Federal Government Neglect Leads to Blight in the Core

[WINDSOR] Brian Masse M.P. (Windsor West) wrote Public Works and Government Services Minister Diane Finley today regarding the Paul Martin Building located at 185 Ouellette Ave.

Official copy linked-see full text below.

January 23, 2014 

The Honourable Diane Finley

Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0A6


RE:     The Paul Martin Building

           185 Ouellette Ave.

           Windsor, ON

           Property Number—10727


Dear Minister Finley,


I am writing you today about the Paul Martin Building located at 185 Ouellette which is a federal property located in the heart Windsor Ontario’s downtown. You are likely aware that your government for some time now has been attempting to divest itself of this property. Over the last number of years your government’s neglect has allowed this building to fall into an unacceptable and unsafe state of disrepair.

For several years this building has been surrounded by scaffolding that is not erected to facilitate any of the desperately needed remediation work on the building. This scaffolding is apparently in place to ensure that people are not severely injured or killed by chunks of limestone falling off the building. Your government has in the most irresponsible manner imaginable literally allowed this structure to fall apart, created urban blight in Windsor’s downtown core and continues to risk people’s lives with a shoddy stop-gap measure that should have been nothing more than temporary.

The City has indicated categorically that the Paul Martin building falls well below their legislated property standards and that if this building were not owned by the federal government and therefore exempt from their enforcement powers they would immediately issue work orders against this property.

It is shameful that your government has become an irresponsible absentee landlord in our community.

This building is located in a high traffic (both pedestrian and vehicular) area and houses nearly 400 full-time federal workers, continuing to risk the health and safety of the public through your neglect is not acceptable.

Recently the citizens of my community received some good news with respect to this property from our Mayor Eddie Francis who publicly indicated that he had brokered a deal between the City of Windsor, your government and the University of Windsor that would have seen the building finally remediated and subsequently sold. The plan would see the University move their law school to the Paul Martin Building with the federal workers currently working there moving into a new City Hall that will be located in very close proximity to our local Service Canada office.

This solution represented a win, win scenario in my opinion where every partner involved was getting what they wanted, including most importantly the citizens of my community who were finally regaining normal and safe access to busy section of their downtown core. It’s been widely reported recently however that this deal was scuttled by Public Works after a private developer expressed interest in purchasing the building “as is” in exchange for tenancy guarantees from the federal government. It is claimed this action resulted in Public Works abandoning the partnership with the City.

Subsequently this developer has indicated that he would not purchase Paul Martin Building. In a recent public statement quoted in the Windsor Star the apparent developer in question Joe Mikhail said:

“I don’t want it — it has no value...If you gave it to me for a dollar today, I wouldn’t accept it.”

As a result we have once again reverted into a complete state of uncertainty with respect to this property. Your officials now indicate that they plan to continue to allow this blight to persist until such time as they are able to find a buyer for the property who will purchase it in its current decrepit state.

This is a completely unreasonable position—your government has allowed this building to decay to the point where it is a public safety concern. Do you or your officials have any sense as to the market in Windsor for a large office building needing a massive investment just to ensure that people can walk past it safely? Do you really expect the private sector to bail you out of a problem created as a result of your lack of stewardship with respect to this property?

Allowing this blight to persist with no timetable for remediation is not acceptable. The Paul Martin Building in the state to which your government has allowed it to decay is a public safety problem as well as a deterrent for investment in Windsor’s downtown core and a hindrance to day-to-day business. I am urging you in the strongest possible terms to direct your department to immediately address the condition of the building once and for all. It is likely that you still have an opportunity to move forward with the City and University; I would suggest that you instruct your officials to return to the table with the City of Windsor to enquire about the possibility of repairing the deal your government apparently dismantled at the last minute.

I will look forward to your prompt reply,






Brian Masse M.P.

Windsor West