Ford City plan proposes connections with Walkerville and waterfront development

Plan calls for connections between Walkerville, Ford City and proposes financial incentive program for residential, retail space.

The community improvement plan will go to council in October

A rendering shows the potential of vacant land in Ford City if streets were extended to connect with Walkerville. (Submitted by the City of Windsor)

A new plan for Ford City suggests a five-part financial incentive program for vacant land and extended streets connecting the neighbourhood with Walkerville will revitalize the area. 

Residents believe the new community improvement plan, which combines a 10 years worth of research and historical data with input from local organization, will help Ford City grow.

"I'm excited about it," said Gillian Benoit-Gonzalez, chair of the Ford City residents association. "I think we've needed to connect to Walkerville and Walker Road itself for a long time."

Extended streets, new connections

A big piece of the project includes extending Ontario Street and Whelpton Street past St. Luke Road, where they currently end, and connect them with Walker Road. 

The plan said that extending streets would help connect Ford City with the city. (Submitted by the City of Windsor)

"We're kind of in a secluded area and there's only a couple of ways in and out," said Benoit-Gonzalez.

I think the possibilities are just endless right now,- Marina Clemens, former executive director of Drouillard Place

"So that's going to decrease the heavy traffic flow in the certain intersection points that we have and also it's going to make it more inviting."

The plan calls these extended streets a chance to "establish physical and physiological connections throughout the neighbourhood."

Marina Clemens, former executive director of Drouillard Place, believes this change creates a more walkable neighbourhood. 

"Right now it's kind of blocked off, there's only one access through Richmond," said Clemens. "The market's right there. It's a win-win for all of it because they would travel there and go there."

The report says extending the streets is a high priority.

Kevin Alexander, senior planner of special projects, listens to questions from Marina Clemens, the former executive directer of Drouillard Place. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Grant program promotes infill

The plan also includes a five-part financial incentive program that aims to "encourage the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized properties" according to Kevin Alexander, senior planner of special projects for the City of Windsor. 

Downtown Windsor has been reaping the rewards of a similar program that was proposed last year and passed by council, but only after they voted to remove three parts of the program.

Here's what the proposed financial incentive program grants for Ford City looks like:

  1. Municipal Development Fees   
    • 100 per cent of municipal development fees, with a $50,000 maximum.
  2. New Residential Development   
    • $2,500 for each new residential unit with a $50,000 maximum.
    • $5,000 for each unit on a catalyst site.
  3. Building Property Improvement   
    • 100 per cent of the increase in municipal property taxes after property or building improvements when redeveloping a vacant site or underutilized building. 
    • Annual grant for 10 years after project completion.
  4. Retail Investment   
    • 50 per cent matching grant for every retail unit created, up to $15,000 per unit.
    • A maximum of $30,000 per property
  5. Neighbourhood Residential Rehabilitation   
    • 50 per cent matching grant for upgrades to residential properties, with a minimum of $2,000 and maximum grant of $15,000 per property.

The dream scenario

But possibly the loftiest goal of the plan includes the rehabilitation of the Ford City waterfront, including a rendering for a potential use of the property along Riverside Drive — which is currently owned by Ford. 

This rendering shows what the intersection of Riverside Drive Drouillard Road could become. (Submitted by the City of Windsor)

"That would be wonderful, that would be really good because that waterfront property is not just for Ford City, that's our whole city," said Clemons.

"I think the possibilities are just endless right now."

City council will vote on the matter at an October council meeting — including how the plan will be funded. 

Right now administration suggests the plan needs $250,000 to cover expected grant applications over the first year.