am generally not involved any more in day-to-day legal practice but I still have to pay the horrible Windsor property taxes. Acting as a consultant to a firm might help me pay them. And then there is that "heritage" bathroom that my wife wants and some landscaping that needs work and the outside of the house will need painting soon and....

Someone in the law firm must have read the DRIC ad where they talked about advance purchase requests and figured out that now was a good time to get going on this. However, the ad was clear that the requests would only be for properties up to E C Row and not north of it.

The ad shows the yellow line along Huron Church road, north to the Bridge. Wasn't that described as the route to the Ambassador Bridge and helped cause it to be dropped as an option for the new crossing? I hope the law firm was not confused as to where the DRIC road is going. If it could be, then so could many members of the public. Why it's just like the 120 acre plaza that was to destroy Sandwich that was never the Bridge Co. plan.

I suspect however, that the yellow line north of E C Row was to get people there thinking about "disruption to your business" rather than expropriation.

Is it premature to make decisions on selling out or worrying about disruptions? Perhaps, depending on circumstances, for many people (I do know that there are are already advance purchase conversations going on). However, getting legal advice to understand one's legal position is always appropriate (spoken as a true lawyer).

If I am right, E C Row is going to be the corridor of choice ultimately. Everyone along Talbot Road and Huron Church will be so relieved that they will "force" Eddie to go along with it.

If I am right about what the DRIC exercise is---a plan to force the Bridge Co. to sell out at a low price, then perhaps there is another game being played out as well.

Is the whole DRIC road exercise just part of the move to build the preferred E C Row corridor international road? Have the people on Talbot Road and the businesses on Huron Church for years and the "Tunneleers" for the last year been used as pawns in a cynical chess game? Has the law firm fallen victim as well? If true, then those who perpetrated such actions ought to suffer severe consequences for causing disruption in our Community --- and in Delray as well!

Just re-read my BLOG of February 13, 2007: "The Extra Point Try: The Tenth Point Of The Nine Point Plan." It explains all of this from my perspective.

What A Farce

If you have Cogeco Cable TV, you MUST watch the re-reun of last night's Council meeting. You MUST record it as well to show your friends and colleagues and for those who do not subscribe to cable. In particular, you need to watch the Agenda item dealing with the heritage designation for Sandwich and the matter involving the Junction.

I have to tell you that if our Municipal Act legislation had a right of recall in it, I could send out a petition and have thousands of signatures on it within days. Frankly, a few members of Administration should be looking for a new job as well.

What happened last night can only be described as a disgrace. We are not being governed but are being "treated" to Politics, Gong Show style.

I have to give credit to Councillor Gignac. I am not a fan of hers and usually am very critical of her. On the Junction issue, she was the one who raised all of the good points that were right on the mark that should have allowed the Junction to be categorized as a legal non-conforming use. She also refused to be bullied by the Mayor and slammed Administration for their incompetence. If she keeps this up, who knows she may run for Mayor in three years! (Could someone please tell her to stop chewing gum or whatever it is after she speaks!)

I am not going to go into a long discussion of last night. I am not going to waste my time writing about such foolishness. Nor should you have to read about it. You have to see it for yourself to believe it. Honestly, it is indescribable. No one should wonder after last night's peformance why this Council is a laughing stock and cannot get anything done!

I was very interested to watch Eddie's relationship with Council. There was absolute contempt for them in my opinion. If they did not toe his line, he shut them down as he did with the heritage matter. Eddie was clearly upset that the heritage district was reduced so much in size by the consultant's Report. He had to lecture Councillors several times since they were so dumb that they could not understand that the Interim by-law matter was separate and distinct and that it had been discussed a few weeks earlier.

What was really going on was that he needed desperately to keep control over the entire Sandwich area and not just the heritage area. He just cut off anyone who suggested that the interim by-law area be reduced as well. The heritage plan was NOT following the process he wanted. It gave the Ambassador Bridge people a possible out to build their Enhancement Project. What was the matter with Councillors!

And then the piece de resistance. Coming out of the Mayor's Chair and speaking as a Council member from the floor on the Junction matter, there was Eddie. He told Council that they might be acting illegally if they followed an option that Administration said was an option they could adopt! Not only that, he would insist that Administration be indemnified in case they were sued for acting improperly although they offered the suggestion in the first place as being a proper one. He absolutely berated them

HUH.....most of the Senior Administrators who signed off on the report seemed to be OK with it. It might have allowed the Junction to avoid a possible bankrtuptcy. Oh well, Brian Masse and some Junction neighbours will be pleased.

You know what would be hilarious...The Wellington was denied also last night the right to have a strip club. Perhaps the owners should talk to the Junction as a possible venue for their business.

One final point. Councillor Postma's incisors were gnawing on the Bridge Co. as well last night. She must have felt cornered again and was in a biting mood I guess.

The Bridge Co.'s expert was quite supportive of the heritage report and even suggested additons to it. BUT he made the mistake of saying that garbage in the area should be cleaned up as well. That got Councillor Postma going. She made a big point in saying that the heritage designation was NOT directed against the Bridge Co. Then she said in her last remark, with the look that only Councillor Postma can give, that she would send the By-law officers out to check "his client's properties" to ensure that the property met property standards eg no garbage.

How Councillors can allow themselves to be treated with such disrespect and contempt, I will never understand. How they can allow themselves to be made to look like such fools I cannot understand. They ought to be furious.

I can hardly wait for the next meeting. NOT!

Monday, July 16, 2007

More On The Junction

I am hardly an expert in Municipal or Planning Law and frankly, I did not spend a whole bunch of time over the weekend researching the matter.

However, I do not understand what is going on with all of this legal non-confroming use discussion and especially the power of the Cheif Building Official to make the final decision.

I did call a lawyer I knew who does this kind of work and he was unaware of why the CBO can make this final decision. I hope someone at Council can clarify this matter legally. If I am right in my analysis, there is another option that can be presented tonight.

I understand that George Sofos is losing bookings, if he can get them in the first place, for the Junction because of the uncertainty around his business. Who would book say a wedding reception for the future in his facility if they do not know if he will be in business when the time comes? That is what this delay may be doing---bankrupting the operation since he has to pay for the renovations and he cannot get new business.

Where are Alfie Morgan and his Small Business Task Force and the Gazelle Feeders when we need them!

I am getting very, very confused over this matter. There is another report on Monday about how to "expedite" the process to allow the Junction to be classified as an "Entertainment Lounge."

Based on Councillor comments, if Council could have voted previously, then they would have "grandfathered" Sofos' building as a legal non-conforming use. However, they were told that only the Chief Building Official could make that decision and the City would have to sue him to do otherwise.

Councillor Gignac's questioning of the CBO at Council suggested to me at least that he did NOT have the full facts about how the building had run dances in the past. Joe McParland's questioning of the CBO afterwards was very telling to me about the Escape Cafe and why certain actions were allowed there but not at the Junction. Based on that alone, Council should have told the CBO to look again at his decision. Certainly the Report could have said that but it did not.

In any event, I wanted to find out what gave the CBO such authority to be the final decision maker but could not find it. If he is NOT the decision maker then Council on Monday night can make the decision and this matter is closed finally other than appeals which you know will happen!

I looked under the Planning Act:
  • 34. (1) Zoning by-laws may be passed by the councils of local municipalities:

    Excepted lands and buildings

    (9) No by-law passed under this section applies,

    (a) to prevent the use of any land, building or structure for any purpose prohibited by the by-law if such land, building or structure was lawfully used for such purpose on the day of the passing of the by-law, so long as it continues to be used for that purpose;

No mention of the CBO there but only the COUNCIL.. If Council did delegate that authority to determine "non-conforming use" questions to the CBO, where was is it done? And if they did do so , then they can revoke that permission can't they for the Junction!

I checked the City's Official Plan too. The only references I could find re Non-conforming use did not even mention the CBO.

Here is what the Official Plan said about non-conforming uses:

  • Certain lawfully existing uses may, by their nature or location, not satisfy or conform to the land use policies or applicable land use designation in this Plan. They may have been established at their location for a long period of time and accepted as such within the neighbourhood or constructed more recently in compliance with the previous zoning. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Plan in conflict herewith, such uses may be zoned as conforming uses in the zoning by-law provided that:

    (a) the use does not constitute a danger, a nuisance or blight to the adjacent neighbourhood by virtue of its function or operational characteristics; and

    (b) the extension or enlargement of the use or change in its functionality would not be detrimental to nor pose a nuisance to the adjacent neighbourhood; or

    (c) where the use is deemed to be sensitive land use, it shall be part of a viable larger grouping of similar land uses.

Again, no mention of the CBO having any role whatsoever.

Where the specific term "non-conforming use" was used in the Official Plan, the CBO had no role:

  • The Committee of Adjustment shall review applications for the extension or enlargement of a building or structure continuing as a non-conforming use.

I did find several sections in the Official Plan where COUNCIL could act immediately to help George too

  • Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Plan, where a nonconforming use has been discontinued Council may enact an amendment to the Zoning By-law for a use that otherwise would not be allowed under the provisions of this Plan.

Or how about this section:

  • Council may pass by-laws to permit the temporary use of land, buildings or structures for a specified time period for any purpose that is otherwise prohibited by the Zoning Bylaw(s) in accordance with the Planning Act.

I was also interested in what the City Counsel, Mr. Wilkki, had to say about the City suing the CBO if they disagreed with him. He referred to an Ottawa case where that happened. It is unfortunate that he did not mention that the CBO had a specific statutory duty that he was acting under and THAT was the reason why the City had to sue. That is NOT the case with the Junction. All that happens here is that the City listens to what the CBO says and then COUNCIL makes the decision.

The Admin report talks about an Ottawa case as their justification but that case involved the statutory role of the CBO under the Building Code Act, something that does NOT apply here. That is why the City had to sue because of his legal duty:

  • Sec 8 (2) The chief building official shall issue a permit referred to in subsection (1) unless...

If I am right and the CBO is NOT the final decision-maker to determine legal non-conforming use (and Council does NOT have to sue him) and George's use, as the Councillors seem to have suggested, meets that definition, then on Monday, Council must do the right thing and grant him an exemption from the By-law as a legal non-conforming use. If not...well I will let Geroge figure out what his next steps are.

Dumb As A Fox

The Bridge Co. people may not be all that smart as everyone makes them out to be. Or are they? If they were so clever, then they would have been able to read the minds of Eddie and the Councillors and would have known that an interim control by-law and a demolition by-law were going to be sprung on them:
  • "The bridge has been buying property on the city's west end and demolishing buildings to pave the way for a new plaza, that would accommodate cars and trucks. The company has demolished eight homes and there are 35 homes left to be demolished.

    Stamper said if the company had known there was an effort to create such a bylaw, it would have acted more quickly in demolishing the properties."
Then how does one explain that they are so successful in what they do. The answer is quite simple. Their opposition is really dumb and does not think through what they do. In fact, most of what the Opposition does winds up helping the Bridge Co. in the end.

A good example is the latest fuss over homes that the Bridge Co. owns in the West End. We see Councillor Postma being allowed to speak about the squalor in the West End. She even used the "G-word" on A-Channel news. Naturally it is the Bridge Co.'s fault. She must have had the Mayor's permission in advance. I hope she got the permission in writing to go public or she could face a possible Integrity Commissioner threat just as Councillor Halberstadt did if her ploy falls apart.
  • "This is obviously a tactic to get city council to order demolition, so it will set a precedent so they can tear down the homes on Indian," said Postma. "In the past eight months these properties have deteriorated to unbelievable lengths. That's a pretty nasty tactic. It's pretty ignorant."

    Postma said the city will order the company to board up the houses and clean the properties within the next week."
Let's see now....the Interim by-laws were passed in January so for most of the period that the Councillor was complaining about the Bridge Co. was under the City's thumb. I guess she forgot that. The amnesia disease must have spread out to the West End since Council decided not to spend the money to "scrub" Tunnel fumes from their over-budget, "heritage" Ventilation Building.

The Councillor's solution to board up homes hardly makes a lot of sense either. I guess in her mind that is better than getting the Green Corridor Group from the University involved. But then again, only she and her colleagues can reconcile the anti-Bridge Co. move to prevent them tearing down vacant homes on Indian Road, then demanding the Feds to tear down the Biker's house and then voting against the Bushante redevelopment. I can't figure out these conflicting Council actions.

Perhaps I am not being fair to the Bridge Co. Perhaps they are smarter than I thought. Dan Stamper said:
  • "Let the city determine what they are going to do about the application," he said. "They are going to have to figure out what all this means to them. We will respond to it depending on what they determine.

    "It's ridiculous for Windsor to tell us we can't demolish houses that are vacant and boarded up. From our perspective we will leave it up to the city. They are going to have to determine how they are going to treat us."
Now let's see what is happening. The neighbours where the Bridge Co. homes are located did not seem all that thrilled with Councillor Postma's suggestion. It was stated in the Star story:
  • "At this point some residents along Edison Street, angry over crumbling houses, garbage piles, squatters, thieves and a mouldy stink, would be happy to see a bridge entrance next door.

    "We want them down," said Steve Bridgen, who has lived on the street for 27 years. "That's the bottom line. We don't want this stuff on our street. If they're going to build a highway, build a highway. We can't live in squalor. We will take a green space, we will take a wall, we will take anything other than these dilapidated houses. These houses are dumps. They're depreciating the property values and we don't want them...

    It's disheartening when you spend your whole life on a street and there's been no kind of criminal element," said Bridgen.

    "Now we have to lock our doors even tighter and be that much more careful..."

    But residents still plan to petition city council to tear them down.

    "It's an eyesore," said Gerry Paterson. "It's a health issue. I believe I couldn't sell my house now.
So as a result of the City's actions with the interim and demolition by-laws, the residents will demand that the homes be torn down. The Bridge Co. has had to do nothing. In effect, Councillor Postma and her colleagues are the source of the problem for the area but the story is an attempt to point the finger elsewhere. They did not think through what stopping demolition for up to two years could do to the neighbourhoods or what preventing development might mean. They just reacted and thought they were being so smart.

The Mayor and Council are the ones who will be responsbile for the homes coming down, not the Bridge Co. If they refuse to allow the Bridge Co. permission to do so, they will be the ones "ghettoizing" neighbourhoods (using Councillor Postma's term). Isn't it ironic, don't you think.

You see what I mean...the City's stupidity in not thinking through what they were doing may allow the Bridge Co. to get what they wanted in the first place.

The Bridge Co. is dumb all right---like a fox! And now do you understand what I mean about their opponents being so dumb!

I was curious where Councillor Postma's Ward-mate was in all of this. Why was she alone front and centre on an issue that was a loser? Is Councillor Jones the "heritage" Councillor and she is the "squalor" one?

I think it is more than that. I think she was hung out to dry! No wonder she was allowed to speak and not the Mayor, the Voice of Council. No wonder Councillor Jones was not around. They did not want to look like the ones responsible for the mess. Let the Councillor Postma take the blame for it! Let her look like she could not prevent the homes from being demolished or the neighbourhood suffering.

PS. ON A-Channel news, Councillor Postma described herself as being backed into a corner like a "rat" on this issue. Hmmmm...Now we have the Three Blind Mice and a Rat on Council dealing with the border issue. What other rodents do we have as our Local Government?

As I told you before, the Star likes setting up the real story. The "squalor" story was nothing more than a justification for the "heritage" front page story this morning. "West-end residents hope for heritage designation." Demonize the Bridge Co. Saturday, demonize them today and get a heritage designation designed to try to stop them from moving forward. So obvious already and so tiresome.