His Role as Mayor
Drew Dilkens was first elected as Mayor of the City of Windsor on October 27, 2014. He was re-elected October 22, 2018, for his second term. Mayor Dilkens is committed to a program of fiscal discipline and economic diversification.
Since being elected, Mayor Dilkens has continued to focus on improving the city’s infrastructure – including roads and sewers, holding the line on taxes, supporting economic development that creates jobs and attracts investments, and positioning Windsor as a destination of choice for those looking to build homes, careers, and families.
Mayor Dilkens’ pledged to continue upgrading roadways and sewers throughout the city to help increase safety and protect the many homes and businesses in Windsor.
As a result, significant investments have been made in roadways throughout the community. Key investments include a $3.5M upgrade to the intersection at Dominion and Northwood, $45M to improve Cabana Rd, a $2.5M upgrade to Banwell Rd, $4.85M road reconstruction on Huron Church, a $9M investment on Dougall Rd to create a multi-use underpass for pedestrians, and $10M to make E.C. Row Expressway a “world-class roadway”.
In October 2017, Mayor Dilkens presented an 8-Point Plan to address flooding – including a push to expedite completion of the city’s Sewer Master Plan. In July 2020, this Sewer and Coastal Flood Protection Master Plan was endorsed and approved by City Council. This historic $5B plan will provide a roadmap for the city to follow over the next 50 years.
Delivering on a commitment to help expand and improve public transportation available in the city, Mayor Dilkens sought to expand Transit Windsor’s services to neighbouring communities. He followed through by helping launch the town of Lasalle’s Transit Windsor Service in 2017. Later, in January 2020, Transit Windsor’s “More Than Transit” Master Plan was approved by Mayor and Council to create more efficient transit routes, more buses, bus shelters, and facilities. This $135M plan is intended to help modernize public transportation in the city for the next decade.
Mayor Dilkens supports initiatives that provide residents with greater access to participate in physical activity in the community. In July 2019, City Council passed a strategy to introduce more walking and cycling opportunities in Windsor through Walk Wheel Windsor – the City’s Active Transportation Master Plan. This $150M plan will initiate more non-motorized modes of transportation over the next 20 years.
Mayor Dilkens has also focused his efforts on improving community policing, ensuring there are more officers on the ground and increasing engagement with the residents. September 2018, the Mayor and Council approved spending $1.4 million to have 12 new officers patrol the downtown core. In May 2019, an additional eighteen Windsor police officers received badges. Recently, in May 2020, another sixteen constables accepted their badges welcoming them to the Windsor Police Service. In 2019, Council approved the purchase of 20 new surveillance cameras for the city’s downtown core. This $450,000 investment has a dual use — monitoring real time events and helping make modifications to traffic flow as needed. In October 2019, Mayor Dilkens also served on the hiring panel that recruited Windsor Police Services’ first female Chief of Police.
Mayor Dilkens is committed to increasing the availability of affordable housing in the city. In 2018, the Mayor and Council approved a $39-million project coordinated by the Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation to introduce the 145-unit Meadowbrook project. This is the City of Windsor’s first affordable housing investment in nearly 30 years.
Focusing on quality-of-life improvements for all Windsorites while continuing to attract tourists and new residents to the community, Mayor Dilkens is leveraging arts, culture, and heritage as an economic driver through the approval of the Celestial Beacon. This $7M project will permanently enhance Windsor’s riverfront by becoming a centerpiece for the fully restored Streetcar No. 351, while expanding upon the outdoor seating and special event space located along the water.
He also led the call to create themed districts throughout the city that capture, enhance and share Windsor’s unique heritage and its evolution through the years. The Walkerville Theming & Districting project is underway, serving as a pilot project for what is possible through these initiatives.
Mayor Dilkens successfully led the City of Windsor and its communities through major climate events involving floods and tornadoes, as well as the COVID-19 global pandemic. At all times, he has advocated with all levels of government to bring much needed funding relief and support to individuals, families, businesses and organizations impacted by extreme world events, with an eye to protecting the stability of Windsor’s people and economy.
Mayor Dilkens is married to Jane Deneau, has two children, Madison and Jack, and a golden doodle named Finn. They are an active family that enjoys travelling together, as well as attending local events and festivals. The Mayor is a history enthusiast and can often be found researching local archives and books detailing the history of Windsor, and penning poems inspired by Windsor’s past, present and future.
COVID-19 Global Pandemic
When the world was gripped by the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, Mayor Dilkens led the City of Windsor’s municipal response. Actions and initiatives undertaken in response to the public health crisis included:
- Declaring a State of Emergency.
- Ordering the closure of malls until it was safe for operations to resume.
- Launching the Small Business Action Plan to waive fees for sidewalk cafe permits and outdoor cafes, supporting an outdoor food hall, and supporting BIAs seeking temporary road/sidewalk closures to facilitate social distancing in the ‘summer of flexibility’.
- Advocating with the Province of Ontario to eliminate time-of-use electricity rates.
- Closing all community centres, arenas, pools, and libraries until it was safe to begin cautious re-openings.
- Suspending operations of public transit and introducing a Transit Rebate program to help lessen the impact of suspended service until it was safe to resume operations.
- Redeploying displaced City staff to assist with neighbourhood food banks.
- Partnering with the United Way’s WE COVID Care Coalition on food resources.
- Supporting a citywide food collection event, the June 27th Miracle, that resulted in more than 2 million pounds of donations being collected by over 11,000 volunteers bringing in enough to feed 67,000 food bank users for one year.
- Partnering with Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd., BASF, Laser Transport, Highbury Canco and others to distribute over 24,000 litres of hand sanitizer throughout the community
- Partnering with Tourism Windsor-Essex, BB Branded and United Way to launch a #YQGStandsStrong t-shirt fundraising campaign in support of food banks and mental health initiatives
- Launching #TakeoutTuesday to lift up small businesses and restaurants.
- Setting up and operating multiple isolation and recovery centres for vulnerable populations including those experiencing homelessness and regional temporary foreign workers.
Economic Diversification and Forward-Focused Leadership
During his second term leading the City of Windsor, Mayor Dilkens initiated the Windsor Works economic development strategy for the City’s future growth. This robust strategy, unanimously adopted by City Council, provides an in-depth and long-term plan to improve Windsor to serve the needs of current and future residents. Following the “LIFT” strategy, Windsor Works focuses on four pillars: Location, infrastructure, future economy, and talent. This is a road map to leverage our city’s strengths and capitalize on new opportunities to take our economy to the next level of growth and prosperity, creating a stronger, more resilient, and attractive Windsor, and the exciting work is underway.
Less than a year after adopting the plan, Mayor Dilkens helped secure a monumental investment of $5B for the first domestic EV battery manufacturing facility – the largest investment in Canada’s auto industry, and one of the largest investments in Windsor in a century. This was thanks to the Council-endorsed Windsor Works strategy, and a major investment from LG Energy Solutions, Stellantis, the Government of Canada (Canadian Innovation), and the Province of Ontario. The game-changing new facility promises about 2,500 jobs created, and secures Windsor’s strategic location as the home of Canada’s electric vehicle future. As the world pivots to EVs, Windsor will soon be the home to the battery manufacturing facility that powers it all.
Windsor City Council
Prior to being elected Mayor, and during his eight years as a member of Windsor City Council, Councillor Dilkens chaired the International Relations Committee and the Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority and spearheaded the creation and implementation of the new Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island. He also served as the Vice Chair of the Windsor International Airport Board of Directors, the Planning and Economic Development Committee and EnWin Energy. As a Councillor, he led the Steering Committee overseeing the construction of Windsor’s $78M state-of-the-art aquatics facility – the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre and premier family attraction – Adventure Bay Family Water Park presented by WFCU Credit Union.
Community Involvement and Special Expertise
Mayor Dilkens has an extensive history of community involvement in Windsor. He spent 15 years with the Windsor Police Auxiliary where he was a Staff Sergeant. He was a founding Board Member for the Canadian Manufacturing Hall of Fame. He is also an annual Area Captain in the Windsor Goodfellows Paper Drive. He has served as President to both the Windsor and Essex County Crime Stoppers and Windsor Road Watch programs. Mayor Dilkens is also a past Executive Board Member of Windsor Regional Hospital, a Past Vice-President of the Windsor Jaycees, former Chair of the Windsor Red Cross Emergency Services Unit, and past board member of the Appeals Panel and Government Relations Committee for HRPA (Human Resources Professionals Association).
The Mayor brings a wealth of economic development, international trade, human resource, and labour relations experience to the office. He served as an International Trade Officer at the Canadian Consulate in Detroit and as a labour relations consultant at a large consulting firm in Detroit, and most recently practised in the areas of labour and employment law at McTague Law Firm in Windsor.
Before Entering Politics
Mayor Drew Dilkens is a lifelong resident of the City of Windsor. He has a Bachelor of Commerce and a law degree from the University of Windsor. He was called to the bar in 2012. He also has a Master of Business Administration from Wayne State University and received his Doctorate of Business Administration from the International School of Management in Paris, France with a focus on municipal amalgamation in Ontario. He obtained the Chartered Director (C.Dir.) designation from The Directors College (2021). He holds the professional designation of a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL), along with training certificates from the Canadian Foreign Service Institute, Canadian Securities Institute and Federal Bureau of Investigations in the United States.