Bridge company comes out swinging in response to $10 million lawsuit

The Ambassador Bridge Company has come out swinging in response to a $10 million lawsuit over boarded-up homes in west Windsor. The Canadian Transit Company - which owns the Ambassador Bridge - sees the lawsuit against it as an opportunity.

City to blame for vacant Indian Road homes, according to Ambassador Bridge Company

Two Indian Road residents claim boarded up homes are diminishing the use and enjoyment of their property. (CBC News)

The owners of the Ambassador Bridge have come out swinging in response to a $10 million lawsuit over boarded-up homes in west Windsor.

The Canadian Transit Company sees the lawsuit against it as an opportunity to resvolve the long standing dispute with the city of Windsor.

In a claim filed this week, two residents of Old Sandwich Town allege that the boarded-up homes on the west side that are owned by the CTC diminish the use and enjoyment of their property.

Dan Stamper - the president of CTC - says it has been asking the city permission to tear down the homes for years.

"You know I'm not trying to shed my responsibility in this. If the residents would contact their city councillors, put pressure on them and on the bridge company like the lawsuit is doing and said put your swords down, sit down and work this out and let's some good stuff done rather than leaving it the way it is. I think we're prepared to do that," said Stamper.      

Stamper added that the city is "... using the community as pawns to prevent the company to build a replacement bridge."

He says he understands the community's frustration.

Stamper said his company wants to tear down those homes, but the city of Windsor keeps rejecting its applications for demolition.

"We've been trying to remove them for years. The city sees the ability to use the community as pawns to try to leverage the bridge company to drop its plan to replace its bridge," he claims. "That's created an unfair and unsustainable issue within the community."

But city solicitor George Wilkki put the blame right back on the company.

"Until such time as when they have approval to build anything, then there's no reason for these homes to be sitting there vacant year after year," said Wilkki.       

Bill Sasso is the lawyer representing those making the claim against CTC. He said it’s clear who’s to blame when it comes to the derelict homes.

"With the Ambassador Bridge it's always somebody else who's at fault.  The complaint is a complaint with respect to the conduct of the Ambassador Bridge, not the city of Windsor," Sasso said.

Steve Chaborek has lived in his home on Indian Road for 57 years.

He's surrounded by more than 100 boarded-up houses now owned by CTC.

"They (CTC) had to respond and blame somebody so the city is number one and it could be vice versa where the city will now blame the bridge. So it's the people here who have to suffer for it," said Chaborek, who is one of two men suing the CTC. "Neither one of them want to give in.  We've lived here for years and nothing's being done.  Everything looks worse every year."

The Canadian Transit Company has 20 days to respond to the claim once it's been served.