A Streetcar Named Recovery

On May 4, the Free Press reported that, … “QLINE gets credit for $7 billion Detroit Transformation.” The reference is to Detroit’s new urban rapid transit system. It will carry passengers to Detroit’s downtown from as far as New Centre and north.

It has been rather obvious to visitors to the Motor City that things were percolating along its Woodward Avenue route; mostly known for dream cruising in vintage cars. The new cars on the block will not be hot rods but street cars.

Free Press reporter Eric D Lawrence extracted this comment from a new report on the line, attributed to Eric Larson, president of the Downtown Detroit Partnership.

Larson said the line has taken, “… the entire length of Woodward from the (Detroit River) to Grand Boulevard and provided an attractive reason to develop and redevelop. So a lot more of the infill opportunities that were not quite ready are now sitting in a very good position.”

Rapid transit creates opportunities and, in a city like Windsor with a richness of infill opportunities, an advanced transit system could be the elixir to take the city to the next level. What is good about fixed path rapid transit is that both senior levels of government financially support these types of people moving projects.

This simply means that there is money on the table. Why Windsor is just leaving it there is hard to understand.

In fact, the Federal Government is setting up an Infrastructure Bank to finance these very same projects.

Sure, Windsor lost to Toronto as the host for the bank, but that shouldn’t deter it from becoming a benefactor of the government’s largesse; in a way that could actually transform the once rosy city.

Without even being operational, Detroit’s QLINE started a massive transformation of downtown Detroit. It is a real transformation, with shovels in the ground, and the development of a new urban horizon.

And therein lies the problem.

Windsor is all transformed out. For years, the Francis Council has bragged about its efforts to transform the city. Although none of the grandiose projects, usually sans proper due diligence, ever panned out, taxpayers were bombarded with tales of transformations.

At the end of the day, they were all fairy tales, some of them actually leading to the downfall of the city’s core. Council’s insistence on doing everything to run the professionals out of the downtown has resulted in an extreme loss of the offices which once housed high paying jobs.

Quizzically, Windsor is fixated on making parking great again without understanding that parking can only become great if the downtown has reasons for people to visit it.

That’s why the removal of retail along the stretch of its parking garage on Pelissier Street is so awkward. It is also backward, but wait for the mayor to start bragging about how it will transform the city.

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