It is a pleasure to be here today.
I would like to welcome our guests who are with us here at the Capitol theatre in downtown Windsor this afternoon and those who are watching on Facebook live.
We appreciate your ongoing interest in the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
Joining me today at our head table are the members of Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority’s Board of Directors who collectively are responsible for overseeing the business activities and other affairs of the Crown corporation. In August 2017, WDBA’s Board of Directors was expanded from five to nine members to provide the organization with additional expertise through the procurement process and the start of construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project. With this increase, our Board has achieved gender parity.
I would like to introduce our Board members sitting at the head table.
- Bryce Phillips, WDBA’s CEO
- Karla Avis
- Marie Campagna
- Judi Cohen
- Shelly Cunningham
- André Juneau
- Rish Malhotra
- Michael (Mike) Mueller
Thank you for your efforts. I am proud to be part of a Board comprised of such committed and highly qualified individuals.
Thank you all for your commitment to Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority and to the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
As I mentioned earlier in my remarks, WDBA’s Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the business activities and other affairs of the Crown corporation.
Perhaps the most important task of the Board of Directors is to steer the organization’s strategy in delivering the largest infrastructure project along the Canada-US border and one of the largest infrastructure projects anywhere in North America today.
WDBA’s strategic priorities for the 2017-2018 reporting period include:
- The development of engagement strategies with strategic partners and stakeholders
- Studying the macro-environment in which WDBA operates, and
- Preparing for the start of construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
These priorities were developed on our vision to become the model land border crossing in North America, one that is integrated with communities on both sides of the border and a symbol of opportunity for the region.
I am pleased to say that WDBA has delivered on our priorities.
During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, WDBA held 94 meetings and delivered 58 presentations to over 1500 stakeholders.
We initiated a Traffic Impact Study and three-part Economic Impact Study to provide us with a better understanding of the anticipated impacts that construction and operation of the Gordie Howe International Bridge will have on the host communities.
We also continued our preparatory work to ensure that the sites of the Canadian and US Ports of Entry were ready for the start of construction by our private-sector partner.
This preparatory work included the acquisition of properties needed for the US Port of Entry. I am pleased to report that more than 90 per cent of the properties required for the US project components are under
Michigan Department of Transportation’s control and are vacated.
That number increases to 96 percent when you include properties which are under a court order to vacate. This achievement is a result of the strong commitment by Governor Snyder and our Michigan partners to acquire the needed properties in order to start significant construction of the bridge in 2018.
We have also continued work on the Canadian side of the project including the relocation of Hydro One distribution systems.
In March 2017, WDBA selected its owner’s engineer to support WDBA during the design-build phase of the project.
And, of course, over the year, we worked hard on the procurement process to select our private-sector partner.
The theme of this year’s Annual Report is “At the Ready”.
And given our successes over the past fiscal year, I believe we are indeed at the ready.
About six weeks ago, I had the privilege to stand with Prime Minister Trudeau, Michigan Governor Snyder and representatives from Bridging North America, to celebrate the official start of construction on the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
That was a historic day for WDBA and one which would not have occurred if it were not for the dedication of our Board of Directors, the WDBA staff, and the strong commitment of our partners – the Government of Canada, the US federal government and the State of Michigan.
I am proud of what WDBA has accomplished in fiscal year 2017-2018 and I am excited for what the next year will bring.
We are at the ready to deliver the Gordie Howe International Bridge project - a world class piece of infrastructure that will support the economies of Canada and the US.