Tourism Windsor-Essex pays Toronto firm to make local app

CBC News has learned some of the city's tax dollars were used to pay a Toronto company to develop a local bird watching app for smartphones.

Local company would have liked the work to stay local and questions city's support of tech sector

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island paid a Toronto company approximately $20,000 to develop their new app. (Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island)

Windsor has been trying to diversify its economy and position itself as a technology hub.

But CBC News has learned some of the city's tax dollars were used to pay a Toronto company to develop a local bird watching app for smartphones.

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island overlooked local bids and went with the lowest bidder, which happened to be from Toronto.

"We got a lot of quotes that came in and we went with the lowest bid," said director of product development and marketing, Kris Racine.

The bid was just less than $20,000

Red Piston, a Windsor-based software developer, said it wanted to develop the app. Red Piston wouldn't give details but did say they gave two proposals.

"It's a little bit surprising that another developer from out of town came and did something that we could do," Red Piston's Andy Kale said.

He wanted the business to stay in Windsor.

He said the city has a long way to go before Windsor is considered tech friendly... 

"People are starting to [understand] that there's something going on but we still don't really have that big attention some of the industries in the city get," Kale said.

Meanwhile, Red Piston continues to attract global clients. 

It's designed games for PBS Kids, apps for Warner Bros. and Universal Music..

It has some local support, too. It says it's currently working on projects for Walkerville Brewery and the University of Windsor.

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