Heads In The Sand

To live in Windsor is to be surrounded by people with their heads-in-the-sand. Recently, the media was abuzz about the once rosy city being Canada’s automotive capital, largely by counting employees at the mini-van plant. Yet the city has already forfeited its place in the auto industry’s future to the self-driving car.

Other non-automotive cities are taking the lead, though this is not to say Windsor didn’t try.

As far back as January 22, 2016, CBC reported, “… with the region’s university and colleges, the city is making a pitch to Ford of Canada in a letter.”

Apparently the letter didn’t work, however.

Ford announced in March that it would centre its self-driving research in Ottawa, where Blackberry QNX also plans to test autonomous cars this summer. GM research will be in Oshawa and at the University of Waterloo. And now Stratford will be Ontario’s designated demonstration centre for the self-drivers.

Stratford’s selection obviously shocked the head-in-the-sand Windsor mayor, Drew Dilkens. In a Windsor Star article on January 14, 2016, Windsor faces being left out of the self-driving future, Dilkens said Stratford is, “… really small.”

But, apparently, it is large enough to look at the future and see opportunity.

Windsorites can only hear about that future. One of the speakers at the local economic development office’s Business Outlook conference, this Friday, May 5, is Barrie Kirk of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence.

But don’t look for revealing discussion. According to its agenda, it is yet another head-in-the-sand exercise.

It will look at the usual high-tech, manufacturing, and financial and insurance, the weaker Canadian dollar, and the US economy and population, employment and residential investment. It will be the usual gabfest ending up with little but time spent.

Here’s what the city should be doing, but can’t because of its head, well, by now you know where.

If Windsor was interested in finance, it should be doing a full court press to host the Federal Government’s new Infrastructure Bank, well-suited to the Paul Martin Sr Building downtown. It looks like it didn’t even try. A BNN March 2 report identified Toronto as the front runner.

The city should be figuring out what happens when the Windsor by-pass opens. This is the name Torontonians have given the Gordie Howe Bridge.

As the nickname implies, it will divert traffic right past the city.

A detailed examination is needed into additive, or 3D, manufacturing, which could decimate the region’s mold, tool, and die industry. And the future of city-owned parking garages needs study.

As recently as April 26, Alissa Walker, writing in Curbed.com, largely declared them dinosaurs. Cities, she says, need to understand that soon people won’t own cars, but share them.

Walker seems to know Windsor City Council when she says the memo is not getting, “… to cities that continue to mandate outrageous parking minimums and the architects who obediently design gargantuan garages in response.”

The problem, with councillors and economic developers with their heads stuffed where there is no fresh air, is that they are squandering the city’s future.

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