In 2006, when Jeff Browaty snatched North Kildonan's council seat from then-incumbent Mark Lubosch, the top issue was traffic.
Now, in 2010, Browaty is defending his seat against two candidates, including a veteran school trustee and a passionate North Kildonan resident. And this time around, one of the biggest issues is traffic.
Browaty, who was only 29 when he won the council seat in the last election, is working with a 36,600-strong population that's skittish about major infrastructure changes to the area, including the long-planned extension of Chief Peguis Trail and the upcoming refurbishment to the Disraeli Freeway.
The city just signed off on the final plans for the Chief Peguis extension on Sept. 17, Browaty said, and he is "comfortable and confident" in the project, which recently added a pedestrian overpass so as not to sever the busy Northeast Pioneers Greenway path. "Chief Peguis Trail will solve many east-west (traffic) problems."
Browaty's toughest challenge could come from Brian Olynik, an avowed independent and vice-chairman of the River East Transcona School Division. Olynik said while the Chief Peguis extension is 40 years in the making, some of the unrest over the changes could be due to a lack of consultation.
"The concern I hear from a lot of people is that they don't always feel they're being informed of what's happening," Olynik said. "I'd like to bring a lot more communication between city hall and area residents. If it has to be a monthly mini-town hall meeting (where we say) here's the timelines we have right now, then let's do it."
Also running is Wendy Pasaluko-Plas, an insurance broker who was moved to run because she is unhappy with how the Peguis extension was developed.
Pasaluko-Plas believes the new extension could cause pollution and trash to stifle area ponds, which are home to migratory birds, and won't fix the crushing traffic on small streets such as Springfield, which currently handles 17,000 more cars a day than it was designed to do.
"In a perfect world, I would like to see (the extension) stopped," Pasaluko-Plas said. "If you're going to do it, do it right, the right way, or don't do it at all."
Browaty pledges that if re-elected, he'll get North Kildonan its first splash pad, to be installed on Rothesay Street by Chief Peguis School.
Pasaluko-Plas is interested in encouraging the city to develop a compost pickup program, that could then be sold back to citizens as fertilizer.
Olynik is worried about a lack of snow-clearing on Henderson Highway sidewalks, that he says causes the lanes to become treacherous, especially for North Kildonan's large population of seniors. "The city tried to save money by not clearing the sidewalks," he says. "Let's protect our seniors."
Platforms on crime,
North Kildonan isn't the worst area for crime in the city-- but it's not immune either. What do the candidates think the ward needs to curb crime and boost public safety?
Browaty: Pledges to create an anti-graffiti team to clean up tags around Henderson Highway and other major routes. On the crime front, he'd like to see North Kildonan and Elmwood get more attention from police cruisers. He's not agitating to add more police -- though he's also not opposed -- and believes it's time for the province and federal government to do more to empower courts to keep criminals inside, and not let them into the "revolving door of justice."
Olynik: Has experience he believes could be a big asset in fighting crime: his years spent as a teacher at Rockwood Institution and Stony Mountain Penitentiary. "If you sit down with people with people involved with criminal activities, you get a pretty good indication of what's happening out on the streets," he says. Olynik also supports bringing a visible police cruiser presence to North Kildonan, and would like to see Neighbourhood Watch programs boosted.
Pasaluko-Plas: Supports training more citizen patrol and Neighbourhood Watch groups, but believes it may be time to expand the force. "We have so many suburbs that are expanding, such as Sage Creek. Now the population has grown there, we need to have more (police enforcement) to be able to patrol those areas properly."