A key project feature is the inclusion of a Community Benefits Plan. On the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, community benefits are identified opportunities that can advance economic, social or environmental conditions for the local communities. In developing the Community Benefits Plan, it was important to the project team that the initiatives selected for implementation would provide positive outcomes for the Windsor-Detroit region and specifically focus on enhancing the communities of Sandwich and Delray, the neighbourhoods closest to the project area.
The Community Benefits Plan reflects community priorities and is comprised of two components:
- The Workforce Development and Participation Strategy is geared toward engaging businesses and focuses on supporting workforce, training and pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship opportunities.
- The Neighbourhood Infrastructure Strategy focuses on collaborating with stakeholders and community members through consultation to develop a community investment strategy based on identified priorities.
Early in the planning process for this project, it was understood that the delivery of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project provides opportunity to leverage a significant infrastructure investment for positive social and economic outcomes. That is why the Crossing Agreement signed in 2012 by the Government of Canada and the State of Michigan required the incorporation of a Community Benefits Plan for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project that covers both Canada and Michigan and includes direct input from stakeholders and community as well as their continued involvement, partnering with local institutes of higher learning, unions and others, job training and local job development.
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) and its Michigan partners meaningfully engaged and empowered the Windsor and Detroit communities in all stages of development of the Community Benefits Plan. Bridging North America (BridgingNA) joined this consultation process after Financial Close in September 2018.
Between 2015 and 2019, a two-phase consultation approach was undertaken with Ontario and Michigan residents, Indigenous Peoples, business owners and community and municipal leaders resulting in over 230 unique suggestions for community benefits and engagement of thousands of stakeholders. Activities that informed the Community Benefits Plan included public meetings, one-on-one meetings, focus groups, a public survey, social media and direct correspondence.
Most of the submissions fell within five priority areas, including:
- local workforce and training strategies
- construction and operations effect on the community
- community safety and connections
- aesthetics and landscaping and regional economic
- community development opportunities.
Local Community Group
In July 2019, the project team launched the recruitment process for the Local Community Group which includes 16 members who represent a variety of stakeholder perspectives in the communities of Delray, Sandwich, Windsor-Essex County and the Greater Detroit Area.
The Local Community Group will provide valuable input and formal linkages to the region that will enable WDBA and Bridging North America to better understand the perspective of project stakeholders regarding the Community Benefits Plan. Members of the Local Community Group will provide input into the implementation of initiatives within the Community Benefits Plan by:
- Participating in regularly scheduled quarterly meetings.
- Provide input into the implementation of initiatives within the Community Benefits Plan.
- Providing input into the assessment and review of community funding applications as part of the Community Organization Investment initiative within the Neighbourhood Infrastructure Strategy.
- Participating on at least one subcommittee, including: Community Art and Community History and other subcommittees that may be created as necessary.
The following individuals are currently serving as members of the Local Community Group:
|Sandwich Community Resident||Teajai Travis||Delray Community Resident||Candida Leon|
|Windsor-Essex County Resident||Randal Sasso||Greater Detroit Area Resident||Kimberly Simmons|
|Daily Cross-Border Commuter – Canada||Clara Deck||Daily Cross-Border Commuter- USA||Simona Simion|
|Representative from Walpole Island First Nation||Chief Dan Miskokomon||Representative from Caldwell First Nation||Nikki Orosz|
|Representative of the Windsor-Essex Community Benefits Coalition||Mike Cardinal||Representative of the Delray Community Advisory Group||Simone Sagovac|
|City of Windsor – Ward 2 Councillor||Fabio Costante||City of Detroit – District 6 Councilmember||Raquel Castaneda-Lopez|
|Sandwich Business Improvement Association||Mary Ann Cuderman||Southwest Detroit Business Association||Robert Dewaelsche|
|Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation||Sabrina DeMarco||Detroit Economic Growth Corporation||Virginia Wilkinson|
The inaugural meeting of the group occurred in early December 2019 and the project team looks forward to continuing to collaborate with group members.
More detailed information about the Local Community Group can be found within the group’s Terms of Reference.