2013 Year In Review

Friends and Neighbours,

What a year it has been! A lot of positive progress has been made in 2013 – a direct reflection of your hard work and passion in making West Windsor a better place to live, work and play. In keeping with a tradition that began last year, let’s take a look at some of the progress that has been made, along with the challenges and opportunities that will be before us in 2014.

United Way / Centraide Windsor Essex County

In the spring of 2013, we announced our new partnership with the United Way. They have invested in our strategy and have helped us tremendously over the course of the year. With United Way’s help, we have successfully developed a Residents Roundtable comprised of 16 residents representing every neighbourhood in the west-end, developed a Parks Committee and supported many youth outreach initiatives. In addition, we have organized over 100 Chrysler workers and volunteers who dedicated a whole day to cleaning up graffiti in the west-end. As I take you through our year in review, I will discuss how we have integrated some of the abovementioned activities in our community organizing efforts.

Crime Prevention and Reduction

We've done a lot of work in the area of crime prevention and reduction. Going forward, we will strive to work towards developing a group comprised of residents in the west-end to come up with innovative ideas and strategies to help reduce and prevent crime.

In addition to the above, many residents have received Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) training to make their homes and places of business safer by deterring crime through environmental design. I mention this because it is important to know that we are building a strong capacity to overcome some of our biggest challenges – the reality and perception of crime in the west-end.

West-End Strategy Update

Leann, our Strategy Coordinator, has been able to move forward quite productively in developing a resident-led strategy that focuses on community engagement and empowerment. We believe that real change comes from the bottom-up – from residents and neighbourhoods. Leann has done extensive research, built strong partnerships and is now reaching out extensively to the community through a phone blitz and focus groups.

By the summer of 2014, we will begin tying everything together to develop a list of recommendations going forward. This strategy will be our blueprint for future grassroots initiatives and will be the foundation from which we will conduct our community work.

Community Parks

In late 2013, thanks to Tammy, our Community Coordinator, we developed a Parks Committee comprised of residents in the west-end who are concerned with maintaining and preserving our parks. The goal of the committee is to play an active role in promoting our parks and increasing their usage. Working closely with the City and their ‘Adopt-A-Park’ policy, we hope to ‘adopt’ several parks in our neighbourhoods to ensure their sustainability in the long-term.

The City is consulting with the community in updating its Master Plan and will release the updated version sometime in late 2014 / early 2015. A big component of the Master Plan is the usage and management of our green space. We hope that over the course of 2014 and beyond, as we are taking more ownership over our parks, the City fully understands and acknowledges that no park in the west-end should be sold.

Information Sharing and Awareness of the West-End

We have hundreds of residents subscribed to this blog. I have never imagined that we would have so many residents engaged in not only reading blog posts, but also in sharing information and helping others in pursuit of a better community. Excellent work everyone!

In early 2014, I will issue out a challenge to all residents as we need to continue our momentum and get more residents plugged in. Stay tuned!

Grassroots Initiatives

Many grassroots initiatives have successfully sprouted or have continued in 2013 and look poised to go strong in 2014. Some of these include the West-End Crawlers, the Bloomfield House, the Bridgeview Community Outreach Group Inc., Windsor West Citizens Organization and the Sandwich Towne Farmers Market. We are lucky to have so many residents dedicated to making our west-end community stronger and more vibrant.

Boarded-Up Homes

I have chatted with residents in Sandwich Towne, particularly those who live close to the boarded-up homes this past fall. I have gathered their thoughts and summed them up in a previous post here: Conversations with Residents in Sandwich Towne.

We need to come to a resolution regarding these homes, and the sooner the better. You will see from my conversations with residents that the community is clear on what they would like to see. In the coming year there must be more aggressive and urgent action taken to resolve this current stalemate between the City and the Bridge. The only way for Sandwich Towne to rebound is if there is a resolution regarding these homes. As a community it is our job to put the pressure on our elected officials at the City, Provincial and Federal level, along with the Bridge Company and all stakeholders interested in making Sandwich Towne the gem that it has the potential to be.

Canada Post, Community Centres and Other Closures or Vacancies

For as many positive things in 2013, we have also experienced many difficult realities. Canada Post and the College Avenue Community Centre have closed, the former this past year and the latter a few years ago. The Adie Knox pool is slated for closure soon but there is an active group fighting to keep it open. From the seniors and residents to whom I have spoken, many do not want to see it go.

Some other closures or vacancies include:
·      Forster high school at the end of this school year.
·      The jail in Sandwich Towne will soon be vacant
·      The Fire Hall in Sandwich Towne will be home to a new library branch. The current branch at Brock will move into the old Fire Hall.
·      The Mason-Girardot residence is for sale
·      Some grade schools are vulnerable in that their enrolment is too low to be sustainable in the long run
·      Several churches have closed with at least one more looking to close in the new year

We need to develop a strategy surrounding the use of these buildings, while also providing stability and certainty in the community, particularly Sandwich Towne, by reaching a resolution on the boarded-up homes. Once that is achieved, we can aggressively campaign to attract investment and promote our Community Improvement Plan.

I often use the analogy that we have been bleeding as a community and we need to stop the bleeding. We cannot afford anymore closures in the west-end.

Licensing Landlords and Bylaw Enforcement     

There has been some recent developments at City Hall surrounding the licensing of landlords and developing bylaws to tackle the issue of illegal dwellings. Cracking down on negligent landlords is essential to cleaning up our neighbourhoods and making them more attractive for families. Let me be clear on this point, not all landlords are bad. I have friends and family who are landlords and they upkeep their properties to ensure they conform to the fabric of the neighbourhood. However, there is a difference between landlords and “negligent” landlords. Some sort of licensing bylaw, amendments to the current bylaws and better enforcement is needed to crack down on the negligent landlords that are not abiding by the laws. I have proposed my thoughts to the City Planning department at City Hall along with other residents in the west-end. Let’s hope there is some action on this in the new year.

Your Involvement

Our vision is to engage and empower residents to take charge and play a leading role in bettering our community. We believe that an empowered community is a strong community and we will work hard to continue these efforts in 2014. It is a privilege to serve the west-end community and we are lucky to have great people all around us who truly care. 

Your efforts and compassion is what makes the west-end a truly special place. Those who live here know how great it is and so it is our job to tell our story to the rest of the region.

Our success is rooted in your involvement. These are your streets, your neighbourhoods and your west-end. You know your neighbourhood better than anyone else. The power to create positive change lies within you.

May 2014 be our best year yet!




Popular posts from this blog

Some Updates

The Celestial Beacon

Ward 2 Public Meeting and Other Updates