Saturday, April 28, 2007

Arts Community - warm up your keyboards

Here's an opportunity to weigh in on the Capitol Theatre issue.

Guest Blog - A Model for the Capitol

I know there's a lot of energy and talent out there, just waiting to be tapped. My fear is, if this doesn't stay on people's agendas we will end up being presented a fait accompli by the City.

Speak loudly and speak often. Sometimes that's the only way politicians can hear you. (unless it's election time of course)

Friday, April 27, 2007

What a great idea

As someone who lives downtown, the new Farmer's Market at Park/Pelliser will be great. The report says target opening is June 1st. Running 7 days a week now instead of just weekends.

Love it.

Farmers Market (video)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Quick hits

1. And people wonder why Windsor is considered "anti-business"?
Coun. Ron Jones said he's "disappointed" with the way Shoppers has dealt with this issue and what I find absolutely appalling is that they will not sell the building to a competitor."
Such an evil company Shoppers, not wanting to hand over their hard earned market share to a competitor. The audacity is amazing.

2. February sales numbers are out from Stats Canada, showing vehicle sales down 3.7% in February, following a 4% decline in January. Preliminary March figures appear to be holding at the February level.

New motor vehicle sales

3. Just checking to see how that commitment to open government is doing.

There are 13 days left in the month before the City must pass the budget as required by Provincial law. What surprises are in store for the taxpayers of Windsor?

4. Contrary to popular belief in some circles, there is a thriving community of blogs in Windsor covering a diverse selection of interests. While politics is at the forefront for some, there are blogs on arts, social justice, education, tech, personal blogs, special projects and neighbourhood issues, just to name a few. Take a look and see what your friends, family, co-workers and neighbours are saying.
(Note: WE Speak is my initiative to form a voice for the diverse group of Essex County's online citizens.)

5. Some inspiration for our Mayor as he contemplates his "fireside chat of the 21st century" email newsletter to the citizens of Windsor. We wouldn't want the Mayor to become demoralized after demise of Windsor's proposed quarter million dollar communications department. Here's the fire - where's the chat?

Quick hits

republished above due to technical difficulties

Monday, April 16, 2007

Those lazy downtown businesses

Google Alerts are a fantastic tool. Just enter your keyword(s) and let Google monitor the net for any mention of that word. That's how I found this article.
Windsor struggles with 'perfect storm'

Gordon Orr, managing director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Windsor Essex County and Pelee Island, said it's exactly that kind of self-help that will allow businesses to ride the tide of economic uncertainty until better days arrive.

"You just can't leave the door open and expect people to come," said Orr. "I think that it's up to the property to position themselves to try and capitalize on the visitation that's coming to Casino Windsor."
I don't know about anyone else, but if I was a downtown business owner, I'd be pissed to be reading a quote like that. I'm sure we'll shortly be hearing the "out of context quote" explanation.

As I live downtown, I've been taking a keen interest in the plight of business owners down there and the last impression I get is they are just "leaving the door open and expecting people to come". The DWBIA has to be the most active and pro-active BIA in Windsor. On top of the normal cost of doing business the DWBIA is investing significant sums of money to improve streetscaping, initiate/ support various events and festivals to draw people downtown and subsidize parking, just to name a few.

From what I understand, they are still waiting for an RFP to be issued by the City for the "Urban Village" project. Taxes are slated to increase, City reserves are dangerously low, the streetscaping project is rumoured to be running over-budget, the Health Unit has been targeting struggling smokeshops, the Casino and bingos are enjoying an exemption from the new smoking laws not offered to restaurants and bars, City licensing costs are increasing - just to name a few things off the top of my head.

What amazes me is that Downtown owners continue to stay downtown. Owning a business is a risky venture in the best of circumstances, downtown businesses seem to operate with one leg and one arm tied behind their back.

For the Convention and Visitor's Bureau - if you want to talk about just leaving a door open and expecting people to come - look no further than home. This door looks like it was opened in 2000 and promptly forgotten.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Liberty Summer Seminar

Mark you calendar - August 18th and 19th, 2007 - Orono Ontario. Watch the Institute for Liberal Studies website or the ILS blog for further details.

Canadian musician Lindy has come up with a fantastic theme song for the seminar.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

That Council food budget thing...

I was just scanning the AM800 recent polls page when I noticed the poll pictured to the left.

It's always nice to know there are plenty more like-minded people out there. Hopefully a few Councillors were made aware of this poll. Contrary to popular belief in some circles, it's not just a few people that care about these things.

HMCS Halifax Great Lakes Tour 2007

I caught an item in yesterday's Windsor Star mentioning that the Halifax was going to be in Windsor on the Victoria Day weekend so I decided to do a little surfing for info.

If you live close to one of these locations, it's worth a visit. See how the men and women of the Navy live and work.

I was lucky enough to do two Great Lakes trips when I was on HMCS Saguenay in 1983 and again in 1986. These are fantastic, albeit expensive trips for the crew.

This spring, between April 20 and May 28, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship HALIFAX will visit many cities along the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes.

Tour schedule

Montreal April 20 – 24 Vieux Port, Pier 12
Open to visitors: April 21 – 22 1 – 4 p.m.

Kingston April 25 – 26 Anchored near port
(By invitation only) April 25 – 26

Toronto April 27 – May 1 Queen's Quay
Open to visitors: April 28 – 30 1 – 4 p.m.

Oshawa May 1 - 3 Port of Oshawa, West Jetty
Open to visitors: May 2 1 – 4 p.m.

Hamilton May 3 – 7 Pier 8, Catherine St. wharf
Open to visitors: May 4 - 6 1 – 4 p.m.

Port Weller May 7 - 8 Wharf 2
Open to visitors: May 7 3 – 5 p.m.

Thunder Bay May 11 – 15 POOL 6 Dock
Open to visitors: May 12 - 14 1 – 4 p.m.

Windsor May 18 – 22 Dieppe Park, Ouellette Street
Open to visitors: May 19 - 21 1 – 4 p.m.

Quebec City May 25 – 28 Pointe-à-Carcy, Pier 21/22
Open to visitors: May 26 - 27 1 – 4 p.m.

For complete details on the tour and other Navy related info visit Experience the Navy. They've also got Navy Screensavers, Yahoo Widgets and other tools for download at this site. Navy Recruiting has definitely gone hi tech. No more "There's no life like it!".

Cross posted from The Torch

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Council Communications

A worthwhile read every week.
Council Communications for Tuesday April 10, 2007

Item 6 From the General Manager of Corporate Services - Legal and Consulting Fees - Border/Interim Control By-law Files

4. As at February 28, 2007, a total of $1,856,185.71 has been spent on the border file and $1,186,686.34 on the Interim Control By-law/OMB Hearing file. The total for these files is $3,042,872.05, current to and including February 28, 2007. Of the border file expenditure, approximately $195,400 is out of the most recent budgeted amount.
(Ed. Note: I believe the "most recent budgeted amount referred to here is $400,000, approved on October 10th, 2005, but I still have to confirm this)

7. Conclusion - The response of the City Solicitor with respect to border and interim control by-law files Fees and disbursements is submitted for information. The City Solicitor is requesting that Council consider requiring the report on a quarterly basis. (Ed. Note: last report was January 8th, 2007)
"City Time" certainly is a strange animal. This monthly report covers until February28th. The previous report was dated January 8th and the last report I could find before that was November 9th, just prior to the election.

The total reported in November of 2006 was as follows (current figures/difference in brackets):

Border File - $1,690,380 ($1,856,185.71 - $165,805.71)
Interim Control By-law/OMB Hearing - $1,067,946.13 ($1,186,686.34 - $118,740.21)

If the $400,000.00 amount mentioned above is correct, then there is only another $115,454.19 to go before further expenditures are authorized - that is, if further expenditures haven't already been authorized in-camera and we don't know about it as yet.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Recycling Police

This one struck me as strange for some reason:

More Recycling Urged (SEE VIDEO)
Dozens of apartment buildings still not following three 'R's'

Apartment building bad. I think this is going to be a theme over the next several weeks in Windsor.

Just a guess, mind you.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Windsor Airport

With the Airport takeover in the news recently, I thought it would be worthwhile to post this related video from Alan Halberstadt's blog. This is one of his Council Chat videos filmed in February of this year.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Shadow Theme

It took some diligent Google searching, but I finally tracked down "The Shadow" theme

PS - City Hall readers might want to turn their speaker volume down a bit in case someone is listening!

Windsor Time Machine

Then Councillor Eddie Francis campaigning, circa 2003:

# The budget process needs to be open and transparent.
# Participatory budgets allow for sharing of information and create new avenues of consultation and greater citizen input.
# Pre-budget meetings will be held with community groups.
# A call for input from taxpayers, business, labour and community groups at the beginning of the process - not a week before the by-law is to be passed.
# Budget details to be posted prior to council deliberation for pubic comment.
# Taxpayers will have a clearer idea of how their money is utilized by the City.

Mayor Eddie Francis finished campaigning, circa 2007:

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Municipal Election Financing

With yesterday at 5pm being the deadline for all candidates to file their election returns for the last Municipal election, I was expecting to see at least a paragraph or two in the Star today. There I go with that "assuming" thing again. With roaring Grand Prix engines in one ear and revving tunneling bores in the other I must have got distracted for a moment.

Bring your marshmallows

At the rate this seems to be going, I've got a funny feeling some local arts groups are going to be burning someone in effigy soon. No snowplows to offer for this event - it could get costly.
I hear the North American Frog Jumping Contest is coming to Ypsilanti soon. We better hurry up before we miss the boat.

After years of lawyers fees (ongoing) , consultants (long gone) , PR glitz and glam(gone with the consultants hopefully) we finally draw a line in the sand - choosing the most expensive option that neither level of government is likely to choose. The new council passed Councillor Marra's tunneling motion without even needing a strategic planning session (open or closed), consultants report, engineering studies or failing everything else, a report from our own administration. Amazing. It begs the question - What the hell have we been shoveling money out the door for all the preceding over the last several years?

Now everyone can safely point and say - "We did everything we could, it's (insert name of choice here) _________________ [Stephen Harper] [Dalton McGuinty] [Sandra Pupatello] [Dwight Duncan] [The Tooth Fairy] ' s fault!" If I were DRIC I would endorse the Schwartz Plan now. That would be an interesting scramble to watch.

On a final note, I was happy to see the Mayor being as magnanimous in his praise for Festival Epicure as he was in providing support and leadership in helping find a new lead sponsor.
Mayor Eddie Francis applauded a new sponsor stepping up to keep the festival afloat — despite the strange partnership of two competing border traffic proponents.

“It’s great Festival Epicure will continue,” he said. “We mentioned to organizers they had to approach things in a different way. They were able to reach out to other corporate sponsors and keep the festival going.

“It’s one less festival the city will have to support.”

Asked for reaction about the Ambassador Bridge-DRTP marriage to run the food festival, Francis said: “That’s for them to have to explain.”
I may have mispoke in the first paragraph. I think some business owners may soon be joining the arts groups.

Pass the hotdogs please.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Shadow Poll #6 - Results

I left this one up for a while longer than usual in order to get as wide a range of opinions as possible. While it didn't spark too many comments, I did get a fair amount of emails.

24 out of 28 people gave the Windsor and Essex County Visitors and Convention Bureau website a grade of 5 out of 10 or less. In terms of "branding" for the City of Windsor, this is not very good.

The site is so outdated it's painful. Microsoft Frontpage code, scrolling galore, no keywords, most of the content is displayed in frames which prevents linking to pages other than the homepage. To borrow a phrase from Ronco, the website looks like a "set it and forget" site.

I posted a few sites for comparison before and I'll list them again. We're not even in the same league let alone the same ballpark.




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