Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Save the park...and the riverbank...and our bridges...

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AFTER 16 months of dawdling over the future of Assiniboine Park, city council is finally on its way to approving a plan to radically restructure the city's largest greenspace.

Mayor Sam Katz's cabinet voted Wednesday to approve the creation of a new non-profit agency called the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

The arm's-length agency faces the Herculean task of raising at least $125 million to repair the park's crumbling infrastructure and effectively rebuilding both the zoo and conservatory.

To achieve that goal, a new board of directors will be given a mandate to aggressively raise both private and public funds and locate new sources of revenue.

But exactly who will sit on that board has yet to be determined, along with thornier issues such as how that body will assume control over the park and its unionized city workforce.

After bouncing around several city hall subcommittees this spring, the Assiniboine Park governance plan was approved with only two amendments. The proposed conservancy will no longer govern the Assiniboine Forest, and a citizen's group will be created to advise the new board of directors.

Katz's cabinet voted six to one to approve the park plan. The only dissenting vote came from Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, who opposes increased private-sector control over the park.

The plan also requires council approval on June 20.

New hope for

Winnipeg's Riviera

WHEN the summer floodwaters of 2005 receded, huge sections of private and public property along the Red River crumbled away.

Some of the worst erosion is eating away at the back yards of homeowners along Riviera Crescent, a Fort Garry street unfortunately built along a fast-eroding outside curve of the river.

Some of the homes along Riviera are in danger of falling into the river, but aren't eligible for federal or provincial disaster until they're actually damaged or destroyed.

So in 2006, 12 Riviera homeowners considered a plan to stabilize the riverbank that would see the City of Winnipeg pay the costs up front and then add the tab to future property-tax bills.

Unfortunately, the total cost per home averaged out to approximately $80,000 per residence, placing the repayment plan beyond the means of some of the homeowners.

At the behest of the homeowners, the city has approved a plan to ask the province and the feds to help out. On Wednesday, the mayor's cabinet approved the idea of exploring a four-way funding plan that would see the stabilization costs covered by the city, province, feds and the homeowners themselves.

Such a deal could take years to complete, but the Riviera residents don't have time. A fault line along the riverfront is already crept beneath the foundation of one of the homes.

A bridge over

troubled truckers

THE recent rash of trucks slamming into city bridges has Mayor Sam Katz openly wondering whether the city should take drastic action to deal with drivers who just can't seem to judge the height of their rigs.

"One of my friends facetiously said, 'We should set up a mock bridge, so when they hit that one, they'll know the real one's coming," the mayor joked earlier this week.

"We have to do something to stop this insanity, because there really is no excuse for it ... obviously, people just aren't paying attention."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2007 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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