Plans For City Hall Half-Baked


The plans to replace Windsor’s city hall are growing in both size and cost.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Header-image-TuomiBy Robert Tuomi

Some city hall pundits have taken to calling the city’s flighty mayor Mayor Costly. This, after a February 19 report in the Windsor Star about the city working diligently to build a new city hall, discussed changes for the public esplanade.

Dilkens is quoted as saying, “We know to do the civic esplanade properly, we’re going to need a lot more money than is set aside in the capital budget, recognizing that there’s work to do. But it will look better.”

It just shows how ready he is to spend.

Dilkens is no stranger to overboard spending. He has chalked up nearly $21 million, so far, to host a FINA short swimming competition.

The budget for a new city hall now stands at $43 million; and, continues to grow. That cost, by the way, does not include a multi-million dollar parkade. Esplanade betterment will take the project’s cost even higher, although the city is trying to compartmentalize the costs so it looks less expensive.

Voters need to be aware, it is all one project with different components.

It is all particularly reckless because there is no need for a new hall.

The County of Essex, when faced with problems of a similar nature to those bothering Windsor’s city hall, such as asbestos, energy issues, and more, at its once golden palace, elected to renovate rather than rebuild.

The palace had earned its golden moniker from the colour of the glass cladding that surrounded much of the building and which proved to be problematic. It was all removed, additional floor space added, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgraded, and new flooring installed.

The cost was about $6 million.

Although Windsor’s administrators have provided numbers suggesting a renovation of the city’s old doll would cost a considerable amount, with no auditor general no one has really officially checked into these estimates.

In light of what Essex has done, the cost of renovating Windsor’s new hall should be revisited. However it probably won’t.

Suspicious minds think the new place will be called the D Dilkens Civic Centre and will be built just to spite LaSalle. So, it will have to proceed, after all LaSalle is Windsor’s arch enemy; the one councillor Hilary Payne seems to prefer sparring with.

LaSalle recently opened a new, gleaming hall next to a grocery store. Inattentive observers might be convinced it has one-upped Windsor. This has happened before.

When the little municipality built a modern swimming pool with some water slides, it put Windsor’s rather large stuck up nose out of kilter. To rectify this slight from the youngster, Windsor’s then failed mayor, Eddie Francis, ordered his own pool and waterpark, if only, allege some, to put LaSalle in its place.

Things haven’t quite worked out.

The pool Francis built is way too small, even for a mediocre short swimming event. To compensate, Dilkens must erect a pop-up pool in the east end arena. He supervised the spending of some $80 million and ended up with a pool too small and a waterpark too expensive to operate.

LaSalle taxpayers were expected to drool over Windsor’s pool. That didn’t work out well either.

Windsor’s waterpark has serious troubles. Almost 200,000 visited it in its first year, but just over half returned for a repeat visit, putting the place in devastating financial difficulty to the tune of millions of lost revenue.

When Windsor’s extravagant city hall opens it will most likely be another failure. After all, Dilkens is involved.

Bets are on about the new extravagance being as half-baked as everything else he touches.

Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.

About the Author

Robert Tuomi
After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields. Email Robert Tuomi

3 Comments on "Plans For City Hall Half-Baked"

  1. Just George | 24 February 2016 at 21:14 |

    If the city went for a design and build tender process a City hall could have been built with cost and design put together.
    In this process someone has put a cost on the building who is not going to build it. They are using a cost that has no substance. In a design and build process they would have an exact cost with a design.
    I really think a new roof and HVAC system in the existing building would make more sense. The city should get advice from the people who say it is better to renovate the older Paul Martin building rather than tear it down.

  2. They were way over budget on the 400 building so you can expect them to be way over budget for the new city hall that we can’t afford. Our ineffective mayor and city council approved the FINA games that will cost the taxpayers 21 million dollars and they expect to build a new city hall as well. Get ready for a huge property tax increase as well as a huge increase in our waste water bill next year. Our ineffective mayor and city councillors are not working in the best interest of the taxpayers only themselves, a lot of big EGO’s. We need an AG to over see these projects prior to the city councillors approve them, but what I see coming from our city councillors it most likely would not make a difference.

  3. missusmagoo | 23 February 2016 at 17:45 |

    When the ‘new’ 400 bldg was in the planning stages, the council of the day was lobbied hard to include at least sufficient foundation for two more stories; two additional stories would have come in around 4 million dollars – NOPE, too much money.
    Later on, just before the great purge of administration, a request by council was made to cost out renovations on “old” city hall – when that came back in the ballpark of $15 million, they gasped – after all, it would ONLY have cost $4 million for two more floors… the rhetorical question was asked ‘are you stupid? It costs more to renovate existing than to build new’ – which promptly led to the termination of that brave soul
    so now THIS ….

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