A lot of people want to run city hall.
The city has received more than 80 applications for the position of chief administrative officer, Mayor Sam Katz told council Wednesday.
The CAO position — the most senior administrative position — has been vacant since Katz’s boyhood friend Phil Sheegl quit the job in the fall following the release of a forensic audit for the fire hall replacement program and before the release of an administrative review into the cost overruns of the new police headquarters buildings.
Council appointed Deepak Joshi, the city’s chief operating officer, to be acting CAO on the condition that he not apply for the permanent position.
Katz said a hiring committee is reviewing the applications and should be trimming them down to a shortlist soon.
Councillors put forth LRT motion
Support is growing on council to upgrade the bus corridor to a light rail rapid transit system.
Transcona councillor Russ Wyatt was the first to promote the transit upgrade and now Coun. Paula Havixbeck said she thinks the city is ready for the upgrade.
Wyatt and Havixbeck moved a motion Wednesday calling for the southwest bus corridor to be converted into a light rail system. That will now be referred to a committee for consideration.
Wyatt and Havixbeck said the sprawling nature of Winnipeg and its population will support light rail.
While conceding light rail is more expensive than the bus corridor, Wyatt likened it to the city’s decisions to build the Shoal Lake Aquaduct 100 years ago and the floodway 50 years ago.
Wyatt said both proposals were considered unnecessary, extravagant and wasteful when proposed, adding today they are recognized as visionary projects vital to Winnipeg.
"We’re at a crossroads as a city," Wyatt told reporters. "It’s the debate of our generation and I think we should make the decision now.
"If we built LRT, it will ensure the city will continues to grow and prosper and we can compete against other cities in this country that are doing the same thing."
Museum grant suspended
Cash-starved museums across the city are lining up for a share of the city’s annual $20,000 grant to Dalnavert House, but Coun. Brian Mayes said the city won't make a hasty decision.
Mayes, chairman of the protection and community services committee, said he’s reluctant to allocate Dalnavert’s civic grant until its future plans have been determined.
Dalnavert, the home of Hugh John MacDonald, the son of Canada’s first prime minister, was closed in the fall. A proposal to use it as a resource centre for crime victims drew opposition from heritage groups, who want to maintain the historic home as a museum.
While the city’s annual grant to Dalnavert was suspended, Mayes said the money is available and he doesn’t want to see the funds sitting idle in a bank account when it could be used by one or more of several civic museums.
Mayes (St. Vital) said he thinks the museum’s board should reallocate the Dalnavert grant but he said a decision on the funds should be made quickly.
"We should have a debate on it; we should make a decision," Mayes said.
Tougher inspection rules approved
City council approved tough inspection procedures for hazardous industries.
The approval was expected, as it had been recommended by administration and endorsed by the city’s protection and community services committee.
The new procedures include annual inspections of about 300 industrial locations across the city, to ensure they comply with existing city bylaws as well as building and fire codes.
The tougher rules were prompted by the October 2012 massive explosion and fire at a St. Boniface industrial park.
The city will now hire a fire prevention officer, whose sole job will be to conduct the inspections. The cost of the new hire will be covered by a new high-hazard inspection fee, $150 per hour, charged to the industries. It’s estimated each inspection would generate $450 in fees.