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Splishing and splashing

Re: EPC: Everyone into the pool (April 19). Once again, city councillors are rushing to approve a proposal to hand our scarce tax dollars to the private sector. This time it's $7 million for a scaled-down representation of an indoor water park within a proposed hotel at The Forks.

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This is an indoor water park to which most Winnipeggers will not be able to afford the cost of admission. And we know from past experience that there is no guarantee that in the final analysis it will only be $7 million.

Council has indicated that it does not have enough funds for our infrastructure, rapid transit, our community green spaces, our community police service centres, our water and waste utility, our community recreation facilities, etc. However, while our taxes and user fees are being increased to better fund basic services, some councillors are proposing to hand over substantial funds to the private sector for development of a facility that for most taxpayers is not a priority.




Last Sunday I walked along the waterfront from the legislature past The Forks, Shaw Park and toward the new condos on Waterfront Drive with this water-park proposal in mind.

We have the beginnings of a very special and attractive public commons. The architecture there now, the museum, the Inn at the Forks, Etienne Gaboury's brilliant footbridge and the historic buildings set a high standard. The link to the legislature is very impressive.

Sam Katz's ball park is wonderful. It is the perfect size for Winnipeg, and every seat in it would be a premium seat in a major league stadium. The skateboard park is world-class.

A lot of developers want to get space in The Forks area, and I don't blame them. But this is such a prime location that the city can afford to be, and must be, very selective about any development proposal. It's much better to wait a bit for the right projects than to spend 100 years regretting the wrong ones, especially when this very wrong proposal requires a $7-million public handout to be viable.




Wow, some 'Peggers really lose it whenever a water park and The Forks are mentioned in the same sentence. To me, a water park and family-friendly hotel seem like natural additions to The Forks to make it a real magnet for tourists to come to Winnipeg and stay downtown.

I'm not quite sure how replacing an ugly parking lot beside a noisy railway track gets portrayed as some sort of sacrilege to the nature of The Forks. It seems the perfect way to make it accessible to ordinary people from out of town. Maybe that's the problem for some people -- the people it attracts will be too common.

As a person with young children, I'm constantly down at The Forks visiting the Children's Museum and the Manitoba Theatre for Young People and eating at the food court in the main buildings and walking along the riverbank.

As a person with out-of-province relatives, I'm often down at The Forks showing off the pedestrian bridge, and I look forward to taking relatives and friends who visit Winnipeg to the human rights museum.

Adding an affordable hotel and a water park to The Forks will draw in families from across rural Manitoba, North Dakota, Minnesota and Saskatchewan. It's bizarre that this would become controversial.




Why stop at a water park? Let us taxpayers subsidize a Ferris wheel, a roller-coaster and a penny arcade by the new human rights museum.



Living in Jurassic Park

Re: PMs from Calgary opposites (April 18). When will the left-leaning Free Press acknowledge that the dinosaur age has long passed? As a political commentator, Frances Russell is a dinosaur. One doesn't have to read past the first paragraph of any of her articles to know that all she is going to do is attack our current prime minister.

The newspaper is wasting almost a sixth of a page on a museum piece.




Canada is in the grip of a tyrant who is bent on ending every program that serves the public interest. So far, he has attacked the wheat board, the CBC, provincial immigration programs, judges' ability to use any form of discretion in sentencing, the long-form census, scientists' right to talk about their findings, seniors' pensions and benefits, and the supremacy of Parliament, to name the most obvious.

These were all programs that made Canada one of the best countries in the world to live in. Previous governments, of various parties, worked long and hard to implement these programs and policies, and most of them were working very well. Now they are all being sacrificed to feed one man's ego, and there seems to be nothing we can do to stop him.

In the face of all this, it makes me very sad to hear the NDP and the Liberal leaders waste their energy sniping at each other when they should be fighting their, and Canada's, common enemy.



Targeting seniority

John Clark's reaction to Kevin Shimmin's column (Column way off Target, April 12) seems to focus almost entirely on the headline, Union paints bull's-eye on Target.

Shimmin's article is about how Target is getting rid of all of the former Zellers employees and making them compete, along with thousands of other hopefuls, for their old jobs for less pay.

As Shimmin points out, many of these employees have worked for years at Zellers and could offer a great deal of experience to Target. But Target has not responded to consideration being given for seniority, benefits and wages of former Zellers employees.

Having had some experience with the retail business, I know that Target is not the first nor the last big business to get rid of all the higher-paid staff so it can hire new staff at a cut rate.

If Clark had read the whole article, he would have noticed that only five Zellers stores purchased by Target are unionized. The rest do not have any recourse at all and are totally at the mercy of whatever Target decides to do.



Foot-in-mouth disease

Re: MP being sued by telemarketing firm apologizes again (April 17). Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin, known for his outrageous and irrational statements, both inside and outside the House of Commons, has clearly gotten his boot firmly planted in his mouth.

Over his 15 years in Parliament, he has spoken out against the monarchy, criticized Canada's coat of arms and used profane language on Twitter, at no financial cost to the NDP. However, this faux pas against telemarketing firm RackNine could cost the party its entire war chest and Martin his standing.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 20, 2012 A15

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