Reflections on an Unprecedented Year

Friends, 

I have been reflecting over the holidays on the past year and everything we've been able to accomplish as a community. Despite the pandemic, we have been able to do so much to move our neighbourhoods forward in what I deem as an unprecedented year. Here are some of the highlights that I think are important as we move forward: 

Roads & Sewers

Some roads which have been done recently or are geared to start soon include the following: 

  • Phase 3 of Huron Church between College and Girardot recently completed and an application has already been put forward to complete the 4th and final stretch between Girardot and Dorchester
  • McKay, Curry and Adanac have been recently completed as a continuation of the College, McKay, Curry and Laing project
  • Sandwich Street sewer relining has already begun and the road reconstruction starts this year! 
  • Cameron, Brock, Rankin and Randolph have all been complete at different stretches this past year
  • Rooney and Josephine are already budgeted and scheduled to commence this upcoming spring/summer
  • University Ave West Environmental Assessment should be complete soon and construction should start this year. Council has allocated upwards of $17million for the project in the last budget approved this past December. I've talked a lot about this road in the past and have been advocating for its revamp since being elected. I can't say this enough: this is the most important road in our inner city and doing it right is critically important! 
Parks & Recreation

Some upcoming work includes: 
  • Shoreline protection and playground at McKee Park
  • New gazebo, soccer nets and picnic table at Bradley park this upcoming spring/summer (from my ward funds) and a complete revamp in a few years - Council already budgeted for this park in the tune of approximately $500,000
  • New playground and splash pad at Wilson Park (Adie Knox) to begin this spring/summer as well 
  • New lighting and railing along the west side riverfront
  • Bridgeview Park revamp including new trails, lighting, benches, parking lot, drainage and more
  • Restoration and protection of our Black history murals at Paterson Park
  • New bleachers at Mic Mac Park and coming soon, a new basketball court this upcoming spring/summer!
  • We also renamed the park adjacent to Mackenzie Hall as Mary Bibb Park, honouring a remarkable woman and figure in Sandwich Town
In addition to the projects above, I am so thrilled and excited about Gateway Park. This is the railcut between Cameron and Wellington, from Riverside to Wyandotte. Council approved upwards of $1million to clean up the cut and install infrastructure such as walking paths, lighting, benches, receptacles and other outdoor infrastructure. This was a long and arduous process as we needed to get a license agreement executed with the rail company and I am so grateful that after almost 2 years of work, we finally got it done! Clean up has already begun and I expect more will happen in 2022 and then infrastructure work will follow shortly thereafter. 

Lastly, we just finished the outdoor restoration work for Mackenzie Hall! This was a $1million project approved by Council to restore the facade, replace mortar joints, repoint the brick, injection grout, repair and cleaning. 

Adie Knox

Following the debate regarding Adie Knox this past summer, Council approved a complete repurposing of the building, transforming it into a robust community centre. This includes the following: 
  • A legal arrangement with the University of Windsor to share their pool which will include all of the programming currently at AK at the same times, more or less, along with free parking and similar water temperatures
  • Up to $29million investment from the City ($20million already budgeted as per the 2022 budget) that will see a new indoor gym, rec rooms, walking track, outdoor splash pad and playground, tennis courts, pickleball, and much more... 
This was a difficult debate because of the pool closure at Adie Knox but we certainly welcome the unprecedented investment in a new community centre that will serve families, seniors, students, newcomers and residents throughout the west end and beyond. 

Housing and Commercial Development

It is no secret that housing has surged at unprecedented rates in our community these past few years. As a result, we've seen much development begin or about to begin throughout our neighbourhoods and on our main streeets. Without mentioning every single development, I want to point to a few that I'm excited about: 
  • Fairmount development at the old Grace Site at Crawford and University Ave. W. This is a huge residential and mixed use development that will be a catalyst for the street. 
  • Graffiti development on University Ave W. is another catalyst project that is multi-use and will include high density residential along with a grocery store and other retail options 
  • Watkins Housing for youth which was a collaborative effort between the City, Family Services and upper levels of government to secure the funds and operations to house 10 youth at risk in our community
  • There are a few more housing projects that will be announced soon but I can't divulge at this time until we get the approval from the relevant stakeholders. Stay tuned! 
In addition to the above-mentioned developments, I am grateful for the resilience and faith of our small business community. Many have been able to survive during the pandemic, and some new ones have opened up! I am also thrilled about all of the development along Huron Church Rd. I will share more about this in the future so stay tuned for that as well! 

Lastly, and very importantly, I am grateful for the approval of Community Improvement Plans for both University Ave West and Wyandotte Ave. West. These CIPs will provide incentives for residential and commercial development along these corridors and are proven to work as we've seen them used in Sandwich Town, Ford City and downtown. 

Affordable Housing

Earlier in 2021, Council approved an historic $170million (leveraging upper level government funding along with City funding) for repair and renewal of our existing social and affordable housing stock. 

In addition to this, Meadowbrook development should be complete this year which will add approximately 150 new units. There are some other smaller developments in the cue that will also be announced in the coming months so stay tuned. 

Social and affordable housing is one of our biggest challenges and it is something I have been advocating for since being elected, both as a Councillor and as a Director on our Community Housing Corporation (CHC). I will be continuing this advocacy work as we hire our new CEO for CHC and we eventually ratify our regeneration plan which will be a vision for more development in our community. This issue is extremely important and something I am very passionate about. More to come... 

Property Standards Development & Enforcement

This has been an unprecedent year for the development of property standards. First the Residential Rental License was approved in March of 2021. After 3 terms of Council, we finally got it done! The bylaw is currently being drafted and will be presented to Council in the spring of this year. Following Council's ratification, it should be implemented this summer/fall and will be piloted in wards 1 and 2 for 2 years before Council makes a decision to extend it City-wide or not. More to come on this... 

Another very important development is the vacant residential tax that I pushed for since 2019. Council approved moving forward with such a tax on residential properties that are vacant and left to rot in our community, including those owned by the Ambassador Burdge Company. I expect that this tax will be in full force sometime later this year / early next year once we conclude community consultation and receive approval from the provincial government. This was part of a Council Question I raised several years ago as a result of recent legislation changes that allowed for this to occur. 

By-law Development & Enforcement 

Three main bylaws that were recently passed that are important to our community include an amendment to our dirty yard bylaw to include landscape neglect, an introduction of a city-wide rodent control bylaw that is being reviewed by admin as we speak, and the introduction of an alley standards bylaw to address the neglect and under-investment of many of our alleys. I am very proud of these developments and of Council's support for all three initiatives that I put forward throughout the year. There will be more to come on the alley standards bylaw and the city-wide rodent bylaw in the coming months. 

Speed and Traffic Calming

This is a big issue not just in the west-end, but throughout our City. I proposed red light cameras that were approved and will be implemented shortly, along with changing our four-way stop sign policy to allow for more four-way stops in our residential neighbourhoods. I expect a report on that will come forward later this year. In addition, Council approved an expedited speed calming policy and we will see speed calming measures implemented this year throughout some neighbourhoods in the west-end. Given that this is a city-wide issue, I expect more will come on this front in the coming months and years. 

Community Benefits Funding

The Community Benefits funding from the Gordie Howe Bridge project keeps rolling in for many infrastructure projects and non-profit organizations serving the west-end. To learn more, visit the link here: https://www.gordiehoweinternationalbridge.com/en/community-benefits-section

Remaining Boarded-up Homes in Sandwich Town

Aside from the vacant residential tax mentioned above, I have been advocating for the Bridge Company to either sell, restore, or replace the boarded-up homes that remain and have nothing to do with the permit they received from the federal government in 2017. The Bridge Company has not responded to any public requests despite there being precedent in our community where Council approved 3 developments this year from developers requesting demolition of homes in Sandwich to rebuild residential developments. We need to continue to put public pressure on the Bridge Co. and use whatever means possible as this remains the most important issue in the west-end. I will always stand with the residents on this issue and you can count on me being transparent and firm every step of the way. 

Community Work

One of the best parts of being a Councillor is the community work you get to do, and the people you meet doing it. Some memorable moments over the past year for me in this regard include the following: 
  • Partnering with Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation and MH100 to install new backetball court and nets at both St. Joseph community housing and Bloomfield court. I used my ward funds for this project and it was widely embraced by many youth and families in our community
  • Sandwich Town Farmers Market was a huge success in 2021 and I look forward to continuing it in 2022 and beyond. This was an effort by the Sandwich BIA (I sit on the BIA as Councillor) and stakeholders in our community. If you haven't been, it is located at the Hurricanes Parking Lot at the corner of Sandwich and Mill. Stay tuned for the 2022 schedule which should be released in the coming months. 
  • Miracle in Sandwich and Open Streets were both well-attended and fun events for families in our community. The first was exclusively a BIA project and the second was a City initiative with the BIA contributing toward the stretch on Sandwich Street. 
  • Windsor West Little League winning the championship was another great highlight. I've been sponsoring WWLL since being elected and the team I sponsored won the championship this past summer! Congrats to the kids and I look forward to a full season in 2022 (fingers crossed) 
  • Volunteering at Tim Horton's camp day is always fun and something I look forward to every year since being elected
  • We planted many trees this past year and there will be more in the coming years as well
Moving Forward

As you have read, 2021 was a very busy and unprecedented year for our community. So much has been done but there is still so much to do. I expect 2022 will be no different and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead. I always appreciate your insight and views so feel free to email or call me anytime and let me know your thoughts on the past year and moving ahead. 

I am going to provide a link to my ward meeting and a recent article from Anne Jarvis at the Windsor Star as both encapsulate a lot of what I wrote above. In Anne's article, she lists the top moments of 2021 and you will see several of those include the achievements above. I am proud of our work and I look forward to continuing it, together. 



It has been a privilege serving on City Council, not just this past year but this entire term. I love the west side and I love our community. For me it is and always will be home. There is no other place like it!

Here's to a healthy, safe and wonderful 2022!

Fabio

P.S. some pics below that capture our busy year!





























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