Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, January 30, 2009

Breaking BLOGNews: Detroit Wants $100M For The Tunnel

For Detroit's Mayor Cockrel, it is like winning a megamillion jackpot. For Windsorites, it is like ripping up the lottery ticket, losing again.

Nice how Windsorites were set up today:

  • "Detroit mulls new tunnel deal

    The city will await details of Detroit’s deficit reduction plan over the next week or two from Cockrel which should include financial expectations around the tunnel, Sutts said."

Lo and behold today in the Detroit media, no mulling but a decision:

  • "Cockrel calls for 10 percent wage cut for workers

    Leonard N. Fleming and David Josar / The Detroit News
    DETROIT -- Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. this morning told the City Council he plans to eliminate the city's deficit by saving $250 million with a 10 perecnt pay cut for all 15,000 workers, layoffs of 57 others and a 20 percent pay cut for himself and other top officials.

    The plan also includes leasing the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, aspects of the Public Lighting Department and the Municipal Parking Department. Cockrel said limiting the layoffs is contingent on workers accepting wage cuts to save $48 million."

So let's see, Cockrel wants a $100M for the Tunnel and to retain ownership which means he or a successor can sell it at any time.

Windsor wants to pay $75M and keep it in public hands which is not guaranteed unless a term in the Agreement will permit it.

And probably non-recourse to Detroit too so if the deal fails and the revenues are not generated, it is Windsor's problem as their "financier."

I just cannot believe this stuff any more.

What it means is that Cockrel wants a deal for all of the revenue in one big package and knows Eddie cannot do it or thinks that Eddie is so desperate that he will pay anything for the Tunnel.

Is it time yet to yell STOP!!!

2009 Items Of Interest

No, do not worry. I do not have 2009 stories for you to read. Rather these are interesting items that I have seen in the new year that you may have missed.


I as a Windsor taxpayer am NOT prepared to see my City go broke or to be forced perhaps to sell our half of the Tunnel to save Detroit. Let the Detroit taxpayers, American banks or Michigan or the US Federal Government do it. Sorry neighbours!

We have never been shown a financial case nor a business case by our Mayor that shows this deal works for us. Enough of this bogeyman stuff. It does not play well any more:
  • "Windsor wants to prevent ownership of the U.S. side of the tunnel from falling into private hands — such as Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun or a private investment fund, Sutts said. "
Before the Mayor spends one cent again on legal fees for the Tunnel deal, he needs to explain satisfactorily now, and if he will not, Councillors and Tunnel Commissioners need to force him to tell us now:

1) at a time when we need $350M for immediate "shovel ready" projects, how can we justify spending $75M on a Tunnel deal
2) the Mayor needs to tell us today how much Infrastructure Ontario offered because it is NOT $75M I would suggest
3) the Mayor needs to tell us today how he is going to finance the deal
4) why would Windsor make a loan to a near-bankrupt city, Detroit, with junk-bond status or buy a revenue stream of an asset that could lose 25% of its traffic
5) How will buying a revenue stream protect us if someone wants to buy the Tunnel since the deal will be non-recourse I am sure.

Our Cabinet ministers need to tell us how Infrastructure Ontario can fund a deal like this when we need every penny for Ontario projects.

More importantly--what is the business/finance case already!


Detroit News, Monday, January 26, 2009
  • "Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said Friday that he has had no formal talks with Cockrel's staff. Detroit officials did tell Windsor last week that they aren't in talks with any other entity on a tunnel deal, Francis said."

Windsor Star January 29, 2009

  • Lawyer Cliff Sutts, who has been the lead on tunnel negotiations for Windsor, said he heard from Detroit officials a couple of weeks ago about reviving discussions.

    He received assurances Windsor is the sole entity for any discussions about the fate of the U.S. side of the tunnel. Windsor owns the Canadian side.

So Councillors Marra or Halberstadt, when you ask a question about the deal at Council on Monday, the Mayor can tell you that HE has had no FORMAL talks and he would be accurate but perhaps narrow.

Remember to ask about conversations with Mr. Sutts, about "informal" talks, about people NOT on Cockrel's staff, about talks with Cockrel himself, about the "officials" and about everything they discussed.

If it is such a wonderful asset, why else is no one talking to Detroit and why isn't Detroit talking to others such as Alinda! The answer should be obvious in this time of economic collapse.


The City and its subsidiaries and agencies being secretive is hardly news any more. It is completely predictable how the City responds in FOI applications.

The key paragraph however in the Star story is this one:

  • "These were public meetings which any member of the community could have attended," said Marty Beneteau, editor of the Star. "Censoring in this case looks not only wrong, but arrogant and spiteful."
The big guy, the Star Editor, is involved . He is quoted right at the end of the story where key facts are always placed knowing Windsorites cannot read and comprehend that much. About time I would have thought.

Why is the question important? Is the Star tired of Eddie finally? Are they giving him one more chance before they turn on him? Is this their last warning? Have Star Editors finally started reading their Forums?

Note the Star specifically said in the story:
  • "Four of Enwin’s original six board members are still in charge today, including Mayor Eddie Francis, who did not return phone calls for comment."

Or does it have to do with Canwest? Maybe they got annoyed at Councillor Loopy and are taking it out on Eddie!

The Star contract is to be discussed at Council again on Monday.


I did not remember seeing this in the Business Section of the Windsor Star but rather on Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG first:

  • "recent decision by Air America to close its doors at Your Quck Getaway, reducing the number of tenants by one, and air traffic volumes and landing revenues by an undetermined amount."

I expect that the Company was hurt badly by the slowdown in the automotive industry as well as the high prices of fuel which would increase air freight transportation costs.

A year ago, we read this

  • "A major stakeholder helping keep Windsor Airport afloat is celebrating its 10th anniversary in business.

    Air America Logistics produces more landing fees -- about $200,000 annually -- than all airlines combined at the airport, with the exception of Air Canada...

    Much of the airport's finances remain largely dependent on Air America's business."

We will see if Ms Nazzani is correct when she says:

  • "The recent closure of Air America's local operations will have no financial impact on Windsor Airport, says the airport's general manager."

Notwithstanding the reduction in revenue at the airport, the Councillor also disclosed that:

  • "Councilors Drew Dilkens and Ken Lewenza were appointed to the board, joining Mayor Eddie Francis, who has been the unpaid chair of the temporary board, now to be replaced by the three paid members of Council plus six citizen members. The chair of the new board is scheduled to receive $6,000 plus $300 per diem. If the board elects the mayor to stay on as chair, his unpooled salary will increase by at least $10,100 annually. Added to his stipends as chair of Enwin Canada, the Police Services Board and the Tunnel Commission, the Mayor's combined salaries will continue to gravitate towards $200,000 per year."

The Councillors will also receive Board payments which will be divided up amongst their colleagues.

A pretty big Board with significant Board fees for an entity that seems so insignificant at this time.


We have to believe Dr. Gerald Diamond. Eddie and Gord told us so.

He blew up the myth that there would be a 50/50 split in traffic so that Sean O'Dell could argue:

  • "Moroun will lose some traffic, but there's more than enough business to go around."

It was clear from what Eddie wanted to do on Huron Church when Schwartz did his Champs-Élysées drawing back in 2005 showing the reduction in lanes from 6 to 4.


Don't tell me that he does not!

He wrote in his column about this terrific letter from Nancy Campana who slammed all of the naysaying obviously coming from City Hall. After all, she condemned:

  • "Chicken Littles and other purveyors of doom who would rain on her parade."

Who else could she be referring to other than the negatives stories about Windsor's bad reputation that have come out in the Star recently due to actions at City Hall.

She did complain about the media too but not about BLOGGERs:

  • "The continual negative messages blasted by you and your paper and many others in your (media) industry daily about the economy and the future of the economy play tricks on the brains of your readers,"

What did she say that would help save us:

  • "We're really not doing all that bad. There's just so much opportunity to me right now. And we've got to be ready for it," insisted Campana.

    No Pollyanna, she backed that claim up by listing positive things that are happening or could happen here in 2009-10:


    "Possible development of three call centres creating over 2,700 jobs as announced in your own paper just last week, a new bank complex being built on Ouellette at Chatham, St. Clair College under major construction to expand and improve, the John McGivney Centre under demolition to make way for a larger and improved centre for kids with disabilities, LaSalle town hall sold to an unnamed developer for new retail growth and its town centre to be moved and constructed at the Vollmer Complex.

    "One of the largest wind farms in Ontario will be built just outside Windsor and a second is waiting for approval. The Port Alma Wind Farm that had its grand opening in November is waiting for approval to double its size."

    Campana rolled on, citing a new mental health facility at Windsor Regional Hospital that will create an additional 200 jobs, the Ambassador Bridge company's proposed new span and a new superhighway link which she believes could be fast-tracked to produce thousands of jobs "if responsible leaders would just sit down and hammer it out fast."

Gord did not say it. No one can get angry at him. Campana did. The Sheriff strikes again!


Just in case he missed the story

  • "US-Canada trucks decline

    January 9, 2009, The JOURNAL of COMMERCE ONLINE

    The busiest U.S.-Canada truck crossing suffered a sharp decline in traffic in December, and for all of 2008.

    The Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, had 181,938 truck crossings in December, down 17.9 percent on-year, the Public Border Operators Association reported.

    Crossings totaled 2,885,047 for all of 2008, off 15.1 percent from 2007.

    The second-busiest link, the Blue Water Bridge, 60 miles downriver from Detroit-Windsor, had 98,449 crossings in December, a decrease of 11.87 percent from a year ago. For the year, traffic fell 2.45 percent to 1.57 million trucks.

    The third-ranked Peace Bridge between Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ont., saw trucks decline 3.2 percent in December to 88,756 and by 1.9 percent for the year to 1.3 million.

    At the Lewiston, N.Y.-Queenston, Ont., bridge, traffic was 9.9-percent lighter in December at 55,120 trucks, and off 11.6 percent to 789,740 for all of 2008.

    The PBOA tracks statistics on crossings between Ontario, Michigan and New York, including four of the six commercial crossings between the two countries."


We are being told that the new canal vision for downtown will probably not involve a marina:

  • "Cooke said the study indicates a marina in the Caron Avenue cut might be prohibitively expensive. "It's feasible. It can be done. But would it be cost-effective?" He explained that an extremely deep excavation would be needed to accommodate boats and that would entail either steep, concrete-reinforced walls along the cut or gradual slopes that would gobble up significant amounts of adjacent land."

I wonder if it has more to do with this:

  • "A'burg to sell marina

    Amherstburg is moving ahead with the sale of the K. Walter Ranta Marina...

    The marina has 104 boat wells and 59 were rented last year. Marina usage has dwindled the past five years because of tighter border security, a strong Canadian dollar and high gasoline prices...

    Coun. John Sutton said in October the marina was appraised at $450,000 and had $950,000 in debt. He said in the fall the town would be willing to sell the marina for the appraised value and write off the debt."


No, I am not interested in how Borealis structures deals although some might. No I am not here to say that other cities can make dumb deals too. I just want to show what a mayor who has been around for awhile does to allow public input on a major deal.

  • "Battle line drawn over Enersource

    Mayor Hazel McCallion can call all the public meetings she wants, but Ward 6 Councillor Carolyn Parrish, for one, isn’t going to change her mind on gaining total control of Enersource.

    “This has been discussed in-camera numerous times. We paid two sets of consultants $427,000, and their advice was that if we want to take control of Enersource we will have to buy back Borealis’ portion. It’s unacceptable the agreement we made gave a 10 per cent shareholder 100 per cent control,” Parrish said.

    Parrish was responding to McCallion’s announcement today that she’ll be hosting a public meeting on Jan. 22 “to fulfill” requests from a ratepayer group and the Mississauga Board of Trade for additional information regarding Enersource, particularly the direction of Council to buy out Borealis.

    Back on Dec. 10, McCallion was on the wrong side of the 7-4 vote, following which she vowed to get residents involved.

    Our city is known for calling meetings at a drop of a hat,” McCallion reiterated to The News today. “This is one of the most serious decisions Council can make, and my duty as mayor is for me to call a public meeting. At Council, MIRANET (Mississauga Residents’ Associations Network) didn’t say they agreed or disagreed with the vote. They were very professional. They said they needed more information. The Mississauga Board of Trade said the same thing in writing. It’s important to let residents know what we’re doing with their money.”

    What a novel concept.


Many attack the Ambassador Bridge for being old. YET, no one will let the Bridge Company rehabilitate it as they propose to do. Strange.

Well here is something stranger:

  • Government of Canada Invests in Improvements to Montreal Bridges

    The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, today announced that the Government of Canada is making important investments in Montreal bridges to enhance the safety of commuters and stimulate the local economy.

    "Many Quebecers rely on these bridges daily to commute to work and return home to their families," said Canada's Transport Minister, John Baird. "This investment allows for faster commute times, promotes trade and tourism, and boosts Quebec's economy."

    Minister Paradis announced that the federal government will contribute $50 million to redeck the Honoré Mercier Bridge and $11 million to reconfigure the access roads and ramps to the Champlain Bridge. The contribution for the Honoré Mercier Bridge is added to $85 million granted to the project in 2006."

    "The Government of Canada is delivering real results to improve Canada's infrastructure," said Minister Paradis. "This investment will help put people to work, improve road safety and fuel economic growth."

    Rehabilitation of the Honoré Mercier Bridge is needed to ensure the continued safety of users. Construction began this year and is scheduled to be complete in 2010. Approximately 28 million vehicles use the bridge each year.

    The roads and ramps providing access to the Champlain Bridge interconnect with the City of Montreal's road system. This project is being coordinated and scheduled with the City of Montreal to ensure that work on one section is complete before beginning the next. Work is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2009. The Champlain Bridge is the busiest in Canada, with an estimated 58 million vehicles using it every year."


    The Government of Canada is investing in redecking the Honoré Mercier Bridge to ensure continued safety of users. The other project is the reconfiguration of the Nuns' Island access to the Champlain Bridge to reduce traffic congestion on existing access roads...

    Infrastructure is a good public policy for both the short and long term. Investing in these two proposed projects is in line with the current government priorities of repairing the country's infrastructure and stimulating the economy. Public investments like this can boost job creation now and help advance productivity in the future. These projects are expected to employ thousands of construction workers, stimulate demand for steel and other materials, and boost local economies. The resulting economic stimulus would be geographically widespread."

The Ambassador Bridge is about 80 years old. The Honoré Mercier Bridge was opened to traffic on June 22, 1934. The Champlain Bridge was opened on June 28,1962.

Seems to me that Eddie now has a big problem with his Brdge Company opposition because of the College St. Bridge too. It is about the age of the Ambasssador Bridge.

Survey Comments

To be honest, I added in the "Comments" as an afterthought just before I completed the structure of the Survey. I never really expected too many people to write anything.

Was I ever wrong!

Remember that the demographics of my BLOG suggest that the vast majority of my readers are business people in Windsor. The number of comments and the intensity of the negativity ought to give significant concern to the Mayor and to the Members of Council. The results in this survey are worse than the results in the one that I did previously.

For the Councillors, they should remember that if the Mayor is truly a two-term Mayor, then their careers could be finished if they are perceived as being one of his supporters. Hanging on to his apron strings may not be all that it is cracked up to be.

Again what interests me is that the comments here are very similar to those on the Windsor Star Forums. There seems to be a groundswell of anger about what is going on in this City in terms much more harsh than I have ever written.

Your Final Word

Come on, get it off your chest. There is something you just need to say isn't there! Now is your chance. Your answer will be compiled and may be posted along with the results when the polling is completed.

  1. Start laying out your plan of action. Ed for Mayor...

  2. The crew of the Titanic did a better job of saving lives than this city council is in trying to save this city.

  3. It is unbelievable to me that none of the councillors have forcefully stepped up and pointed out the failings of the Mayor and the lack of accountability that is so obvious from the leader of city government.

  4. The only job politicians are interested in is their own. Tired of their short-sighted selfishness.

  5. I am so happy I moved away from Windsor last summer. I should have moved the day after Eddie got re-elected.

  6. I moved out of Windsor for numerous reasons mainly high taxes and terrible services. I did not like the direction the Mayor was taking on the border file issue (I am pro ABC) and I was appalled at the waste of taxpayers money when it comes to road repair, utilities and lack of services. Eddie Francis is a horrific Mayor and I have no respect left for his Councillors (minions). I would move back to Windsor if there were significant changes made to the running of this City, mainly helping small business and restructuring of the downtown core. It is a shame what is going on down there and it has been further ruined by not allowing the Windsor Arena to be re-built in the dowtown core. This was a huge error!

  7. What a pathetic Mayor and Council. No wonder this City is in a mess

  8. In my 50 years of observing Windsor's city government I have never seen a more furtive, disdainful, untrustworthy and more socially arrogant and uninvolved mayor toward his community than Eddie Francis... City Council is also the worst in 50 years, with only a few noteworthy exceptions, being led around by the nose by an inexperienced, juvenile and petulant micromanager of a mayor whose "My way or the highway" attitude is more suitable to a petty dictatorship than a democracy. Councillors Dilkens, Halberstadt and Marra are the only ones who should be re-elected, and I hope Councillor Marra or someone with interests other than his own egomania runs for Mayor. Councillor Hatfield is an impossible disappointment, having transformed himself from the forceful interrogator of "Percy's Panel" on TV to a forelock tugging marionette, totally domnated by the fast talking but empty incompetence of the [Mayor]... The length of terms of office for municipal politicans should be returned to three years instead of four. An election can't come too soon for Windsor, and maybe it's already too late to repair the damage done by this tin pot dictator and his gutless and fawning troop of empty headed sycophants.

  9. The council has wasted millions on a bad border route with the wrong destination. Ed the sled has been an embarassment and those who follow are fools. Build the bridge where is is and stop the stupidity. shovel ready and moving "Ambassador Bridge" They don't need a buy out just get out of their way.

  10. Back off the 'regional government' machinations and leave the well-run municipalities on your perimeter alone. You know it's true. Our streets get plowed after it snows and the police actually respond to traffic accidents. There is no evidence that bigger municipalities are better. Where I live, my town councillors answer their own phones. And their home numbers are published on the back of the local paper every 2 weeks.

  11. I do not recall a time in our city's past that we've seen such a 'public opinion be damned' reckless mayor and council. 2010 can't come soon enough!

  12. the biggest flaw we have with this municipal council is the mayor. He is an ego maniac who has no wisdom and is immature and wants to leverage his career on the taxpayers' dime. We don't need a lawyer.. Eddie is not a decision-maker.. He is a cya man who is ambitious and arrogant.

  13. get rid of this mayor befoe our city dies and becomes bankrupt
    Get rid of all politicians who do not work for the best interest of citizens

  14. I am surprised at the level of arrogance that I see in every member of Council, including, or perhaps especially, the Mayor. Each of these individuals seems to think that getting elected to municipal council suddenly endows them with enough smarts that they feel that they can start lecturing the rest of us on what we should do and how we should do it. Alan Halberstadt is one of the worst...he has that supercilious air about him and likes to pass himself off as clever and well-informed, when in fact his research is as faulty as the rest of us. His belief that he knows more than everyone else effectively prevents him from actually listening when people are trying to tell him something. This trait is shared to varying degrees by each and every member of council, the Mayor and the administration. All of these employees seem to forget that it is the luckless Windsor taxpayer who pays their salaries.

  15. [The use] of the the public treasury for consultants, lawyers, and useless 'advertising' and the delay and cover-up of audits and expenses is warrant enough for the province to begin an investigation.

  16. Windsor is regressing under Eddie Francis and has become the most economically distressed city in Ontario with a negative outlook under his watch. He talks voluminously but has little to show in real progress. The measure of a man is not by how much he says, but what he truly achieves. He is trying to create the image of leadership through micro-managing the flow of information and spinning out his version of events to create the favorable impressions of his work but there is nothing of substance to support the illusions he is fabricating. His decision-making is highly questionable and manipulative given the many calls for independent forensic audits. His use of secrecy is excessive and unprecedented. Eddie Francis runs the city like an elected despot ruthlessly attacking any differing viewpoints and does not understand the value and synergy of collaborative effort. He is too self centred, arrogant and immature to efficiently and effectively run a several hundred million dollar corporate municipal enterprise.

  17. But unfortunately I don't have the time to list it all - suffice it to say that I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Arditti.

  18. The council HS to start working with its residence, stop the markteting campaigns, the sound bites, the spin doctoring and get real. They are over their heads, fighting with people who can bury them and in tough times they have to put down their guard and go to the community for guidance and intelect, not 100k consultants to tell them how to think.

  19. can you write about anything other than "Mayor BAD, ABC Good"?

  20. The present Mayor has shown a complete lack of leadership quality. He ihas not initiated real priorities for council to follow. Both the Mayor & council have abdicated their resposibilities to the citizens of Windsor. They are dominated by the senior administration officials who in turn are unwilling to oppose the entrenched unions in city hall resulting in excessive costs of services. As an involved individual I believe that this council exemplifies incompetence and should be removed as soon as possible. Ithink that this city now needs a Trustee to be appointed by the Provincial government. How about a petition for Recall & Term limits

  21. Get rid of them all We need recall rights

  22. politics in windsor stink, thanks to Eddie.

  23. One thing I have to say is we definately need term limits on council positions including Mayor.

  24. Mayor Francis needs to get off his high horse and let the people get what they deserve. Get the DRIC started and completed - let the private sector build the bridge, homes that are 50 -60 years old don't have any heritage value. Stop the bull and get things done...City council is like a dictatorship, he can actually shut you down by the push of a button, how special is that?

  25. Stop trying to promote another political non entity for mayor in the form of Dave Cooke. This city is... the Canadian version of Chicago , The provincaila nd federal liberals and unions run this city.

  26. It's the economy Stupid !

  27. Tired of our city leadership dragging their feet, being lame ducks, chair warmers and otherwise, politicians without novel ideas or any level of progressive charisma.

  28. The nonesense over the expansion of Huron Line has become ridiculous. By the time they decide to do something it will take as long as it took to build the arena. Traffic is down on the bridge and supposidly they are building a bridge further down river. Why do we need 3 bridges.

  29. The Mayor and Council are anti-business, and their priorities are out-of-step with reality.

  30. But not enough time or space in this survey to complete. One thing, Eddie is a failure as mayor and has not lived up to his promises (I.e. Citistat, keep taxes in line, open & transparent gov't)

  31. Quit wasting taxpayer dollars (Municipal/Provincial/Federal) with trying to construct a second bridge across the Detroit River. A private enterprise, who contributes significantly to the tax base, wants to invest his own money from which will accrue more taxes. How can this be bad? If there is a crisis at the border (I personally feel this is an orchestrated issue) the way to resolve this is for more Customs/Immigration people to process more vehicles. Just put the increased government people to work at the Ambassador Bridge & get on with life.

  32. This council does not work for us. They are small-minded, selfish, political animals that have no vision or ethics.

  33. Do basics only, cut cost, staffing, frills. Contract out work that saves on cost. Fix the worst of the water mains. Privatize tunnel, airport, utilities and anything else better run as a business. Replace committee members on boards with experts and not councilors. Stop all the legal exercises that are pointless. Stop pestering real businesses in the city trying to survive hard times.

  34. ... I wouldn't trust him [the Mayor] as far as I wish I could throw him!

  35. Francis, Postma, Jones & Lewenza are such arrogant [people]. They all need to go, and not at the end of 2010. This city cannot afford to wait that long to get these ineffective slugs out of there. Feel free to post comment anywhere.

  36. I cannot stand how we've been condescended to in this city by our Mayor. And it makes me laugh that NOW he wants our support re: Green Link (another bloody $60K? come on!) when usually he considers our opinions about as valuable as a bucket of mud. I also have no tolerance for the lack of transparency exhibited during his "reign". I want a new mayor.

  37. The Windsor-Essex Parkway must begin construction this year. It's time to demolish those homes beside the Ambassador Bridge. Build the new prison where the Windsor Police want it to go, they know better than anybody where it should be.

  38. I am disappointed that things never move forward in this city/county due to the petty and disgusting in-fighting between council positions. Mayor is arrogant - needs to step down.

  39. Preventing the Ambassador Bridge from demolishing homes on Indian Rd. and moving ahead with bridge expansion will be the downfall of the Mayor and at lerast three councillors. This action is unprecedented and uncalled for. The amount of jobs that are being lost due to this and other inactions have caused irreparable damage !

  40. Mayor & Council must start representing the people and doing the right thing on a transparent basis.

  41. Cut out the BS and get to work on the things that count like cutting our tax bills. Stop wasting money on lawyers. Start cooperating with the bridge company.

  42. Changes need to be made so our city will prosper!

  43. Does it really matter what you say because nothing is going to change anyways.

  44. Number one wish ...audit the new arena and find out why it was built without calling for construction tenders

  45. The fact that city council wastes so much time, money and effort on Greenlink drives me insane. Having read their plan I know that it's completely laughable. I lost track of the number of times I rolled my eyes at the ridiculous, impossible or simply stupid ideas it contains. I am insulted that council continues to push this plan on me and amazed that so many of my fellow citizens buy into it. I am also offended at the lengths that the mayor will go to promote his ridiculous scheme. For instance the Greenlink decals on police vehicles is shameful. Greenlink is a political issue and law enforcement personnel should not be forced to promote it while on duty. In fact it is contrary to the principles of democracy for the police to be espousing any political views whatsoever while doing their job. It's also just bizarre that the city spends so much time fighting the bridge company. The Ambassador bridge is iconic to Windsor and is what anyone who doesn't live here thinks of when Windsor is mentioned. That the city has such a toxic relationship with them is deplorable. The border crossing is the only reason Windsor exists in its current form and solving the problems with the border should be council's highest priority. Do that and jobs and other economic benefits will follow for both Windsor and all of southern Ontario. But instead of working to fix the problems, our council takes every chance it gets to throw road blocks up in front of both DRIC and the bridge company's second span plan. I don't especially care if we get one, the other, or both in competition with one another, the border just needs to be fixed. It takes someone like Kwame Kilpatrick to make Eddie look good. No wonder the Windsor/Detroit area is in such rough shape.

  46. I wish our Mayor and Council would stop spending money on nothing. Anyone can pay a lawyer or a "specialist" and that person will say what you want them to say. How stupid do they think their residents are. Let's get on with getting viable jobs to the city (not 10 and 15 here and there, and placing them in city owned land!!! Stop acting like school children not getting your own way and get down to work. Also, what are you hiding. You definitely give the impression that you are doing something not so right. Let's be open and transparent like a council should be. Not so much behind the doors discussions. And how can you possible back the Development Commission. Obviously people on the board are getting away with a lot of tax payers dollars. We need to put a stop to that and get some viable jobs into the area. 15 jobs here and there does not consitutute a hugh press conference and glorification. What about the 12,000 or so jobs we have lost. Get your head out of the sand and begin to do the job you were voted to do!!

  47. Diversification of the economy has to be paramount. Encouraging a viable entertainment and arts community can help $ignificantly. We need the "Cleary" to be active and viable and the Capitol must never be lost! A lot of taxpayers' time and money went into both venues over the years and we must continue to benefit from them. The Capitol is a gem - in flexible space for artists to perform, esthetically, acoustically - it would show extremely poor short , medium and long term planning - no, complete lack of vision - to let that venue slip any more than it already has. If much smaller towns like Port Stanley, Blyth, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Petrolia, Stratford and Grand Bend can house professional theatre (in addition to community theatre and other arts groups) - why would we even consider abandoning the Capitol or the "Cleary"? Nonsense - we've made the largest of the capital costs - both need and deserve operating budgets that will keep a few folks employed and others spending their entertainment $$.

  48. $100k to manage an airport with zero experience?

  49. It seems to me that honesty and leadership is lacking in this City. The Mayor and council is a disgrace along with the Windsor Star... What happen to honest Government that this City does not have. Explain that..Eddie

  50. I feel Windsor is going down fast its beginning to look like a ghost town & whats left of it will be nothing but crime & violence (Bars & Casino's)~People are feeling helpless & getting desperate ~ Families are having to moving away from each other just to find work & don't get sick because we have no Doctor's or coverage ~ My husband is laid off & we have been waiting over 6 weeks & still no EI yet & welfare can't even help us because I have a small income ~ ?????? But if we both choose not to work we could live on welfare ~ WHY doesn't welfare help out the working ppl until they get there EI in ? What is wrong here? I don't know what else to say except I'm so worried sick about our Future & It hurts to see my kids go hungry I feel hopeless ~ Signed Feeling Hopeless & Hopefully not Homeless......

  51. With the recent economic donwturn and this council's inability to focus on real isues rather than the same old, same old (like GreenLink), I took the time to review the Mayor's State of the City addresses from 2006, 2007 and 2008. Indeed - the only constant issue in all of these speeches is the mantra "GreenLink or Nothing". The real, substantive issues, although highlighted in the speeches, have not been acted on. An example: Last year the Mayor spoke of his "Jobs Today Program" a "five-point plan that will help create the jobs we need". His five-point plan includes: an economic developmnet investmen fund (NOT implemented); jobs retraining (although implemented, there are virtually no results; long-distance commuting program (still not implemented); renewing and investing in infrastructure (if it has happened - I don't know where. Certainly not on College Ave. where the city hasadmitted it cannot afford the repair); building on strengths in the manufacturing base (some progress here but thanks to the province mostly as I have yet to hear of any results from any of the mayor's interventions - dare I ask what was the result of his trips to germany?). It is time that this council stop puting up resistance to projects that would result in new jobs and a renewed economy. To quote the mayor in his last state of the city speech: "we need jobs now. We need Jobs Today!"

  52. The incompetence is astounding in this city! Never have I seen blind eyes turned away from the reality oflife and instead gradiose ideas and schemes take their place. When is enough going to be enough?

  53. Eddie Francis is pathetic. His propensity for using legal means to throw his weight around to get what he wants simply indicates that he is overcompensating...

  54. i have never seen a more development negitive mayor in my life just not here

  55. We have the skills and talent and space to develop and build new cutting edge stuff. The City needs to make it easier for new business to come here. The tooling industry needs to get past automotive and believe in themselves and their workers.

  56. I have so much to say that if I wrote it all on paper, the total weight of all the written papers would exceed 40 rail cars filled with solid lead. Can't wait for the next municipal elections.

  57. I wish your mayor and his loyal councillors would just go away,no wonder your city is a mess.

  58. City is wasting time and money on the DRIC process. There is no need for underground tunnels.

  59. It is time the Mayor and Council stop spending tax payers money fighting the Border file and accept the deal the 2 levels of government have proposed and get this community working again. It's disgusting to think that our community has the highest unemployment rate in the country and we have an opportunity to put people back to work with BILLONS of infrastruture dollars and our Mayor continually pushes his own agenda to save his political career...........It infuriates me !!!!!!!

  60. There is neither the time, the words, nor the space, to describe the complete failure that is our council.

  61. Its about time people got off Sandra Pupatello's and Dwight Duncans backs. They have done and will continue to do a great job for the Windsor area and thankless...all anyone ever does is BITCH about them.. I bet there are few people who read this blog that can highlight some of the achievements in this area thanks to them.. Im sick and tired of all the complaining from Windsorites... Its time to get up and get moving.. do something if you are unhappy.. stop bitching while others try and fix the issues. Windsors worst enemy is the attitude of Windsorites themselves.

  62. This council needs to concentrate on improving what they have control over - the internal infrastructure of the City. The utilities, the roads, the bridges. The work within the city that needs to be done would generate many good paying jobs. They need to get out of the border file and let the experts manage this file - this will generate many jobs, with many off spin jobs. Why can't that see this - why can't they get out of the way of progress and improvement? All because Eddie has a personal vendetta? It is time for the taxpayers of Windsor to have a voice - when you only get less than 1% of the population to attend meetings and answer survey cards this should be evidence enough that people don't care about the border or how it is fixed - just fix it and create jobs and prosperity for the region!

  63. Strip out this Mayor and Council and start over with fresh, innovative thinkers with individual spines.

  64. I have never seen such a deceptive bunch of scoundrels lapping up the public milk with no accountability. But I tell you, the milk is sour and salmonella will hit each and every one of them election day. Ed, you are our only hope. Please consider running for Mayor.

  65. I'm tired of the extraordinary $$$ spent on consultants of the obvious and the utter lack of attention to JOB #1: The economy & jobs. The fixation on the border is not only a wasteful distraction, it is a financial albotros that only isolates Windsor when we need all the employers and friends at the federal/provincial level. Eddie Francis needs to retreat or resign-cut our losses - and believe me, it is OUR LOSS of great opportunities...

  66. Eddie needs to get out of the way and let the projects go forward. We need people on council that can govern based on what they think is best for our community, but wait they might have to start thinking on there own, and not wait for a report to tell them how it should be.

  67. only one government is doing a good job and it's the Feds, despite facing the kind of obstructionism and pettiness characterized by the two junior levels

  68. Quit spending money on Greenlink! Let the Ambassador Bridge build its second span and tear down those houses on Indian Road! Also, help our downtown be vibrant once again.

  69. Which ward is most impacted by the border? Which councillor was elected solely on his position on the border? and which councillor has said nothing on the border since his election? BRISTER!

  70. There are too many consultants being hired and no work being done on fuxing problems like roads. The sandwich town study is a joke, more of the same but no one will address the root of the problem.

  71. I have alot to discuss about the mistakes of our Mayor and city council but none bothers me more then the arena being built in the east end. Downtown Windsor is struggling and Eddie keeps talking about the effort to rejuvinate downtown, yet that was the easiest way to improve downtown and make it a vibrant downtown. There are 30-50 bars/restaurants that were dying for this arena to come downtown, yet they built it in the middle of nowhere with no surrounding restaurants and bars. This was a BIG mistake by the mayor and city council and there is no doubt in my mind this deal was done not in the best interest of the city

Thursday, January 29, 2009

BLOGMeister Political Survey Results

The results are in. The numbers have been counted. You have spoken.

None of our elected officials will admit that they will look at the results or will take them seriously but you know they all will.

It is very clear that the smartest non-elected politician in this area is Tony Blak. His recent Letter to the Editor captured the mood of readers of this BLOG perfectly.

If he decides to run, he has his choice of a running virtually anywhere in the City. I would expect that those people who have considered running for a municipal position may be encouraged by what they read. However, if they are going to run, they need to start being visible like Tony since it is less than two years before the next election. Incumbents have a big advantage with name recognition although frankly, after results of this poll, I’m not sure that I would want my name known if I was a Councillor.

As I am certain that you understand, this poll is not scientific and not representative of the City at large. I would expect however that it is representative of the readers of this BLOG. Contrary to what some people may hear at City Hall, I did not pack the results nor am I responsible for writing most of the comments nor asking my friends to do so. I have heard that allegation with respect to me with respect to the comments on the Star Forums.

Doing that would defeat the purpose of this exercise… trying to understand whether the readers of this BLOG agree or not with the views that I express here and trying to understand what the opinions are of the citizens of Windsor. What you will discover when you read the opinions is that the views of people here are very similar to those on the Windsor Forums.

In other words, not very friendly to the Mayor and Council.

I was surprised by the demographics of my readers. Generally, 70% of the readers are male with a college or university degree or higher. The readership tends to be older with most in the 41 to 50 year age bracket. Respondents were spread across the City although the numbers in Ward 4 seemed surprisingly low.

I would expect that the readers of this BLOG tend to be better educated than the general citizen of Windsor. They probably would tend to be businesspeople as well. However, as you will see from their comments, the intensity of their feelings is very similar to that of the Star Forum respondents and their viewpoint very similar also.


The Mayor’s numbers are abysmal as far as I am concerned. Considering that the Mayor was virtually unopposed at the last election campaign and received almost 80% of the votes, his disapproval rating of 81% is shocking.

To me, it means that his hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the Greenlink advertising blitzes has not translated into people thinking that he has done a very good job.

The Senior Levels and the Bridge Company people may legitimately ask the question whether his point of view represents the opinion of the People of Windsor. It may well be that the Voice of Council is not speaking for anyone other than himself and his 10 colleagues and that they are all out of touch with their electorate. That would certainly be the position that I would take.

It may well be worthwhile another time to try to figure out why Windsorites are not warming up to the Mayor or perhaps they have had enough of a Mayor who has failed to deliver on just about everything.

The myth of Eddie Francis as our Leader/Mayor/Lawyer/Entrepreneur has been shattered with these kinds of horrific numbers.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines for the next mayoral campaign now.


It is hardly a secret that the two Councillors from this Ward can barely tolerate each other.

If the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget was concerned about his Wardmate before, then he better be worrying now. Not even the praise of Gord Henderson nor the opening of the arena have been able to help Councillor Brister boost his numbers.

For a newbie, Councillor Dilkens numbers are quite surprising but then again he has received a lot of good press especially with respect to his views on open and transparent government.


It seems that respondents must believe that the two Ward Councillors are still a “team.” That is how they portrayed themselves in the past. Both their disastrous disapproval ratings and low approval ratings are similar. They are lumped together.

I expect that people are tired of their actions on the border issues including demolishing homes on Indian Road, Sandwich and Heritage and view them as ineffectual. Their over-emphasis on Sandwich has not helped residents in other parts of the Ward I would expect and some may have seen the opportunity to take it out on them.


As Senior Councillor on Council, Councillor Valentinis would have to be disappointed. Then again, if he chooses to act as “Enforcer” for the Mayor and his apologist at Council, then he can hardly expect better numbers.

I guess that Councillor Halberstadt is our John McCain, our maverick. It has not hurt him to be outspoken and to take shots at the Mayor even though some of his colleagues may not appreciate his breaking of Council unity. It has worked for him in the past and I expect it will work again for him in the future.


What a contrast between the two Ward Councillors. They are about as different as any of the two Ward Councillors in any of the Wards.

It is obvious that Councillor Marra is the Mayor in waiting while Councillor Lewenza can not do enough to idolize our Mayor.

Councillor Lewenza may well be suffering still from the WUC fiasco or he may be the manifestation on Council of the animosity of some people to the unions in town.

While Councillor Marra looks good in comparison with his colleagues, nevertheless approval ratings of just over 50% are not outstanding. He needs to get them up. I expect his numbers were reduced by his failure to advocate for citizens on the 400 audit.


To me and others it seems, the biggest disappointment on Council has been Councillor Hatfield. Perhaps I expected too much from him from Percy’s Panel. From being a pitbull, he has turned into a lapdog. Again, being a big supporter of the Mayor has not proven to be of assistance. For a newbie, his disapproval rating is horrific, almost 60%. More importantly his approval rating is just over 11%.

I’m surprised with the numbers of Councillor Gignac. Her disapproval numbers are much higher than I would have expected given the relatively good publicity that she receives in the Star, almost 40%. Again, to me her approval numbers are much lower than I would have expected. I still believe that she has a problem letting people know what she stands for.

Every so often she takes a shot at the Mayor but then backs off. It hardly makes her look like a person of strength.


It would appear that being a maverick and standing up to the Mayor isn’t such a bad idea after all. It may well be that some of the other Councilors ought to start writing a BLOG too. At the least, Councillor Halberstadt lets people understand why he does what he does. The gems that come out of his BLOG are also very useful to the rest of us who like to Blog.

However, neither he nor Councillor Marra who came in second ought to be too pleased with their showing. At 37% and 26% respectively, this is hardly a ringing endorsement of their efforts.

As for their colleagues, they ought to be ashamed of themselves. Not one of them hit double digits. In fact, Councillors Jones and Hatfield did not get one single vote.


The Ward 2 Councillors, Jones and Postma, filled the first and third positions while Councillor Lewenza came in second. Given their ratings, this is hardly a surprise. It is interesting that it is the so-called “left-wing” of Council that is viewed so negatively.

Councillor Dilkens received no votes while his Wardmate received over 8% of the WORST vote.


Nothing more needs to be said as to what Windsorites believe is the key issue in this City over the next year.

Even though the Mayor is going around talking up the canal as I have heard recently, no one thinks that it is a key issue for this City. Of course, knowing our Mayor, it does not matter what we think but what he wants. Will his colleagues allow him to squander money that is badly needed to allow him to pretend that he’s doing something with respect to this latest vision of his. I truly can imagine the outcry if he tries to shove this down our throats.

Of course, it will be positioned as jobs I would suspect. Or, the Mayor will come up with an even newer vision to dazzle us to bring up his numbers and that of his colleagues if he wants to maintain unity.

The Border numbers are lower than I thought but that is probably because most people believe that the fight is over but for the Mayor’s stubbornness.

Considering that so few people believe that the Environment is a key issue for the City, then one wonders why the Mayor and Council persist in trying to beat a dead horse with respect to health and Greenlink. The message is not winning anyone over.


Not a real surprise is it.

No wonder Eddie is saying nice things about the Conservatives. It seems that very few are interested in having him run for a third term. Even the Chicken Suit got more support than he did.

Right now, Councillor Marra is way out in front of everyone that I can think of who might be a person who could run for Mayor. Yet, even in this group, he is unable to crack the 50% barrier.

What it means to me is that the public has not yet made up its mind about the Councillor and whether they are prepared to commit to him. All it suggests right now is that he is the best of a bad lot.

And if Councillor Brister thinks he has a hope in running for Mayor, forget it. Not one single, solitary vote!

Could someone come out of the shadows and capture the attention of the electorate? Who knows.

In closing, you may remember that I did a similar survey about a year ago.

The Mayor’s numbers are just as bad although his "very poor" rating number has improved slightly to "poor." Councillor Halberstadt was the best Councillor last time also but his numbers have dropped significantly. Councillor Jones overtook Councillor Lewenza to become the worst Councillor. The economy has replaced the border as the #1 key issue in Windsor.

It should be clear to the Councillors that the Mayor is not helping their careers. His numbers are about as bad as they were before and their numbers are declining significantly.

For a better view of the survey tables, go here:

Next...YOUR OPINIONS AND COMMENTS!!! Wait until you read them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Survey Has Closed

Watch for the results soon!

You will be shocked at what they are. Or maybe not!

I Was Just Thinking...

Just some random thoughts that came to mind on this cold, snowy and blustery day:

 I hear that Gord Henderson is retiring from the Windsor Star and that there is an internal job posting for his position. Darn, it probably means that the rumour that was going around before about the Star approaching me for the position probably will not happen now. If true, my bet for the replacement would be Dave Hall or Don McArthur. Hmmmm, I wonder if that has just jinxed them.

 I wonder how the Federal Government justifies infrastructure monies of “$14.5 million for two bridges at two of the busiest U.S–Canada border crossings: the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia and the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie” but nothing for the Ambassador Bridge. Oh I forgot… the Bridge Company Owner can spend his money to do the required work, not taxpayers’ money. No wonder public bridges can keep their tolls down.

 I wonder if this is a continuation of the discrimination against the Bridge Company since the $300 million Border Infrastructure Fund monies were never used to improve the road to the bridge as was done in other locations.

 Oh my goodness, Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Michael Wilson, must be livid this morning at what Ottawa did. Imagine trying to explain to the US Government why they have discriminated against the Bridge Company. I do not think that President Obama will be very happy with Stephen over this insult.

 From the Globe and Mail:
  • “Two border bridges, the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia and Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Ont., will get up to $15-million. And other federal bridges will get a pot of $42-million…

    "These are, quite literally, nation-building projects," Mr. Flaherty boasted in his budget speech.

I guess the Windsor border crossing is unimportant and is not one of these nation-building projects no matter the platitudes of Senior Level Politicians over the years.

 A friend heard on the radio some weeks ago that our Mayor’s priority on spending the $20 million that the City was to receive in the last handout was on Airport lands and on the Tunnel Plaza Improvements

 Thank goodness that Dave Cooke’s Canal report wasn’t coming out until the end of February. With all of this infrastructure money being thrown at the City, perhaps some of it can be thrown to his project.

 Aren’t you glad that Ms. Nazzani, the Airport General Manager, delivered that speech at the Rotary Club the other day! She said:

  • it would take "a considerable amount of capital investment to enable us to take advantage of the opportunities that exist.”

Wow, it looks like her gravy train may have just come in with the Federal Budget. Such remarkable timing for the speech, just before the Budget. It was delivered to the Rotary Club. Anyone on Council a member of Rotary?

 What was Project #1 on Eddie’s wish list as set out in the FCM document of shovel ready projects: Tunnel Plaza at $10 million.

Wow, it looks like the Tunnel’s gravy train may have just come in with the Federal Budget. Such remarkable timing, just before the Budget.

 I am quite surprised… actually I am not… that no one has compared how the Bridge Company has looked after their bridge compared with how the City has looked after the College Street Bridge since both bridges were built around the same time. At least, Gridlock Sam was right about one thing… public authorities do not look after their bridges as well as a private enterprise operators whose personal money is at risk. Can you imagine what the DRIC bridge would look like and how much it would cost to rehabilitate if owned by the Government.

 I do not understand this re the College St. Bridge:

  • "The city may consider interim measures -- such as a replacement deck for the bridge which "could buy us five years until these issues are resolved," Palanacki said."

How can one do this if there are major problems with the strucutre itself.

 I see an article in the Detroit Media is talking about Windsor taking over the Red Bull Race. I wonder which Budget funds will be used to pay for the millions to sponsor that boondoggle.

 I find it remarkable that the Mayor is able to say

  • “For five years we’ve gone to great pains to keep our finances in order,” said Francis. “That way we can get the maximum benefit from the dollars provided to create jobs.”

I thought that the Treasurer had said that the Arena was going to suck up all of our capital funds until it was paid off. Isn’t $31 million supposed to be paid over on the arena debt this year?

 Funniest line of all with respect to the Budget and Windsor was spoken by our Mayor on national television

  • “The mayor told a national audience in an interview with Global National News that Windsor is in “desperate need right now.… We need to create an environment for investment.”

Yes, fight the Bridge Company that wants to spend $1 billion and fight the Federal and Provincial Governments that want to spend billions. That certainly creates an environment for investment.

 Given all of the health warnings that the Mayor has harangued us about, what kind of an environment for investment does that create

 Do you want to know what really scares me about the Budget:

  • “Francis said the spending would be done on a per capita rather than job-by-job basis, allowing the city to get to work right away.

    “I’m glad we don’t have to apply,” he said. “As soon as we get the money in our account we can get shovels in the ground. We can move sooner rather than later.… This is huge.”

That means that there are no controls over what the Mayor and Council can do with that money. Heaven help us.

 Can you believe how nice that Eddie is to the Federal Conservative Party. Praising them over the Border and now praising them over the Budget. That must mean that some of the rumours about Joe Comartin retiring could be true. Guess where our Mayor might want to run if that happened and for which party. He is well aware of the dispute between the Federal Government and the Province over the spending with respect to the DRIC project and has clearly allied himself with the Feds, at least for now.

 Problems Down Under with respect to traffic projections as well:

  • “Ms Rhiannon pointed to failed motorway projects started by "greedy corporate interests" which had not attracted projected traffic numbers.

    "These projects are in financial trouble because traffic numbers fell well short of what was predicted."

 I wonder if Brian Masse wrote the comments for Jack Layton with respect to the budget and the Coalition just as he wrote the comments for him with respect to the border

 Did you read about the Bridge Company's donation to the Hispanic Business Alliance and several other community organizations in response Detroit's harsh economic crisis and recent weeks of severe winter weather. Not if you read the Windsor Star.

 Why Eddie is all bluff and no stuff with respect to threatening lawsuits against the DRIC project:

  • “The federal government is considering the elimination of environmental assessments on millions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects across the country, says a document leaked to the New Democratic Party.

    NDP environment critic Linda Duncan, an Edmonton MP, cited the document at a news conference Thursday, accusing the federal government of “gutting” environmental protection and falsely claiming the environmental assessments slow down infrastructure projects too much.

    One measure would exempt projects under $10 million from environmental assessment. Another would eliminate one level of assessment, either federal or provincial, on bigger projects.”

 I Blogged about the Carleton University Report about the border and its comments about "major bottlenecks at key border crossings, such as the Ambassador and Peace Bridges crossing the Detroit and Niagara Rivers" that seemed to come out of the blue.

The Bridge Company is trying to build the bridges in both locations. Do you know who the Chancellor of that University is… Herb Gray.

 I understand why this comment was made

  • “West-end community activist Mary Ann Cuderman said she feared that the profit motives of landlords would interfere with the best interests of the community and suggested landlords could simply meet with the committee.”

Unlike a private landlord, as a bakery owner, she does not care about making money. Presumably she has a lot of dough and does not knead any more.

The Real Cost of P3s To Taxpayers


Is there a doctor in the house?

After reading this BLOG, someone in the Opposition in Parliament and at Queen's Park should demand that the Auditor General of Canada and of Ontario investigate DRIC. This might be one of the first times that the two Offices work together on a project. And why not, the Senior Levels are doing so. There is a need for a co-ordinated investigation on this huge project.

When you see the numbers for taxpayer overpayment, it will make you so sick that you might wind up in one of the expensive P3 hospitals outlined in the Ottawa Citizen article. With the overcosting, we could solve Windsor's fiscal problems forever:
  • "Audit on Royal Ottawa sought
    Same group that built centre blasted by auditor over Brampton hospital costs"

Why would Michigan legislators want to pass P3 Legisaltion after reading this BLOG? They should resist strongly what MDOT and their Australian friends want them to do. The Senators need only do some simple math to see what I mean.

The other question I am asking is why the Governments in Canada are pushing them? I do not understand it at all.

As I demonstrated before, the DRIC project cannot be financially viable. This has now be proven to be correct if the Toll Road news story is correct. It suggested that we are going to have "shadow tolls" for the new DRIC road. That means a P3 for it.

With the Ambassador Bridge competition and the traffic volumes collapsing, a DRIC project would never pay its way. No one would ever bid on it.

Accordingly, to make it work the Governments have to pay out cash or guarantee profitability. Of course, doing so raises legal issues and invites a lawsuit!

I did a bit of math based on what Dwight Duncan said before and I want to show you what that decision will cost taxpayers and users of the road.
  • "Duncan said last week funding of the border highway is not a concern despite the massive price tag.

    "It's a capital project that's financed over 40 years," he said."

The obvious point to make is that the project is being run by Infrastructure Ontario and not the Ministry of Transportation who is normally responsible for road building. And guess who has joined with Infrastructure Ontario as I told you previously: Len Kozachuk, formerly of URS and intimately involved as Deputy Project Manager for the DRIC project. The only reason why Dwight would not be concerned about finances is because the Province would not be putting up the money. Rather, a P3 road operator would be doing that.

The Province has said that the road would NOT be tolled so shadow tolls would be used as an alternative ie pretend tolls. It would have to be based on some formula rather than on a per vehicle charge since the number of users of the road would be a fraction of say, Highway 407. The formula could be based on a nominal toll based on some agreed upon number with a subsidy, in effect, for the balance of the amount to make up the differnce.

Let's say the toll agreed upon is $5. Over 40 years at an increase of 5% per year, the toll would become $33.50. At 7%, it becomes $70.

Now you know why it would have to be subsidized. No one would use it.

If the P3 operator wanted a rate of return of say 14% on the $2b investment [It could go as high as 20%!] on the cost of the DRIC road, tolls for the low volume traffic would be astronomical. It would want to receive $280M per year or over the 40 years, $11.8B Not a bad return that the Governments would pay out.

Had the Province borrowed the money instead at 5% per annum and amortized the payments as if it was a mortgage, over 40 years its interest cost would be about $2.6B

What this tells me is that Taxpayers are paying a premium of over $7B for what?
($11.8-$2-$2.6). What possible advantage is there?

Remember, this $7 Billion premium is for the DRIC road cost only and does not include the billions for the bridge or the US side construction. Of course we know that the real cost will be higher, perhaps almost double if the Manning Road precedent holds.

The scary part is that this excessive profit is for one transaction only! Imagine the waste with dozens of P3s that the governments at all levels are pushing.

Think I am making things up....then read excerpts from this Report prepared by Ontario's Auditor General on his value for money audit. It will make your skin crawl. Is there anyone who can stop this insanity before taxpayers go broke.

The full report is available at


William Osler Health Centre (WOHC) is one of Ontario’s largest hospital corporations, serving Etobicoke, Brampton, and surrounding areas. In the late 1990s, the Health Services Restructuring Commission recognized the need for a new hospital in this region. In September 2000, an external consulting firm provided a capital-cost estimate to WOHC for a 1.275-million-square-foot, 716-bed hospital of approximately $357 million (excluding the cost of equipment). This was the estimate if WOHC was to be responsible for the hospital’s design and construction.

In May 2001, the then Minister of Finance announced that public-private partnerships (P3s) would have to be seriously considered before the government of Ontario would commit any funding to new hospitals. Generally, P3s are contractual agreements between government and the private sector by which private-sector businesses provide assets and deliver services, and the various partners share the responsibilities and business risks. In the case of a hospital agreement, the private-sector partners would typically be responsible for the design costs, the construction costs, and the financing (and possibly the ongoing facility capital maintenance costs as well). The hospital would then repay the partners through a series of payments over the long term. Governments enter into P3s because they provide an opportunity to transfer risks to the private sector, allow both sectors to focus on what they do best, and accelerate investment to help bridge the gap between the need for public infrastructure and the government’s finan-cial capacity.

In November 2001, the government approved the development of two new hospitals in Brampton and Ottawa using the P3 approach. In August 2003, following a request for proposal (RFP) selection process, WOHC reached an agreement with The Healthcare Infrastructure Company of Canada (THICC), a consortium of the two private-sector companies Ellis Don (construction contractor) and Carillion Canada Inc. (non-clinical-service contractor), and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS). Under the agreement, THICC would design, build, and finance a new 608-bed Brampton Civic Hospital. It would also provide certain non-clinical services (including laundry; housekeeping; transporting patients within the hospital; food; security; and maintaining and servicing the facility) over a 25-year period. Under the project agreement with the private-sector consortium, WOHC agreed to pay the consortium a monthly payment over the 25-year service period, beginning on the completion date of the hospital.


We noted that WOHC had invested much time and effort in planning and delivering the new hospital project. However, WOHC did not have the option of choosing which procurement approach to fol-low. Rather, it was the government of the day that decided to follow the public-private partnership (P3) approach. We noted that, before this decision was made, the costs and benefits of alternative procurement approaches, including traditional procurement, were not adequately assessed. This, along with a number of other issues we had with respect to this first P3 project at WOHC, led us to conclude that the all-in cost could well have been lower had the hospital and the related non-clinical services been procured under the traditional approach, rather than the P3 approach implemented in this case.

However, as with any new process, there are inevitably lessons to be learned. In responding to our recommendations for future P3 projects (see Appendix), Infrastructure Ontario, the Crown agency now responsible for managing most gov-ernment infrastructure projects, and its ministry partners indicated that most of the issues we raised are now being handled differently to better ensure the cost-effectiveness of current P3 projects.

After the Ministry directed WOHC to follow the P3 approach for the Brampton Civic Hospital project, it then directed WOHC to compare the estimated cost if WOHC itself—that is, the public sector—had undertaken the project with the bids it received from the private sector. In other words, WOHC was to compare the estimated costs under traditional versus P3 procurement. We noted, however, that the assessment was not based on a full analysis of all relevant factors and was done too late to allow any significant changes or improvements to be made to the procurement process. Our more specific significant concerns with the process were as follows:

• A consulting firm engaged by WOHC estimated in September 2000 that the cost for the government to design and build a new hospital would be approximately $357 million (updated to $381 million in October 2001). Using a similar approach in January 2003, a second consulting firm estimated that the cost would be $507 million (updated in November 2004 to $525 million). While there had been increases in labour and material costs during the period, those increases and inflation alone would not account for the large difference in the two estimates. WOHC had not investigated the reasons for the significant difference between the two independent estimates.

• WOHC added to the estimates for the government to design and build a new hospital an estimated $67 million in risks transferred to the private sector. This is equivalent to expecting a 13% cost overrun if the traditional construction method was used. As well, there are a limited number of companies in the province that are willing or able to undertake a project of this size, and therefore the same companies would be bidding for and doing the work regardless of which procurement approach was chosen. We questioned why the estimates for the government design-and-build approach assumed that the risk of overruns would be so significantly greater and would need to be handled differently than under the P3 approach. WOHC should have more carefully evaluated the extent to which a properly structured contract under a traditional procurement agreement could have mitigated the risk of any such cost overruns.

We found that the cost estimates for the government to do the project were overstated by a net amount of $634 million ($289 million in 2003 dollars). Specifically, certain design and construction costs were overstated, and there were costs for non-clinical services that should not have been included in the estimates when comparing to the costs under the P3 arrange-ment. For example, a depreciation charge was inappropriately included as a non-clinical service cost in the government estimate. As well, the costs for utilities and property insurance that WOHC would be responsible for regardless of who provides non-clinical services was counted as a cost only under the estimate for government provision of non-clinical services, but not in the bid for the P3 arrangement. WOHC had also estimated that it could transfer the risks of price fluctuations to the private sector. However, the project agreement contained provisions allowing for re-pricing of these services after the first four years of the agreement.

The province’s 5.45% cost of borrowing at the time the agreement was executed was cheaper than the weighted average cost of capital charged by the private-sector consortium. Had the province financed the design and construction costs at its lower rate, the savings would be approximately $200 million over the term of the project’s P3 arrangement ($107 million in 2004 dollars). However, WOHC had not considered the impact of these savings in its comparison of the traditional procurement approach with the P3 project.

• WOHC and the Ministry engaged approximately 60 legal, technical, financial, and other consultants at a total cost of approximately $34 million. About $28 million of these costs related to the work associated with the new P3 approach, yet they were not included in the P3 cost. While acknowledging that additional professional services will be required given the newness of the P3 process, we still believe a significant portion of the professional costs relating to the P3 arrangement should have been included in the cost comparison.

On the other hand, it was evident to us that WOHC staff and management carried out extensive research and invested significant time and effort throughout the development of the Brampton Civic Hospital Project. As well, with respect to the selection of the private-sector partner, WOHC followed a competitive selection process and took appropriate steps to ensure that the process was designed and conducted in a manner that was fair to all potential, successful, and unsuccessful respondents. However, a competitive selection process was not followed consistently in the engagement of advisers. Over 40% of the advisers in our sample were single sourced. In addition, many consulting assignments were open-ended, without pre-established budgets or a ceiling price. We acknowledge that this was in part due to the arrangement being a pilot and to the uncertainty regarding the exact requirements of the various aspects of the project.

Over the approximately three-year construction period, the total cost came to $614 million, comprising $467 million in design and construction costs for the hospital, which was built on a reduced scale; $63 million primarily for modifications to the facilities to accommodate installation of equipment; and $84 million in financing charges. We noted that a portion of the $63 million cost to modify the facilities for installation of equipment could have been avoided with better planning.

We have prepared a table of recommendations (see Appendix) for consideration in future infra-structure procurement projects. We shared these recommendations with management of WOHC, Infrastructure Ontario, the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. As the responses in the Appendix indicate, management of these organizations believe that their current P3 processes address most of the issues we raised with respect to this first P3 project at WOHC.


With a contract of this size, best practices call for a business case to assess the costs and benefits of a range of alternative procurement models, to allow the option that offers the best value for money to be chosen. One approach is a value-for-money assessment that captures the total estimated cost of the traditional public-sector delivery of an infrastructure project through a design-build approach and compares that to the estimated delivery cost of the same project using a P3 model. This assessment should be carried out early in the process, as recommended, for example, in a 2004 value-for-money P3 assessment guide published by the UK Treasury. The guide says that “it is important that value-for-money assessments take place at the earliest practical stage of any decision-making process and that departments retain the flexibility to pursue alternative procurement routes if at any stage P3 does not offer the best value for money.”

In the case of the Brampton Civic Hospital Project, we noted that the Ministry did direct WOHC to commission a value-for-money assessment of the P3 arrangement, but only after the decision to follow the P3 approach had been made.

There was no formal analysis of whether the market had sufficient capacity and was competitive
enough to support a P3 arrangement for the project. Our review of available information suggested that only a limited number of construction contractors in the province are able or willing to undertake a project of this size. The same construction companies would be involved in the bidding and work regardless of whether WOHC followed the traditional procurement or P3 approach.

There was no formal analysis of the likelihood and potential value of the risks—such as cost overruns—that traditional procurement might have incurred. When such risks are known to be significant, transferring them to the private sector is a key benefit of the P3 approach. A proper business-case analysis would have required much clearer evidence that significant cost overruns were likely if WOHC managed a traditional design-and-build approach. Only then would a P3 arrangement to help mitigate such risks have been thoroughly justified.

Nevertheless, a significant component of cost under either arrangement is the cost to finance the construction of the hospital. In this regard, government could have secured a lower financing rate owing to its credit rating. However, we noted that the Ministry had not conducted a formal assessment of the cost differential between public and private financing, and whether the additional costs associated with private financing would be more than offset by the risks that could be transferred to the private sector.

Another significant cost component that tends to be high for a P3 or AFP arrangement in comparison to traditional procurement is transaction costs, such as fees for technical, legal, and financial advisers. We noted that the potential impact of such costs had not been assessed.

At first glance, when comparing the November 2004 estimate to the amount agreed to under the P3 arrangement, the P3 approach clearly appeared much less costly.

However, as discussed below, we felt a number of adjustments were needed to the November 2004 cost estimate. We also questioned whether WOHC had adequately considered all significant costs of the Project’s P3 arrangement...

On the basis of this concern and the issues we identified (which are presented in detail in the following subsections), we question whether this first P3 pilot project actually did result in the Brampton hospital costing less than it would have under the traditional approach.

As can be seen in Figure 2, the November 2004 design and construction estimate of $525 million (exclusive of transferred risk) exceeds the initial September 2000 estimate of $357 million by $168 million. While there had been increases in labour and material costs (such as steel prices) over the period, those costs and inflation alone could not account for the large difference in the two estimates.

Another concern we had was the $67 million in transferred risks that was added to the November 2004 government design-and-build estimate. This amount was arrived at on the basis of the judgment and experience of management and consultants. Owing to the subjective nature of these estimates, it is virtually impossible to substantiate the validity and accuracy of the quantified amounts. We were concerned that the transferred risks for this project amounted to almost 13% of the November 2004 government design-and-build estimate of $525 million. In comparison, actual cost overruns (a major component of risk transfer) in the design and construction of the Peterborough Regional Health Centre—a hospital built under the traditional procurement approach during the same period—were about 5% of the total contract value.

Under the Project’s P3 arrangement, the private-sector consortium is responsible for providing non-clinical services including laundry, housekeeping, portering (transporting patients within the hospital), patient and non-patient food, materials management, security, and plant operations and maintenance. As with the design-and-construction cost comparison, the cost to provide these non-clinical services also seemed to be much lower under P3 than under the traditional procurement approach, as shown in Figure 3. However, our review indicated that the estimate for the hospital to provide these services instead of outsourcing them as part of a P3 contract was overstated by $582 million ($245 million in 2003 dollars). We reviewed our work with an expert in business valuation, who agreed with our assessment.

Governments do have the capacity and the option of financing and typically obtain a lower debt interest rate than private-sector borrowers do. The province’s 5.45% cost of borrowing at the time the agreement was executed was cheaper than the weighted average cost of capital charged by the private-sector consortium. Had the province financed the design and construction costs under the same terms as the private-sector partner but used its lower rate, we estimate that the savings in financing costs would be approximately $200 million ($107 million in 2004 dollars) over the term of the agreement.

As indicated above, 23 companies or consortia made the initial submission in response to the RFEI, but only four consortia were able to submit a proposal. WOHC explained that the P3 process was new to Ontario at the time and that the lack of market readiness limited the number of companies that were able to submit a bid. In this regard, we believe that the bundling of design and construction along with non-clinical services in the P3 arrangement might have further limited the number of companies that were able to bid on the entire P3 contract.

Between 2000 and 2007, WOHC and the Ministry engaged nearly 60 legal, technical, financial, and other advisers at a cost of nearly $34 million to assist with the Brampton Civic Hospital Project.

The value-for-money assessment could be perceived as biased, as the only way WOHC could receive funding for a new hospital was to follow the P3 approach.