$7-million Celestial Beacon project greenlit
(Caption: Concept drawings of new celestial beacon site along Windsor’s Riverfront, the proposed location of the restored streetcar 351 (Courtesy: City of Windsor / Architecttura Inc.)
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor’s Celestial Beacon project is moving forward at its west-end location with council backing.
On Monday, council approved the $7-million project which will see the restored Windsor streetcar No. 351 as the centrepiece within the Sculpture Gardens at the foot of Askin Avenue, overlooking the Detroit River.
“I believe that when this is all said and done, the community will widely embrace this,” said Fabio Costante, Ward 2 councillor, ahead of the vote on the project. “I think it’s going to be a net positive and I’m really looking forward to the day that this is complete, and we can all enjoy it.”
Councillors Fred Francis and Jo-Anne Gignac voted against moving forward with the project at this time due to financial concerns and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It really just comes down to uncertainty,” said Francis, Ward 1 councillor. “A lot of people when it comes to their personal finances I think are feeling a lot of the uncertainty and I think a lot of people are afraid – and when it comes to the city, I don’t think we’re any different.”
However, Mayor Drew Dilkens tempered the council discussion by stressing the strength of the city’s financial position. The mayor noted money had already been budgeted for the project and funding for infrastructure or social housing was not being diverted to erect the west-end hub.
Council is hoping to receive a $3-million grant through the Department of Canadian Heritage to help offset the cost.
In approving the project, council added several conditions including a reduced patio terrace area to under 10,000 square feet, a directive to plant Spruce trees in a way to minimize view obstruction and to lower the streetcar as much as possible from its currently proposed height.
Costante called the decision one of the most difficult in his time on council, which will see the project built within his ward and raised several objections from his constituents.
“I think a lot of those concerns … will be greatly mitigated,” said Costante.
In addition to the streetcar display, there will be several amenities offered including a concession, seating area and washrooms.