‘Loads to do in a brief time period’: Making ready for a brand new EV battery plant in Windsor, Ont.

There is a lot to do before Windsor-Essex can reap the benefits of Wednesday’s $5-billion investment by European automaker Stellantis and South Korean battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution.

“Ward 9 is going to see major transformations in a short period of time,” said Coun. Kieren McKenzie.

He says traffic impacts will need to be studied. The corner of Banwell Road and the EC Row Expressway will require major investments, “Lauzon Parkway, the Sandwich Southlands, we’re going to see major investments in order for us to be able to support investments that are coming forward,” said McKenzie.

With an aggressive timeline, the challenge for city council is to make appropriate investments in order to support the facility and the growth that will come with it.

“Those infrastructure investments need to flow and they need to flow sooner rather than later in order to be able to support this.” McKenzie added.

According to McKenzie, investments in the books might be prioritized in order to expedite the process of building and sustaining the $5-billion plant. Council will also have to evaluate the broader impact of the plant on the area and identify where future investments, such as feeder plants, may be located.

“There’s industrial land that’s available. A lot of it is in Ward 9 but there’s some work to be done to get that land ready to accept those types of investments,” said McKenzie.

Wednesday’s investment solidifies Windsor’s footing as an automotive hub.

“This is the correlation between the battery plant and us moving into the battery electric vehicles and what we did and secured in 2020 bargaining,” said Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy.

“We’ve never seen an investment like this,” said Rakesh Naidu, CEO of the Windsor Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce. “[We] can’t discount how important this investment is for existing businesses, for new business that will follow this investment. For the thousands of new jobs that will be created.”

With a notoriously high unemployment rate, officials at Workforce Windsor-Essex are also anxious to see how the new investment will play out.

“We’re definitely interested to see what this is going to do to hiring demand in this important sector in the years to come for sure.” said CEO Justin Falconer.

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