Did you know that Windsor was the very first municipality in Canada (many even claim North America) to have an electric streetcar line?
Of course you did. You read the blogs and are aware of Windsor’s storied past. Many, however, had no clue that we once possessed a public transportation system that many other cities looked to for inspiration. Whoda thunk, eh?
So today, we (Andrew was camping up on the Bruce Peninsula, so I was joined in-studio by Ron Drouillard of “All In A Days Work” fame) welcomed noted local transportation historian Bernie Drouillard, as well as historian and blogger John Stefani into the studio with us to give us an idea of just what Windsor had that made all these other municipalities so envious. And indeed they did, painting a transportation picture that made me want to go back in time and experience a more walkable, pedestrian friendly Windsor. As John said during the show: it happened once before, which means it isn’t impossible to do again!
“The fact that we’re becoming more environmentally conscious and becoming more green will make public transit and public transportation infrastructure projects more and more important.” stated Patrick Persichilli, vice-president of the WindsorEssex Development Commission.
“In Europe, the cost of oil and petrol has been significantly higher than in North America for years and that’s created a greater need for public transportation infrastructure projects,” said Persichilli. “We’re headed that way as well.”
“It will also decrease the reliance on automobiles, thus reducing pollution with all the added benefits for health, helping the natural environment and reducing congestion,” added Lindsay Boyd, outgoing chairman of the board of the Windsor Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
With our elected officials claiming “History has shown us that access is critical to economic development,” as Fulvio Valentinis did, it’s not that difficult to speculate that they would support the investigation into implementing a streetcar component into Windsor’s current public transportation scheme. Yeah - alright. All these quotes were taken from todays article in the Windsor Star espousing the benefits to be realized from a high-speed rail link from Windsor to Montreal, but why can’t they also pertain to a streetcar system in Windsor? Seeing how council voted in February to spend $42,500 to become part of a HSR feasibility study, surely they would be interested in taking a peak at the benefits to Windsor of a reintroduced streetcar system, right?
Well, they will get the opportunity in October when a local group will be cohosting an exhibit on the history of Windsor’s streetcar system with the Art Gallery of Windsor. Guest curator Andrew Foot will be teaming up with Bernie Drouillard, who has been archiving any-and-all evidence he can find of Windsor’s system for decades, along with John Stefani who has been working tirelessly to bring Bernie’s collection to the masses, to create a show that will hopefully enable visitors to step back in time to another, more vibrant Windsor. Running from October 3 to January 3 at the AGW, there will also be a public information component of the show. For the opening, expect a public forum with Bernie Drouillard (date TBA) where guest can listen to Mr Drouillard and he explains exactly what we used to have here in the city and county. There will be time for a question period immediately following. And later in the exhibition, a public forum on the possible reintroduction of a streetcar system in the Windsor region will be explored, as guest speakers will be brought in from communities who have reintroduced the notion of light rail to the communities, aiding in their rejuvenation. The dates for these forums will be announced at a later time.
All this - AND MORE - on today’s ScaleDown Radio!
So kick back and enjoy!
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