Downtown Windsor is on the verge of some dramatic developments. Oddly, residents will have to wait for it to happen until the run-up to the October 2018 election.
In an April 12 story in the Windsor Star, on Windsor’s current building boom by-passing the core, downtown ward 3 Councillor Rino Bortolin boasts the changes will, “… start next year … there are people waiting.”
For an idly sitting councilor who, so far, has done little more than grandstand, such a prediction seems pretty political. There actually have been people trying to turn the downtown around already.
Ali Bazzi, owner of the now closed Sunshine Bakery, found there wasn’t enough foot traffic.
Markham businessman Henry Tam was so discouraged, he wondered, in the Windsor Star, March 11, 2016, why, “… would [the city] not encourage development?” He has since nailed plywood on the windows of the Loop, adding to the downtown’s inventory of closed storefronts.
If there is a failure in Bortolin’s approach it is that he goes against conventional wisdom.
For instance, his penchant for ripping children’s playgrounds from parks. Valente Development’s Peter Valente says the key to attracting a builder’s interest downtown is to, “… make it more attractive to live in Windsor, one way or another.”
Bortolin told the local paper that the downtown’s transformation might take, “… lots of unsexy, small things … that all start to add up.”
If Bortolin is to be measured on small things, he is an abject failure.
The downtown is so neglected, no one bothered to advance the Bangladesh Peace Clock, to Daylight Savings Time. The clock was a gift to the city from retired city librarian A Aziz Chowdhury.
What would be another miscalculation is Bortolin wanting to turn, “… currently unused upper-floor office and commercial spaces into residential units.” Unfortunately, more, not less, offices, day homes for the polished shoe set, are desperately needed downtown to bring prosperity and foot traffic.
Does he really believe depopulating the downtown of its white collar workers, or dashing children’s hopes of fun neighbourhood parks, is the way to go?
Thankfully there are some who can see right through all talk, no action Bortolin, including Connie Dunn Parent.
The downtown, she says, “… is rundown and ugly. I don’t blame people for not wanting to build there. My whole life I thought ALL downtowns were like Windsor’s and then I moved to Oakville and was shocked at its beauty and just the feeling of safety I felt. I don’t think Windsor can be revitalized, it’s past that now.”
Hopefully Parent can be proven wrong. If only voters can find a doer rather than a talker to represent them.