Weeknote 2, 2021

§1: Words vs. Deeds

On January 7th, Drew Dilkens and an unnamed source that I like to call ‘The Mayor’s Chief of Staff’, threw Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, under the bus in an article in The Windsor Star. Rather than provide the health unit any additional resources, it appears there was some sort of attempt to take the authority to administer the vaccines away from Dr. Ahmed.

Dilkens said he is concerned about the ability of the health unit, already stretched as it deals with a tsunami of cases, to take on mass vaccination.

“Dr. Ahmed and the health unit can not do this alone, not successfully,” he said. “It just makes sense to bring in more horsepower. It’s about making sure we have all the resources that are needed.

“We have a shared goal,” he said. “We all have to take ownership here. It’s going to take many hands to get us across the finish line.”

But there is also concern that the health unit doesn’t appear to have a plan yet for mass vaccination.

Dilkens called Premier Doug Ford last week after the health unit received its first shipment of Moderna vaccine for long-term care and retirement homes and expressed concern that there didn’t seem to be a plan for administering vaccine.

Local vaccination task force warned to ‘ramp this up‘, Anne Jarvis • Windsor Star, Jan 07, 2021.

On January 11th, it was announced that Windsor-Essex was the first in the province to vaccinate all long-term care homes.

Also, since we are talking about vaccine distribution…

The fact that several area hospitals broke the distribution protocols by administering vaccines to non-front line healthcare staff before our 70+ population has been made moot as on January 12th as the province quietly changed the designated Stage 1 recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine.

§2 This is also Canada

Nick Kouvalis, a veteran conservative operative and principal at Campaign Research Inc. and Campaign Support Ltd., tweeted and subsequently retracted a false claim last week that anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter activists ⁠— not supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump ⁠— were responsible for the Capitol riots.

“These BLM/Antifa dudes get around like they’re Forest Gump (sic),” Kouvalis said in a since-deleted tweet from Jan. 6 that was accompanied by a photo of the Washington, D.C. rioters.

Top Tory adviser under fire for tweeting U.S. election misinformation, Emma McIntosh, National Post, January 13th 2021

Speaking of shitposters, I’d like to bring your attention to the January 12th Routine Proceedings dispatch from Dale Smith about The Rebel’s exclusive “interview” with Erin O’Toole.

What this stance O’Toole is making demonstrates is what I talked about in my weekend column – that his party is still happy to turn a blind eye to racists and white supremacists when they think they can use them to score goals against Trudeau. It also brings to mind Andrew Scheer’s farewell speech as leader, when he told party followers to trust outlets like True North and the Post Millennial for their news rather than mainstream sources, which is alarming because of the fact that much of their “reporting” is not actually that, and has been a driver of misinformation. Also of note is that the Post Millennial is in part controlled by the professional shitposters on O’Toole’s payroll – so that gives you an idea about what they are actually looking to promote and gain accreditation for. That O’Toole says they won’t respond to Rebel inquiries in the future is not comforting, because this demonstrates that they still considered this an audience worth engaging with until they got caught.

Roundup: O’Toole’s Rebel problem, Dale Smith, January 12, 2021

§3 We deserve digital

Why does our federal government continue to outsource essential work to consulting firms and diminish the capacity of our civic service?

OTTAWA – The federal government has awarded international accounting firm Deloitte a $16-million contract to build a national computer system to manage the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The contract was recently posted to the federal procurement department’s website after Ottawa called on a select number of companies to submit proposals for developing the system in December.

The new vaccine management system “will help manage vaccine rollout, administration and reporting on a go-forward basis, as the volume of deliveries increases,” according to Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Ottawa gives accounting firm Deloitte $16M contract to track COVID-19 vaccinations, Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press, Jan. 11, 202

When the federal government needed a COVID-19 tracking app that protected privacy, they had one quickly designed and delivered by their Canadian Digital Service.

The Canadian Public Service can be digital and it can be exceptionally so. But that potential will not be met if those in power keep outsourcing government work.

§4: Over 1000 pages

There is a city council meeting tomorrow. Its agenda is over 735 pages long, the appendix is 406 pages long, and the additional information package is 388 pages long.

Did I read all these pages? No, I did not. Sorry, readers but this week you are on your own.

But I will share with you a little hack that I’ve picked up. One of the means by which a city councillor can try to make change is to ask administration to prepare a feasibility report or response to a directed question. In the supplemental documents, you can find the list of outstanding council questions under the heading 18.1.

All of these questions are labeled CQ and so you can always check the current agenda to see if one of these questions is going to be answered by searching for ‘CQ’.

For example, at tomorrow’s meeting, Council will be receiving a report based on this question from the Mayor from January of last year:

CQ1-2020:Asks Administration to prepare a report on policy and/or bylaw changes that require new construction projects in the City of Windsor to prepare for electric vehicle infrastructure including, at a minimum, the rough-in necessary to facilitate future transition to electric vehicles. In addition, report back on best practices or policies that would benefit existing buildings to convert as needed. SW/13715 18.1(January 20, 2020)

The answer brought me to this information and map of current public charging stations:

Presently, the City of Windsor only has one City-owned EV charging station. It is located at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre and is free for the public to use. However, through funding made available through the Government of Canada’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP), the City has been able to expand the number of charging stations available for public use by twenty-two (22) additional electric vehicle spaces. The City will be installing eleven (11) Level 2 dual connector electric vehicle charging stations for public use at nine (9) different locations throughout the City. In addition, a charging station will be installed in Assumption Park North as part of the Celestial Beacon project which will house the newly-renovated Streetcar No. 351.The location and number of additional proposed (ZEVIP funded) charging stations are listed below. These sites will also be free to use at first, with the option to charge for use later.

Compared to the rest of the council documentation, councillor questions are the most straight-forward and also the most interesting.

I particularly can’t wait for CQ17-2020 to be answered:

It is important that we recognize and acknowledge the historic and systemic nature of racism and discrimination in our country and our City. We understand that to move forward and promote equity and eliminate anti-racism requires reaching out to and hearing from the voices of those in our community and Corporation most impacted by discrimination and racism. In this pursuit, it is also essential that we work towards having a Corporation that is representative of the people it serves and that everyone is treated with respect. As such, I am seeking the input and recommendations of Administration and our Diversity Advisory Committee on the viability of:

1. Including community-led consultations on systemic racism, under Phase 2 of the City of Windsor Diversity and Inclusion Initiative.

2. Seeking the input of those in our Corporation and related entities and our community most affected by racism and discrimination, regarding barriers to hiring and advancement in our Corporation and related entities as part of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative.

3. Including recommendations and input regarding providing historical information and educational materials for City owned statues, buildings and streets named with racist histories as part of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, and further developing a plan for inclusive street and property naming practices in the future. APM2020 (July 13, 2020)

Weeknote 1, 2021

§1: Partisanship is hazardous to our health

In a better world, all of our levels of government would work together to contain COVID-19 and protect lives.

But we live in Windsor, Ontario where the Mayor and the Head of Windsor’s Regional Hospital are more than happy to criticize the Federal Government’s work in supplying vaccines for COVID-19 and remain completely silent on matters that the province is responsible for.

According to journalist Dale Smith, this line of complaint is a Ford-talking point. From his January 9th Round-up:

As for the blame-shifting, Ford (along with a couple of other premiers) are howling that they’re running out of vaccines, after the slow roll-out – so slow that Ontario is already starting to give people their second doses. But, running out of vaccines is a good thing, because it means they’re going into arms. And more to the point, he knows that there are thousands of more Pfizer doses coming next week, the week after, and then again, the week after that, plus another bulk shipment of Moderna vaccines – and deliveries are expected to scale up further in February. They know this. This has been communicated for a while now, but he’s trying to deflect the attention to Trudeau once again to divert away from his own incompetence. (And apparently there were some hurt feelings among the premiers during Thursday’s first ministers meeting because Trudeau dared to criticize the provinces for their role in the slow roll-out. The poor dears).

For those just tuning in, examples of Ford’s incompetence in protecting Ontario residents from COVID-19 include:

  • putting the province into ‘lock-down lite’ the day after Christmas
  • not addressing the continued spread of COVID-19 through tighter controls at workplaces that not affected by the lockdown such as manufacturing, construction sites, warehouses, and agri-farms
  • not restoring sick days cut by the Ford government in 2018 so that those with COVID-19 symptoms don’t have to lose their income to stay home
  • allocating less money to LTCs in the Ontario Budget than last year
  • confusing lines of command by introducing a vaccine distribution task-force on December 4th with no nurses or family doctors represented

More troubling was another article that came out on January 7th in which The Windsor Star lets an unnamed source take pot-shots at Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

(“We can walk and chew gum at the same time, right?” Who is this asshat?)

This all very much reminds me of when David Musyj of the Windsor Regional Hospital was livid because the Health Unit was concentrating on distributing PPE to Long-term health care facilities instead of engaging in mass COVID-19 testing. Just as it is now, this was a story about non-public complaints that made it to the media via some mysterious, un-named source. (By the way, our Health Unit made the right call).

It is the job of the medical officer of health at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to lead the direction of the COVID-19 vaccination program. Breaking ranks from their direction holds consequences. And those consequences arrived the next day:

“I am disturbed by the fact that with the limited supply of vaccine, we are throwing away the prioritization and are completely ignoring the ethical framework that is provided to all of us,” Ahmed said during the local health unit’s morning news conference.

Some local health-care workers have complained to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit that some individuals receiving the vaccine do not work with patients at all, or work with patients very minimally, he said. He’s also heard that some “executives” and “leadership team members” have already received the vaccine, though he wouldn’t provide names.

Windsor-Essex hospitals facing backlash for offering vaccine to managers and executives, CBC News, January 8, 2021

Now I want to be very careful how I say this. I’m not saying that the CEO of Windsor Regional hospital broke ranks with the health unit and distributed doses to staff who are not in contact with patients as a means to use up all the vaccines as soon as possible with the explicit purpose of providing political cover for Doug Ford.

I’m just saying, the actions give this appearance to others in the province.

By breaking the ethical vaccine distribution framework that was established by the province, Windsor has demoralized front-line workers who are still waiting for their doses:

Those in leadership positions should have noticed the massive outcry against the Christmas tropical island travel vacations of the Ontario Finance Minister (approved by Doug Ford) and the hospital CEO on the Ontario Vaccine Distribution Task Force and saw that the anger generated from these two leaders was much greater than say, the anger generated by learning that some of our Ontario’s LTCs are in utter shambles.

Public trust has been lost. It has to be earned back:

The correct way to respond to a low-trust environment is not to double down on proceduralism, but to commit yourself to the “it does exactly what it says on the tin” principle and implement policies that have the following characteristics:

– It’s easy for everyone, whether they agree with you or disagree with you, to understand what it is you say you are doing.

– It’s easy for everyone to see whether or not you are, in fact, doing what you said you would do.

– It’s easy for you and your team to meet the goal of doing the thing that you said you would do.

Making policy for a low-trust world, January 6, 2021, Slow Boring

It is essential that the local leadership in healthcare stop the infighting. If the matter is related to public health, then they should take direction from from our public health unit.

Dr. Ahmed and his team have my trust.

We in Windsor-Essex have been exceedingly fortunate to have a health unit who has repeatedly gone beyond provincial directives to keep us safer.

§2: The Mayor Hates The Free Market

Speaking of wasting precious energy and attention by pointing figures at other governments, I have lost count of the number of Facebook posts that Mayor Drew Dilkens has made in trying garner more signatures for a petition to the Federal government to protect air traffic control from Windsor’s airport after Nav Canada has put the service under review.

This is your periodic reminder that Nav Canada is a privatized owner and operator of the country’s civil air navigation system and as such are not obliged to run services that don’t make business sense to them.

§3: More please: Hospitals helping LTCs

You know what I think is an under-reported story? I think the work of Hotel Dieu Grace staff who took over some key operations at The Village at St. Clair in Windsor on Dec. 24 when it was struggling with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the area is worthy of more recognition. According to the CBC News story, the hospital will be transitioning out of the Village next week and will be assisting Kingsville retirement home Augustine Villas next.

I don’t know Janice Kaffer, the President and CEO of Hotel Dieu Grace, but I love the leadership that she displays on her social media. Here’s a sample:

§4: “Anyone fortunate enough to have a street named after them deserves the dignity to have their name spelled properly!”

It’s been over six months since the Black Lives Matters protests filled streets around the world. It’s been over six months since the Mayor’s office surveyed the community “to hear and listen to important issues, and understand how to help drive out racism from society” and promised next steps. What have those next steps been?

Is it time yet for Windsor to confront our history and ongoing practice of honouring slave owners?

Or nah?

§5: When the people who espouse”personal responsibility” tell lies to absolve their responsibility

I’m not going to comment about the January 6th mayhem in the U.S. Capitol but I do want to say something related to Trump supporters that does come back to local politics. Before I do, I want to you to read this twitter thread so you can properly understand the context of this particular point:

Did Trump supporters really believe that Obama was born in Kenya? No. Most of them did not. Like Gene, they will never admit this because the ruse was used to cover up people’s refusal to give legitimacy to a presidency that they did not want to accept. Fast-forward to the most recent U.S. election. Do Trump supporters really believe that there was widespread voter fraud orchestrated by their Democratic opponents in 2020? No. But the lie gives them cover to engage in blatant forms of voter suppression towards Black Americans without admitting that this is the activity that they are engaging in.

It’s something to keep in mind when you hear a Trump supporter refuses to concede the 2020 U.S. Election to Biden just as the president of the Windsor-West Electoral District Association for the Progressive Conservatives did on December 15th, 2020.

Weeknote Dec 8 – 14 2020

§1

At midnight, Windsor-Essex will be in the grey zone and schools will be online only until Winter break.

The Windsor Essex Health Unit has a page that lists all the ongoing outbreaks.

I know a lot of people are upset at the regular group of 30 or so who have been protesting outdoors the public health measures set in place to restrict the spread of COVID-19, but for me, it was this group of people had me shaking my head this week.

§2

Windsor leads the province with the most police officers per capita in Southwestern Ontario, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

According to the report, Windsor has 205 officers per 100,000 citizens. That compares to the next-closest Southwestern Ontario municipality, St. Thomas, with 175.6.

The Windsor force employs about 500 sworn officers, 150 civilian staff and expenses close to $110 million in 2020. Expenses were offset by $17.4 million in revenue.

“Report points to high per-capita rate of cops in Windsor”, by Postmedia News, Windsor Star, Dec 12, 2020

§3

The agenda for the upcoming City Council meeting at Monday, December 21, 2020 at 1:00 p.m is up. I am going to pay particular attention to Item 8.2.

If they aren’t able to get the funding that they need, I know of another city service that has a significantly higher than average staff complement that we could take from.

§4

Again, I did not have the fortitude to go through the 489 pages of the City Council Agenda in any depth. But I did look through it enough to find these items of interest:

§5

Did you know our Mayor has issues with Conservation Authorities? From the Hansard:

Weeknote Dec 1 – 7 2020

§1

I was planning to write a long complaint of stories tied together with a common theme of ‘the Ford government is outsourcing the pandemic response” including the story of how the government hired the McKinsey “Proposed Paying Pharmacy Companies Rebates for OxyContin Overdoses” Consulting Group.

But instead, I think everyone would be better served by reading this explainer by John Michael McGrath called, Emergency unpreparedness: How government failures shaped Ontario’s COVID-19 response. Here’s a key excerpt:

That report, and the ones released this week, outline years of neglect. It would be one thing if Lysyk had said that Ontario isn’t meeting best practices, but she demonstrates that the province has been failing at the basics, like keeping emergency plans up to date. Astonishingly, the province had not one but four plans relevant to COVID-19, but two of them hadn’t been updated since 2013 — and made references to defunct positions and ministries that had since been renamed. The government was supposed to review and update its emergency plans annually; the Liberals set that benchmark, but both they and Tories failed to meet it.

The fact that Ontario’s emergency planning was so out of date led the government (wisely or not) to sign a contract with a private consultant to create a brand-new command structure to handle the pandemic. According to Lysyk, it quickly became bloated and unwieldly. And Ontario’s 444 municipalities had all trained for their own emergency personnel to interact with the province in a clear, structured format through EMO; the creation of a new separate system of “command tables” and “health tables” threw a wrench in basic communications — an avoidable own-goal.

This isn’t about both-sides-ing. It’s about trying to identify a deeper syndrome in Ontario that sees governments consistently under-invest in basic, core functions of government — whether that’s quality data collection or emergency preparedness — while they lavish billions of dollars on higher-profile priorities. The solution isn’t clear, unfortunately: voters tend not to punish governments for failing to invest in the basics.

Personally, I’m not going to be spending much attention on the vaccine rollout because I think the Conservative provincial government will use it as a way to blame the federal Liberal government as a means to deflect from its own non-response for our more immediate and frankly dire needs.

That being said, I predict an flood of think-pieces of ‘who should get the vaccine first’. I hope our teachers and education workers are near the front of the list, because our children will not be able to be vaccinated against COVID19 anytime soon.


§2

On Monday, December 7th, I will taking part of the Day of Mourning that is being arranged by University of Windsor group, RAACES.

While 2020 will be remembered for a great many things, history will duly note that the Black Lives Matters Movement was the largest in US history with protests around the globe, including Windsor.

§3

Tomorrow at 10:30 am is City Council. I had planned to do a proper reading of the Development Charges Background Study but I couldn’t manage to do it.

How I wish Windsor had a it’s own City Hall Watcher newsletter that I could chip in a small amount of bucks a month to help support. I wish a journalism student from the college or the U would try to take it on, and then if they leave, pass it on to another.

Weeknote Nov 24-30 2020

Things are not going well.

How’s My Flattening?

COVID-19 Dashboard
COVID-19 Dashboard

I wrote about where we are at with COVID-19 earlier this week in a post called, The Invisibility of Carework.


Next City Council meeting is Monday, December 7, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. The Agenda is 574 pages long and I have not even glanced through it yet. I did take a peek at the attached item, Item 10.2 – Development Charges Background Study, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure what I should be looking for in the document.


It’s going to be a shorter than normal weeknotes this week as in 15 minutes, I’m planning to join a virtual Sandy and Nora listener appreciation night. Sandy and Nora is the podcast that been giving me much life as of late, if just to let me know that I’m not alone in being somewhat distraught that we have a provincial government that could be doing the work of governing to better protect the most vulnerable among us, but is instead, has decided to do next to nothing.

On the invisibility of carework

If my Facebook feed is any reflection of our city’s concerns at large (which is admittedly debatable), among the posts telling us to shop local and asking why are large chains allowed to be open when mom-and-pop shops must be closed, there is a distinct absence of stories about our dire need to improve the safety and support of our most vulnerable including our elderly and the staff that care for them during these unprecedented times-in-which-we-refuse-to-acknowledge-that-we-went-through-SARS.

I didn’t think I had to remind you all why we are taking profound and wide-ranging public health measures at this point in time, but clearly some people need it spelled out to them.

To state it as clearly as I can: we are curtailing our lives to reduce the opportunities where we may become infected by COVID-19 and then infect other people before we realize we are carrying the virus. We are trying to reduce the number of people who will die from COVID-19 infection and to reduce the number of people who will die because they cannot seek the health care they need in a timely matter, such as cancer treatments, because our healthcare staff will not have the capacity to take on anything but immediate health emergencies because their beds and emergency rooms are filled to capacity with highly infectious patients suffering from COVID-19.

(While some healthy people don’t want to curtail their lives because they know that the chance that they may die from COVID-19 is statistically very small, it is still in the best interest of healthy people to reduce the risk of infection to other people if only to potentially save their own collective-ass by helping keep hospitalized cases down, in case that they may find themselves needing urgent healthcare. )

Now I’m going to go a step further. I am going to say that we will not have a working economy unless we bring our COVID numbers down to zero. Those who are advocating that we continue to open up indoor spaces where infections are likely to spread without first making the necessary investments and efforts to protect the most vulnerable populations in our communities, have essentially decided that these COVID-19 deaths are an acceptable price to pay for the ability to eat and drink scotch with friends in a fine restaurant.

Regardless of how much of an individual you think you are — oh so separate from the rest of us sheeple — you are among us. Even if you decide to act like a traitor, you still depend on other people.

Among Us is so popular that its developers just canceled the sequel - The  Verge

Nora Loreto has been tracking the deaths of healthcare and other workers across Canada. This morning, I downloaded a copy of her spreadsheet and filtered for Ontario. As of today, 14 cleaners, personal support workers, and nurses have died from COVD-19.

[An aside: Why is this the first time I have learned that 10 taxi drivers have died from COVID-19? And why hasn’t this been mentioned in our own local conversations about public transit?]

Loreto also has the numbers to back up the cruel fact that we have completely failed to protect the elders in our communities.

It has been suggested that one of the reasons why our long-term care facilities deteriorated so quickly when COVID-19 arrived, is due to the fact that for years, we have chosen not to listen to the many, many concerns raised by those people who have working in these places. Our Long-Term Care homes were so bad there was a public inquiry report published not even six months before COVID-19 emerged.

It has been argued that the Ontario and federal government only took the conditions of our long term health care homes seriously after the armed forces were brought in. The military found conditions at the five homes where they were brought in as so bad that they LEAKED what they saw to the media. And how bad were conditions?

Now imagine how bad it might be to work in such a place.

But we don’t hear from these people. Nurses have been sounding the alarm for the years and we ignored them, then and we are ignoring them, now. Maybe, just maybe, we are not paying more attention to the conditions of LTC homes because we don’t appreciate carework. Maybe its because the employees of long-term health homes are also most likely to be women, with many being racialized women. Maybe we care more about poppies than we do about veterans.

I am still waiting for our local media to tell their stories, to give voice to their hopes, their needs, and their fears. Rather than giving regular coverage to those who gather illegally to protest public health measures, I would love to see more journalists covering where 2/3 of Ontario COVID-19 deaths have come from. I would like to see more owners of the long-term homes be held accountable for their inaction. I would love to see more Facebook posts from community members agitating for the long-term investment from the Ontario government that we need in order to keep our elderly safe and our most vulnerable safe.

Until then, women’s labour remains as invisible and unsaid as SARS.

I will leave you with two videos that have helped me better understand what needs to be done.

From October 7th, 2020:

And from yesterday:

Weeknote Nov 17-23 2020

There is a city council meeting on Monday. I’m not going to watch it live but I will try to follow up on the outcomes of the following:

  • 8.1. Capitol Theatre Legacy Grant Application
  • 8.7 Parking Bylaw 9023 – Recommended Amendments on Sandwich Street (C 215/2020)
  • 11.1 Contracting Out Caretaking Services – Phase II- City Wide (C 219/2020)

That being said, it looks like a lot of attention will be paid towards the Sewer Master Plan. I am not an engineer and so I’m not entirely sure whether the allegations that a partially blocked drain of the (federally-built )Herb Way Parkway was a significant contributing factor or there is a narrative that is directing attention to a convenient scapegoat.


Did you know that the beaver is the embodiment of wisdom according to the Anishnaabe? From Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s 2020 Kreisel Lecture, entitled A Short History of the Blockade: Giant Beavers, Diplomacy & Regeneration in Nishnaabewin:

In 1975, the beaver [the animal, not figure] became an emblem of Canada as a symbol of its sovereignty, because the first Europeans in Indigenous territories saw the Beaver not as a relative, but as a money making attraction to supply the continent with nifty felt hats. 

Two hundred years of making beavers into accessories led to their near extinction. And now beavers are mostly known to us as a nuisance and an inconvenience. But this Indigenous land, this Indigenous water, these Indigenous bodies have centuries of oral literature and an embodied practice that know different… Beavers — Amikwag — represent the practice of wisdom. 

I want to think about that for a moment. Out of all of the beings that make up life on this planet, to my ancestors, Amikwag embody the politics and the ethical practices of wisdom.

Amikwag build dams, dams that create deep pools and channels that don’t freeze, creating winter worlds for their fish relatives, deep pools and channels that drought proof the landscape, dams that make wetlands full of moose, deer and elk, food cooling stations, places to hide, and muck to keep the flies away. Dams that open spaces in the canopy so sunlight increases, making warm and shallow aquatic habitat around the edges of ponds for amphibians and insects. Dams that create plunge pools on the downstream side for juvenile fish, gravel for spawning, and homes and food for birds.

And who is the first back after a fire to start the regeneration makework? Amik is a world builder. Amik is the one that brings the water. Amik is the one that brings forth more life. Amik is the one that works continuously with water and land and plant and animal nations and consent and diplomacy to create worlds. To create shared worlds. 

Prior to contact with white people, it is estimated that (North America) was home to between 60 and 400 million beavers. That’s three to five beavers for every kilometre of stream, a beaver in nearly every headwater stream in North America. Biologists call the beaver a keystone species.

CBC Ideas: The Brilliance of the Beaver: Learning from an Anishnaabe World

I am delighted that the beaver have returned to the Olde Sandwich.


It appears that any contribution to flooding from the Herb Parkway system is unforgivable. Can we find a way to live with possible flooding from amikwag? It reminds of me of this article I recently read,

This means that urban wilding must be more than just improving access to nature: it involves redesigning our urban infrastructures to account for our non-human neighbours, so that we don’t just co-exist, but, more, that we are mutually supportive and generative. Cities globally have started experimenting and organisations like Wild Cities are helping chart a path, demonstrating how cities can become happier and healthier, and societies more resilient and adaptive.

Urban wilding, however, has many socio-cultural complexities that differ from rural rewilding (which is a whole separate topic that I’m not focusing on here). Dr Bridget Snaith has shown how people of different race, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds have quite different perspectives on urban landscaping.

You might think that everyone loves green cities, but in actual fact there is no cross-cultural consensus on how, why and when to use green urban spaces, or how to care for them — one person’s lovely ‘wild’ meadow, is another person’s unkempt park suffering for lack of maintenance. Urban wilding — involving social, cultural, environmental and technical infrastructures — needs to account for this diversity of perspective, both in designing wild processes as well as in delivering them.

Making Wild Cities — Notes on Participatory Urban (Re)Wilding, Usman Haque

The seven pedestrian bridges of the Herb Parkway are themed after the seven Grandfather teachings (in which wisdom is represented by the crane) (page 12 of 20).

It is essential that we try to incorporate these lessons into our lives beyond these design gestures.

Weeknote Nov.10-16 2020

Last Monday, Council voted 6-4 in favour of the Mayor’s motion to support the location of the future hospital. During said meeting, the CEO of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation suggested that the only thing holding back receiving $2.3 billion dollars of funding was a unanimous vote at Windsor City Council. So, as someone who doesn’t support the proposed location, I’m taking the meeting’s outcome as a win.

Also, The Windsor Star, AM800, Blackburn Radio, and the CBC all neglected to include this startling bit of information that was made known during the marathon session of council:

Remember when it was normal for the media and the more fiscally conservative city councilors to hold the CEO of WEEDC to some degree of accountability?

You can hear CEO McKenzie’s testimony for yourself. It can be found in the second video at around the 2:25 mark :

As I learned from this week’s episode of Rose City Politics (the conversation turns to this matter around the 60 minute mark), WEEDC’s board members are not selected through the same process as other city & county oversight boards are. Perhaps the matter of how this board is structured is worth re-visiting.


The campaign in favour of the location of the hospital was called We can’t wait and it borrows from a tried and true playbook from our local politicians: create an artificial sense of urgency to bypass required consultations and consensus building within the community. We were given this reasoning with the WFCU Centre (we could lose the Spitfires!). We were given this reasoning with the Aquatic Centre (we are hosting FINA!) and we almost got an a canal and marina downtown when then-mayor Eddie Francis tried a last minute push through via a post-2008-crash government stimulus package proposal after it was twice rejected at City Council.

It is really quite remarkable about all the measures that could improve the quality of life at Windsor that always requires more study and what projects require no study at all.


Speaking of organizations that lobby city council, I think the City of Windsor should adopt a lobbying registry:

Between 2010 and 2014, Paul Bonwick earned more than $1 million for his involvement in deals made by Collingwood city council — almost half of what the town of about 22,000 paid in salaries in 2012 for its full-time staff.

The problem? Bonwick is the brother of then-mayor Sandra Cooper.

That’s just one of the issues covered in a report, released last week, that was produced by a judicial inquiry into business dealings in the town. The 20-month-long inquiry focused on two transactions — the sale of a 50 per cent share of the town’s electrical utility and a decision to award a contract to expand recreational facilities to one builder without considering other bids — and identified the lack of transparency about lobbying as a key issue.

Of the 306 inquiry recommendations from Justice Frank Marrocco, 29 relate to establishing and operating a lobbyist registry — something the town introduced this July, making it only the seventh of Ontario’s 444 municipalities to have done so. “There’s nothing wrong with [lobbying],” says Collingwood mayor Brian Saunderson. “But we need to understand who these people are and whose interests they are advancing.”

‘A cautionary tale’: What this Ontario town can teach us about lobbyists, Mary Baxter, Nov 12, TVO


You hate to see an attempt to open a important conversation about a potential local civic issues on social media that gets immediately overrun with reply guys.


Speaking of local civic issues, the next Agenda of City Council includes

  • 8.1. Capitol Theatre Legacy Grant Application
  • 8.7 Parking Bylaw 9023 – Recommended Amendments on Sandwich Street (C 215/2020)
  • 11.1 Contracting Out Caretaking Services – Phase II- City Wide (C 219/2020)

Of note, no protected bike lanes are being recommended for Sandwich Street despite resident feedback and that Sandwich Street is part of The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail [PDF].


Speaking of cycling…

And lastly something a little different. Over this past week or so, I developed a proof-of-concept map (using leaflet-omnivore) of bike parking in my neighbourhood that I collected in the field using a web-based form that captures both location data and a photo (using kobotoolbox).

The interactive map can be found at
http://atlas.aedileworks.com/bikeparkingwindsor/BikeParkingWindsor.html

It admittedly doesn’t cover a lot of the city but it was fun to make.

Weeknote Nov 3 – 9 2020

Tomorrow promises to be a looooong city council meeting filled with delegates testifying for and against the Mayor’s motion in support of the County Road 42 location of the amalgamation of our local hospitals.

Since I wanted to wait for the Ontario Provincial Budget to be released first, I sent my own position against the motion in an an email to the Clerk’s office just after 5pm on Thursday which I thought was plenty of time before Friday noon deadline.

My letter is not in the council package that was published on Saturday afternoon.

I guess I’m part of the silenced majority.

I considered counting up the letters in support of the mayor’s motion to support the County Road 42 location and comparing them to the number of those opposed but now knowing that this number would be inherently inaccurate, I opted instead to bring attention to the fact that many of the letters in support of the Mayor’s motion 1) make no mention of the location of the hospital and 2) are form letters.

Hey, let’s do some research. When was Windsor’s population less than 20,000 residents? According to The Canadian Encyclopedia in 1918 Windsor had a pop. of 21,000. Were Windsor’s two hospitals built in 1918? No. But there is evidently there is a DOOR from 1918 that still exists, so these writers are not technically lying to make their case.

I want to be clear: there’s nothing inherently wrong with using a form letter. Activist groups frequently make use of such templates to encourage letter-writing campaigns. That being said, whoever wrote this particular template shouldn’t have suggested that the authors were inspired to write these letters after they were just doing some independent research and fed them such a far-fetched conclusion.

There are many other form letters that also exaggerate to the point in which the truth might be considered stretched. For example, 23 letter writers (who might live in Windsor) state that the current hospitals in Windsor are crumbling . From CAMPP’s recent newsletter:

“Their extreme concern for the physical condition of WRH’s buildings ignores nearly $200M in capital investments and expansions in the past two decades. It also flies in the face of the “Accreditation with Exemplary Standingawarded to WRH on December 30, 2019 for 99.8% compliance with national standards for patient quality and safety.”

But let’s get to my real complaint. These letters are likely from the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation’s mobilization efforts. WEEDC (whose board the mayor sits on as a director) is funded by the City of Windsor and the County of Essex. Taxpayers of Windsor are paying WEEDC to lobby City Council despite the fact that mayor has gone on record that he believes that tax-payer’s money should not be used for advocacy (and BIA funds are not taxpayer’s money).

Honest question: if the Mayor wants to send a message to the Ford government, why doesn’t he lobby them directly?


“We needed a pitbull fighting for us and ended up with a poodle.”

Speaking of the provincial government, let’s sidetrack from city council for a moment.

The fact that the Ford government released its Ontario Budget in the same week of a contentious American election suggests to me that the government is not exactly inviting scrutiny. There is certainly a lot of problematic plans that the budget contains, including

And while Canadians were celebrating the triumph of democracy with our neighbours to the North, this was happening

Also, this is troubling:


Ok, back to Windsor City Council. I’m very much looking forward to a public conversation that is focused on addressing racism and anti-racism directly and not sideways via uptalk of diversity and inclusion.

On December 19th, it will be 6 months since the Mayor’s Windsor Black Lives Matter Panel and we are still waiting on some sort of action or report from its survey.

Weeknote Oct 27 – Nov 2 2020

The next city council meeting is November 9th. The agenda is 643 pages long. I have not read this document, but here are somethings that caught my eye when I skimmed it:

  • There’s a city response to a council question from 2019 about payday loan establishments. I learned that some cities have established buffer areas so that Payday Loan Establishments cannot be located near ‘body rub parlors’ and gambling establishments. Other cities restrict the number of payday loan establishments per ward. For example, in Kingston and Hamilton there’s only one per ward. In Windsor:

Oh yeah, there’ also this:

I find that the Mayor’s efforts to constantly signal to the Provincial government about consolidating our hospitals as tiresome. I was disappointed how much oxygen the issue took up in the recent Ward 7 by-elections and how also it took away from other necessary conversations during the recent telephone town halls for the rest of the city wards. The Premiere has already stated on the record that he would support the development so why does this campaigning from the mayor’s office continue?

I don’t know but I will say that all this activity suggests to me that the proposal is still on shaky ground and not a done deal. And that’s why I’m going to write to the city clerk to voice my disapproval of this motion on the grounds that it will cause the most harm to the most vulnerable and least mobile, that it accelerate sprawl beyond the carrying capacity of the city, and that the process to select the hospital’s location was not done in a way that lent confidence in the decision. You too can voice your opinion by November 6th.


I have lamented in several posts on this blog that natural coverage of the county of Essex is 3.5% — the worst in all of Ontario. I have since learned that this point of data from 2002 is no longer accurate. In 2012, the coverage moved 8.5% My new question is why hasn’t the measure of coverage not moved since 2012?


Compare and contrast:

Halifax’s striking central library was cited again and again Tuesday, as Windsor Public Library board members envisioned what a new central library for Windsor should look like…. Dilkens joined the board Tuesday. The first item on the agenda was electing a chairman to replace departing chair Peter Frise. Dilkens ran for the job because, he said, “I want to be a part of what happens with the central library and make sure we build something the community will be proud of, something that is iconic and something that is a modern library.” … “I want them to say ‘Wow, this is Windsor, this is community, this is inclusive,’” said member Margaret Payne, who also cited the Halifax library as the kind of library she’d like to see. It has a plaza-like atmosphere outside with chairs and tables. Its coffee shop on the fifth floor with expansive city views has been called Halifax’s living room. The inside is open concept with multiple activities on offer, from free yoga to puppet shows to musical performances. “There was everybody there — little kids, old people, everyone in between,” said Payne. “The vibe from that place was amazing.” Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk told the consultant he envisions a place where residents from all walks of life can access innovative technologies. It should be a source of pride for the city, he said.

Mayor envisions ‘iconic’ new central library for Windsor, The Windsor Star, Brian Cross, Jun 21, 2017

… to this

“It’s actually kind of exciting,” Drew Dilkens said of the early response to the city’s Library Central Branch Catalyst Project. The idea is that instead of the city going on its own and building a $39-million-plus standalone library, it could dangle the library out as a carrot to spur a much larger development project that would include the library as a tenant. According to Dilkens, there’s been a big mix of ideas from investors. The due date to make submissions is Nov. 27, with the expectation that council could be starting to choose among the best applicants in the first quarter of next year. …He said the successful project could combine the library with residential units, a hotel, commercial space, retail, restaurant, cultural space, commercial, or mixed uses involving classrooms for students at St. Clair College or University of Windsor, which both have downtown campuses but no downtown library….

The city is looking for at least a $15 million investment and a 30 per cent increase in municipal assessment from the project, with the expectation it will spur additional investment in the surrounding area. City solicitor Shelby Askin Hager said the city wants the central branch to be designed and located in such a way as “to acknowledge it’s an important piece of civic life and an important part of the vibrancy of the downtown core.” It also wants one or more complementary uses to increase the catalyst effect, and architecture that enhances the public realm and supports the people who live, work and visit downtown. The request from the city also talks about the importance of increasing the residential units downtown and reusing vacant buildings.

City seeks proposals for library-anchored downtown development, The Windsor Star, Brian Cross, Oct 28, 2020

Last year I was invited to share Some Thoughts in response to this prompt:

Over the past two years, Sidewalk Toronto has brought some important questions about cities – and our collective futures – into sharp focus. Some of those questions are new; others we’ve been asking for a long time. This is a collection of ideas to help build on and continue these discussions.

We asked contributors for a short, standalone description of an idea, policy, strategy, or best practice that might expand this conversation about cities. The people we asked met three basic criteria: a) people that have shown an interest in contributing to the discussion b) people that have a history of participating in public discourse and c) people with an explicit mission of inclusivity in their work. This list of contributors is not comprehensive or complete.

Within the collection there are conflicting ideas and world-views, which is exactly the point: to open up dialogue and create the largest possible tent to discuss what we want to see in our cities and spaces and how we might make those things happen. Our hope is that this convening will make space for more collaboration and conversation in the future.

I contributed a short consideration called PUBLIC DATA BELONGS IN THE PUBLIC LIBRARY :

Three years ago, my family had the pleasure of staying in the coastal city of Aarhus, Denmark for several days. At the time my children were ten and eight and while we were in Aarhus, we were joined by my cousin and her four year old son. It was a rainy Sunday when we all met up. As the day passed, the children became more and more restless in our hotel room. So we opted to brave the rain and walk to the nearby DOKK1 – the world famous Aarhus Public Library. The library was our salvation. It was filled with generous spaces where the children could play while the adults could linger or sit and talk nearby.

This is how CityLab describes DOKK1: “The spaceship-like structure houses the library, a municipal service center for residents and newcomers where citizens can pick up their identification card, renew their passports, and register with the municipality; a cafe, ample space for families, public computers, three playgrounds and lecture halls.”¹ A library doesn’t have to be as magnificent as DOKK1 to be a refuge for a family who just needs a place and a reason to spend time together. It can simply be there — in the neighbourhood, open to the community and open to discovery as indoor public space. But a library can be so much more than a family friendly and affordable third place in a community.

Most of us understand that the public library has books, story time, and computers with printers. But only some of us know that the library also houses the librarians who can help answer questions beyond whether a particular book is available. What if your local branch library started to market themselves until they were known in the community as the source of information about, by, and for the neighbourhood? What if the local branch library became the resident’s interface for the city and a resource centre for local community activists? “It would be a place where you could drop in, tell a librarian your idea and be directed towards resources, experts, case studies, maybe even professors at universities who are into just that stuff. Wouldn’t that be great?”²

What if the neighbourhood library was the place to collect, preserve and share neighbourhood data? Many city residents don’t have the data literacy skills to manipulate and interpret data, and as this stands, most of the city’s open datasets are useless to them. Libraries could step in and teach those skills including those involved in the protection of privacy. It could be a fitting role for libraries “whose mission has always been to ‘collect and make accessible to the public information that the public has rights to read.’” ³

The public library could be more than indoor public space. It could be the home of public data that the neighbourhood both generates and understands.

[2] Catherine Porter, “The Boxer: a guide to getting in the ring with City bureaucracy” in “Local Motion: The Art of Civic Engagement in Toronto”, Coach House Press, 2010.


I have long imagined the public librarian as guide and conduit to a city that is here for you to use. This week I found the closest manifestation to this vision: the UK charity Citizens Advice. It is so much more than a 211 service. For one, it uses the usage data of its service to generate policy considerations for those in the support sector.


And for all you out there who thinks there is much room for improvement in how we do our politics in Canada, I offer the following TVO Agenda interviews that I recently enjoyed.

And