Weeknotes, August 11 – August 17

On August 14th, civic activist (civic influencer?) Dave Meslin shared some of the work from his latest project: a Municipal Democracy Index, “ranking Ontario’s largest cities based on a series of quantifiable metrics related to how power is shared / distributed and the degree to which local democracy is accessible, responsive and representative…”

Dave Meslin has been responsible for a variety of civic engagement projects (such as Unlock Democracy) and I am a strong supporter of his work. That being said, I did share the work with some reservations. In Canada, much of our work towards equity is based on the concept of visible minority. In the context of Employment Equity that status is based on self-identification. Fred Francis’ father is Lebanese. Does Francis consider himself as non-white? I have no idea but more importantly — I would not presume to know the answer.

I don’t think this criticism negates this work. It’s important to be reminded that our city leadership does not demographically resemble our city — for one, 8 out of 9 Windsor City Councillors are male. But I think it is necessary to complicate our thinking on this matter and ask ourselves who is racialized in this city, and who is not.

In a related matter, yesterday I published the results of my research into the oft-made claim from the Mayor’s office that Windsor is the fourth most ethnically diverse city in Canada in a post entitled, Windsor is not the 4th most ethnically diverse city in Canada so stop saying it.

The agenda for the next city council meeting on August 4th is up. I’m not promising that this is going to be a regular feature of the blog, but I added some annotations to my copy to items that I found was personally interesting.

We are in a climate emergency and not every City Council Agenda reflects this reality, but this one does as there is an Energy Initiatives, Energy Projects Summary Update to Council. Of note, the city will be “will be installing 11 dual wand (22 charging connectors) electric vehicle charging stations in various locations to include downtown, east, west, and south Windsor.

And if you were ever wondering why it seems so difficult to manage student housing, the Response to CQ10-2019 Regarding Housing Development and Regulation in Near-Campus Neighbourhoods – City Wide is a good summary. TLDR: the city believes that the University is best suited to provide housing but cannot compel them to provide this service; the city is limited by The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) Policy on Human Rights and Rental Housing which states that “discrimination includes any distinction based on a prohibited ground”, and bylaw enforcement is difficult because landlords control and influence the access to properties.

There are a lot of other matters up for discussion in this document — plans for the Civic Esplanade, a report on Affordable Housing, changes to the rates in the Local Improvement Plans to matters such as crosswalks and streetlights, guidelines on swimming pool maintenance — but the outcome that I’m most curious about is this one: That City Council BE REQUESTED to consider recognizing Transit Windsor as an essential service.

Also a heads up: on August 23rd from 3 PM – 5 PM, there will be a Solidarity Rally for Migrant Workers at 1250 Walker Rd.