Council approves $250K Ford City Community Improvement Plan

Windsor city council passed the Ford City Community Improvement Plan after a long debate Monday night.

'You see the differences that are happening there,' says Ford City Redevelopment Committee co-chair

A rendering shows the potential of vacant land in Ford City if streets were extended to connect with Walkerville. The Community Improvement Plan lists the street connection as a high priority. (Submitted by the City of Windsor)

Ford City now has a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) after Windsor city council voted Monday night. However, the decision was not made easily.

Council was torn on the neighbourhood residential rehabilitation program part of the financial incentives outlined in the plan. It provides a 50 per cent matching grant for home renovations, with a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $15,000 per property.

The minimum was originally $2,000, but Coun. Rino Bortolin was concerned it would deter people from using the program. Coun. Ed Sleiman, who brought the motion forward, agreed to lower the minimum.

Several councillors raised the idea that such a neighbourhood grant could be problematic because taxpayers would be paying into it, but not all of them could reap its benefits.

"It concerns me because frankly, I think there's a fairness issue here that we do have to address at some point," said Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac.

Jo-Anne Gignac says there are residents in every ward who can't afford home improvements, who could benefit from a neighbourhood grant. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

However, Coun. Chris Holt said it's paramount to have people see the city support them and their neighbourhood.

"I don't look at it as a handout to one specific neighbourhood over another neighbourhood," he said.

Gignac still voted for the plan's approval, because she knows the struggle of the community in trying to rebuild to become a vibrant area again. She asked administration to report back to council on how they could expand the home renovations grant to be city-wide.

'A huge tool'

Kerry Ippolito, co-chair of the Ford City Redevelopment Committee, said the grant will be a big help to those living in homes with porches falling down and windows that need to be replaced.

Also part of the CIP is a vision to extend Ontario Street and Whelpton Street past St. Luke Road to connect them with Walker Road. That extension would connect Ford City with Walkerville, which the plan says is a high priority.

Kerry Ippolito says she was holding her breath until the last minute until the plan was approved. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Ippolito said there were already businesses waiting for the CIP to pass to take advantage of it. She's confident there will be lots of uptake on the residential grant as well.

"I think anybody who has been in Ford City and seen what it's looked like in the last 20 years and actually has gone through there and spent a little bit of time, gone for a stroll, you see the differences that are happening there," she said.

"And I think that we've gone so far on our own, and now this is just a huge tool that's going to bring us over the other side of the mountain."

Council has approved the recommendation of $250,000 for the plan to cover expected grant applications in the first year.

With files from Katerina Georgieva