Alan Halberstadt, Dr. David Wonham, Guaranteed Annual Income, Skilled Trades Shortage, Bury Mayor’s Underpass To Avert Another Blunder, Time For Province To Stop Funding Catholic Education

Guaranteed Annual Income Utopia

Guaranteed Annual Income Striving To Execute Utopia

Many people are aghast over the latest scheme by Ontario’s social engineers Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government to grant a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI) unconditionally to citizens without a means test or a requirement or expectation to work.

Wynne has joined the GAI vanguard by committing to a pilot project to test the merits of a system that has recently gained global attention notably in Switzerland, which resoundingly rejected a referendum proposal to pay every man, woman and child $40,000 (Cdn) a year.

Windsor Essex has eagerly petitioned the province to pick us as the pilot community. Everybody is seemingly on board, including Mayor Drew Dilkens and Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce President Matt Marchand.

Without knowing exactly how GAI would work, I can hardly blame regional officialdom for pursuing the pilot. The utopia would be that our citizens would all receive the free money for a few years, paid fully by the province. There would be no beggars on the street and everybody would have disposable income to pump into the local economy.

I would be surprised if we are chosen, since we have three NDP MPPs, and Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, a long-time Liberal, is also applying. The nod would likely go to a much smaller community that would require less largesse, like Dauphin, Manitoba, a town of 8,200 that was selected for a minimum income pilot between 1974 and 1979. One third of the people in that community qualified as below the poverty line and received monthly cheques. The program was shut down after its reported $17 million budget was exhausted.

There is more to this complex issue than meets the eye, and Marchand’s stance proves it.

Voices of business or fiscal conservatism have advocated for universal Basic Income for many years. These include Richard Nixon, in 1969, when he was the Republican Party’s U.S. President, and claimed GAI would abolish poverty.

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Save Ojibway leader Nancy Pancheshan, standing beside Matchette Rd

Matchette Rd Bid Keeps Big Box Feud Brewing

Get ready for another brawl at Windsor City Council over Matchette Rd.

Sometime this summer, after sitting on its duff for close to two years, City Hall administration is expected to deliver the answer to a Council question, posed on September 9, 2014 as follows . . . That Administration BE DIRECTED to prepare a report for Council’s consideration outlining the process to close Matchette Rd., including information on the process for an environmental assessment and options on how such a study could be funded.

The question, moved by former Councillor Fulvio Valentinis, seconded by Councillor Irek Kusmierczyk, was triggered by a plea from Russ Jones, a field biologist who was one of many delegations from the small, but growing, local environmental community who have opposed the Coco Paving’s Big Box development abutting the Ojibway Park Complex, for a decade.
Council, at a marathon two day meeting started on September 8th, gave the green light to an agreement with Coco allowing the 400,000 square foot shopping monster to proceed in exchange for 10.4 acres (4.19 hectares) of land conveyed to the city to help buffer the natural area from 14.97 hectares of hard concrete for endless parking and commercial development along Matchette Road and Sprucewood Avenue. The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), a few months later, approved the agreement over the vigorous objections of Save Ojibway appellants Nancy Pancheshan and Lynn Meloche.

As a small consolation, the Friends of Ojibway Prairie came away with an ardent hope that Council would eventually vote to close Matchette Rd., from Titcombe Road, across from the Ojibway Nature Centre, to Sprucewood, a distance of some 1.1 kilometres.

FEATURE PHOTO BY ALAN HALBERSTADT: Save Ojibway leader Nancy Pancheshan, standing beside Matchette Road next to the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve, has two government petitions on the go with the faint hope of altering Coco Paving’s Big Box Development.

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Alan Halberstadt, Dr. David Wonham, Guaranteed Annual Income, Skilled Trades Shortage, Bury Mayor’s Underpass To Avert Another Blunder, Time For Province To Stop Funding Catholic Education

Therapeutic Learning Centre

The opening in January 2016 of the Therapeutic Learning Centre (TLC) at 895 Erie Street East in Windsor is an uplifting story from two evolutionary perspectives.

For the often embattled Via Italia, it is another step towards diversification with the addition of Therapeutic Learning Centre, a business other than a restaurant or café. TLC, which provides autism and educational services in the old Motor City Community Credit Union building, is of similar genre to Dolce Vita Retirement Living, 854 Erie Street East, converted a few years ago from a fine dining establishment.

The identification of autism and government funding of treatment for it, known as Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI), is also evolving, with the emergence of privately owned and operated centres like TLC. While there are over 300 private centres in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and several in London, TLC is the first in Windsor and Essex County.

Therapeutic Learning Centre
Rachel Purcell (left) and Courtney Vonella — superb autism therapists transplanted from Toronto to offer relief to Windsor Essex families.

It is owned and operated by married couples Courtney and Michael Vonella and Rachel and Ben Purcell. They transplanted from Toronto after careful planning that ultimately involved occupancy in the vacant building next to the master tailor shop owned by Mike Vonella Sr., who is tickled pink to be reunited with his son.

Courtney is a Board Certified Behavioural Analyst with a Master of Science from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Her high-order skill is designing specific programming for individual autism disorders. Rachel is an Ontario certified teacher with many years of classroom experience, and a practicing IBI therapist.

The friends met at the University of Windsor and moved to Toronto together to attend George Brown College’s autism and behavioural science program. Now both are starting young families back in Windsor. Rachel has an infant son and Courtney is expecting her first child this summer.

Vonella Jr. is a national Sales Manager for Umbro soccer products and works remotely out of an office at 895 Erie Street East, while assisting in the day-to-day management of the TLC, where one-on-one therapy by IBI instructors is conducted under the supervision of Courtney and Rachel. Co-op students from the autism and behavioural science program at St. Clair College are also utilized.

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Alan Halberstadt, Dr. David Wonham, Guaranteed Annual Income, Skilled Trades Shortage, Bury Mayor’s Underpass To Avert Another Blunder, Time For Province To Stop Funding Catholic Education

Dr. David Wonham, Chimczuk Unsung Hero


“It’s my motto to be gracious in victory and defeat . . . in this case I won,” deadpans  Dr. David Wonham in resisting the final temptation to publicly lampoon the City of Windsor in the wake of a satisfactory ending to a war of words, lawyers and political pettiness that (sit down for this) lasted one quarter of a century.

I’m referring to the glorious occasion of the official opening of the Chimczuk Museum on February 18, 2016, when Mayor Drew Dilkens actually mentioned Dr. David Wonham twice in his speech.

The good doctor was there to donate a framed collage, costing $700 out of his own pocket, that included the original hand-written will of Joseph Chimczuk, bequeathing $1 million to the city upon his death on December 2, 1990.

Never mind that Wonham felt compelled to ask the City Solicitor if he could show up on the occasion, or that not a whisper was uttered recognizing the corporation that he heads, Chimczuk Museum Inc., and the critical part it played to ensure that Chimczuk’s name was attached to the exterior of the museum building at 401 Riverside Drive West.

The city still hasn’t really acknowledged the corporation exists, let alone the legality of the Chimczuk Museum trademark, which Wonham acquired in 2006 from the Canada Intellectual Properties Office after he and a handful of other Chimczuk Inc. directors got fed up waiting for the city to act upon the will.

There is not nearly enough space here to delve into all of the twists and turns of this saga. The overriding point is this — the original donation of $1 million accumulated interest and soared to $3.3 million over 25 years. When combined with a $2 million grant from the Government of Canada’s Cultural Space Fund and $400,000 or so from the city, the funds were used to renovate the ground floor of the Art Gallery of Windsor and convert 11,000 square feet into the long-coveted museum space the city deserves.

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Alan Halberstadt, Dr. David Wonham, Guaranteed Annual Income, Skilled Trades Shortage, Bury Mayor’s Underpass To Avert Another Blunder, Time For Province To Stop Funding Catholic Education

Sidewalk Café Patio Fees – Larger Problem

By the time you read this, Windsor City Council will have mitigated another embarrassing moment, the re-institution of onerous patio fees imposed on small restaurants encroaching on the city right of way.

At this writing, negotiations were taking place between City Councillors and the Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), led by Larry Horwitz, Chairperson of the Downtown Windsor BIA, to reverse or modify the baffling patio fees decision Council made at a dysfunctional December 21, 2015 budget session.

To save a paltry $90,000, a bleary-eyed Council voted to re-install outdoor patio fees. These had been waived for several years prior, to assist struggling restaurateurs, and encourage a cultural ambiance in the core hospitality districts. The majority of the sidewalk cafes are downtown, with lesser numbers in Walkerville, on Erie Street and Ottawa Street.

Horwitz expressed optimism to me that something would be done to lower and/or phase in the fees and live up to a Council promise a year earlier to keep the status quo until 2018.

“I feel really good about it,” says Horwitz about negotiations with South Windsor Councillor Fred Francis. “We’re starting to get closer to a realistic deal.”

Downtown Councillor Rino Bortolin submitted the motion to revisit the patio decision, made unbeknown to some besieged Councillors blinded by a document-and-binder blizzard in an omnibus resolution tabled by Mayor Drew Dilkens in the late stages of a noon-to-almost midnight budget session.

The pushback was immediate, mostly emanating from the 45 establishments with patios downtown.

“The merchants are really vocal . . . there’s a lot of anger,” Horwitz states of the fees that include a $212 application tariff and a two-tier encroachment levy, $5.90 per square foot for downtown patios, and $4.66 cents for those in Walkerville, Erie and Ottawa. The price in non-BIA districts was set at $3.37.

At the March 7 Council meeting, a motion by Councillor Fred Francis was approved to increase patio fees by .50 cents per square foot per year starting this year with a cap of $3 per square foot flat fee in 2021.

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