Drew Dilkens, Mayor, City of Windsor,FINA World Swimming Championships, Healthcare

Windsor Celebrates Chimczuk Museum & ACH

On February 18, 2016 I had the honour of cutting the ribbon at the new Chimczuk Museum in downtown Windsor, officially opening this incredible facility to our citizens and visitors.

The Chimczuk Museum is a premier destination that houses permanent exhibits on the history of the Windsor area, the Original People’s Culture and Legacy, and the development of our City. There’s a Children’s Gallery and Learning Space that pops with innovative hands-on activities, bold colours, and artifacts to inspire wonder in the imaginations of our citizens — of all ages – for generations to come.

The new museum is one of three sites that comprise Museum Windsor. Its partner sites include the Maison François Baby House downtown, and the Duff-Baby Interpretation Centre in Sandwich Town.

This newest addition to a cultural hub growing in our City’s core represents the realized dream of Joseph Chimczuk, who wanted an appropriate venue to share our rich history; and the councillors, staff, consultants, builders, designers, historians, volunteers, and public partners who share that dream helped to give it life.

This also represents the next step in a vision to develop an arts and culture corridor.

It is a vision that began with a question: how can the City of Windsor champion the arts, celebrate culture, and showcase heritage NOW?

It is a vision that began with a desire to ensure that when we finish work or school, and have dealt with the demands of our lives, there is something special waiting: an exhibit, a gallery, a theatrical production, a stellar meal . . . an experience!

I asked myself what we are doing, as a City, to realize that vision today.

The answers came quickly.

The City of Windsor recognizes the important role of arts, culture and heritage to our City’s growth and development, and invests in the infrastructure needed to support and showcase our creative community.

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Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens

Budget Puts Taxpayers First – Mayor Drew Dilkens

On December 21, 2015 City Council put Windsor taxpayers first by finding the necessary savings to ensure the total property tax levy remains unchanged from 2015 levels, making 2016 the eighth straight year City administration and Council have worked together to deliver a zero percent tax increase (to the budget).

This unprecedented streak of zero percent increases began in 2009, after the City of Windsor was hit hard by the global recession. In 2009, Windsor’s unemployment rate reached its highest mark at 15.7 percent and City Council believed that increasing taxes would only increase the financial burden most families in the City faced.

Although Windsor’s unemployment rate has decreased significantly since 2009, many residents are still looking for work and continue to struggle to make ends meet. It is with these Windsorites in mind that City Council has continued its commitmentto fiscal responsibility.

There are many necessary costs that continue to rise, which cannot be controlled at the municipal level, such as electricity rates or the price of food, so City Council has avoided adding to the burden by containing the one cost it can control.

Zero percent increases are only one portion of an overarching narrative of fiscal responsibility over the past eight years. Though the property tax levy has not increased, the City has found ways to do more with the taxes it does collect.

One of the City’s major achievements over these eight years is its debt reduction.Windsor’s debt peaked in 2002 at $229.4M and sat at $190.4M in 2008. Since 2009, the City’s has been able to pay down a portion of its overall debt each year, nearly cutting its debt in half to $98.2M. The City of Windsor will continue to reduce its long term debt, which is projected to decline to $78M by 2018.

Another major achievement is the fact that the City of Windsor’s funding for capital projects and infrastructure has actually increased during this period of tax restraint. Windsor has been successful in attaining provincial and federal infrastructure grants, which allow the City to tackle more infrastructure projects.

The 2016 Budget itself had several major achievements that are especially noteworthy in the context of a zero percent tax increase. To ensure a certain quality of life for residents, City Council ensured that service levels would remain the same and that no services were cut.

This has been increasingly difficult to deliver as many of the inputs to delivering a service continue to increase in cost.

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Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens

Leveraging Sport Tourism In The City Of Windsor

Tourism is an integral part of Windsor’s economy.

By Mayor Drew Dilkens

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the Windsor region hosts more than 4.8 million visitors each year who create an economic impact of over $562 million and support over 16,000 jobs.

While the tourism industry is predicted to grow 2 to 3%, sport tourism is expected to increase nearly 14%
and is the fastest growing sector in tourism, accounting for approximately $600 billion in global economic activity every year.

Sport tourism’s rapid growth, coupled with the stabilizing force it has on an industry that is easily affected by border security issues, fluctuations in currencies, gas prices and health epidemics, has created an increasingly competitive environment for communities bidding to host sporting events.

There are many factors that can affect a community’s ability to attract and host a successful sporting event. Factors such as available accommodations, the state of local infrastructure and the location of the
community relative to the previous hosting community tend to be static, but there are many factors that relate directly to a community’s level of experience with hosting sporting events.

Following the success of hosting the “Canadian Baseball Championships” in 2003, City Council made a concerted effort to increase sport tourism in Windsor and to capitalize on the benefits it generates.

 

Successive City Councils have recognized that creating an environment where sport tourism can thrive
and where communities realize the greatest benefits takes a long term commitment.

Over this period Windsor has hosted many prominent sporting events, including the “Red Bull Air Race World Championship,” the “Grey Power World Cup of Curling,” the “Canadian Tour Golf Championships,” the “World Under-17 Hockey Challenge,” the “Skate Canada International Figure Skating Championships,” the “International Children’s Games,” the “FINA World Diving Championships” and
the “Ontario Summer Games.”

In 2016 our City will host the “FINA World Swimming Championships (25m),” the largest international
swimming-only competition in the world.

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Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens

ON THE MAYOR’S MIND with Drew Dilkens

Streamlined Local Economic Development In The City Of Windsor.

by Drew Dilkens

Whether it’s free-trade, increased labour mobility or advances in information technology, cities around the world have been forced into the international arena in the pursuit of investment for job creation and development.

In order to be competitive, local governments make the factors they can control, such as tax rates and available land, as attractive as possible for potential investors. However, these are not the only variables influencing decisions, many of which are outside a city’s control. Factors such as the price of electricity, labour costs and incentives are increasingly determining where investors choose to develop.

In order to overcome uncontrollable factors that may be working against cities, local governments must provide an overall strategy for sustainability and growth that drives development. The City of Windsor is seeking to do this through the development of a 20-Year Strategic Vision, which will serve as a cornerstone for decisions with respect to programs, services and infrastructure.

City Council identified three themes that will guide Windsor’s future prosperity. The three themes – job creation, population growth, and rebranding – form a coordinated plan within an overarching commitment to responsible and balanced fiscal choices that will help ensure the City of Windsor is prepared to manage its challenges and build on its strengths to compete on the global stage

One of the focuses identified under the job creation theme is “streamlined and local development initiatives, coordinated with other bodies where appropriate.” This focus highlights the fact that approximately 80% of new jobs come from expansion of local businesses and that increased international competition means cities must put more effort into retaining its local businesses.

Currently, the City of Windsor contributes $1.2 million to the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation to deliver business expansion, retention and attraction services, along with the operation of the Small Business Centre.

Mayor Drew Dilkens column continues…