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Mayor bounces dissidents from cabinet

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Mayor Brian Bowman announces changes to EPC and other appointments at a news conference at City Hall Thursday.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mayor Brian Bowman announces changes to EPC and other appointments at a news conference at City Hall Thursday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/10/2016 (241 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One day after his contentious development fees were passed, Mayor Brian Bowman shuffled his inner circle — ousting two councillors who voted against his plan.

Bowman removed two high-profile members from executive policy committee Thursday — Janice Lukes and Jeff Browaty. They were replaced by Scott Gillingham and Cindy Gilroy.

"I believe the team I’m announcing today positions us to continue our efforts to make positive changes and better positions us to refine our focus on managing growth while also ensuring fiscal prudence and balance," Bowman said.

Couns. John Orlikow, Marty Morantz, Brian Mayes and Mike Pagtakhan remain on the committee.

Being named to the committee is a plum appointment, essentially the mayor’s cabinet. Bowman and EPC members are privy to news from the city administration before all other councillors. EPC is also responsible for tabling the city’s draft budget every year.

Orlikow (chairman of property and development), Mayes (environment) and Pagtakhan (protection, community services and parks) kept the positions they’ve held for the past two years.

Morantz was appointed chairman of public works from finance. Gillingham became the new chairman of finance, and Gilroy is chairwoman of the innovation committee.

Bowman also gave two key positions to non-EPC members, appointing Coun. Jenny Gerbasi deputy mayor and Coun. Matt Allard acting deputy mayor.

Councillors will meet in private today to decide which of them will sit on the various council committees. The EPC changes and the committee compositions will be approved next week.

Lukes, former chairwoman of public works, and Browaty, former chairman of innovation, were among the six councillors who voted against the development fees Wednesday. Bowman had long advocated for charging fees on new residential developments to cover the city’s cost of infrastructure such as parks, libraries and other amenities.

A consultant reported in September that new developments don’t cover the cost they impose on city services. The development community was outraged and lobbied against the fees, including threatening legal action.

Bowman said Thursday their opposition to his plan played no part in his decision. He pointed out he elevated Gillingham — who also voted against the fee — to EPC and made him chairman of the finance committee.

Bowman said the appointments were to individuals best suited to the portfolios, adding there are many talented individuals on council and it was tough to choose from among them.

"I believe… the team assembled to help lead our city reflect the hard-working, common sense nature of our community and our people," Bowman said.

Bowman said he had offered Lukes another non-EPC appointment, but she declined it.

While Lukes appears to be left out in the cold, Browaty was given a prominent consolation appointment — chairman of the Winnipeg Police Board.

Browaty said he was surprised at being removed from EPC. He admitted there were several files he and Bowman didn’t agree on: rolling out rapid transit across the city, reopening Portage and Main and the growth fees plan.

Browaty said a change in the top committee is good for council, describing Gillingham and Gilroy as "excellent" councillors. "The two of them are very much ready to take on those roles."

Browaty said he’s looking forward to chairing the police board as the city welcomes a new chief, Danny Smyth, and the police service and the board implement its new strategic plan.

Browaty had been on EPC for six years: four years with former mayor Sam Katz and the last two with Bowman.

"Whether it was under (Katz) or (Bowman), I’ve been true to myself and true to my convictions on issues," Browaty said.

Lukes would not admit to being disappointed or surprised at the changes, explaining, like Browaty, she and Bowman did not agree on all issues.

"It was a phenomenal experience. I am a person who is forthcoming in (my) thoughts and viewpoints," Lukes said. "There were a couple of big things we simply did not agree on the process," citing the controversial purchase of the Manitoba Hydro corridor for the completion of the southwest rapid transit line and the growth fees.

Lukes, first elected in the sweep of 2014 that saw a 50 per cent turnover in council with a new mayor and seven new councillors, said her two years on EPC showed her council’s governance model needs to change. Non-EPC councillors are at a disadvantage, she said, when it comes to information-sharing.

"The value of EPC under this model is you do get information ahead of time, you have more time to think about it and you have more time to formulate your position," Lukes said. "I wish we had a different model. It’s not a conducive environment. I just wish we all could have more information."

Lukes said said she would work with other like-minded councillors, like Coun. Russ Wyatt, who have been advocating for a change in council’s governance structure. "I look forward to speaking to my experiences (on EPC)."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Aldo Santin.

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History

Updated on Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 3:15 PM CDT: Writethru.

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