Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A real disaster

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Mayor Sam Katz says the city's frozen pipes should qualify it for disaster assistance, but why stop there when there are so many other natural catastrophes?

A Winnipeg expatriate, University of Toronto philosopher Mark Kingwell, wrote a book in which he called Winnipeg "Plague City."

It wasn't just frozen pipes that inspired the author, but the "god-sent" calamities that afflict our burg through four seasons.

Some of the usual suspects include ice dams, floods, potholes, aphids that turn sidewalks, roads and windshields into super-sticky surfaces, mosquitoes that bite, spread disease and ruin summers, cankerworms that defoliate trees, stifling heat and deadly cold.

More than all this, however, according to the professional thinker, is the fact that God Himself has forsaken Winnipeg.

"Winnipeg makes an effective backdrop for a personal struggle to understand how a benevolent God could have created such a hostile universe. It seem to me the most afflicted city in North America, maybe the world."

Each year, Mr. Kingwell said, "Nature makes a serious attempt to kill its inhabitants with routine -40 temperatures, blizzards, snow drifts higher than tall men, cracked engine blocks, frostbite."

Here's what Mayor Katz should do: Frozen pipes are not enough to meet the criteria for disaster assistance, which requires "the loss of life, or serious harm or damage to the safety, health or welfare of people, or widespread damage to property or the environment."

But if the mayor includes all "god-sent" disasters that threaten to drive Winnipeggers to the edge, maybe the province will listen.

The premier might not accept Winnipeg as Disaster City, but it will be hard for him to ignore Plague City. The next act of Divine Providence is waiting.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2014 A14

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