Local doctor wants to bring children's museum to Windsor

A request to change zoning of the current United Way building was to bring a children's museum to Windsor.

The United Way opposes the proposal

The United Way is currently using about 60 per cent of the space available. (Google Maps)

A request to change zoning at Monday's heritage committee meeting was to bring a children's museum to Windsor.

A local doctor got the idea after visiting the London Children's Museum. 

According to Dr. Joel Liem's lawyer Jeff Slopen, the plan would meet provincial goals of diversifying the economy and the use of the land parcel.

"It will stabilize and improve the existing corridor," said Slopen to the heritage committee, pointing to the other businesses located in the area. 

"This is a unique opportunity for the City of Windsor," said Slopen, adding that the museum would be targeted to primary school field trips who would attend on school buses. Slopen said there is "ample parking" for both school buses and cars.

There are 90 parking spaces on the property, but that's the main reason the United Way objects to the project.

One of the areas at the London Children's Museum. (Gyroscope Inc/London Children's Museum)

William Willis, a lawyer representing the United Way, said that organization holds 60 per cent of the space in the Gilles Blvd building, with a lease until 2025.

Willis said weeknight and weekend meetings take up about 15 parking spaces each meeting and that sub-lease holders like the Canadian Hearing Society, which offers meeting sessions during the evening, also need parking spaces. According to Willis, there is not enough parking room for United Way staff and attendees as it is.

Another concern of the United Way was that the entertainment title of the rezoning application was too broad.

"Permitted uses include things like bowling alleys, pool halls and arcades and many things not compatible with the future and opinion of the United Way," said Willis. The United Way is asking that if rezoning was permitted, it be a more focused zoning.

Slopen said the plan is very similar to the museum in London. 

The neighbourhood map presented to the development and heritage committee for suggested rezoning. (Development and Heritage Standing Committee Agenda)

"We do not intend to expand any further," said Slopen about the space of the other tenants. "The museum will be at the back of the building and buses will be able to access the space from alternate entrances."

Reports from a traffic engineer were provided to dispute the parking concerns.

"We believe this is a significant benefit to the City of Windsor, through no cost to the taxpayer," said Slopen. 

The United Way, through Willis, said they were unable to support the application, but the committee approved the request. The matter will now be up for consideration by city council.

With files from Peter Duck


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