Essex County warden promotes region, collaboration with Windsor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The warden of Essex County took centre stage Friday afternoon and used his “Warden’s Luncheon” to promote the area and to call for even further collaboration with Windsor.

Essex County Warden Tom Bain (seated) accepts best wishes from Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins  during the March 4 Warden’s Luncheon.

Essex County Warden Tom Bain (seated) accepts best wishes from Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins
during the March 4 Warden’s Luncheon.

Tom Bain’s address was the featured attraction in front of a packed house at the Ciociaro Club with political figures, local leaders and interested business owners on hand. The luncheon was presented by the Windsor-Essex District Chamber of Commerce and Libro Credit Union.

Bain said he is generally an optimistic person but admitted his optimism is tested by the region’s 9.6 per cent unemployment rate, a rate that is higher than Ontario (6.7 per cent) and national (7.2 per cent) averages. He said the way out of that situation is to promote what this area does best and create the environment where job creators will want to locate here.

“Municipalities rarely create jobs,” Bain stated. “Our focus as municipal leaders is to create the conditions that will provide economic growth.”
Essex County has its “financial house in order,” the warden stated, touting its AA credit rating, a budget that calls for regular upgrades and maintenance to the county’s $440 million road network and CWATS plan, and tax increases that are typically lower than the rate of inflation. Bain believes the county meets today’s challenges while also being ready for the future.

Both Essex County and Windsor have committed to funding the $200 million local share for the proposed new Windsor-Essex Hospital System, the focal point of which is the new mega-hospital proposed for County Road 42 and Concession 9.

“Make no mistake, our region is in competition with five other regions across the province,” said Bain. “There are only so many $2 billion cheques that will be issued across the province.”

Bain encouraged the community to support the plan, one that will give Windsor-Essex County a more modern health care infrastructure.

Warden Tom Bain addresses the sold out room at the Ciociaro Club during his Warden's Luncheon March 4.

Warden Tom Bain addresses the sold out room at the Ciociaro Club during his Warden’s Luncheon March 4.

“Do not allow the province to use local friction as an excuse to bypass us,” Bain urged. “The province needs to hear one strong collective voice from Essex County and Windsor.”

The warden called for greater communication in the region, believing some of the “buzz” has been lost since the area made the top seven in the Intelligent Communities Forum’s 2011 list of smartest communities. He said the “momentum has started to fade” and “we must do better.”

The region must be prepared to compete globally, he added.

“We can’t escape that the world is going less local and more global,” said Bain. “Municipalities can’t be isolated onto ourselves. We need to know what others are thinking. We need better communication.”

The gateway to Canada is through Windsor-Essex County, the warden added.

“Those rumours of our demise are greatly exaggerated,” said Bain. “Collectively, we will prove the naysayers wrong. Ontario does not end in London.”

Also exaggerated were reports of friction between Essex County and Windsor, stated Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkins. Dilkins said there is good leadership in the city and the county and they work together well.

“The warden and I are in contact on a frequent basis,” said Dilkins.

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