Olde Sandwich Towne 'not going away'

Residents of Windsor's west end continue to fight for their survival and relevance as promises of upgrades and development are made.

Urban planner says plans are in place to develop Windsor's west end

Residents in the west end aren't going away and the city says it has plans for the beleaguered part of town. 2:30

Residents of Windsor's west end continue to fight for their survival and relevance.

The Greater Essex District School Board voted Monday to close J.L. Forster high school. The same day, city council approved a second Santa Claus parade that will rival the annual parade in Olde Sandwich Towne.

Boarded up homes still line Indian Road.

Terrence Kennedy, who has called the west end home for 50 years, doesn't like seeing his community being kicked while it's down.

"We're still here. We're not going away," he said. "So the thing is, stop thinking you're going to write our obituary because it's going to be a long time coming."

Kennedy wants to see the implementation of the community improvement plan city council developed nearly six years ago.  That plan was approved in May 2006.

In part, the plan reads, "it was agreed that the City of Windsor must pursue the developing and nurturing of new and vibrant destination City Centre West attractions that encompass, celebrate and build upon existing positive and sustainable attributes, including our cultural diversity, riverfront, proximity to the U.S. border, University of Windsor."

The University of Windsor has expanded in downtown Windsor. It has also built a new engineering building on campus and a new bridge to the U.S. has been stopped at every possible turn.

Urban planner Kevin Alexander said there are still big ideas for the west end and incentives for new developers, too.

"There are a number of programs aimed at reducing or eliminating development charges and on building and planning fees, which can be quite a bit," he said.

Those incentives have been on hold for six years.

There are projects in the works for the west end. The HMCS Hunter building is relocating there in the next few years. The Windsor Port Authority offices are also on the move to the west end.

However, there is no bank in Sandwich Towne and no gas station.

Some councillors say the lawsuit surrounding the boarded up houses along Indian road have prevented the city from encouraging developers to invest.

Councillors say that they care about the west end.

"With all due ... for the past six years, all of city council has stood up for the residents of the west side, protecting them from [Ambassador Bridge owner] Mr. [Matty] Moroun, and what he wanted to do to that community; decimate it," Coun. Percy Hatfield said.

Moroun owns the boarded up homes on Indian Road. He wanted to build a second bridge connect Windsor and Detroit.

Kennedy is sick of watching and waiting while his home falls apart.

"It's a matter of when, city council, when Mr. Mayor," he said.