Saturday, September 8, 2007

Gallagher Leads Out

For the second time in as many weeks I'm writing to commend Mary Jean Gallagher for stepping up, and out, in the cause of preservation -- this time with the environment. As announced in today's Windsor Star, David Suzuki is lending is his namesake to the amalgamated Princess Anne and Coronation Public Schools. While that, in and of itself, is newsworthy (apparently David Suzuki is more action than showmanship -- now go figure!), what the school board is doing to earn the respect of the Canadian Eco-Crusader is down right stunning.

The combined school, originally pegged at $9 million, is getting another $2 million in upgrades to implement some of the most state-of-the-art green technologies available. The intent, according to the article, is to make this school a model for the rest of Canada. Along with a living roof, they will use plants to filter the air in the school, recycle and reuse grey water and rainwater, and, I am sure, a host of other initiatives. All I can say is 'Bravo!' It is about time that our government institutions led out by example.

Giving kudos to the school board two weeks running (those who know me know that having a special needs child means I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with the board at times) is something I never thought that I would do, which led to me start thinking about our fair city. If the school board can green its' projects, what makes doing the same thing on a city scale so difficult? How many projects fail to muster even a simple nod to being green, let alone measure up to the veracity of the GECDSB?

I say that it is high time that the city council stop meddling in the affairs of the administration, especially the public works department. Elected officials have no place in the planning or practice of running a city! That's right, you heard it from me first. I think that elected officials should keep their hands, and minds, out of running the city. Leave it to the professionals. Apparently the county officials who sit on the county council want to get a pay raise to bring them on par with their "counterparts" (I think they mean private business counterparts) who "manage millions of dollars". (Some may suggest it is more of a mismanagement) They are insuating that they are exactly as I picture them -- over-paid, and under-qualified, money managers. In my opinion we need more credentialled councillors -- elected officials with some real knowledge on how to run a city. Let's elect urban planners, environmentalists, engineers, accountants, etc. It's time to stop making elections popularity contests -- it obviously isn't working in Windsor -- and start electing based on what has been done, not on what will be done.

Case in point -- anybody who saw what Jimmy Yanchula and his team put together for the city centre west proposal knows that we have some A-1 people at work behind the scenes. In fact, in talking with some of the consultants who worked on those projects, they were often encouraged by those outside the project to "tone down" the innovation to make is more palatable for city council. Shame on council! This is the time to innovate. Windsor really has nothing else to lose -- it really can't get much worse.

Again, kudos to Mary Jean and the gang at the GECDSB for leading out and doing the right thing. Hopefully our city will follow suit and start innovating. With the opportunity to have the U of W Engineering school downtown (hopefully!) we may be well on our way to having our educational institutions show the rest of us, city council included, how green living can be sustainable both ecologically and financially.

1 comment:

Topher Holt said...

Wow. I didn't see that one coming. I am hoping that Joe Passa (passa.ca) is involved in the design of this new Suzuki school. He has done some great work for the Catholic school board who has lead the way in local "Green" architecture with the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Elementary School and St. Christopher Catholic Elementary School here in Windsor. (http://passa.ca/greenbuilding.html)