City Coun. Harvey Smith has put a humourous twist on the honorary-street-name practice – renaming some of the inner-city’s worst back lanes after Mayor Sam Katz and members of his executive policy committee.
Smith (Daniel McIntyre) has erected official-looking street signs throughout his ward bearing the name of Katz and the six other committee members, a not-so-subtle way of driving home the message to Katz and his powerful committee that too many back lanes are in desperate need of repair.
"Our alleys are in such rough shape that they have to be reconstructed, as they have not been maintained over many years," Smith said this morning.
Smith said he’s inviting Katz and the other councillors whose names now adorn back lanes in his ward to visit and see for themselves the badly deteriorated laneways.
Coun. Dan Vandal, chair of the city's public works department, admits the city isn’t spending enough on back-lane repairs, but added the situation is part of the infrastructure deficit.
"The old problem is there are too many infrastructure priorities and not enough money to pay for all of it," said Vandal (St. Boniface).
Smith said the neglect of the back lanes has been going on for several years, adding that it is more pronounced in his ward and those neighbourhoods adjacent to it: Point Douglas, Elmwood, River Heights and Corydon.
"If you want people to live in these wards, you have to maintain them," Smith said. "There are newer neighbourhoods across the city where money is being spent but not in these areas."
Smith said the seven back lanes he chose are typical of the poor conditions of all the back lanes in his ward, adding he could have placed the street signs on a number of other back lanes.
Smith said it cost $800 for the sign and poles and another $800 to have them installed.