The Windsor Star
Posted by: Chris Vander Doelen
Mayor Eddie Francis says the Ambassador Bridge should be the ones to repair the west end neighborhood it blighted by buying and boarding up 112 mostly single family homes.
Francis was asked repeatedly this week what the City of Windsor plans to do about the ruined neighborhood now that it has won a years-long legal case against the bridge regarding the fate of the homes.
“Why should we be the ones doing anything?” Francis said after the decision was released this week. The city doesn’t own the houses and it didn’t do anything to cause what happened to them.
“There is only one party that can correct this problem quickly and that’s the CTC,” he said. The Canadian Transit Company, which owns the bridge, owns all the homes and should repair them, the mayor says.
This week’s legal decision identified the companies as the culprits in destroying what was once an attractive, cosy and culturally significant neighborhood. They should fix what they’ve wrecked, Francis says. “They boarded up the houses and let them fall into disrepair.”
Justice Richard Gates wrote in his decision that it “is not hard to have some sympathy for the Olde Sandwich Towne residents . . . there was neither blight nor abandoned houses until CTC started to buy them in 2004.”
Francis says the Amabassador Bridge group “has a real opportunity to be good corporate citizens here” by reversing the “community destruction” they wreaked on the neighborhood.
“They could put these houses back into the shape they were in before the Ambassador Bridge decided to create this problem. Some of the houses are still in very good shape.”
Those that aren’t can still be repaired, Francis says, and “that’s the kind of conversation we want to have.”
Realistically, however, Francis believes the homes will remain the way they are for years to come. The bridge intends to appeal its loss, and is not likely to change it behaviour or its tactics. “We’re completely tied up by the process started by the CTC.”