Mayor says he's 'bullishly optimistic' about Windsor's future

Windsor's new city council met for the first time Tuesday night at the Capitol Theatre.  (TJ Dhir/CBC - image credit)
Windsor's new city council met for the first time Tuesday night at the Capitol Theatre. (TJ Dhir/CBC - image credit)

Drew Dilkens kicked off his third term as Windsor's mayor by expressing optimism about the future, despite hurdles the city has faced in the past.

Dilkens gave his inaugural address at the Capitol Theatre after he and the rest of council were sworn in. His speech welcomed the new faces to the "team" and focused on Windsor's financial future.

He reflected on his first two terms as mayor, and the challenges he faced, including flooding, potential auto-industry closures and a difficult pandemic period.

"But instead of being concerned about what might come next and all of the things beyond our control, I can assure you tonight I am bullishly optimistic about Windsor's future," Dilkens said.

"We didn't just sit back and let destiny be our guide. We actively worked to create the plan, to fund the plan, and to implement the recommendations. That plan is called Windsor Works. It's our economic development and diversification road map."

WATCH | Hear some of Dilkens' inaugural address: 

Dilkens highlighted Windsor being chosen as the site for an electric vehicle battery plant, bringing the 3,000 jobs when it opens in two years, as well as the "connection" with Stellantis and bringing back the third shift.

"Windsor is now on the leading edge of a global revolution of the auto industry, the likes of which we haven't seen for a hundred years," said Dilkens.

The mayor spoke of two other projects, the Gordie Howe Bridge, which should be completed, and a new hospital for the region, for which he predicts "shovels in the ground," by the end of this council's term.

"We have population growth, building growth, and people now viewing our region as a hub for economic and cultural growth," he said.

Dilkens was re-elected mayor for his third term, after sitting on council since 2006.

He took 52.5 per cent of the vote in the October municipal election, significantly ahead of runner up and former Ward 4 city councillor Chris Holt, who had 38.7 per cent of the vote.

Dozens gathered for the inaugural meeting of the new Windsor city council.

The event opened with music from the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra, Windsor Symphony Orchestra, poetry readings from poet laureate emeritus Marty Gervais and a message from the city's Indigenous story teller, Theresa Sims.

Sims spoke of having "one heart and one mind" before singing her song of the deer, with a message "to work together and to be kind to each other and kind to ourselves."

3 new faces on council, 7 returning councillors

Angelo Marignani, Mark McKenzie and Renaldo Agostino are Windsor's three first-time councillors, sworn in officially last night.

They take the seats of former councillors Rino Bortolin, Jeewen Gill, and Holt.

Agostino, who has long had ties to the city's downtown core, has said he's focused on making the area a safer and more vibrant place.

TJ Dhir/CBC
TJ Dhir/CBC

McKenzie, a former 89X FM radio host and current real estate agent, won Walkerville-area's Ward 4 by just 28 votes over his closest competitor. He said affordable housing is his top concern for his ward.

Marignani has run for Ward 7 councillor five other times, before this year's win. He is an employee at automaker Magna International and a former Windsor business owner. He says his priorities include health care, speeding and safety in city parks.

Incumbent councillors Fred Francis, Fabio Costante, Ed Sleiman, Jo-Anne Gignac, Gary Kaschak, Kieran McKenzie and Jim Morrison were re-elected and sworn in for the new term.

Stacey Janzer/CBC
Stacey Janzer/CBC

Leamington, Kingsville, Tecumseh and Lakeshore councils hosted inaugural council meetings last night.

The inaugural meeting for the new Essex council  is on Nov. 21.

LaSalle will host its first meeting of the new council on Nov. 22.

The first meeting for Amherstburg's new council will be held on Nov. 28.