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Heard on the Street July August 2017

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Heard on the Street July August 2017

You may have noticed a gourmet burger and hot dog restaurant has opened downtown Windsor in mid-June, featuring products from area butchers and local craft beers. Larry Vallieres, a partner in the Burger Farm along with Bread Meats Bread owner Dave Prantera, says, “we’re trying to source as much as we can locally and support local producers.” The restaurant at 21 Chatham Street East features Frank Brewery’s amber ale, BREW’s lager and Craftheads IPA. Vallieres mentions he and Prantera plan to switch out beer choices on a regular basis to provide customers with a variety of options. The restaurant’s hot dogs are supplied by Brenner Packers. Other menu items include fresh-made fries, a house salad, a kale salad and flavoured custard shakes supplied by a company in Strathroy. Burger Farm opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday to Saturday and closes at 9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.“We’re still refining the hours to try and find a work-life balance for all of us,” says Vallieres.

Kurley’s A.C., one of Windsor’s iconic sports bars, remains for sale and long-time owner Ris Massetti says he’s either looking to sell outright or take on a partner after almost 30 years of selling burgers and beers on Via Italia.“It’s been listed off and on for three years,” says Massetti. “There have been a couple of tire-kickers, but nobody has come along with a serious offer. I’d be willing to have someone join me in the business or if someone wants all of it, that would be fine as well.” He notes, “I still enjoy coming here and I still enjoy the people, so I’m not going to lock the doors or anything like that.” Massetti says he’s had a good run and survived a couple of recessions, but adds “it’s tougher and tougher, but it’s still a great business to be in because you meet so many great people.”

Facing a bill in excess of $13,000 from the City of Windsor for a freedom of information request relating to council’s decision to eliminate commercial space on the ground floor of the Pelissier Street parking garage, the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association (DWBIA) launched a GoFundMe campaign in early June.

Through the first 10 days of the campaign, almost $4,000 has been raised.“It’s a joke that we have to go through this,” says DWBIA Chairman Larry Horwitz. “We’re a committee of the city and they are still throwing up roadblocks. It makes you wonder what they are worried we might find after all this.” The request for corporate records, including emails, text message exchanges, notes and records between members of council and city administration, was made to better understand the rationale and reasoning behind Council’s decision to eliminate the commercial space and replace it with parking. This decision contradicted an earlier council decision, made in early 2016, to retain existing commercial spaces. Upon receiving the request, the city clerk’s office determined it would cost $13,672.20 in staff time and resources to fulfill the request.“It’s a confusing issue especially the way council handled it, but people have also become excited about it — which is good,” adds Horwitz.

 Fuelled by an almost four-fold increase in government and institutional construction spending, the value of building permits issued by the City of Windsor through the end of May, is 50 percent higher than at the same time one year ago. Through the first five months of 2017, a total of $153,575,118 in permits had been issued compared to $102,225,220 a year ago. Institutional and government permits accounted for much of that increase, jumping from almost $16 million to more than $58 million. Residential permits increased from $69 million to $72.8 million and commercial increased from $12 million to $18.3 million while industrial dropped slightly from $4.9 million to $3.9 million.

Heard on the Street previously reported that the City of Windsor had appealed an Ontario Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal decision ordering back pay for lifeguards at the family aquatics centre and Adventure Bay. It turns out the city appealed a ruling two years ago in favour of one part-time facility attendant at the WFCU Centre, who filed the original order on her own over four years ago. It took until April of this year for the Tribunal to confirm the order and force the city to pay back $4,000 to the worker. Under the Pay Equity Act, the decision will have a ripple benefit for scores of other similarly classified part-time employees, including some 50 to 60 lifeguards. The union agreed under duress to a two year wage rollback to avert the city’s threat to contract the aquatics centre jobs to the YMCA. Now the city is reportedly seeking a judicial review of the pay equity decisions. Mark Vander Voort, President of CUPE Local 543, has estimated the city could be on the hook for more than $200,000 in total back pay for the two years that various workers had their hourly pay rolled back by $1 to $2. One local media source estimates the final result could involve a payback of $1.2 million for 300 workers. In the end this could become a messy election issue if the pay equity ruling is upheld by a superior court judge. Vander Voort says he wouldn’t be surprised if a six member block of the current Windsor City Council is re-elected in October, 2018 to see the part-time rec jobs contracted out along with up to 90 janitorial jobs.

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