The Infamous Agenda Item #5, Again
Let's see this time whether Melanie Deveau rises to the occasion as she did last time around and encourages people to attend at the Council meeting on Monday as delegations since clearly something is going to be done by Council but they have not seen fit to tell is what it is. Yet.
You remember the first Infamous Agenda Item #5 don't you. The Mayor and Council under the guise of approving a regional traffic plan tried to get Schwartz #1 approved and to get a blank checque to do whatever they wanted to do on the road system.
Remember the Infamous Agenda Item #5 just over a year ago. I wrote about it in these terms:
- "Who would have thought that a subject entitled ‘Essex-Windsor Regional Transportation Master Plan’ is really a motion that includes endorsing the already failed Schwartz short-term strategy on the border and giving out a blank cheque to spend taxpayer money!" Sixteen delegations overnight lined up to speak about it and oppose it. The Mayor and Council cut and ran when they saw the opposition and it has never been brought back!"
Not until now that is. It is brought back again, coincidentally, as Agenda Item #5 entitled "Essex-Windsor Regional Transportation Master Plan" just like before. You see what I mean about a strange sense of humor. It is almost childish isn't it, getting back at people this way. Nothing like a rubbing it into our face since we dared to defy.
This time they learned better. There is no recommendation from Administration. There is nothing now for citizens to get all worked up about. If you don't know what is going to be decided then why would you even bother, right! What can you object about or support if you don't know anything? What can you speak for or against if there is nothing on the table. Brilliant scheming.
Sorry, that is not quite right. There is no "recommendation" but there is a "suggestion" only it is placed right at the end of the Report under CONCLUSION. You'd have to read through the entire Report to find the suggestion. In fact you might not even look since the first paragraph of the report under Recommendation says "To Council for direction."
My moles have been working hard again and here's what they found. The various Reports in draft form on the roads around Windsor (and I will talk about those other roads later) were circulated to Councillors back in October or so for comment. Nothing happened obviously until now so there has to be a reason why they were brought forward at this time. Nothing is ever done at Council without a reason. I'll try and explain what that reason is subsequently as well.
I was also told that in fact Administration had put in Recommendations but that they were removed. I'm sure you can guess why as well as I can.
Let's see if Melanie gets all excited again. Now I know she said on her new BLOG "I want to avoid being one of those bloggers who does nothing but gripe." I certainly don't want her to hurt herself by pulling off the W strapped over her heart as a good CKLW employee. However, she might make an exception in this case since there is no doubt that something is going to be sprung on us and we don't know what. I don't think that is right nor do I think it is proper and neither should Melanie and she should say so. And so should Patty.
I wonder if it has to do with Greenlink. Gord Henderson in his recent column increased the cost of that project by $1 billion to $2.6 billion. I wonder what he knows that we don't.
I thought that the first Council meeting in 2008 was to discuss the border. True, roads do play a role in the border file but I didn't see anything specifically dealing with the border. It is all very confused too with various Reports all over the place:
- There is an Agenda Item #5.
- Then there is Agenda Item #4 which deals with "Essex County Road 19 (Manning Road) & Essex County Road 22 Improvements, Class Environmental Assessment & Preliminary Design, Dec 2007 update" and its impact on the City of Windsor.
Again, no recommendation is given by Administration so there is nothing for anyone to get upset about.
Then it becomes even more bizarre with two reports as part of the Communications Package which most people will not look at. These items are:
- Dougall truck traffic issues, and
- Wyandotte truck route time restrictions
I'm not sure what will happen now since Councillor Dilkens has raised the issue over trucks on Dougall and it has been reported in the Star. Surely the matter should now be taken off of the Communications Package and put on the main Agenda with notice to the public so that people can appear to express their opinions. Of course, that will never happen. And Drew has been slapped down by the Star in their Friday editorial.
I guess that means Drew is getting too much citizen support and is messing up something that City Hall has been planning for a long time.
By the way, I wonder where Councillor Dilkens' Ward-mate is in all of this brouhaha. At one time, Councillor Brister would have been the guy that you would look to and depend on supposedly on issues impacting the border. I guess he's just too busy nickling and diming at the East end arena to be worried about trucks on Dougall Avenue. That's not really a smart thing for Councillor Brister to do especially to people in his Ward when you want to run for mayor.
In any event, I have difficulty in trying to figure out why certain items are on the Agenda and why certain items are on the Communications Package and why they aren't all being discussed as part of an overall road strategy with Recommendations from Administration so that Windsorites could appear as delegations and comment.
There is clearly a tremendous amount of friction between Administration and Council on this matter. To be quite blunt about it, I have never seen such strong language used by Administration against the actions of Council. I would suspect that this is the real reason that the issues with respect to Dougall and Wyandotte were not placed on the public agenda. Take a look at this to see what I mean:
- "There is no easy way of completely eliminating trucks from Dougall Avenue. Continued efforts to ban trucks on various corridors on an ad hoc basis may do more harm than good and may shift trucks to other areas of the City at the expense of those residents. Administration is gravely concerned with a number of recent questions related to banning trucks on various streets. We advise that would be best to deal with all of these potential changes in the context of the entire network and not just on a street by street basis. This can only be done once key decisions are made on the border file."
WOW!!!!! In other words, Administration is slamming Council for not doing its job in making decisions on the border file but just leaving everything hanging and expecting Administration to work miracles. Quite an assessment from the employees of the incompetence of their superiors isn't it! Now Administration understands how frustrated taxpayers are with this Mayor and Council.
So what is this really all about? It really comes down to which area in this region will prosper, the City or the County. The fundamental issue is which road will be built the first, Manning Road or the Lauzon extension to Highway 4o1. My moles again tell me that the Province would prefer to build on Lauzon since it would be less expensive to do so. Obviously however, if the Manning Road project is the only one on the table, then the Province is stuck.
The County, and Tecumseh in particular, cannot upgrade Manning Road the way they wish at their own expense. They need Senior Level financial involvement which they would get under the Border Infrastructure Fund to help pay for that project. In addition, I am told that there is a big chunk of property just off Manning Road near some CP lands which could be used for an intermodal facility.
Do you see what I mean... the focus of Eddie's attention is an intermodal hub near our airport. He could not possibly allow the County to build-up Manning Road or his vision would be killed instantaneously. He therefore needs to prevent the Manning Road project moving forward. For his hub, he needs Lauzon.
That brings me right back to the suggestion of Administration on the Son of Infamous Agenda Item #5 buried at the end of the Report so few people will read it. It states:
- "That Administration be directed to prepare the terms of reference to carry out an Environmental Assessment for the Lauzon Parkway extension."
Wait a minute you will say. That would never be allowed by this Mayor and Council. A connection to Highway 401 using Lauzon would bring international trucks onto the E C Row Expressway wouldn't it. That is something that the Mayor and Council are absolutely opposed to. Why, it would also provide the opportunity again for DRTP to argue that its project should be reconsidered. Heck, they might even be able to build a totally new truck tunnel where their doublestack rail tunnel would have gone and then utilize the rail tracks for its truck expressway and the golf course sized area in the heart of Windsor for Canadian and US Customs. Do you see how it all fits together so beautifully for the Borealis boys.
So it is a non-starter you might think. If that is what you think, you are wrong. Eddie must have that connection to Highway 401 and he needs a way to do it. In its Son of the Infamous Agenda Item#5 Report, Administration states:
- "In the long term, there are a number of possible solutions to reduce truck traffic on Dougall and all other North South Arterial Roads. Namely, an additional corridor is needed. While the DRIC planned extension of the 401 will provide the border traffic with a more viable alternative, this road will not reduce or eliminate truck traffic on city streets intended for deliveries and pickups within Windsor. Therefore, the best solution to truck traffic on North South Arterials such as Dougall is to provide an additional means of access to and from the 401 to spread out the truck volume between more routes."
Of course, one of the additional means of access as a solution is to construct the Lauzon Parkway extension.
See how easy it is. It is not that Eddie wants to do so. It is because of all of the people of Windsor who want to take trucks off of Dougall and Wyandotte who are demanding it. Eddie wants to be a politician now who listens to the people so he must bow to the will of the people and look at doing an EA for the Parkway extension. The people have forced him into it and he will only agree to do so reluctantly I am sure.
My moles are also concerned that there really are problems on EC Row that are so bad that they required asphalt being placed over certain overpasses to prevent possible damage over the winter. If that is the case, it means the Expressway needs rebuilding. If you are going to rebuild, then you may as well upgrade the Expressway to six or even to eight lanes.
By George, if you look to the Dougall report hidden in the Communications Package, there is the suggestion to help solve the Dougall problem by expanding the Expressway! Why even the Essex-Windsor Regional Transportation Master Plan recommends the expansion. Again, not Eddie's fault.
So when you put it all together here's what you get. Agenda Item#4 provides the excuse for stalling the Manning Road project so that it is Windsor not the County that has the realistic future development. The Son of The Infamous Agenda Item #5 allows Eddie to start on the EA for the Parkway extension and the upgrading of the Expressway to up to eight lanes. And the two Communications Package items provide the citizen justification for doing so that gets the Mayor and Council off the hook.
Isn't all of that brilliant? It is such wonderful strategic thinking that someone must have spent hours creating it. It is designed to accomplish certain objectives without any opposition as well since no one knows what the heck is going on. Can you imagine what the person who thought up all this could accomplish for Windsor if all that brainpower was used to solve our real problems.
It is a shame that City Hall is so distrusting of its own electorate that it must go to this extreme instead of coming clean and telling us what the issues are and what the real solutions are. But then again, when your own words place you in an impossible position, then you have no alternative but to wheel and deal if you are insecure about your relationship with taxpayers.
You know what the real irony is. Tecumseh's Mayor McNamara helped solve our roads issue. If he was not pushing on the Manning Road project, we would be in a mess as far as our road system was concerned.
Gee, isn't that how we got our East And arena built too, thanks to Mayor McNamara. Perhaps the City should hire him as a consultant on how to get stuff done here.