Mayoral Candidate Chris Holt commits to rejuvenating Windsor Arena and creating a Black Cultural & Historic District
Under the leadership of Mayoral candidate Chris Holt, a rejuvenated Windsor Arena would be a staple of a Black Cultural & Historic District along the McDougall Street Corridor in the City of Windsor.
Holt announced Wednesday morning that, if elected, a community partnership between the City of Windsor and key stakeholders would see The Barn renovated and restored.
“Today, we’re committing to a community-led and community-informed process. A process that has the end goal of rejuvenating the Barn as a prominent fixture and anchor in this community,” Holt said, “we’re hearing overwhelmingly that the community wants this asset to thrive.”
The process would involve the community in meaningful consultation to bring forward ideas of the unique ways in which Windsor Arena can be used by residents of Windsor. Holt points to not only financial support from local entrepreneurs and philanthropists who have deep family ties to The Barn, but also to numerous groups and organizations that want to be part of the Barn’s renewal in this collaborative approach.
“I am committed to bringing a very different approach to how the Mayor’s office works with the community,” said Holt, “because we all deserve to be engaged respectfully and meaningfully by our city government.”
The vision would see The Barn become a flexible community hub. It would be the proud home of the Windsor Express professional basketball team but it would also be able to adapt and morph into a wide ranging community space. Groups like the YMCA could run camps and day programs, it would be available to local artists and musicians for exhibitions, events and concerts, and be accessible to schools for graduations and convocations. The possibilities and opportunities are many.
Holt emphasized that the City of Windsor would retain ownership of Windsor Arena, similar to existing arrangements with key assets in the community like the successful relationship between Windsor Symphony Orchestra and the Capitol Theater.
“To simply focus on this one building without viewing it in the larger context of the community would be doing a disservice to this neighbourhood.” continued Holt.
Windsor Arena sits on an incredibly important site steeped in the history of Windsor’s Black community. The McDougall Street Corridor was once the epicenter of the Black community in Windsor and home to the highest concentration of Black-owned businesses in the city. At its height, the neighbourhood’s population was approximately 40% Black, and was rich in culture and community ties.
Holt committed to reclaiming the Corridor’s prominence through the establishment of a Black Cultural & Historic District. “Today I am committing to working with the Black community to help us re-establish ties to this neighbourhood,” Holt explains, “we hope to rejuvenate not only this corner, but this entire neighbourhood in our core.”