A Few Thoughts on Week 50

  • The latest episode of Mean, Median and Moose is out Tuesday Night! This month we talk about criminal justice data in Canada.
    • Two co-presenters on the podcast wrote this great blog post on IT Job Postings!
  • The latest Council Conversation Podcast is also available!
    • My conversation with Mayor of Zorra Township Marcus Ryan is on all of your favourite podcasting platforms.
    • On Thursday, I get another Oxford County perspective when I talk to Councillor for the Town of Tillsonburg, Chris Parker, a teaser is here.
  • A bill was put forward in Parliament on Basic Income. Mike Moffatt thinks it’s a bad idea and so do I.
  • One of the hidden investments in the City Budget was some in camera discussions around acquiring new parkland in the west end of the City The question becomes where will this park be? A few hints:
    • 10 acres in total areas which equates to 40,000 m/sq. If the park is “Linear” and approximately 1km long (1000m) it means that it is about 40m wide. In residential areas is another constraining factor. As is being an overgrown space needing to be brought up to standard.
    • The article also only implies one property owner being involved which means the City isn’t buying up land from numerous sources.
  • So where could we be talking about???
  • The most obvious location is the old rail cut that terminates at the existing “International Gardens” on the Riverfront. As a linear park in West Windsor it is about 1km long, running from Wyandotte St. to the riverfront at Cameron Ave. Although I can’t find the news story, there was a big park clean up there in 2018/19 which fits the “often been left to volunteers to clean up over the years” from the Windsor Star story. It is almost a park already as even Google map shows a walking trail.
  • A secondary choice next to the CBC building between Caron Ave and Crawford. If it goes all the way to Wyandotte it fits the size description almost perfectly and the City did win a legal fight over this area in 2019. The primary issue is that there are still train tracks between University and Wyandotte St so unless removing tracks are apart of the plan there are challenges. Additionally it is technically in Ward 3 and the conversation with Councillor Costante implies a Ward 2 investment.
  • A third option is along the ETR line in West Windsor in a similar style to Crowley Park along College Ave. Starting a California Ave and running to Curry St. it is about 1km in length. I believe the city actually owns a number of the adjacent buildings to this property as they are community housing communities. The biggest issue is the width, you could call it 40 metres wide to create the total reported acreage if you counted the train tracks as part of the park.
  • A long shot but interesting one is the land between the Lou Ramano Water Treatment Plant and the FA Tilson Armouries. Although shorter in length this land is wider allow it to reach the 10 acre threshold, and if a crossing of the ETR tracks is made, it could connect the eventual Gordie Howe Bridge bike lanes on Sandwich St. directly to Mic Mac Park and through there to the broader trail network to South Windsor.
  • The other big story of the week was economic development, with a potential battery plant coming to Windsor. Battery assembly could be the next “powertrain assembly” of EV vehicles and it’s potential economic importance is outlined in a US Department of Commerce paper from 2018 on battery supply chains. I also found this McKinsey report on Europe’s battery supply interesting. This is interesting to me for a couple of reasons:
    • First, usually the mantra of Economic Development is loose lips sinks ships and until there is a done deal (one way or another), very little is announced.
    • This story actually was revealed during the Windsor Work City Council Session where the CEO of WEEDC mentioned working with battery companies to locate to Windsor for the first time as well as being one of the leading jurisdiction in Canada in this pursuit. He also mentioned that a potential barrier are electricity prices. This past week we saw news stories out of WEEDC itself as well as comment from the Prime Minister reported on this issue.
      • The optimistic view is that this is almost a done deal which is why it has gone public. This is in contrast to past auto attraction efforts (also reported here) that were only reported after the fact.
  • The second interesting question is where is the plant going to go?
    • Odds are that a greenfield or already cleared brownfield build would be required. At a proposed $2B dollars and 2000 employees that makes it approximately 1/3 the size of the Telsa Gigafactory in Nevada (that employ 7,000 people) with a 1.9M sq ft foot print over multiple floors providing over 4M sq ft of space situated on over 1,000 acres of land. I don’t know how easy it is to find ~700,000 sq.ft. of turnkey facility to meet the climate and technological requirement but I would suspect it likely doesn’t exist. Given that building itself could be pushing 20 acres, and additional space would be needed for shipping, parking and other auxiliary functions, it is unlikely that this facilities is in the core of Windsor.
    • The other thing to consider is road and rail access. Raw materials will need to arrive at the plant and the batteries need to go to where ever they will be installed into vehicles. Depending on what stage of batteries production we are taking about, it could see raw lithium or nickel being shipped to Windsor. Rapid access to transportation routes will be key.
  • Third, the question is who are these batteries for?
    • All of the major automakers have partnerships with certain battery providers, sometimes exclusively other times with several companies working with one supplier. GM for example announced electric van production in Ingersoll, if we are going to supply that plant, LG Chem or A123 Systems could be leading candidates as they supply existing GM vehicles.
    • Knowing what electric vehicles are going to be built in our region so that Just in Time battery deliveries can occur. It is unlikely that this plant would be utilized for non-North American production.
  • All in all, it is very interesting to watch.
  • London is getting affordable housing on old hospital lands.
  • Digital subscription tax credit, I had no idea….
  • Still in red and based on these trends likely to stay there for a bit.
Izzy arrived in Canada 1 year ago tonight! On March 1st, I met her and she changed my life 🙂

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