Mayor vows Meadowbrook project won’t be delayed two years

Jim Steele, CEO of the Windsor-Essex Community Housing Corporation, right, talks as Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, centre, and MP Adam Vaughan listen during a media event on Meadowbrook Lane in Windsor, April 23, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

The City of Windsor’s first affordable housing development in 30 years could be delayed for two years because of cost overruns.

However, Mayor Drew Dilkens vows the project will move ahead sooner.

Dilkens told reporters delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic are unavoidable, but he said two years is an “unreasonable” wait.

“I find that completely unacceptable,” he said. “We will do better.”

Dilkens was not sure just how much the tender was over budget, but the original estimate was $39 million, with the federal government covering $22 million. He said the bid came back “several million dollars” over.

The Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation would not confirm the cost overruns saying it “is still in negotiations with various contractors, and we are unable to discuss costs at this time.”

“We will do better,” vowed Dilkens. “There will be a delay from the original project schedule because we had to go back and find millions of dollars in savings in order to bring this thing in closer to the budgeted amount. Of course, that put us back a bit. COVID will put us back by several months, but there’s no need for the project to be delayed by two years.”

He said shovels should have been in the ground already. The original completion date was December 31, 2020.

The 10-storey, 145-unit project was to include 76 affordable housing units. Of those, 12 units would be for those fleeing domestic abuse, four for those with developmental disabilities, and 46 with special features for the disabled. The remaining 69 units would be offered at market rent.