Mayor Dilkens Sets Out 2020 Priorities
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens has set his priorities for 2020 and two items top the list — a jobs strategy and the new megahospital.
Dilkens says he plans to set out a jobs strategy to take the city into the future with economic diversification.
With the closure of the west end Nemak plant next year and the possible elimination of the third shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant, he says the work needs to be done today to set the "city on the course to prosperity in the future."
He says talks have already begun with the University of Windsor and St. Clair College because he feels it is vital to have both education institutions at the table.
"It is really in my mind trying to create that diversification strategy with both of them at the table," says Dilkens. "The only way we can be successful on an economic development strategy is by linking our educational institutions to be a fundamental part of that."
But he notes that people in Windsor, long used to the role of a manufacturing city for decades, may feel uncomfortable about the new direction — as well as the amount of money it is going to take.
Dilkens says this isn't about veering away completely from manufacturing, but there needs to be more attention paid on jobs of the future, such as technology and advanced manufacturing.
"The recommendations that will come from this, will likely make some people feel uncomfortable," he says. "Uncomfortable about the amount of money we have to spend, uncomfortable not knowing whether the direction we are going to take is the right direction, whether it may seem a little different than where we are today."
Dilkens says the city relies heavily on the Windsor Assembly Plant and is currently dealing with the possible elimination of the third shift, but what IF it gets worse in the future — similar to the GM plant in Oshawa.
"I hope I'm not the mayor that ever receives that phone call, I hope that no mayor ever receives that phone call, but God help the one who does if we haven't done the work that we have to do."
Dilkens says this is about keeping pace with the currently quality of life.
"The people who live here today and the people who go to school here today, the goal is to give them the opportunity to have the great quality of life for five or six or seven decades here in this community, to allow them that opportunity and to be able to address what we see as sort of changes in the economy happening globally."
Dilkens says when it comes to the new acute care hospital; it is about keeping the pressure on the province to approve the next level of funding to design the megahospital on County Rd. 42 and the 9th Concession.
But he admits that pressure is more challenging, given the appeal by the Citizens of an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process (CAMPP) which is seeking permission to appeal a ruling by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal that dismissed the group's original appeal over the city rezoning the property.