October 25 City Council Letter

As you may be aware, City Administration has responded to Councillor Gignac’s October 4th deferral of the $41 Million Dollar riverfront proposals with extraordinary haste. The Riverfront Festival Plaza Canopy and the Riverfront Beacons are again on the decision agenda this coming Monday.
IF Administration had invited anyone associated with “Rally For OUR Riverfront” to the “public” meeting at 3pm October 13, 2021 they would have heard positive ideas and compromises that seek to balance the use of the riverfront parklands between nature and development.

Our group and others have well-meaning, positive contributions to make:
1. “Rally For OUR Riverfront sees that Councillors have a choice of overturning past Council decisions: a relatively recent and ill-informed decision about the streetcar location OR a bundle of laws designed to permanently protect the riverfront parks, or both. Windsorites have a passion for their reclaimed riverfront parklands. It is the common gem of our community. This ribbon of nature is the envy of most cities.

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2. “Rally For OUR Riverfront” is proposing the removal of the streetcar from the riverfront equation. The 2017 Council decision to put the streetcar on the riverfront happened when the streetcar was imagined to be a very nice ice-cream booth or similarly simple and small. Recognizably, Windsorites do not have a devotion to their streetcar history. By design or by happenstance, the streetcar has morphed into something far more expensive requiring a gallery shelter. Consequently, it is obvious that other locations better fit the refurbished streetcar and gallery. Knowing this, the 2017 Council decision would likely be different. The place where the streetcar would be most protected yet accessible to the public at the lowest capital and operating cost is the west wall of the Chimczuk Museum. The capital cost would be a relatively simple three walled addition on stable soil. The operating costs are already covered and the museum needs more exhibits to be viable. The streetcar would be proudly and safely visible to all passing traffic. The view of the riverfront from the streetcar gallery would be a treasure even in foul weather. Several renditions of this proposal are attached. To be clear, “Rally For OUR Riverfront” is seeking a Motion and Vote from Council to remove the streetcar from riverfront park plans and to agree on an alternate, economical location like the west wall of the Chimczuk Museum.


3. The Legacy Beacon site is home of the CP Railway Station and Control Tower. It is still visible in the east pillar of the Riverside Drive bridge across “the cut”. For over 20 years this has been the intended purpose of the Legacy Beacon. It is foolhardy to obstruct this history with a hastily transplanted streetcar gallery. The streetcar is too large and too heavy for this site’s soil. At the same time, it is a great idea to move the other amenities to the Legacy Beacon site. The event dining and wine patio, bike rental and food concession are a much better fit there.  It is closer to downtown in order to draw people to the riverfront, it already has an under Riverside Drive pedestrian bridge in place, “the cut” railway park is to be developed soon and integrated into the riverfront park, there is plenty of parking available on Caron Avenue, and any event noise is not imposed on a residential neighbourhood. Without the streetcar gallery it is a 100% win for all considered. The riverfront itself, as well as the actual history of the Legacy Beacon site is more than enough draw to make this park development an ongoing popular success. A rendering of this site proposal is also attached. To be clear, “Rally For OUR Riverfront” is seeking a Motion and Vote from Council to appropriately develop and celebrate the history of the Legacy Beacon site with all the amenities that were previously designed for the Celestial Beacon except for the streetcar gallery.


4. Regarding the Riverfront Festival Plaza, the canopy and other structures violate the many laws meant to permanently protect the uninterrupted natural view of the riverfront. (See the street level diagram attached.) The sections of the proposal that re-green the plaza are very, very welcome. At the same time, IF an exception or law changes are granted to these proposed structures, it must be surgical and specific in nature, it must come with a commitment to add the displaced amount of natural park to the riverfront, and it must strengthen the current laws protecting the riverfront’s uninterrupted natural view. The additional riverfront park, for example, is best extended under the Ambassador Bridge toward Sandwich Town as originally intended. The current Ambassador Bridge is obviously being refurbished to stay in place for a very long time despite the Federal Government’s granting of a replacement bridge to the same company. The abandoned Villa Maria should be acquired by the City and the riverfront park extended. To be clear, if it decides to proceed with any structure that contravenes previous Council’s permanent directions regarding the natural beauty of the riverfront, “Rally For OUR Riverfront” is seeking a Motion and Vote from Council to carefully protect and expand the natural riverfront parks.

We look forward to an honest and open dialogue with Council and Administration about the many positive possibilities this path afords us. In a brief time, a large number of people have joined “Rally For OUR Riverfront”. We hope it is a positive and sensible voice City Council will hear.
Thank you for your time, consideration, and dedication to improving the lives and environment of Windsor.

Mike Cardinal
on behalf of “Rally For OUR Riverfront”

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