City Budget Gets Thumbs Up

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Windsor Star/Dave Waddell

The budget passed by Windsor city council Monday seems to have struck the right note with Windsorites not only for some of the items it contained, but for the message it sends about the city. That was the overwhelming opinion voiced in a random survey of locals downtown Tuesday.

“I think it’s a positive trend to show the city is not just focused on industry,” said University of Windsor student Starr Meloche of putting millions toward bike paths, energy efficient LED street lighting, electric buses and modernizing the public library system.

Meloche, 20, said the expansion of bike paths is particularly exciting for a cyclist such as herself.

“Before I came back to Windsor for school, I worked on a campaign to expand bike paths in St. Catharines,” Meloche said.

“I’ve been bumped by cars a couple times. It will definitely make it safer. “It’s (cycling) environmentally friendly travel. It also encourages people to stop and smell the roses, enjoy life."

“That’s something we don’t do enough of.”

Josh Zuliani, 28, said the message the city is sending with its budget choices will help alter the image of the city. Greener, healthier and promoting literacy with an improved library system are progressive signals to those looking at the city from the outside, Zuliani said.

“I think it brings value and adds to the city’s aesthetics as a district both commercially and residentially,” Zuliani said.

“I think Windsorites want these types of things. I really like the ideas.”

Al Croscup said the health and safety benefits of more bike paths are a welcome addition.

“There’s too much of a clash between bikes and drivers,” said the middle-aged Croscup.

“I have muscular dystrophy, but I still have to use my muscles. This gives me more safe places to do it.”

All interviewed liked the plans for modernizing the Windsor Public Library system along with shifting some branches around.

Even the concept of putting a library branch in middle of a bustling Devonshire Mall has people intrigued.

“The mall is a good idea,” said Sammy Moro, a Grade 11 student at Catholic Central high school.

“It’s another place you can go to at the mall. It’ll be a nice quiet place for a break where you can learn something with all the books around while you’re there.”

While she was doing her own schoolwork on a laptop, Meloche passionately defended the importance of books and libraries still have.

“A lot of libraries are being taken out of schools,” Meloche said. “They’ve become computer rooms and that’s great, but I don’t think it really promotes literacy.

“That’s incredibly important and I think it’s a dying skill.”

Meloche also liked the idea of retrofitting the old Sandwich Fire Hall to house the west-end library as a retreat from Windsor’s reputation for not respecting its history.

“I really think Windsor needs to hold onto its history,” Meloche said. “It’s so much more aesthetically pleasing to reuse old buildings.”

Rebecca, who preferred not to give her surname, generally supported council’s priorities as long as basic services still get the attention needed.

“I think they should fix the roads, so I don’t sprain my ankle again,” Rebecca said. “Spending a lot of money on libraries is money they can’t spend doing that.’

However, the Grade 12 student at St. Joseph’s high school was more enthusiastic in her support of the city’s plans to replace 24,000 street lights with new LED versions. The more energy-efficient lights produce a purer white light and are expected to save the city $36 million in operating costs over 15 years

“The (colour) of the light doesn’t make that much difference to me, but I like it if it saves the city money,” Rebecca said.