Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Dumpling Platter: Council meeting preview; WIPS on tap; do our services suck ?

A potpourri of items !


We've put the finishing touches on Wednesday's WIPS schedule. The Fort Rouge Yards, Tower - Bond Tower, MPI's parking lots and the Going Downtown Twice a Month pledge are all in the mix.

Take Pride Winnipeg !

In his latest Urban Compass, Colin Fast looks at a new survey in which Winnipeggers give their civic services bottom-of-the-barrel ratings. I never know what to make of this type of survey, other than to back up the fact that we're a dour lot who love to hate our city. (I would have fallen out of my chair if more than 25% of Winnipeggers said that they liked anything that the city had to offer.)

It's another disadvantage of being so isolated. We don't have that nearby 'other city' (or two or five) that we visit or see in the news regularly with which we can compare our levels of service versus what we pay. For instance, here's a recent article comparing Toon Town and Regina (which is common in SK media) and their snow clearing policies. (Yes, Saskatoon did away with residential snow plowing well over a decade ago - I've been laid up there for a couple of days because of it !)

The grass simply MUST be greener on the other side and, of course, Winnipeg sucks so whatever we have on offer must be second rate.

City Hall

Yes, there's double the fun this week ! On Tuesday there is a special council meeting and the regular council meeting on Wednesday. Here's a look at a few notable items....

Chief Peguis Trail extensionCapital Budget and Borrowing
The special council meeting is to deal with a single item: the $393 m five year capital forecast released last month. Council will also need to pass a bylaw to borrow the $60 m necessary to help pay for it all.

On to Wednesday's regular meeting ....

Road Construction Water & Sewer Sharing: Council will be asked to approve the ‘Basic Terms for Service Sharing Agreements for the Provision of Water and Sewer Services to Neighbouring Municipalities'. This, to me, is one of the most under-debated issues of 2011.

On the surface is looks great - we have water and sewer so sell it people outside the city and make some money. Water and waste loomed large in the last municipal election with some R.M.s facing multi-million dollar solutions to their water woes. A perfect marriage, it seems.

The bigger issue, though, is why would or should any city want to provide services to people who live outside the city, many who are there because they left to avoid paying city taxes. Even stranger, why you would provide it at the same rate. After the hook-up charge and a $200 annual fee, the charge for sewer and water service is “... the same rate as the standard rates withing the city of Winnipeg…. The intent being to charge the same rate paid by a typical Winnipeg homeowner."

The city bills it as a way to
" ...manage growth in the Winnipeg Capital Region in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable."(source). Providing an additional incentive for those seeking to leave the city and live in the communities that ring the Perimeter is certainly contributing to the economic stability ... of the R.M.s.

Wow, I guess you really can have your cake and eat it too.

Related media: here, here.

Manitoba Museum Citizen Boards: Council will approve the 2012 citizen appointees to over a dozen citizen boards. Check them out to see if any friends (or foes) made the cut ! If you missed the deadline, here's what the 2012 application looked like and get cracking for 2013 !

Here is a list of all of the city's boards and commissions, their makeup and role.

and more parking Downtown Parking Strategy: Council will be asked to endorse the new Downtown Parking Strategy. It's a five-point plan to encourage new parkade development vs. surface parking lots, explore alternatives to downtown parking at peak times and freeing up meters for short-term use. These are recommendations. No immediate financial implications are attached to it.

Related media: here , here.

Winnipeg Transit No. 145 New Transit Contract: The contract between the city and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) members expired in January 2011. Council will be asked to approve an MOU between the city and ATU for a series of pay and other benefit rises (2%, 2% and 2.5%) through to the end of 2014. The increase will cost $8m over the four years, which is about $2m more than what a nickel fare increase would bring in over that same period.

The ATU's 21300 members rejected the last agreement reached in October 2011.

Related media: here.

Granite Curling Club, Winnipeg Also, the Mostyn Place / Granite Way name change and 25-year lease renewals for the Hamilton and Confederation buildings that I wrote about here are to be approved.

1 comment:

Marty said...

You should have noted that the Parking Strategy did not conduct any public consultation despite the promises of council, and faces opposition at tomorrow's delegations. The financial implications are there, just not borne by the city; by the business and service organizations, for sure there are.