Bridge authority talks about hiring, Sandwich Town

Heather Grondin of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, from left, WDBA chairman Dwight Duncan, CEO Bryce Phillips and controller Kevin Wilkinson participate in the WDBA annual meeting at the Capitol Theatre in Windsor, November 23, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Those in charge of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project discussed issues pertaining to the neighbourhoods affected as construction gets underway.

Representatives of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) gathered last week for their annual public meeting, held at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Windsor. The community was invited to provide input on a variety of issues concerning the bridge construction, which officially kicked off earlier this fall.

The meeting began with the showing of a film highlighting the progress made by the WDBA to get construction moving on both the Sandwich Town and Delray sides of the border. Then attention was paid to topics most relevant to the area. One of them was the community development plan that will directly affect residents of Sandwich Towne. Heather Grondin, a spokesperson for the WDBA, said that plan is moving forward.

“We’re currently working with Bridging North America so that they can finalize their community benefits plan,” said Grondin. “We will be finalizing the plan over the next six months.”

One question that arose was the probability of incorporating the former Windsor jail in Old Sandwich Towne into the community development plan. Grondin said they have no plans for the Windsor jail but there is money set aside for potential development down the road.

“In terms of the neighbourhood infrastructure strategy, that’s a $20-million investment that we’ll be undertaking,” said Grondin. “The priorities will reflect the comments and suggestions that we’ve already heard through the consultation that we have been undertaking since 2015.”

The hiring of local employees to build the bridge was another popular subject during the meeting. Bryce Phillips, the recently-named CEO of the WDBA, said their priority is hiring locally for both sides of the border, including those in Indigenous communities.

“There are requirements within the procurement contract that hire local trades and professionals that reflect the communities,” said Phillips.

The WDBA is expecting the Gordie Howe International Bridge to be ready for traffic by the fall of 2024.

A consultation meeting concerning the community benefits plan will take place on Tuesday, December 4 at Mackenzie Hall from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. An additional meeting will take place at El Kiosko in Detroit’s Delray neighbourhood at the same time on Wednesday, December 5.