Despite the rosy spin Windsor puts on last month’s FINA short course swimming competition, mounting evidence tells a different story. Even interim mayor Drew Dilkens is almost admitting it was a failure.
On December 8, 2015, he told the Windsor Star it, “… is a very large, world-class event that will be broadcast literally to billions of people around the globe.”
It was all undocumented hype.
But, at the time, he probably believed his own press, which was running like 60. That seems to have changed.
This year, a January 14 Windsor Star story, on the limits of the city’s new concierge, one-stop service to investors, made it clear tourism investments, “… should be expected to draw a minimum attendance of 100,000 annual visitors.”
FINA attracted far fewer despite $28 million, mostly taxpayer cash, lavished on the rich, foreign organization. For the big spend, the city anticipated glorious global glitter, which didn’t materialize.
Possibly Dilkens, by setting that minimum attendance, now understands real cities don’t have to buy their way to fame.
There was much talk of FINA visitors flooding the city’s restaurants. Eateries could expect to see their bank accounts filled to keep them in business.
That, too, did not happen. A parade of closures has started.
Trendy Walkerville’s Ceilidh Maritime Pub is gone. On Huron Church, Swiss Chalet is on temporary leave. On Walker Road, after 46 years, Lone Fone is closing.
While FINA failed to arrest the continual shrinking of the city, there is some good coming out of the costly exercise. It conclusively proved flash-in-the-pan swimming competitions are not sustainable economic development.
This revelation should cause city leaders to aggressively pursue jobs and new factories. That, too, is doubtful.
No one is putting in the effort, including the region’s economic development office. The newly hired leader, Stephen MacKenzie, busies himself assembling a file on Donald Trump, America’s next president.
According to the CBC, in a January 12 report, this dossier, “… on Trump is the thickest in his office.”
MacKenzie, told the broadcaster the region should chase automotive technology companies and it should, “… try to identify those areas where we can have an impact.”
His second should have been to convince the city to stop the FINA madness knowing it would do little.