For Windsor’s mayor Drew Dilkens, and rather true to form, converting the gracious downtown Paul Martin Building into the university’s law school, as he told CTV News April 5, is nothing less than a, “… huge priority for the city.”
Is it really?
Or, is it just more of his blindly following the costly and failed agenda of former mayor Eddie Francis?
Francis hatched the idea as far back as 2013. At the time, he was busy getting rid of well-paid professional office workers, the polished shoe set, in favour of sneaker-wearing students. As usual there was, and has been, no logical discussion of the merits of relocating the law school.
In reality, it is merit free.
Some might argue it would put the students closer to the courts. The counter argument is that law firm Strosberg Sasso Sutts relocated out of the downtown’s court cluster.
Dilkens has either bought into the flawed Francis predilection of building the downtown on the backs of students, or is simply doing what he is told. Your choice.
The health and wealth of any city’s downtown is aligned with its diversification. Windsor’s has been in code red status for years. Francis, who seemed to have few diplomatic skills, thought only he could solve the problem.
His solution of throwing taxpayer money at it didn’t work.
What really tells the tale is CTV’s mentioning the Federal Government, which owns the building, getting rather antsy. It needs, “… an answer by May if it is to relocate the existing employees.”
Oddly enough, most cities with rational mayors would go to great ends to attract government employees. Dilkens wants them out, to be replaced by students.
He is even willing to put up $15 million to help the university. But, that won’t be enough.
Dilkens told the broadcaster that another $20 million is needed from the provincial government. Hopefully Kathleen Wynne has more sense than money and will politely bow out.
Whether Dilkens understands it or not, Windsor’s core needs the polished shoe set. The Paul Martin building would make an ideal office building or even a head office. However, with this region’s hardly performing economic development outfit, that probably won’t happen.
Dilkens can stop the madness of spending taxpayer’s hard cash by ordering the developers to find tenants and end the Francis scheme. But will he?
It is simply much easier to spend money, which the city has little of, than to do the real work of building a prosperous downtown in a great city. Instead, Dilkens is opting for a downtown stuffed with classrooms which go dark on weekends.