Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 12/13/2013 4:44 PM | Comments: 0
Mayor Sam Katz and his executive policy committee moved some money around in the city’s proposed budget and in the process found enough cash to reopen the Sherbrook pool.
Several other community groups will also benefit from EPC’s shuffling.
"We’re making progress on some significant issues that are important to Winnipeggers," finance chairman Russ Wyatt told reporters following the brief EPC meeting.
"Reinvesting into the infrastructure of our city and having a plan to do that….and reinvesting into parks and recreation, which is really important to the quality of life to Winnipeggers."
The essence of EPC’s budget remains the same as it was when first unveiled Nov. 29: a 2.95 per cent property tax increase to support a $967.8 million operating budget.
The amended budget proposal will go to a special meeting of council Tuesday for approval.
Katz made good on his commitment to reopen the Sherbrook pool, finding a total of $1.67 million to deal with the structural and roof issues that forced the pool closed a year ago.
The $1.67 million was found by redirecting budget funding, including $600,000 for an unspecified recreation project in the area that was to replace the pool.
The pool still needs another $1.1 million worth of mechanical, electrical and heating upgrades, but Katz said he’s confident the province and a private donor will make up the needed funds.
Katz said he expected tenders for the necessary work to be issued by March.
"If this budget is approved, we’ll start getting the work done as soon as possible," Katz said.
Coun. Harvey Smith, whose Daniel McIntyre ward is where the pool is located, said he was ecstatic with this budget change.
"The community will be very, very happy," Smith, who has been a strong advocate for civic re-investment in the inner city, said.
Smith is providing almost half ($600,000) of the city’s investment into the pool through recreation funds he controls in his ward.
Marianne Cerilli, president of the board of Friends of Sherbrook Pool, said she too was happy with EPC’s funding commitment.
"I’m really pleased they amended the budget….and get the repairs started," said Cerilli, who made several appeals to EPC and civic standing committees to get the pool re-opened since it was closed November 2012.
Cerilli said she’s eager to learn the identity of a private donor who will make a contribution.
Nothing was dropped out of the original proposed budget to make room for the new items approved Friday afternoon
One group that didn’t get what they were looking for were the city’s university students.
Despite several appeals from individual students and student leaders from both city campuses, EPC did not approve a $3.36 million annual subsidy for a discounted university transit pass.
However, Katz said he was working on a proposal with Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) to find the necessary funding.
"Probably in January, the two of us will be introducing a motion that will make U-Pass a reality," Katz said.
Student leader Rorie McLeod Arnould, said he was disappointed the funds for the university student transit pass weren’t immediately included in the budget but he added he was hopeful and looking forward to the announcement that Katz said would be coming in a few weeks.
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