Council Passes New Downtown Interim Control Bylaw
It’s even more effective than an Interim Control Bylaw that freezes development as in Sandwich. There are no statutory provisions that apply. Downtown development can be frozen for as long as the Mayor and Council choose to do so.
Can you imagine if a development company came to City Hall and said that they wanted to do something. I am sure that the answer would be that nothing can be done until such time as the feasibility study and other work was finished. After all, whatever the new development, it would need to fit in with the canal proposal.
This really is all very troubling. About 18 months ago, do you remember this:
- “Core site tempts U of W; Urban village delayed as city considers school's plans
The University of Windsor is in talks with the City of Windsor for what could be "a significant project" on the lands adjacent to the Art Gallery of Windsor.
Plans for a downtown urban village have been delayed as the city considers the school's plans for future development…
"The potential development is not developer-driven so much as it's idea-driven based on what we believe needs to happen on those lands and we believe it will generate significant interest," Francis said.
As a result, plans to issue a request for proposals for an urban village have been delayed.
Postma said the decision to postpone issuing RFPs for the urban village in favour of considering the education alternative was agreed to by council because "there's no other projects" that have been proposed for the area.
"No one's really come forward with any ideas yet," said Postma, whose ward covers the property in question. "There really hasn't been much interest from anyone else at this point."
Coun. Percy Hatfield would neither confirm nor deny the involvement of one of the local post-secondary schools.
"What I can say is that the mayor told us a little while ago that there's an opportunity for an exciting new proposal that would accomplish everything we'd like to see accomplished on the urban village property and it would have a residential component to it and, you know, everybody would really stimulate the downtown."
The Request for Proposal for the urban village was “delayed” because of the University Engineering Complex fiasco. Interestingly, two of the people involved in that from the University, Dave Cooke and Marty Kpomsa, who supported the Mayor’s losing vision on having the building come downtown are now involved in the canal project.
Why wasn't an RFP issued once it was decided that the project was not going to go into the downtown? Normally one has an RFP to get ideas from people who are experts in the area to see what they can come up with. Whatever happened to the RFP concept for the urban village?
Obviously, it was hijacked by the Mayor’s vision for the canal. We get yet another "idea-driven" Mayoral proposal. Like---hey this sounds like a good idea (his $100M Fund as an example that was dredged up by the WEDC rep at Council during his presentation). Let's tip off the Councillor Loopies a few minutes before I tell the public about it and see how far we can run with it until it is shot down by the Naysayers!
I cannot believe that the Councillors just sat by and let him do it. They really have no backbone. They had a process in place and it has been circumvented and all that they are doing now is applauding it. It really is so shameful.
In passing, it now appears from Councillor Loopy’s comment 18 months ago that the “tippor/tippee” system has been in place for a very long time:
- What I can say is that the mayor told us a little while ago that there's an opportunity for an exciting new proposal…”
Why do we spend money on all of these Community Improvement Plans if we never do anything with them and we allow people to undercut them before they even get started? Obviously, one knows now what the Sandwich plan was really all about. Have you heard anything about it lately?
Seriously, who would want to go to the Sandwich or invest there when you can have Venice on the Detroit River.
I’m posting the materials that were handed out to Council by the Canal Feasibility Study Team so that you can read them for yourself. http://www.scribd.com/doc/5478002/CANAL-FEASIBILITY-STUDY-TEAM
It is fantastic. They just started out and already they have their own logo! It looks like most of the money that was raised goes to the engineering firm.
Effectively what Mr. Cooke told us is that we’re spending all this time and money to determine whether an interceptor sewer can be moved or else this project is dead in the water. Apparently this sewer serves a large part of the Downtown.
We know that from an engineering perspective based on what was said at Council that this can be done but the question would be at what cost. Does it make sense to do so?
We know now that this study is a mere opener. Another one at least has to be done with respect to the business case and money has to be raised to pay for that. Somehow there has to be public consultation but it is not clear to me at all when and how it is to take place.
It should be very amusing to see how a business case can be made for development given Councillor Postma’s remarks
- “No one's really come forward with any ideas yet," said Postma, whose ward covers the property in question. "There really hasn't been much interest from anyone else at this point."
If no one was interested before, why would anybody be interested in a City now whose economy is sinking under the water quickly. Even our Mayor wants to chase our best and brightest out West knowing full well that when they start working out there, they will move their families there as well. Even the number of immigrants to this City is decreasing as a recent news story stated.
I thought that the City had a Purchasing bylaw. If so, was it followed with respect to what has taken place so far? Does anyone care?
It is not an answer to say that a study is being financed privately when this is a City project and huge sums of City money will be necessary to pay for the infrastructure so that some developers might be able to reap huge benefits one day.
You do need to read Councillor Halberstadt’s column in the September issue of BIZ X Magazine. He destroys the urban legend about how the canal vision came to light when he talks about the two previous concepts that were proposed. He also points out many of the real problems that will make this project extremely difficult to bring to fruition. The environmental assessment and the archaeological concerns are huge stumbling blocks.
It is almost laughable hearing about the City wanting to get into the marina business again. Or, is the plan to give it to a private operator? Our own marina is in financial difficulty as is the one in Amherstburg. In 2007, as an example:
- “Lakeview Marina won't be sending any money to municipal coffers. Last year the city received $100,000 in profit sharing funds.
According to the 2007 preliminary budget, the marina's reserves are "in a deficit position."
Wasn’t the City considering at one time selling it?
The canal proposal almost sounds like the Belle River project on a smaller scale which
- “was once touted as a potential site for a $20- million condominium with 175 boat wells.”
Whatever happened to that? How are things going at Boblo and would those developers be happy with a City project that would compete with them? Wouldn’t you rather sip a cappuccino at Boblo:
- “Everyday on Bob-Lo Island will take luxury living to a higher level, bringing you and your family a wide range of options for health and well being, entertainment and dining.
A number of parks and state-of-the-art fitness facilities will dot the landscape… Bike paths and pedestrian walkways will criss-cross the island…
Magnificent homes honouring a traditional charm will stand majestically in peaceful, tree-lined neighbourhoods. Clusters of luxurious waterfront condos will rise up on the shores offering breathtaking views of the marinas and river.”
Back to where we started… the new, downtown, nonstatutory Interim Control Bylaw.
What is this all about? Can anyone make sense of it? As I speculated before, in my view, this is nothing more than the way that Eddie can get money for his shovel ready lands at the airport. Divert our attention, give him time to negotiate with Sandra because the Province needs industrial lands as she stated in Ottawa and then kill this project when it is no longer needed based on cost and lack of developer interest.
Don’t worry, the restauranteurs in downtown Windsor will be made happy. Can’t you see our vibrant downtown now with the funky bus terminal and all those St. Clair students spending tons of money to revitalize the area? Why the Keg restaurant must be loaded with kids at lunchtime eating all those filet mignons. And after school, they probably bring their sports cars purchased with their Student Loans to buy drinks at the Keg given their cheap parking rates.
Think of the crowds when all the Glengarry apartment building residents move there and some of the apartment buildings near the Casino are torn down and rebuilt in the Western Super Anchor site so we can have our new City Hall at Campus Francis.
I'm sure that the Downtown Business Association people are so pleased that they kept their mouths shut when the arena was moved to the east end since an urban village was held out to them. They are getting it but I doubt if it is the kind of urban village they expected.
One of the people who has to be really pleased about all this is Mr. Farhi. He clearly saw his opportunity and took it with the Henderson story. The more that comes out about how long this is going to take for the canal study and how much money it is going to cost means that more and more people will be attracted to his “new downtown” at the East End arena lands as the viable and feasible alternative. I would think that he has been given at least a year or two before the City really gets anywhere on its studies and then who knows how long before approvals can be obtained if in fact they can be.
And as the Mayor said, the people who really are going to be smiling are:
- “Shrewd investors [who] are already picking up properties.”
Perhaps one day a title search in the area surrounding the arena will tell us who those people are. I’m sure that will be a fascinating revelation.