Mayor hopes to brand west-end business district around Asian businesses

Mayor Drew Dilkens is meeting with community groups to discuss the idea of formally branding a west-end business district that consists of primarily Asian businesses.

Boundaries, name of area not yet defined

Mayor Drew Dilkens says more than 40 Asian businesses are concentrated on Wyandotte Street between downtown and the University of Windsor. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Mayor Drew Dilkens is meeting with community groups to examine the idea of branding a west-end business district that consists of primarily Asian businesses.

"If you drive on Wyandotte Street from the downtown corridor on Ouellette and you just drive west toward the University of Windsor ... there (are) over 40 businesses, whether they're grocery stores, restaurants, or other businesses selling Asian products or Asian food," Dilkens told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive. 

"So we said, 'is there a way to really capture the essence of the Asian community in Windsor and also celebrate the international students — many who come from Asia — who are at the University of Windsor?"

Drew Dilkens is the mayor of Windsor. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The mayor said he met with representatives from the city's Asian cultural associations recently to discuss the idea.

"There was widespread agreement that this would be a very good thing for the community," he said, adding Chinese groups had discussed the idea of creating a Chinatown in the past.

Branding the area would bring people together, increase quality of life for residents and "create more economic opportunities for that particular area of the city," Dilkens said.

The western span of University Avenue may also become part of the future district, according to Norma Coleman, the mayor's chief of staff. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The mayor dismissed concerns that a specifically Asian theme may deter non-Asian businesses from setting up shop in the district. When asked if a business improvement association would be required to make the idea take off, Dilkens said it would not be necessary.

"I think the city can play a meaningful role here, as I heard around the table during our conversation," he said. "Bringing everyone together, I think, is a important role ... for me to do."

Dilkens stressed that the idea is still in the preliminary stages.

Wyandotte Street W. as seen on Nov. 22, 2017. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

"What we need to do now is get probably a larger group around the table and come up with some concept drawings and show folks what it could look like," he said. "I would like to see over the next year some meaningful things come together that has the support of that community."

The branding of the west-end area is part of a city-wide "theming and districting" initiative. During the 2017 budget deliberations, council allocated $250,000 to a general districting fund.

"I think there are many other parts of the city that would certainly benefit from this type of initiative," Dilkens said.

Tap on the player to hear the entire conversation with Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre.


Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email