Uncertainty breeds anger; Spring Garden Road residents complain of poor treatment by border team

IDNUMBER 200808060014
PUBLICATION: The Windsor Star
DATE: 2008.08.06
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: A5
ILLUSTRATION: Colour Photo: Pawel Dwulit, Windsor Star / FRUSTRATED: JimBrown speaks to the media Tuesday at his home on Spring Garden Road during a news conference. Residents of the road expressed frustration about how they're being treated by the team planning a new border crossing route near their neighbourhood. ;
BYLINE: Rebecca Turcotte
SOURCE: Windsor Star
WORD COUNT: 401

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Uncertainty breeds anger; Spring Garden Road residents complain of poor treatment by border team

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Jim Brown and his wife Patricia have created their own country paradise, just minutes away from all the amenities of downtown Windsor.

The couple has lived at 2090 Spring Garden Rd. for 40 years, raising five children and hosting their daughter's wedding at the tree-lined four-acre property.

But the new border crossing route is going to cut through their quiet South Windsor neighbourhood, and the Browns have no idea what the future holds -- whether they'll be bought out to make way for the roadway or be left alone to bear the coming influx of trucks.

"The road is coming to us -- with all of its noise, with all of its rumbling, with all of its pollution," he said. "It's devastating."

Brown's manicured lawn was home to a neighbourhood meeting Tuesday, where homeowners swapped stories of declining property values, and worries that the new crossing would bring unwanted noise and pollution.

"The life we have here, you just can't buy it," said Patricia Dow, who also lives on Spring Garden, a rural road that runs just south of E.C. Row Expressway, connecting Huron Church and Malden roads. "That's what we are losing. And on top of that the government is treating us like crap."

Neighbours up and down the street spoke of their frustration with the provincial Ministry of Transportation, which has yet to say which properties need to be expropriated.

"How is it possible with all of the activity we've had over the last number of years that we still have property owners who are still hung out to dry here and don't know what to do?" said MP Brian Masse (NDP -- Windsor West), who spoke at the meeting.

Dave Wake, manager of the MTO's planning office, estimated that 600 properties, including 300 residences, will be purchased to build the new roadway to a new crossing.

Wake said plans detailing which properties will be affected will be available in the fall, when details such as noise barriers and landscaping are finalized.

The province has already begun negotiating with 200 "willing sellers" along the corridor, he said.

MP Joe Comartin (NDP -- Windsor-Tecumseh) said the transactions so far between residents and the MTO cannot be described as amicable. He called on government officials to follow a provincial directive which outlines the rights homeowners have when negotiating a sale.

Comartin said under the 15-year-old directive, homeowners can settle disputes with an arbitrator -- a right that is not yet available for homeowners affected by the border route.

Wake said that arbitration will be available, but not until the project's environmental assessment has been approved.

"No one is being forced to sell their property at this time," said Wake. "If they are not satisfied with the agreement, they can continue to live in their homes."