The brain trust at city hall wants Council to spend $8,000 to showcase Windsor at this year’s Congress for New Urbanism Conference. It might seem, to the non-observant, a case of hypocrites wanting taxpayer money to pretend they are urbanists.
Neither the city’s council nor its administration give a public thought to any kind of urbanism, modern or otherwise. This is why they are blindly preparing to gouge taxpayers to the tune of $300 million to service the urban sprawl of a new hospital in a farmer’s field, close to the flight path of the local airport.
In a report to Council for its March 7 meeting, apparatchik Adam J Coates talks of the principles of new urbanism. They include designing, “… walkable blocks and streets, housing and shopping in close proximity, accessible public spaces, place making and human scaled urban design.”
Who does Coates think he’s fooling?
While these are nothing if not good principles, they’ll never see the light of day in the city common sense stuffs into the dustbin.
The conference itself will be held in Detroit, but its organizers apparently are planning on having some sessions in Windsor; thus the need for $8,000 smackers. Was Windsor selected for its proximity to Detroit or was it picked because it can keenly display what should not be done?
Windsor is well on its way to being the contrarian when it comes to new urbanism, with its plans to shift its centre from downtown to its outskirts in a move it knows will threaten to hollow out the heart of the city.
Ironically enough, Detroit is doing quite the opposite with its revival of its downtown.
Curtis Sullivan, co-owner of Vault of Midnight, which plans to open one of its famed comic book stores in the D, told the Free Press February 29 about there being, “… no place more exciting right now than downtown Detroit. We are thrilled to bring something new and completely different to the mix and become part of the city’s historic resurgence.”
No one has ever accused Windsor of being exciting or even its council of being dynamic. Or, for that matter, awake. So, it becomes quite the mystery what it plans to do to impress the 1,500 designers, planners, developers, architects, and other professionals who are gathering to see new urbanism successes.
It could be the city will try to pretend its failures are successes. Coates, in his request, offers this piece of pretence.
After decades of decline Ford City is beginning to turn itself around but still faces issues of blight, poverty and perception of crime.
There is even blather about Windsor facing, “… unique challenges when it comes to urban planning. Separated by only 1 mile of water and an international border, Windsor and Detroit share an intimate dynamic unlike any two cities.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
What, pray tell, has the river to do with urban planning?
At best, the delegates will see quite the contrast. As Detroit pulls itself up, Windsor works to pull itself down. Its council cares about nothing except elite swimmers. It refuses to help any locals trying to better the city. It won’t contribute to its farmer’s market nor the downtown incubator.
Meanwhile, Detroit just motors on showing the world what leadership is.
No doubt the delegates will enjoy the contrasts of can- and can’t-do cities. They might even compare the steady handed leadership of Detroit’s Mike Duggan to the ego and glitz-chasing anti-leadership of Drew Dilkens. That, alone, could be entertaining.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at noon every Thursday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. It is also streamed online at CJAM.