WDBA has mandated that a comprehensive Community Benefits Plan be formulated and delivered by the private-sector partner with stringent oversight by WDBA. This plan will contain initiatives that will have a positive impact on communities in Windsor and Detroit.
Why Include Community Benefits?
The Crossing Agreement signed in 2012 by the Government of Canada and the State of Michigan included the following:
The proposed community benefits plans, as described in the RFP, covering both Canada and Michigan, which includes, in relation to both the construction and operation of the International Crossing: (A) the manner in which stakeholders and community are to continue to be involved; (B) the manner in which host community input relating to community benefits and stakeholder involvement are to be factored; (C) the manner in which bidders plan to work with local institutes of higher learning, unions and others; and (D) the manner in which job training and local job development will be encouraged.
Incorporating Feedback on Community Benefits
Through consultation undertaken by WDBA and Michigan, residents, business owners and community leaders on both sides of the border have identified the top priorities the Gordie Howe International Bridge project should address at a regional level.
As of March 2017, WDBA has received more than 200 suggestions for community benefits from both Detroit and Windsor representatives. All suggestions have been shared with the three Proponent teams preparing submissions for the Request for Proposals. Many of these requests fall within five themes:
- Community partnerships
How the private-sector partner and WDBA can partner with local services and agencies to provide enhanced services to the region’s residents or businesses or promote the region.
- Mitigation of construction and operation issues for nearby residents and businesses
Ways to minimize the impact of construction traffic, detours and in Detroit, for maintaining access for residents north of I75 to avoid isolating the community.
- Community safety and connections
Ensuring residents are able to safely move about the community by foot or vehicle and access churches, schools and health centres. It also reflects the suggestions for cycling and pedestrian access to the bridge and surrounding areas.
- Economic benefits
Incorporating training opportunities, jobs and economic development activities including tourism.
- Aesthetics and landscaping
Ensuring the project and surrounding area are attractive
It is anticipated that the community benefit plans developed by the three Proponent teams will align with some of these themes. The community benefit plans will be submitted to WDBA for evaluation as part of the RFP submission. Once the private-sector partner is selected following the RFP evaluation, the private-sector partner will deliver the plan with oversight from WDBA. It is anticipated that the plan will be implemented during the construction and operation phases of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.