CBC Windsor

Windsor Votes: The Liveable City

Karen Brady, CBC News

What is a 'liveable' city?

Do you have a favourite place to go for coffee or listen to live music? Could you walk to your grocery store or bank? Is there a school you'd want to send your kids to in your favourite neighbourhood? These are all things that might make Windsor a great place to live.

You don't need to go beyond Canada's borders to find examples of liveable communities. In 2010, Vancouver ranks as the most liveable city in the world, according to The Economist magazine. (read the report). So what can we learn from what Canada already does well?

According to the United Nations (read the report) a liveable city is one with a high 'quality of life' for all residents. A U.N. working paper delving into Vancouver's success as a city found that liveable cities "include equitable access to green space, basic amenities, and mobility, and to participatory processes to determine the future of their city."

The report also lists a strong local government as a key to success, including well developed regional and cross-sector partnerships: So what can local candidates bring to the table?

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What can local candidates bring to the table?

Candidates like Tristan Fehrenbach are promoting the 'citizen's' approach. Feherenbach wants to organize a walk-about with citizens and urban planners in Ward 3 to address issues of liveability. Alan Halberstadt in Ward 4 has been focusing on making Windsor more bike friendly. And many candidates are pointing to a better regional transportation system as a key to improving our quality of life. Learn more on candidates in your ward.

How does Windsor rank as a liveable city?

Last year, Next Generation Consulting ranked the top Canadian cities with populations over 100 thousand. The study was geared to determine where the next generation of workers (ages 20-40) would be attracted to live. Windsor ranked high in all indices including "earning, learning, vitality, around town, after hours, cost of lifestyle and social capital", but only managed to rate 24th out of the top 27 cities.

Former city councillor Tom Porter says there's still room to improve. "We need to keep improving on [the riverfront] and expand inwards because there's certainly many areas of the community that not only need beautification, but probably redevelopment. And I'm thinking of places like Zalev Brothers, for example. The whole city is surrounding it and it's a blight in many ways."

What makes Windsor great?

According to our CBC Citizen's panel, what makes Windsor great is our waterfront, our low housing prices, our proximity to the US, our cultural diversity, and our moderate weather. But our panel also identified what areas need work.

Restaurateur Mark Boscariol says: "Our riverfront park is world class and yet we have condos that sell for eighty thousand dollars facing that riverfront. We have the low housing prices that we're not taking advantage of."

"A lot of the jobs that we see are in the farther regions of the city, like often on the east side, or other areas of the county," says WEST Jobs Training Director Rose Anguiano Hurst. "For a lot of our clients that still live within the downtown core, getting out to those areas is a bit of a challenge for them."

Grad Student Jonathan Nehmatellah identifies a stronger commitment to bringing arts and culture to the core as a way to get his attention. "The city doesn't seem to provide much support for those things." Watch video of the Citizen's Agenda panel sharing more of their concerns and ideas on how to make making Windsor a more liveable city.

Hugh Newell Jacobsen said, "When you look at a city, it's like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it."

What do you see when you look at your city?