May 19, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Re: Golf courses and political games? (Feb. 16). The infighting that has arisen over the point of order introduced by Coun. Russ Wyatt to prevent the delegations from speaking at the property and development committee meeting on Feb. 14 speaks volumes about the dysfunctional nature of city hall.
I went to city hall on Tuesday not because somebody put doomsday scenarios in my head or because of some whipping I received from councillors Jenny Gerbasi and John Orlikow, but because I am a golfer, an environmentalist and a citizen who does not agree with any redesign or redevelopment of city-run or leased golf courses.
I do not appreciate being used as a political football because of some petty hate-on between the mayor and various councillors. A mistake was made when the City Centre community committee sent a motion to the wrong standing committee.
Instead of pointing fingers, the mayor, councillors and the city clerk should all apologize, take their share of the responsibility and let the citizens know how, where and when they can have their expression of interest on this issue.
The travesty of democracy that took place on Valentine's Day at city hall was appalling. Over 20 presenters and a packed gallery of concerned citizens eager to have a voice regarding the future of the public golf courses were quickly silenced.
It is incomprehensible how the committee on property and development can place an item on the agenda, register over 20 delegates and then not allow them to speak. The councillors have demonstrated an abominable disrespect for the citizens they have been elected to serve.
Coun. Scott Fielding, finance chairman, has promised that public consultations will be held before any land is sold or leased. His assurances leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many. Yes, the public will be heard, but will it be prior to an agreement being reached with the developers?
The response to the Feb.15 daily poll question -- "When should the city seek public input on proposed sale/lease of golf courses?" -- reveals that there are as many optimists who think the public can have positive input as there are those who have already given up. Perhaps city councillors still have an opportunity to prove they are worthy of the office they hold.
Once again, we've seen another astonishing example of a fundamentalist attitude, where you only see the world in black and white, at work in our government. You are either with us, or with child pornographers if you oppose warrantless surveillance on Canadians' Internet usage, according to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
The Conservative government has turned Canada into a nation that now condones the use of torture and wants to spy on its own citizens.
But, maybe I should be a little more optimistic about these proposed laws. After all, they could help catch crooked politicians -- like the ones suspected by CSIS of being under "foreign influence."
This is an issue on which Toews was briefed and was widely reported in June of 2010. But it has since disappeared from the media and from the public's memory.
Who will this new law be controlling, Mr. Toews? The people in charge, or everyone else?
In Katz defends loan guarantee (Feb. 15), Mayor Sam Katz is quoted as saying there is "next to zero risk" in guaranteeing a $10-million loan for the Fort Rouge Yards development. I am sure Katz would have said the same about the $434,000 loan given by the Crocus Fund to the mayor's baseball team, the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
After all, the club was so profitable that it was paying a huge yearly dividend ($217,000 in 2005), that Katz calls a salary, while he was supposed to be a full-time mayor of Winnipeg. Katz, however, refuses to pay back the Crocus fund -- money belonging to thousands of Manitobans like me who invested in Crocus to help Manitoba companies.
One can only wonder why Winnipeg is in the business of guaranteeing loans to private developers. If there really is negligible risk in these loans, then the developers should have no difficulty in getting the loans from non-government lenders.
Gem Equities apparently cannot get all the loans it needs from regular banking sources, and this suggests that private lenders think that there is considerable risk. I hope the city has better luck with Gem Equities than the Crocus Fund has had with the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
So the mayor believes that there is next to zero risk for the City of Winnipeg on the Fort Rouge Yards project? During my school years, teachers would respond to pupils' "belief" argument for not having done their homework by saying: "Believing you do in church; in school you know or you don't know."
Katz's record of failed beliefs is ample -- the suddenly announced 20 cents increase in transit fares disproving his earlier denial of a major revenue shortfall in the rapid-transit exercise.
The vacant apartment block at 2391 Portage Avenue has become an eyesore. It is incredible that city council has approved a $10-million loan guarantee for new construction to the developer who owns this building.
On Oct. 19, 2011, the area councillor voted in favour of this guarantee. On Dec. 8, he expressed concerns about the block. Why did he not demand that council include an action plan with firm timelines for the rehabilitation of the developer's existing derelict buildings in the loan guarantee?
Re: Lawn and garden pesticides address real problems (Letters, Feb. 10). As a homeowner in suburban Ottawa, I maintain a substantial lawn in an excellent condition without the use of pesticides.
Lorne Hepworth of the pesticide industry lobby group CropLife Canada oversimplifies the pesticide review process by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency and claims that the Ontario ban has been rejected by a majority of Ontario homeowners. I very much doubt that this is the case.
Hepworth introduces a red herring in the form of an alleged threat, under the existing Ontario ban, to our essential control of mosquitoes and rats, as well as the agricultural use of pesticides. Readers, please note: Canadian pesticide bans for cosmetic uses apply strictly to private and public urban green spaces, including parks and sports fields.
It is noteworthy that the control of insect infestations and noxious weeds, using the appropriate pesticides, is maintained in Ontario under the existing ban.
K. JEAN COTTAM
In his Feb. 15 letter, Easy jokes but sad reality, David Baxter is a little off base when he castigates the Saturday Night Live people for making fun of Amy Winehouse. He also makes an illogical comparison to bolster his argument.
People do not choose to get cancer. People do not guzzle booze or snort cocaine because they are addicted. They become addicted because they choose to smoke, drink or do drugs.
Psychologists have determined that some people are more prone to addiction than others, but no one becomes addicted as a result of one cigarette, drink or line of cocaine.
We make fun of clownish drunks because they are funny. When Winehouse was making a fool of herself in public, did she have no friends around to suggest that she behave better, or were they making fun of her, too?
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 17, 2012 A13