Library upgrades, LED lights, bike paths promised by mayor

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis gave his annual state of the city address Wednesday afternoon at the Caboto Club

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis gave his annual state of the city address Wednesday afternoon at the Caboto Club

In front of a crowd of more than 500 people, the mayor promised in excess of $5 million in improvements to the Windsor Public Library system. Upgrades include new branches in Walkerville, Sandwich and at the Devonshire Mall.

A Walkerville branch will share space with the Optimist Club. The west branch will move from Brock public school to the old fire hall on Mill Street.

All of this spending is subject to council approval.

Francis also announced the BYD electric bus manufacturing facility won't be coming to Windsor and the city won't be buying BYD buses. Instead, the city is still interested in green buses from a different company, Proterra out of South Carolina.

"I believe in the merits of electrifying our transit fleet and the economic development and environmental benefits to our community so we moved on and discovered Proterra," said Francis, adding there will be more to come on the company in the coming months.

Nearly 18 kms of new bike lanes and connectors will be built, connecting the perimeter of Windsor.

"It's about giving residents ability to grow and better themselves," Francis said.

Francis also said every street light in the city will be replaced with LED bulbs. He said the change will save the city $36 million over 15 years.

An aging city hall, one Francis called "failing," will be replaced in 2017. It will have a co-tenant but the mayor declined to say who or what may share the new building with the city.

The mayor's speech comes days before council sits down to review the proposed 2014 budget, which promises to hold the line on taxes for the sixth year in a row.

One issue the mayor didn't discuss was that of his own future plans. It's an election year next year, and so far he's been coy on whether he plans to seek re-election next October.

Coun. Alan Halberstadt told Radio-Canada Francus' speech "set table for mayor's next campaign."

However, University of Windsor political science professor, Cheryl Collier, said she's not sure that next campaign will be at the municipal level. Collier suspects Francis is preparing for provincial or federal politics.

"I think the door's wider now to make the move if he wants to now," she said. "It might be a bit more difficult if he stays around for four more years."


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