Bury Mayor’s Underpass To Avert Another Blunder

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Bury Mayor’s Underpass To Avert Another Blunder

Windsor has more than its fair share of critics. This is unfortunate because most of us consider the city a great place to live. It is galling then to stand by and watch as our civic leaders repeatedly lead with their chins, making decisions that provide historical ammunition for our harshest detractors.

A particularly withering attack — entitled The Myriad Crises Facing Windsor, Ontario — was delivered by acerbic writer Bruce Moncur in the influential Huffington Post CaBury Mayor’s Underpass To Avert Another Blundernada on May 11, 2016.

Moncur’s post tends to shrink some facts, but long suffering Windsorites will recognize kernels of truth.

The Huffington piece reverberates still on social media as Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens rolls the dice on his latest “grand vision” to spend $15 million to build a pedestrian underpass and plaza below Riverside Drive, west of the Art Gallery.

If Dilkens can convince five of 10 City Councillors to go along with this madness it would provide Moncur with another blunder to add to his carpet bomb list.

His list goes way back to the construction of E.C. Row, dubbed “the shortest 100 km highway to have taken the most amount of time to build while costing the most money.”

Moncur recites more recent calamities committed by the “Rose City,” which he snidely points out has decided not to grow roses anymore: “Recently the city put an arena where a pool should be and a pool where an arena should be,” he mused.

The list includes the city’s refusal to expropriate the Zalev Scrap Yard, the shrinking Chrysler Canada skyscraper on prime Riverside Drive commercial property, and the bingo lawsuit involving the city overcharging charities for licence fees.

Now Dilkens envisions a condominium complex around Bruce Avenue on the north side of Riverside Drive that would supposedly please developer/land flipper Shmuel Farhi and attract residents to live downtown and generate mega property taxes. A new library, at the city’s expense, could also be part of this imagined package.

The original plan was floated by Dilkens’ predecessor Eddie Francis to build an underpass, which would eventually connect to a marina. Perish that thought! Residents balked, visualizing a narrow tunnel attracting crime and hobos.

Now Dilkens, showboating an artist’s rendering from Architecttura Inc., wants taxpayers to visualize a gateway plaza five times as wide at 30 metres, with all the bells and whistles. The detractors have not gone away with completion of a $105,000 Riverside Drive Pedestrian Crossings environment assessment by Landmark Engineering Inc.

Landmark was commissioned two years ago to evaluate the Art Gallery site and the Civic Esplanade location, both identified in 2000 by the Central Riverfront Implementation Plan (CRIP).

Landmark poignantly favours an underpass at the foot of the Civic Esplanade between Goyeau and McDougall Streets, connecting the Detroit River to City Hall Square, including the outdoor skating rink.

No kidding!

For longer than I wish to remember there has been a crying need for at least one pedestrian crosswalk, with pedestrian-activated stop lights, on the stretch between Goyeau and McDougall.

This is not to mention the lack of a sidewalk on the north side of the Drive, where a hideous fence prevents pedestrians from rolling down the steep hill to access the festival plaza.

The Landmark study, tabled by City Council in August, gives greater warrants for construction of a grade separated underground crossing at the foot of the esplanade, citing the large number of visitors coming and going to events at the band shell, as well as an initiative by the city parks department to build-out Festival Plaza.

Bury Mayor’s Underpass continues

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Alan Halberstadt
Opinion Editorial. Alan Halberstadt is a career journalist who served on Windsor City Council for 17 years before deciding not to run for re-election in 2014. Alan Halberstadt believes all businesses share a common interest in how governments spend tax dollars. The emphasis of his columns is to expose and comment on the political gymnastics and taxation excesses of bureaucracies. As a former Windsor City Councillor he has a particular insight on how local municipal governments function or not. Opinions expressed by Alan Halberstadt are not necessarily those of Biz X magazine or its advertisers.