Before a standing room crowd only of attendees from both sides of the US Canada border at MacKenzie Hall Cultural Centre on Thursday, The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) held its first ever Annual Public Meeting.
Among those in the audience was Douglas George, Canadian Consul General from Detroit, Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, City Councilor for District 6 in Detroit (south west Detroit including Delray), Brian Masse, MP for Windsor West and Cheryl Hardcastle, MP for Windsor-Tecumseh.
Dwight Duncan, the interim chairperson of WDBA since January 1, 2016, chaired the meeting. He was joined by the President and Chief Executive Officer and Director, Michael Cautillo, along with directors Carolyn Mulroney Lapham, Craig S. Rix and William Graham. Also present were members of their administrative team.
The WDBA is a Canadian Crown Corporation which reports to Parliament through the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. It was created to manage the P3 (Public Private Partnership) in terms of the procurement process for the Gordie Howe international Bridge and to provide oversight for it.
According to Duncan, the WDBA Board of Directors has as their focus, “the immediate priority of completing the procurement process to select a successful private sector partner to deliver the Gordie Howe international Bridge.” He further states, “this phase will involve us overseeing WDBA’s operations in providing strategic insight and guidance through a governance system that includes the policies, procedures, internal controls, and risk management measures necessary to instill stakeholder confidence, enabling the Corporation to deliver the greatest value to the public and to Canadian taxpayers.”
Short presentations were made by both Duncan and Cautillo outlining the progress of WDBA to date, while at the same time providing us with a snapshot of future stages.
Since their first year of operations a number of important developments have occurred: the official naming of the Gordie Howe International Bridge; the P3 procurement process started with the issuance of Request for Qualifications (RFQ); a contract was awarded for Early Works activities at the Canadian Port of Entry followed by construction start; six response submissions to the RFQ were received for further evaluation; three shortlisted respondents were announced to move forward to the next stage of the procurement process; and there was a staffing of over 40 positions filled to date.
Besides the brief presentations, there was a very enthusiastic Q&A period where audience members asked questions of the board and offered them their input and ideas. The contingent accompanying Detroit city Councilor Castaneda-Lopez expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to receive this update and to share their concerns from the US side of the border.
The meeting was live streamed for those who could not make it to MacKenzie Hall, and will appear as a YouTube video for all to see in the very near future.
For more information about WDBA and the Gordie Howe international Bridge, visit the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority website @ www.wdbridge.com.
Joe Chats with Dwight Duncan, Interim Board Chairperson of the WBDA – The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority
Joe chats with Douglas George, Canadian Consul General – Detroit, Michigan.
Story, photos and interviews by Joe McParland.