Ambassador Bridge security director testifies abandoned homes don't 'destabilize' Indian Road area

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Sandwich business owners say Liberals 'betrayed neighbourhood' by allowing new bridge

Sandwich business owners say Liberals 'betrayed neighbourhood' by allowing new bridge

When people find out Stan Korosec works with the Ambassador Bridge company, their reaction is almost always the same.

"How can you work for that guy?"

The guy in question is billionaire bridge owner Matty Moroun, whose Canadian Transit Company is being targeted in a $16.5-million law suit brought by residents frustrated with the deterioration of Indian Road area homes owned by the bridge.

Korosec is the director of security and Canadian government relations for the Detroit International Bridge Company, the parent company of the CTC. 

He told the court he works for Moroun "to make things better" but witnesses have spent several days decrying the state of bridge-owned properties in the area, sharing horror stories of rampant wildlife and fires. 

"My dad was in the war and I've told him it's like he lives in a war zone now," Jane Chaborek testified in court on Wednesday."It's a disgrace how it happened. My father's life has never been the same since the CTC bought the houses."

Never asked residents about property values

The residents allege in the suit that the Canadian Transit Company created a "nuisance" by buying more than 100 homes in the area and boarding them up.

Korosec testified that, in his opinion, buying homes along Indian Road and leaving them vacant did not "destabilize" the neighbourhood. 

Bill Sasso, a partner at Sutts Strosberg LLP which is representing the residents, challenged Korosec repeatedly in cross-examination about why the homes had been purchased and whether the company even had government approval to go ahead with an expansion project they had been touting for years.

During questioning, Korosec admitted he had never "studied" whether leaving the houses empty had negatively impacted property values in the area or asked people in the area if they thought it had.

He also highlighted charitable efforts the company had undertaken in the area including millions in donations to the University of Windsor and the purchase of the former J.L. Forster High School.

The company plans to donate the school building back to the community to be turned into a space for local groups and organizations.

Role isn't to oppose Gordie Howe Bridge

Sasso also asked whether part of Korosec's role was to oppose the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

"Yes and no," he responded, describing his job as "educating" the government about the costs of the other  bridge and that it isn't needed as traffic is going down.

Korosec also defended a presentation he had put together comparing the Ambassador Bridge's plan to add a second span to the Howe Bridge. While Sasso suggested it directly opposed the Gordie Howe Bridge, Korosec said "others may perceive it that way," but that was not its purpose.

Throughout his time on the stand, Korosec was repeatedly questioned about whether or not the Ambassador Bridge expansion, which inspired the company's buying spree on Indian Road, had been approved by the Canadian government.

"We have not been denied," he said, adding that the application should soon be before the cabinet.

The security expert said the company had purchased the homes because the space was needed for the maintenance and security of the proposed second span.

"It's our obligation to make sure the bridge is safe and secure," he said.

In the afternoon the CTC called a contractor who had worked for the company and a property owner from the area.

The trial has been scheduled for three weeks before Superior Court Justice Thomas Carey.