What began as a essay on urban sprawl and some of the challenges faced by Windsor and broader Essex County has evolved into a much more. As 2018 progresses, Windsor-Essex County is in many ways at an inflection point, with the coming years charting the course of this region for the next generation and beyond. Although some might call this alarmist, the interaction of the various socio-economic ecosystems will see of our region fixed in a manner that will then curb the behaviour of various institutions and sectors creating a rigidity that can only be reversed through traumatic shock or a systematic deconstruction.
Despite the name related to this project, I will be looking at all of Essex County. The nature of broader Windsor and Essex County makes these challenges even more pronounced and makes tackling some of the issues that our region faces even more challenging. That being said, as the dominant socio-economic presence in the region Windsor will be the focus of many of the posts.
As a mid-size community there is very little in depth research on issues conducted in our community. This results in a pattern of big announcement being made, excitement and media coverage occurring and then nothing, at least until something unforeseen emerges. As a result, what is needed is some digging. Our region faces a number of significant challenges. Issues of housing stock quality; an expanding opioid crisis, a lack of economic diversification; a weak activist class; increasing political polarization; crumbling infrastructure; high rates of poverty; increasingly harmful urban sprawl; growing inequality; a degrading environment; poor educational attainment; issues of revitalization and/or gentrification; are a sample of some of the perceived/identified challenges. To list these challenges is not to be a naysayer or to speak down about our region. Not only is there data that fundamentally supports the existence of the issues listed above but in many cases they are impacting mid-sized cities across North America. It is by unpacking some of these challenges and the data that outlines them a rational policy discussion can occur. This is what this project is about, an attempt at a data driven analysis and commentary on the challenges that our region faces.
Fundamentally our region faces an existential threat not only from the challenges outlined above but the global pace of change, economic forces beyond our control and a growing internal division. The tragedy is that in many ways the City of Windsor can’t solve these problems alone and the only way to solve them is for our region to do something it doesn’t do very often, compromise. This outcome is not easy or even likely but what the subsequent posts in this series will explore the underlying data that justifies that shifts in thinking are required and I offer up my “informed?” opinions on some of these issue.
Although the exact order and topics of the posts are to be determined, the initial posts will form a foundation for subsequent posts by providing context and framework that illustrates my perspective on issues and some underlying macro level factors that shape the region as a whole. Hopefully this will tie together into a cohesive narrative.