Statement made by Mayor Drew Dilkens at a February 16, 2022 media press event.
Thank you for attending today.
In a moment, I will turn the podium over to Windsor Police to provide an update regarding the ongoing security situation along Huron Church Road.
I want to take this opportunity again to thank Windsor Police and all other law enforcement personnel who attended this past week to clear the Ambassador Bridge for international trade traffic once again.
I want to add my voice to those small businesses and residents who are frustrated and upset about the current gauntlet of concrete barriers along Huron Church Road.
Let me be clear – this remains a national security situation that prevents us from simply reopening Huron Church Road to regular traffic at this time.
Last week, the Government of Ontario declared a State of Emergency as it relates to these protests. This week, I declared an emergency and the Government of Canada invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in its history.
Never before have all three levels of government declared an emergency related to illegal blockages at international crossings.
The City of Windsor and our industry partners – the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Attorney General of Ontario went to court to seek an injunction to end the illegal occupation.
We are due back in court this Friday to seek to continue the injunctive relief.
The Windsor Police are part of an integrated command structure that includes provincial and federal law enforcement.
The group constantly evaluates the threat assessment and level of risk to determine if and when the heightened police presence along Huron Church can be loosened.
Police will provide further updates, but we have just been briefed that – within the past 24 hours – a suspected convoy attempting to re-occupy the bridge was thwarted as protestors were en-route to Windsor.
Law enforcement successfully intercepted the convoy before they were able to install themselves in our City.
Huron Church Road is clear of occupation today because of the sustained integrated law enforcement activity, responding to this event.
We cannot ignore these ongoing threats because of the inconvenience that is being caused along Huron Church Road.
And while I would love to be at this podium today announcing a return to normal traffic flow, that is just not possible.
Once again, I want to emphatically say that I stand with all those residents and business operators who are at their wit’s end over the events of the past few weeks.
When the time comes to return to normal, that will be a decision for the integrated law enforcement operation to make that determination.
City Council and myself as Mayor are not empowered to override law enforcement as it comes to this national security situation.
However, we will do all we can to support the small businesses & residents along Huron Church Road at this challenging time:
First, all passengers traveling to and from Sandwich Town on board Transit Windsor the Central 3 busses will ride free of charge until this security situation improves;
Second, our City Administration will work with individual businesses and the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce to create dedicated communications products, including maps and on-line tools to help inform customers about alternative routes to access these businesses; and
Third, City Administration will work with all impacted businesses to document the economic losses associated with this national security situation and include these costs as part of the request for financial assistance from upper levels of government, once this situation is cleared, and all costs are known.
Our community and our country have been through so much sacrifice in the past two years.
Family events missed or cancelled; and relatives separated by the long closure of the border to non-essential travel.
Just as we are starting to see the light at the end of this difficult period, it is distressing that Windsorites, and specifically those in the West End, need to be called upon to sacrifice even more.
The reality is that the economic disruption that would be caused by another illegal occupation would simply be too staggering to bear.
The Ambassador Bridge and, by extension, Huron Church Road is responsible for more than $400-million in trade each and every single day.
Up to 10,000 trucks travel across this corridor daily, representing 30% of all commercial trade between Canada and the United States.
We cannot, and will not, allow another illegal occupation.
Thank you, at this time, I would invite Chief Pam Mizuno and Deputy Chief Jason Bellaire to provide an operational update.