Windsor Symphony Orchestra reveals reasons behind sudden eviction of Bike Windsor Essex

Sheila Wisdom, executive director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, says the eviction of Bike Windsor Essex was issued for two reasons — interest from other parties and a lack of exits.

The WSO cites an unsafe number of exits and interest from other tenants

The Windsor Symphony Orchestra manages the property which houses Bike Windsor Essex. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The Windsor Symphony Orchestra is making it clear why it no longer wants Bike Windsor Essex occupying its property.

WSO executive director Sheila Wisdom said the reasons for the group's sudden eviction include an unsafe number of exits and interest from other tenants.

"It's almost a problem of the success of Bike Windsor Essex," said Wisdom, explaining a lot of people are using the basement space.

Bike Windsor Essex is only halfway through its lease, but the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, which manages the property, is evicting the organization by August 28. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Unsafe number of exits

Wisdom acknowledges Bike Windsor Essex is only halfway through its lease, but the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, which manages the property, is evicting the organization by August 28.

Wisdom said it has nothing to do with poor business, instead she says she is very pleased with the organization's success. 

But a lack of sufficient exits in the basement have rendered the bike organization unsafe to operate, according to Wisdom.

"They're having to run their programs in the basement. There's only one [exit].... It's been brought to our attention by the City of Windsor who holds a lease that is a health, safety and fire issue. We don't have the funds to fix that."

Other partners have shown interest

Wisdom added she has been approached by more arts-oriented clients that have wanted to partner with the WSO. 

"Their engagement and participation at the Capitol [Theatre] could really boost the use of the Capitol as an arts facility."

Bike Windsor Essex has made many repairs to the store front — fixing broken walls, painting the entire unit and replacing the floor which previously had holes. Wisdom knows this but said renovating a rental space is nothing new.

"We're seeing if there's some accommodations that we can make in terms of some of the work they've done. Obviously, when you're a tenant and you go in and you do some painting and you do some work and you expect they're going to do that."

Bike Windsor Essex spent $2,000 on new flooring in the space located on the corner of University Ave. West and Pelissier Street. (Meg Roberts/CBC )

New home may not be so bad: WSO

​Wisdom has seen multiple vacant locations near the Capitol Theatre. She said Bike Windsor Essex should find a new location that is more suitable for their activities.

"They have bikes in the basement that they have to haul up and down the stairs all the time.... If they can actually find a space that is in the core of the city and better suited to them and their needs, that would be the best of both worlds," she said.

Wisdom said the WSO wishes Bike Windsor Essex all the best in finding a new location. She also said the decision to evict is final. 

Sarah Cipkar, Community Engagement Coordinator with the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative, hopes to see Bike Windsor Essex remain in the downtown core. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

DWCC 'disappointed' by sudden eviction

Sarah Cipkar, community engagement coordinator with the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative, once attended a "Ride With Confidence" class facilitated by Bike Windsor Essex — in which students learn how to make safe and informed decisions while cycling in various urban traffic scenarios.

She said the work of Bike Windsor Essex is vital for creating a strong community.

"We don't have a lot of community spaces in the downtown [area].... It's often bars. It's often us using borrowed spaces from other organizations if we can," Cipkar said. "There's nothing like this in the downtown core, where you can just drop in, say "Hi," grab some literature, know what's going on."

She said the DWCC has a strong connection with Bike Windsor Essex and hopes that the same connection can be maintained with the group in its new location.

"I hope that it is in a neighbourhood with people who will stop by.... I think that Bike Windsor Essex needs to maintain that storefront access — somewhere, hopefully, in the downtown."

with files from the CBC's Chris Ensing

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