Monday, November 06, 2006

The People's Platform

Since it seems to be hard to get politicians in this race to talk about policy, ideas, platforms etc. for the next four years, I thought we'd take a stab at doing it ourselves. We've heard everyone tell us what they're against and some general pablum on what they would like to do for their term, but no real concrete plans or ideas.
What are we going to do to diversify our economy? (pointing to the "new" development commission isn't going to cut it here)

Everyone talks about the "knowledge economy". What are some specific ideas to advance Windsor's transition to one?


Chimczuk Museum? What is it now, 10 years and $2 million dollars?

Old Salvation Army building downtown? How long are we going to let this sit idle?

City of Windsor Lobbyist Registry - who's lobbying who for what in Windsor?

Inter-modal transportation system - can Windsor build a world-class system (air, rail, truck). Should we be preparing for this in concert with the border process?

Specific goals for increasing infrastructure spending - 5 - 10% by end of term? More? Less?
These are just some of the things off the top of my head. Have you heard any of your candidates discussing these or other issues? Are we running an election or a popularity contest?

Email me your thoughts and ideas for the city's future, or you can post them here in the comments. You can do so under your own name or anonymously.

I'll throw out one idea to start things off.
The University of Windsor is one of Windsor's greatest strengths. They need an artificial surface for their new stadium, Windsor could use a first-class field for various high school, college and amateur events. Negotiate a deal with the University for naming rights. Say $2 million over 5 years. ( I haven't really investigate this, just coming up with an example).

The City gets naming rights for the stadium and access to a world class facility. The University gets funds to improve the stadium.

As a related item, the City should be using every resource possible to assist the University in attaining funding for the stadium from other levels of government. London received funding for their stadium as well as similar stadiums in Quebec and New Brunswick. Why not Windsor? We have two Provincial Cabinet Ministers and two Federal MPs. Hold their feet to the fire. It's a win win for both the City and the University.

The city must aggressively invest both time and money in our University and College if we expect other businesses and levels of Government to do the same.
What ideas do you have? (PS. candidates are welcome to join in - even anonymously if they don't want to be publicly associated with an idea)

Edit 1:
From Chris Schnurr, Ward 2
What is confronting Windsor, at this point in time, is not isolated. Throughout Canada and the United States, the manufacturing sector has been displaced to India, Asia and Mexico – where labour is plentiful and, comparatively inexpensive. To truly reverse this trend, it would require the co-operation of our Federal Government and the United States, for a complete reversal of current economic development policy.

What is happening is the manufacturing/production sector is being replaced by low-paying service sector jobs (i.e. call centers) throughout Canada and the US. To reverse this trend, significant dollars need to be invested in infrastructure (fibre optic, transportation, alternative energies, research and development). We need to modernize our rail network. We must reverse the shift in employment, away from income-levels which can not support a family, back to emphasis on forms of employment which are productive, not virtually unskilled services employment. To do so, requires co-operation with labour and government.

We must target firms in the “new” economy – alternative energies, transportation, and seek investment in our research and development facilities in the city (the University). We must lay the “infrastructure” groundwork fibre optics, satellite communications, high speed rail and begin moving towards a regional approach, to become a “global” city capitalizing upon the globalization of our markets.

As an example of research and development that Windsor could capitalize upon, is this article here:

Or this article:

Plasco is in the final stages of starting up a large-scale “Energy from Waste” plant in Ottawa. The plant will be able to process 85 tons of municipal solid waste daily. Using a plasma gasification process, the plant burns solid waste and converts it to gas. The gas is then used to power turbines that not only fuel the waste disposal process, but also generate residual power that can be sold back to the grid.

Gasification is a closed process that produces extremely small, manageable amounts of waste. The inert solid matter it produces can be used to make ceramic construction products or can be added to road asphalt. Waste from burning the gas to power the turbines measures well beneath all Canadian and European emissions standards.

But this will require several steps:

1. Competitive corporate tax rates
2. Development and servicing of industrial parks
3. Greater regional co-operation regarding economic and infrastructure planning and development
4. Directing our economic development commission to focus on these areas of development/production/manufacturing
5. Focusing upon new technologies versus automotive industries

The new medical school and engineering facility at the University of Windsor provides an opportunity for the city to capitalize upon health science industries, pharmaceuticals, as well as research and development for alternative energy fuels and automobiles.
From Alan Halberstadt:
" If re-elected, I plan to test the waters again with this bylaw on the new Council. I would also push another idea of mine, the hiring of a full-time anti-graffiti co-ordinator under the Crime Prevention Committee umbrella. Crime Prevention has done a good job, but has a lot of other duties such as Neighbhourhood Watch, and needs a strong extra hand to do more.

The job description of a co-ordinator would include monitoring graffiti locations, organizing volunteer clean-up crews, supervision of perpetrator clean-ups, hounding Canada Post to keep its boxes clean and making impact statements on behalf of the community at the court appearances of vandals who are caught.

The co-ordinator would also deliver an enhanced eduction progam in our schools and convene meetings with police, crown attorneys and Crime Stoppers to solidify a strategy for sentencing of vandals. The goal would be to compel them to clean up their own graffiti.

Costs of fighting graffiti need to be tracked, including police investigation time, clean-up expenditures by parks and traffic engineering crews, Crime Prevention budgets, ward funds etc. The co-ordinator can use the total cost as an argument for more accountable courts and stiffer sentencing.

And what of the cost of paying the co-ordinator? I suggest it come out of the ward funds of all five wards. The last time I checked, these funds had built up a surplus of $285,000. "