Windsor West candidates mull options for community hub at old Forster high school

Things are heating up in Windsor West as a few of the candidates are trading barbs over what to do with the boarded up homes around the Ambassador Bridge and the former Forster High School.

With the backdrop of a shuttered school owned by the Ambassador Bridge Company and dozens of boarded up homes, Windsor West Liberal candidate Sandra Pupatello said it’s time someone paid attention.

“I hope after this election, this can be the site of rejuvenation,” she said. “I’m standing here to today tell you, I don’t care whose fault it is. We need to fix this.”

Pupatello wants to have a discussion with community members to once again make Forster a community hub. She says included in those conversations will be centred around using it affordable housing, a space for community agencies and groups and even small businesses.

Pupatello said she will need to get elected for that to happen.

“We have 20 years of the same MP and 20 years of this issue just festering for the community,” she said. “I think it’s time for a change.”

New Democrat incumbent candidate Brian Masse says the Federal Liberals created the blight by signing an order in council for the Bridge Company, paving the way for a new span, but also allowing the owner of the Ambassador Bridge to hold onto boarded up properties.

He also told CTV Windsor Forster closed because of provincial Liberal policies on school funding — policies that were in place when Pupatello was a cabinet minister.

“When I was on city council I helped save Forster the first time and later on it was her government that actually put in the policies that closed it. So if you want to go back in time, I’ve been there front and centre all that time,” said Masse.

The NDP candidate said his political opponent needs to do her homework, because an engineering feasibility study will soon be released, detailing necessary repairs for Science City and a dozen tenants to move into the old school.

According to Science City representative Bill Baylis, the Bridge Company is willing to donate the building.

“There has been some good progress and some goodwill on behalf of the Ambassador Bridge and Science City to actually take Forster School and create it into a community hub.”

The Conservative Candidate for Windsor West is Anthony Orlando.