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3 out of 4 benches in Windsor need replacing: proposed budget

A commemorative wooden bench in Windsor that needs replacing. The city's proposed 2024 budget says that more than 75 per cent of benches in the city need repairs. (Peter Duck/CBC - image credit)
A commemorative wooden bench in Windsor that needs replacing. The city's proposed 2024 budget says that more than 75 per cent of benches in the city need repairs. (Peter Duck/CBC - image credit)

If you think there are lots of benches in Windsor that have seen better days, you would be correct.

According to the City of Windsor's proposed budget, more than 75 per cent of the city's 1,500 municipally-owned benches need to be repaired. The budget document also says "a significant number of these benches are well beyond their useful lives".

Outlined in the budget is a plan to spend $645,000 from 2024 to 2033 to maintain the quality of benches in the city. For the first seven years, $50,000 will be spent, before $25,000 increases will be featured in 2031 and 2032, ending with a $120,000 investment in 2033.

James Chacko, the city's executive director of parks and facilities, said this allows for all the city's benches to continue to be refurbished.

A brand new wooden bench in Windsor. The city's proposed 2024 budget says $645,000 has been allocated to replace benches over the next 10 years.
A brand new wooden bench in Windsor. The city's proposed 2024 budget says $645,000 has been allocated to replace benches over the next 10 years.

A brand new wooden bench in Windsor. The city's proposed 2024 budget says $645,000 has been allocated to replace benches over the next 10 years. (Peter Duck/CBC)

"We expect that our benches have, approximately, a 15-year life," he said. "A bench is $500, so we're able to replace 100 benches per year, which then would allow that on every 15-year cycle, we're able to replace each one of those benches so that you continuously would have new benches."

Chacko said this annual replacement strategy means the city will never be "stuck with having to try to replace 1,500 benches all at once, or having a scenario occur where we have to remove a number of benches and then not be able to replace them."

He said that benches that are either damaged or deemed unsafe are dealt with by either being taken out of service or being temporarily repaired.

Chacko added there will always be some benches in the city that will show signs of wear-and-tear, which is the leading cause for a bench to be considered in a state of disrepair.

A repaired bench in Windsor. The city's executive director of parks and facilities says there will always be benches that need some kind of repair.
A repaired bench in Windsor. The city's executive director of parks and facilities says there will always be benches that need some kind of repair.

A repaired bench in Windsor. The city's executive director of parks and facilities says there will always be benches that need some kind of repair. (Peter Duck/CBC)

He said the 75 per cent figure covers a range of states of disrepair.

"It's anywhere from needing some maintenance of a board to a comprehensive replacement of the entire bench," Chacko said.

Chacko said Windsor residents can report damaged benches to 311 so the city can come and fix the bench appropriately. He added that as part of the city's annual inspections of its parks, benches are a part of it.

Commemorative benches, which are benches that feature memorial messages in honour of loved ones, are also included in the city's bench-checking system, according to Chacko, as long as they were created before 2017. Any benches that were purchased from 2017 onwards will only be maintained by the city for the first 10 years of its life.

Not all residents think benches are a concern

Despite the city saying most benches have seen better days, some Windsor residents told CBC News they don't actively think about the state of the city's benches.

Even Ward 2 councillor Fabio Costante said he hasn't heard any complaints about benches.

"That doesn't mean that there may be some benches that may need repair," he said.