Thursday, September 20, 2007


I just want to commend all the readers who are taking the time to compose wonderful letters to our municipal decision makers regarding the livability (or lack thereof) of Windsor, and how the decisions that they have been entrusted to make will ultimately affect us all. Here's another one that was sent along to the members of PAC in anticipation of tonight's meeting...

Dear PAC members,

I am writing regarding the proposed commercial development on the lands located at the northwest corner of Matchette road and Sprucewood ave. This type of project is completely backwards to the way the city needs to grow, which is internally with revitalization of the core. Would the proposed development meet the criteria for what Eddie Francis refers to as "Smart Growth", I certainly hope not. It is perplexing to me that extremely wealthy developers continue to grow even wealthier at the expense of the communities they build in. If this is allowed to be built then next we'll be expanding the roads going to said development at whose expense? How much has the area surrounding Costco already cost taxpayers with roads needing expanding and helping to make it easier for current residents to flee to suburban tax havens? They can now shop on their way out to their McMansions. We have 50,000 automobiles coming into the city already from the outlying communities every day and instead of making it more difficult for them to drive in and out of our city we keep making it easier.

There are many websites dedicated to livable communities and none of them would recommend this type of outward development. The long term costs of this type of sprawl need to be considered such as increased infrastructure and volumes of automobile traffic as well as increased energy needs. With the increase in traffic and parking facilities also comes increasing pollution levels and wider roads which will definitely impact the sensitive and already impacted Ojibway and Spring garden areas. As well there will be a huge impact on our health with increased water, soil and air pollution. Considering our air quality was last on the list of livable communities in Canada is this really where we want to head? There are also other externalized costs to consider such as increased obesity and Diabetes rates in sprawling communities and it seems all would benefit from being able to walk to where they normally shop. Diabetes is now the number one cost to health care in Canada and growing exponentially with our waist lines.

This type of development also only benefits a small portion of our community and the bordering communities due to the fact that it is basically only easily accessible by car. Those who do not drive or do not have a license have no access to big box outlets such as this and are in essence excluded from any consideration when said developments are discussed. This type of retail development also impacts local businesses which contrary to popular belief in this area are the lifeblood of livable/walkable communities. Why would someone walk to their local retailer when they can just shop on the way to and from work at supermalls on the outskirts of town and what incentive is there to stay in Windsor when all the shopping district is moving closer and closer to outlying towns?

I won't bore with all the details but there are many cities that have benefited from reinvigorating their cores and moving away from spawl or putting a complete moratorium on it such as Portland, Oregon, Charlotte, NC, and Grand Rapids, Mi. Communities benefit both economically and socially when cities revitalize their core and these cities become healthier, more equitable and vibrant. Tourism also grows organically from internal development as tourists for the most part enjoy walking and exploring the place they are visiting but Windsor seems to moving away from making it comfortable for citizens and tourists alike to walk or ride in this city.

Links to a few good websites you might like to visit are included below, please take the time to look them up and see how easy it really can be to move in the direction of livable/walkable cities, thank you for your time.

Sierra Club on community and sprawl
Partners for Livable Communties
America's Most Livable Communities
Center For Livable Communities
Livable Communities Coalition

Steve Biro

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doesn't this seem like the city jamming it to lasalle. Sue we'll see the gains while Lasalle suffers the losses. Besides they won't support the border stance we're takin', Right?

Its too bad that decisions are being made this way. I blame the province for allowing this region to remain in an archaic structure. Tecumseh, Lakeshore and Lasalle all promote sprawl. McGregor has residential development fees a fraction of what they should be.

The Minister responsible wrote me a letter basically saying he's not responsible.

A model for our governance should be the Kitchener Waterloo Regional government

The only thing that Windsor should be doing that its not is having a two teir residential development fee where development in the core (downtown, walkerville, sandwich, Ottawa, Erie and a few more I missed is less than the suburbs)