December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
A city councillor who was recently turfed from council's most powerful committee is calling for a review of how the mayor's inner circle is structured.
Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) said a large proportion of Winnipeg city councillors is appointed to executive policy committee (EPC) and the current structure leaves other elected officials without a say in key policy decisions.
Right now, six out of 15 members of city council have been appointed by Mayor Sam Katz to executive policy committee, including Couns. Russ Wyatt (Transcona), Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands), Brian Mayes (St. Vital), Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) and Dan Vandal (St. Boniface).
Havixbeck said Winnipeg's EPC model creates two tiers of councillors, whereas every elected official should have an equal voice. She said non-EPC councillors recently had a limited opportunity to participate in the budget process and only had a few hours to review the capital and operating budgets before the documents were made public.
By comparison, she said cities such as Edmonton rotate membership on their executive committee while others cities do not have an EPC.
"We (need to) at least take a look at this and see what might be some better models, even a rotational system or doing away with it," Havixbeck said Friday. "There seems to be a definite movement away from having an EPC."
Havixbeck said she was unable to get council's governance committee to consider the idea at its meeting earlier this week and hopes the committee will review the proposal at its next meeting in March.
Last month, Katz removed Havixbeck from EPC after she allegedly flip-flopped over the operational review of the Winnipeg Police Service and an increase to councillors' ward budgets.
The move came after Havixbeck became a vocal critic of the city's budget process and opposed the property-tax hike and a plan to increase councillors' discretionary ward budgets. She denied Katz's characterization as a flip-flopper.
Havixbeck is the second councillor to leave EPC in the last few months.
In November, St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel quit EPC and called it "dysfunctional, broken and divided."
Around city hall
Food establishment bylaws: Next week, council's protection and community services committee will consider a plan to exempt ice cream vendors from having to obtain a licence. A review of the city's food establishment bylaws, released Friday, said temporary food vendors who serve "low-hazard" items -- such as frozen novelties or beverages -- do not pose a risk to public health and do not need oversight. The report also recommends Winnipeg create a new licence that will allow seasonal food establishments -- such as vendors at farmers markets -- to obtain a single licence for the season, rather than renew every 14 days.
Community centre funds: St. Boniface Coun. Dan Vandal announced the city will spend an additional $500,000 to help the Southdale Community Centre complete ongoing renovations. Vandal said more than half of the extra funds -- $271,000 -- will come from the former water park money, which has been divvied up among all Winnipeg wards for recreation. The additional funds will help add a new outdoor skating rink, increase parking capacity and reduce the debt incurred for construction, Vandal said. In total, the city is spending $1.2 million on the community centre's renovations.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 16, 2013 B4