Could you imagine if the title of this blog were to be true? That Sandwich Towne could be Named No. 1 Across Canada? Well I am here to tell you this can happen, and Walkerville's recent recognition sets a precedent for us to aspire towards.
Recently, the Walkerville community has been named one of the best old house neighbourhoods in Canada by "This Old House" Magazine. See the article here: Walkerville named No. 1 across Canada. I am very happy that Walkerville has been recognized nationally but upon reading the article and after hearing what a local resident who lives in the west-end had to say tonight regarding this notoriety, I said to myself: We too can be one of the best old house neighbourhoods in Canada!
Walkerville was recognized for its unique and historic homes, along with its geographic landscape, making it a walkable community; that is, everything is within walking distance. Sound familiar? To me it sounds a bit like Sandwich Towne and the west-end in general. So then I questioned why we were not considered a vibrant community like Walkerville and I came to two conclusions: 1) Our geographic location put us at a disadvantage; and 2) We lack organization.
To the first issue, our geographic location has made the west-end and Sandwich Towne a peculiar place in the City of Windsor. Two massive corporations -- The Bridge Company and The University of Windsor -- have both negatively impacted our community. You can argue that the University has helped in some areas (i.e. providing a student market to our small businesses, etc.) but its expansion has had dire implications on the adjacent neighbourhoods in the west-end and has opened up a floodgate of issues related to bylaw enforcement particularly to do with student parking, crime, and irresponsible landlords not caring for their properties. As to the Bridge Company, well, we all know the impact it has had on Sandwich Towne -- over 100 houses boarded up. And not just any house, but homes designated as heritage property that at one time made Sandwich Towne the envy of the City. Houses very similar to those recognized in Walkerville.
The second issue -- our lack of organization -- has always been a challenge in the west-end. That is what we are aspiring to do with Our West End and it is what we need to do if we are ever to realize any changes we seek. Walkerville has a neighbourhood watch and a residents association. We used to have plenty of the former and a homeowners association of our own. Not anymore. This must change. This has to change.
I believe that if we can organize better, we can apply more pressure on our various levels of government and eventually see substantial changes in the west-end. Not only is Walkerville organized, but it has many affluent residents who individually hold some clout in the City. We do not. Thus, we must be more organized and we must come together in numbers far greater than any other community in the City. We can do this. I know we can because I've seen it happen in smaller factions across the west-end. I just got back form a neighbourhood meeting (see the post that will follow re: Askin Parking Enforcement) that further proves this. And I further believe that if we learn to organize well, that we can tackle our first issue and finally live up to the true potential of the west-end.
Years from now, we will be judged by how we were able to come together as a community and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time. Years from now, we too can be named No. 1 Across Canada.
Now let's get to work!