(WINDSOR, ON) – Questions are being raised after the recent announcement that the province will be helping to fund the move of the University of Windsor Law School. After years of dragging their feet, and the decision by university president Alan Wildeman to abandon the move, the Ontario Liberals have promised $20 million to help make the plan happen.
The NDP candidate in Windsor-West, Lisa Gretzky is cynical about the sudden change of heart by the Liberals on the eve of an election. The PC candidate, Adam Ibrahim, calls the announcement “smoke and mirrors” and said the devil is in the details.
The new home for the law school is supposed to be the Paul Martin Building on Ouellette Avenue and 600 students are to make the move from the main campus in Sandwich.
Liberal candidate and sitting city councilor, Rino Bortolin, said the move will make a “major economic impact” on the downtown, but didn’t discuss the corresponding opposite effect it would have on the west end.
Built in 1934, and once home to a number of federal organizations, including Canada Post and Canada Customs, the Paul Marin Building is now occupied by a skeleton staff of Canada Revenue Agency personnel. The building was sold to the city of Windsor for $1 while $6 million in exterior renovations were conducted on the limestone cladding by the federal government.
Former Liberal candidate Frank Schiller once said that the city and taxpayers were being fooled by the transfer of the building. In a 2015 press release, Schiller said, “The City of Windsor and the University of Windsor are getting bamboozled in this Conservative download scheme. The real cost of just repairing the outside of the building is estimated by engineers at $20 million. Interior repair costs will be extra.”
A lack of willingness by higher levels of government to fund the still needed interior reconstruction to accommodate a law school was the reason Wildeman pulled the university out of the planned move. The federal Liberals still have to pony up with move public money to make the deal attractive again. Windsor has promised $15 million toward the project.