Drew Dilkens seeks third term as Windsor mayor

The incumbent says the future of a new regional hospital depends on who voters choose. WDET discusses with podcaster Pat Papadeas.

canadian flag flies over Windsor

Photo by Pat Batcheller, WDET.

Windsor, Ontario Mayor Drew Dilkens has made construction of a new regional hospital one of his key campaign topics as he runs for a third term. He says its future depends on the outcome of the city’s municipal elections on Oct. 24.

Dilkens accused a group that opposes the proposed hospital’s location of backing candidates who would kill the project if they win. Citizens for an Accountable Megahospital Planning Process denies the accusation. A spokesperson told the Windsor Star that it’s not working with any candidates to derail the project.

“I think we might be surprised how many folks really felt the location was not ideal.” — Pat Papadeas, Rose City Politics podcaster.

The site is located on Essex County Road 42 near the Windsor International Airport. Pat Papadeas of the Rose City Politics podcast says there are several reasons why some Windsorites don’t like that location.

“Number one, it shuts down two hospitals in the (city’s) core where the majority of the population lives,” she says. “There’s no plan for how transit would extend to that location.”

Papadeas says building the regional hospital on a greenfield also raises questions about the project’s environmental and climate impacts.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. Photo courtesy of the City of Windsor.

Six people are running against Dilkens, including Ward 4 Councillor Chris Holt. He has opposed the location in the past. Papadeas says Holt now supports the project, but he still has concerns about the cost and the impact on the environment.

“The funding for the hospital comes from taxpayer levies, but the provincial government is responsible for the delivery of health care,” she says.

Holt pledged to support a mental health emergency center downtown and says he has discussed it with hospital executives. Windsor Regional Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare vehemently denied that.

Voters may have other concerns

While Dilkens has been talking about this issue, Papadeas says he and the other candidates will find out on Election Day whether Windsor voters care as much about it as he does.

“No polling was ever done on it,” she says. “I think we might be surprised how many folks really felt that the location was not ideal.”

Papadeas says voters may also feel it’s time to let the hospital move forward and focus on other issues such as making neighborhoods more walkable.

Benjamin Danyluk, Aaron Day, Matthew Giancola, Ernie Lamont and Louis Vaupotic are also running for mayor.

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  • Pat Batcheller
    Pat Batcheller is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news, traffic and weather updates during Morning Edition. He is an amateur musician.