Bike Windsor Essex evicted from downtown location

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Windsor Symphony Orchestra reveals reasons behind sudden eviction of Bike Windsor Essex

Members of Bike Windsor Essex sat around a table in the middle of their bright and airy store front at the corner of Pelissier Street and University Ave. West in downtown Windsor, shocked at the eviction notice lying before them.

"We were just floored to receive an official notification.… We sat there looking at each other going, 'Oh my goodness, this is sad, sad news,'" said Lori Newton, executive director of Bike Windsor Essex.

CBC News has learned Bike Windsor Essex is only halfway through its lease, but the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, which manages the property, is evicting the organization by August 28.

But what is most heartbreaking for Newton and her team is the investment they've put into the location — hundreds of hours of volunteer labour to improve the building and thousands of dollars to pay for it.

"Compared to when we moved into this space, this was really a dead corner and now there is activity all the time and that is something we did purposefully," said Newton.

Members of Bike Windsor Essex have puttied broken walls, painted the entire unit and replaced the floor, which previously had holes.

Newton figures the group, which is coming to the end of its Ontario Trillium Grant funding, has spent more than $5,000 on improving the space.

Newton said they still don't know why they have to leave.

"We thought we would have a little bit more time to establish ourselves, but this is what it is. So, we are going to reach out to our partners and hope that someone has got a space that is perfect for us," she said.

Newton wants Bike Windsor Essex to stay in Windsor's core. The group has made a number of partnerships throughout the city, and it wants to promote tourism in downtown Windsor.

Newton said there is a demand for the services the organization provides — such as bike safety courses, the bike repair shop and its "Earn-a-Bike" program which allows young people living in poverty to volunteer their time in exchange for a donated bike.

The Windsor Symphony Orchestra told CBC News it did not want to comment on the matter until it has spoken with representatives from Bike Windsor Essex.

Newton said there isn't much they can do now except pack their belongings and look for a new spot.

"We saw ourselves as part of the revitalization of the downtown core," she said. "We are going to make a positive out of this somehow or another but, yes, it is going to be tough."