Fabio Costante Windsor

Our West End is a blog dedicated for residents to share information regarding neighbourhood issues and developments with the primary intention of making West Windsor a better place to live, work and play. If you would like to post or share anything related to the west-end, please email Fabio Costante at fabiocostante@gmail.com.

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Please note that any opinions expressed are those of the author/resident and not of any organization, unless expressly stated.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Year In Review

Friends and Neighbours,

What a year it has been! A lot of positive progress has been made in 2013 – a direct reflection of your hard work and passion in making West Windsor a better place to live, work and play. In keeping with a tradition that began last year, let’s take a look at some of the progress that has been made, along with the challenges and opportunities that will be before us in 2014.

United Way / Centraide Windsor Essex County

In the spring of 2013, we announced our new partnership with the United Way. They have invested in our strategy and have helped us tremendously over the course of the year. With United Way’s help, we have successfully developed a Residents Roundtable comprised of 16 residents representing every neighbourhood in the west-end, developed a Parks Committee and supported many youth outreach initiatives. In addition, we have organized over 100 Chrysler workers and volunteers who dedicated a whole day to cleaning up graffiti in the west-end. As I take you through our year in review, I will discuss how we have integrated some of the abovementioned activities in our community organizing efforts.

Crime Prevention and Reduction

We've done a lot of work in the area of crime prevention and reduction. Going forward, we will strive to work towards developing a group comprised of residents in the west-end to come up with innovative ideas and strategies to help reduce and prevent crime.

In addition to the above, many residents have received Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) training to make their homes and places of business safer by deterring crime through environmental design. I mention this because it is important to know that we are building a strong capacity to overcome some of our biggest challenges – the reality and perception of crime in the west-end.

West-End Strategy Update

Leann, our Strategy Coordinator, has been able to move forward quite productively in developing a resident-led strategy that focuses on community engagement and empowerment. We believe that real change comes from the bottom-up – from residents and neighbourhoods. Leann has done extensive research, built strong partnerships and is now reaching out extensively to the community through a phone blitz and focus groups.

By the summer of 2014, we will begin tying everything together to develop a list of recommendations going forward. This strategy will be our blueprint for future grassroots initiatives and will be the foundation from which we will conduct our community work.

Community Parks

In late 2013, thanks to Tammy, our Community Coordinator, we developed a Parks Committee comprised of residents in the west-end who are concerned with maintaining and preserving our parks. The goal of the committee is to play an active role in promoting our parks and increasing their usage. Working closely with the City and their ‘Adopt-A-Park’ policy, we hope to ‘adopt’ several parks in our neighbourhoods to ensure their sustainability in the long-term.

The City is consulting with the community in updating its Master Plan and will release the updated version sometime in late 2014 / early 2015. A big component of the Master Plan is the usage and management of our green space. We hope that over the course of 2014 and beyond, as we are taking more ownership over our parks, the City fully understands and acknowledges that no park in the west-end should be sold.

Information Sharing and Awareness of the West-End

We have hundreds of residents subscribed to this blog. I have never imagined that we would have so many residents engaged in not only reading blog posts, but also in sharing information and helping others in pursuit of a better community. Excellent work everyone!

In early 2014, I will issue out a challenge to all residents as we need to continue our momentum and get more residents plugged in. Stay tuned!

Grassroots Initiatives

Many grassroots initiatives have successfully sprouted or have continued in 2013 and look poised to go strong in 2014. Some of these include the West-End Crawlers, the Bloomfield House, the Bridgeview Community Outreach Group Inc., Windsor West Citizens Organization and the Sandwich Towne Farmers Market. We are lucky to have so many residents dedicated to making our west-end community stronger and more vibrant.

Boarded-Up Homes

I have chatted with residents in Sandwich Towne, particularly those who live close to the boarded-up homes this past fall. I have gathered their thoughts and summed them up in a previous post here: Conversations with Residents in Sandwich Towne.

We need to come to a resolution regarding these homes, and the sooner the better. You will see from my conversations with residents that the community is clear on what they would like to see. In the coming year there must be more aggressive and urgent action taken to resolve this current stalemate between the City and the Bridge. The only way for Sandwich Towne to rebound is if there is a resolution regarding these homes. As a community it is our job to put the pressure on our elected officials at the City, Provincial and Federal level, along with the Bridge Company and all stakeholders interested in making Sandwich Towne the gem that it has the potential to be.

Canada Post, Community Centres and Other Closures or Vacancies

For as many positive things in 2013, we have also experienced many difficult realities. Canada Post and the College Avenue Community Centre have closed, the former this past year and the latter a few years ago. The Adie Knox pool is slated for closure soon but there is an active group fighting to keep it open. From the seniors and residents to whom I have spoken, many do not want to see it go.

Some other closures or vacancies include:
·      Forster high school at the end of this school year.
·      The jail in Sandwich Towne will soon be vacant
·      The Fire Hall in Sandwich Towne will be home to a new library branch. The current branch at Brock will move into the old Fire Hall.
·      The Mason-Girardot residence is for sale
·      Some grade schools are vulnerable in that their enrolment is too low to be sustainable in the long run
·      Several churches have closed with at least one more looking to close in the new year

We need to develop a strategy surrounding the use of these buildings, while also providing stability and certainty in the community, particularly Sandwich Towne, by reaching a resolution on the boarded-up homes. Once that is achieved, we can aggressively campaign to attract investment and promote our Community Improvement Plan.

I often use the analogy that we have been bleeding as a community and we need to stop the bleeding. We cannot afford anymore closures in the west-end.

Licensing Landlords and Bylaw Enforcement     

There has been some recent developments at City Hall surrounding the licensing of landlords and developing bylaws to tackle the issue of illegal dwellings. Cracking down on negligent landlords is essential to cleaning up our neighbourhoods and making them more attractive for families. Let me be clear on this point, not all landlords are bad. I have friends and family who are landlords and they upkeep their properties to ensure they conform to the fabric of the neighbourhood. However, there is a difference between landlords and “negligent” landlords. Some sort of licensing bylaw, amendments to the current bylaws and better enforcement is needed to crack down on the negligent landlords that are not abiding by the laws. I have proposed my thoughts to the City Planning department at City Hall along with other residents in the west-end. Let’s hope there is some action on this in the new year.

Your Involvement

Our vision is to engage and empower residents to take charge and play a leading role in bettering our community. We believe that an empowered community is a strong community and we will work hard to continue these efforts in 2014. It is a privilege to serve the west-end community and we are lucky to have great people all around us who truly care. 

Your efforts and compassion is what makes the west-end a truly special place. Those who live here know how great it is and so it is our job to tell our story to the rest of the region.

Our success is rooted in your involvement. These are your streets, your neighbourhoods and your west-end. You know your neighbourhood better than anyone else. The power to create positive change lies within you.

May 2014 be our best year yet!

Sincerely,


Fabio  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

On behalf of Our West End, we would like to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Please enjoy the holidays in the company of family, friends and loved ones.

Sincerely,

Fabio

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Stathis Grill a New Gem in our Neighbourhood


Friends, 

Leann and I had dinner at Stathis Grill (located at 1657 College Ave.) yesterday evening, and like always, the food and service was excellent. The prices are very reasonable, especially considering the quality of food. It is no wonder why finding a seat was hard to come by yesterday evening. 

If you haven't checked it out yet I would strongly encourage you do. You will not be disappointed. 

You can visit their website and browse their menu at Stathis Grill

What was once an abandoned commercial building is now a booming Greek Grill. We are truly fortunate to have this gem in our community. 

Thank you Stathis Grill! 

Fabio 

Forster/Century Chooses New Name

Friends,

Please see an email I received below from a representative of the Public School Board:

"Fabio,

I hope, by now you’ve seen the name selected for the metamorphosis of Century Secondary School….Westview Freedom Academy. It was a name that brought together a number of different suggestions in the name search….and it was developed very much by members of the community.

While we were cautious about using “West” in the name, since we already have a Western Secondary School in LaSalle….the community, especially the students were adamant that some reference to the area be  prominent in the name…there was a great sense of pride in being associated with the west-end or the west-side, if you will….hence, Westview.

Freedom came from a suggestion to align the school philosophically with a concept or perspective that resonated clearly with the community, of course the connection not only to the Underground Railroad but the nature of the area as a landing spot for new Canadians who emigrated because of war, tyranny, and oppression….

Academy was chosen because students wanted their school to have a “classy” moniker, which they agreed that the word provides.

I hope you like it….we are about to launch a campaign to brand the school with appropriate colours, mascot, nick name and slogan…we are looking for suggestions."

Winter Warm Up Youth Dance

Friends,

St. Mark's, located on Tecumseh Rd. W. and Campbell Ave., is hosting a Youth Dance on Friday, January 3rd from 7pm - 11pm. The dance is for boys and girls in grades 6 to 8. Tickets are $5 at the door or $3 in advance. You can purchase advance tickets on Fridays from 9am to 12pm at St. Mark's Hall in the basement.

If you would like to learn more, please send me an email and I will forward your questions or concerns to the appropriate people at St. Mark's.

Best regards,

Fabio

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Neighbourhood Watch Formed on Bridge Avenue between College and Wyandotte

Friends,

Good news. A new neighbourhood watch has formed on Bridge Avenue between College and Wyandotte. This is another positive step in fighting crime on a grassroots level. It won't be too long before we are able to develop our resident-led crime prevention and reduction group comprised of residents from each neighbourhood across the west-end.

Developing neighbourhood watches and being proactive with resident-led solutions to fighting crime is absolutely critical if we hope to one day reduce crime and eradicate the negative perception of crime in our neighbourhoods.

We're building a safer west-end community, block by block, neighbourhood by neighbourhood.

Fabio

Successful First Parks Meeting


Friends, 

Our West End held its first parks committee meeting this evening and it was successful. The committee discussed the "adopt-a-park" policy initiated by the City of Windsor, among other things, and we discussed in length how residents can take ownership of their parks. We are looking at practical steps (i.e. by adopting a park) to preserve and maintain parks in the area and implement alternative features to increase user-ship. 

Our next meeting will be around late January. If you are interested in joining the group, please let me know and I will add your name to the email list. I will send a reminder closer to the next meeting as well. 

We are making great strides and I am so very proud of our staff, volunteers and west-end community. 

Fabio 

Car Break-ins in Bridgeview

Friends,

The Bridgeview neighbourhood watch informed me of two car break-ins that occurred in the past few days in Bridgeview. One on Rankin between Vercheres and Grove and the other on Grove.

Please be on the lookout and contact Windsor Police with any relevant information.

Fabio

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Free Household Items

Friends,

Please see a message I received from the West End Crawlers:

Hello everyone!
A couple who live on Peter St. manage student houses/apts., and when the students leave, they get what's left in them. 
They wanted to open a thrift store, however they both face serious medical issues, so the store will not be able to open.  He hasTONS of, you-name-it, household/kitchen items, clothing, shoes, coats, comforters, bedding, furniture etc..
I told them I would send out this email to everyone I know who might be able to help find homes for it all.  If you, or someone you know, can use any of these item, please contact me!  I'd like to know by Friday Dec. 13th, then we'll arrange to pick it all up by Friday Dec. 20 and distribute.  If anyone can recruit "helpers" to pick it up, that'd be appreciated! 
FABIO, if you could post our dilemma and contact info. in your blog, it'd be greatly appreciated!
I'd like to have (at least most of it) out of their house before Christmas!
Rita Higgins:  westendcrawlers@gmail.com

The West End Crawlers asked to amend the above and add this: 

"About the donation items: I should have included that we will be working with established organizations, to help the masses, so if you, as an individual, request anything, there's a possibility we may not be able to get you what you'd like, from this particular supply. We hope you understand! If you contact us, please be specific in what you need, and we'll see what we can do!"