Good morning everyone. On behalf of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the future home of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
2018 has been a year of milestones for this once-in-a-generation project and we are pleased to host all of you here today to mark yet another.
Indigenous people play a very important part in this region’s rich history. The relationship that exists today between Walpole Island First Nation and the WDBA had its genesis in 2004 during the early planning stages for a new end-to-end border transportation system in the Windsor- Detroit Gateway. Where we are standing is located in the traditional territory of Walpole Island First Nation. Today I am pleased to welcome Eric Isaac, an elder from Walpole Island, to provide a blessing of today’s proceedings and the project lands.
What a beautiful way to start our day. Thank you Mr. Isaac.
Today we are marking the start of construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
I would also like to acknowledge the project team members from the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, Bridging North America, Michigan Department of Transportation, Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, US Customs and Border Protection, US Federal Highway Administration and Infrastructure Canada. Collectively, these individuals have contributed countless hours to delivering the project to this point and we look forward to continuing to work with you through construction.
This project offers a special opportunity for the region’s residents to watch history in the making. WDBA has been actively engaging area students and children in the project.
Today, we are pleased to welcome students from the Construction Academy of the Windsor- Essex Catholic District School Board. These students you see behind me are well on their way to obtaining their level one apprenticeship papers while they earn their high school diplomas.
Also with us today are students from the St. Clair College media and journalism program. They are helping us capture this moment in time. Thank you to the college and the MediaPlex for your continued partnership and participation.
When I learned about the opportunity to chair WDBA’s Board of Directors, I had no hesitation in putting my hat in the ring. That enthusiasm is shared by all Board members and International Authority members, many of whom are in the audience.
I have been involved in the border file since 1985.
As a Windsorite, as an Ontarian, as a Canadian .... I am proud to say I work on this project. This is a game-changer. Communities and businesses on both sides of the border will benefit during construction and operation of this incredible new crossing.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge is of vital importance to the economic prosperity of Canada and the United States and is expected to create thousands of jobs in Ontario and Michigan.
As we approach a holiday in Canada where we give thanks I want to say ....
Thank you to the staff of WDBA who have put in many, many hours of hard work and dedication.
Thank you to all of our partners who have helped in the environmental study process, the design process, the procurement process, the property acquisition process, and now the construction process.
Thank you to the community, businesses and associations for their ongoing support and for challenging us to always do better.
Thank you Windsor-Essex and Detroit. Thank you Ontario and Michigan. Thank you United States and Canada.
Now let’s get to work!
Please join me in welcoming to the podium to provide remarks Nuria Haltiwanger, CEO of ACS Infrastructure, representing Bridging North America.
Thank you Nuria. We look forward to working with Bridging North America over the next 36 years. With your team’s significant experience in building and operating infrastructure combined with the determination and expertise of the WDBA, together we will build a world-class border crossing.
Next, I would like to welcome a huge advocate and champion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge – Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
Thank you Governor Snyder. We certainly appreciate all that you have done to advance the Gordie Howe International Bridge project. We look forward to our continued relationship with the great State of Michigan.
WDBA is a Crown corporation of the Government of Canada and we report to Parliament through our next speaker. It is a pleasure to welcome the Hounourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
Thank you Prime Minister.
This concludes our formal event. I welcome all guests to enjoy refreshments located at the back of the tent. If you haven’t had the opportunity already I encourage you to take pictures and share them on social media as a memory of this important day in the story of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
I also invite you to join us at noon for our community celebration in downtown Windsor at Senator David A. Croll Park from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
I wish a happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian friends.
Thank you for coming.