Stronger Neighbourhoods, Stronger City
This isn’t just a slogan to Chris and his team, but a philosophy by which they believe lays out the path to Windsor’s sustained success. At the core of the philosophy is the belief that strong, complete neighbourhoods are the foundation to a socially equitable and economically viable city. It is when neighbourhoods are built well, with civic amenities within close walking distance, over transportation corridors that are safe and equitable, and sustained by local independent retail areas, that the city as a whole prospers. We need to build our city with the residents needs at the forefront, and those thriving communities will drive and support a flourishing tourism industry.
It will be the details that make the difference, and only when these details are complete will our city have a resilient, sustainable future. We need clean neighbourhood parks shaded beneath expansive tree canopies, maintained streets with established traffic calming measures, and a holistic stormwater management plan that not only prevents flood waters from going to where it doesn’t belong but utilizes it and redirects it to lush and innovative community green spaces. All of this supported by access to libraries and community centres, hospital infrastructure closest to where the people live and work, and a fast and accessible integrated public transit system.
The elephant in the room which prevents us from accomplishing most of this is a $1 billion infrastructure deficit which we have yet to address, let alone work to reverse. The City of Windsor continues its patterns of transportation and land use development that virtually ensures this figure will never decrease and we will continue to be held hostage to it, looking to higher levels of government to fix it for us.
We have a few shining examples of transportation and land use done right, yet we view them as destinations to visit as opposed to planning philosophies to emulate. These are neighbourhoods that are commanding a premium too, as there are very few examples of quality urban environments for buyers to choose from. They are also examples of development that exemplify the “Demand Side Management” that will reverse our infrastructure deficit. We cannot afford to continually build new and wider roads that lead to single-use housing tracts and Big Box power centres. This form of development virtually ensures that everyone needs a car to participate and engage in life and offers little chance for transportation alternatives to thrive let alone exist. It is also the form of development that most cities have decided to move away from. It’s high time that the City of Windsor made that same choice if we want to maintain any semblance of quality of life for our residents.
Every neighbourhood that exists in the city right now will benefit from this change of transportation and land use philosophy. Residents in the core of the city will see added investment and the attention to detail that elevates their quality of life while lowering the transportation costs, leading to higher property values and a corresponding rise in quality of life. Residents who choose to live in one of our many suburban developments will see lower property taxes as the core’s values rise and pay a larger piece of the pie with their rising property values. With the Ministry of Finance predicting very low population increases over the next 20 years, to do otherwise would be foolish at best.
We have a choice. We have transportation and land use options that address our infrastructure deficit as well as work to mitigate the effects of a changing climate. We just need the political will to do so. By choosing to build Stronger Neighbourhoods, we will also be choosing to create a Stronger City.