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Winnipeg is undergoing a renaissance: Katz

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Mayor Sam Katz delivers his annual State of the City Address at the  Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday at the RBC Convention Centre.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Mayor Sam Katz delivers his annual State of the City Address at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday at the RBC Convention Centre. Photo Store

Sam Katz painted a rosy image of Winnipeg and its future this afternoon and dismissed the public's outrage with the scandals at city hall and daily infrastructure emergencies as "an emotional reaction."

Katz's annual state of the city address at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon contained a long list of success stories: the arrival of new American retailers, record housing starts, booming downtown construction, and low property taxes.

Winnipeg is undergoing a renaissance, Katz said, adding city hall is "building a Winnipeg that is a better place for families."

But while another chamber crowd recently gave former mayor Susan Thompson a standing ovation, this audience in a cavernous hall at the convention centre gave Katz only a tepid response.

"Things are going well in the city but very little of it is attributable to city hall," lawyer Brian Bowman, who is considering running for mayor in October, said of Katz's speech.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased with Bed, Bath & Beyond coming to Winnipeg but that does not map out a bold vision for the city."

Katz began his speech acknowledging the serious problems facing the city now -- close to 800 properties without water because of frozen pipes, over-budget fire hall and police headquarters projects -- but he said those issues shouldn't overshadow the many success stories taking place across Winnipeg, including several major civic construction projects that were finished on time and either on or under budget.

"How can you not talk about frozen water lines and what people are going through," Katz told reporters following his speech, adding the city is dealing with that and other problems, adding he wanted to remind the audience of all the positive developments in the city.

Katz said it's understandable that some individuals are angry with recent problems -- inadequate snow clearing, brown water, frozen water, winter streets deluged daily with water from broken water mains.

"It's usually an emotional response," he said of the public's anger. "People are upset, that's what they do. I've seen it happen many times before."

Katz never mentioned his political future in his speech and told reporters what he has said many times before --- he will announce his intentions in June.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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