Windsor’s Mayor to push Hwy. 3 widening on new task force, inter-community transit
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Blackburn News/Adelle Loiselle
Windsor’s Mayor is happy to vice-chair a new task force looking at ways to improve the way Southwestern Ontario’s 1.6-million residents get around.
The Southwestern Ontario Transportation Task Force will focus on several key actions, including widening Hwy. 3 between Essex and Leamington. Preliminary work is underway now to start the project.
“I have no doubt that project is going to happen,” said Drew Dilkens. “But what this task force is looking at, is even more of the investments that are needed in order to connect communities, whether that’s better transportation links, better transit links within a region, inter-regionally as well.”
Dilkens believes the task force could help improve the region’s public transit links between Windsor, Essex, Leamington and Kingsville.
“We’ve seen great success with those links already,” he said. “So the question is, how do you cement this in so it becomes more permanent.”
If those links improve, Dilkens can see more people from the city taking advantage of employment opportunities in the agri-food sector in the county.
Intercommunity busing was identified in a survey of more than 1,400 people undertaken by the province in the first quarter of 2020. Of those surveyed, 40 per cent of respondents said they use public transit to get around.
About 78 per cent get around by car and 75 per cent clocked their commute at less than 40 minutes a day.
The task force will also look at how air travel fits with the region’s transportation needs. NAV Canada is currently studying whether the air traffic tower at Windsor’s airport needs to be staffed, a move Dilkens calls misguided and foolhardy.
“We need to strengthen airports in Southwestern Ontario and not try to save a few pennies with layoffs at control towers,” he said.
London Mayor Ed Holder was appointed the chair by Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney.
The task force will advise Mulroney on critical transit and transportation needs by prioritizing 40 identified actions in the draft transportation master plan. Those actions are expected to improve safety on highways, imrprove inter-connectivity between communities, support a competitive business environment, and prepare for the future.
Dilkens said once the pandemic ends, and efforts to rebuid the economy get underway, rethinking transportation will be crucial. He points to the number of people working from home now, and how that may be more common going forward.
“People are going to rethink the way that they work,” he said. “Once we get past the worst of the pandemic, and we’re able to think about what the new world of work looks like — where people can live in different places provided they can move between those locations. That’s where some of the challenge lies today.”