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Havixbeck grasps nuances of water-park issue

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Re: Two-two-two councillors in one ward (April 30). More respect is needed in your headline writing. Charleswood-Tuxedo is represented by one very capable and genuinely committed city councillor. One could say the same for most of the other wards, as well. But they have not been singled out by a disingenuous column, likely because so few of them speak with the forthright fervour that Paula Havixbeck commands.

The issue at hand began as a motion to accept an offer to build hotel rooms, parking and a water park on city-owned land. This was not a motion to ratify the terms of the deal, but one designed to assist in the momentum needed to keep it happening.

This nuance seems to have been ignored by both the formal and informal press. But not by the councillor, whose repeated statements have consistently pointed to the need to work with development proponents.

Leaving alone the merits or lack thereof of a water park that costs $25 a day to use, a secondary level of political risk appeared when many in the press and politics intimated that the mayor should not vote for fear of his inability to be impartial, due to the land in question being close to the ball park from which his baseball team operates.

Sam Katz, no longer claiming "I am not a politician," recused himself from the debate and vote, thus avoiding more speculative censure. As well, he avoided the uncertainty of council's collective mind by not participating in a vote that was not certain to be won. Astute, responsible and political; he gets full points.

How then are we to encourage developers to take on the difficult and not so obvious projects, when we cannot dispel the impression of political risk and demonstrate that Winnipeg is willing to work with them?

We can do that by having councillors who are able to see beyond the murky reporting and understand the importance of being receptive to innovation.

To date no one has lost by this debate. Those who spoke for the need of more information will get what they want, and what they would have had all along, just in a different order. Those who decry the appropriateness of the use and location may have a point that will ultimately decide what will go there.

Good for them, especially if this results in something being built that is more useful than a non-conforming surface parking lot. Of those who spoke out, all were sincere and concerned, bravo.

Havixbeck spoke her mind on this issue, not as part of a group, but as a representative of Charleswood-Tuxedo. She did and continues to do so in a reasoned and consistent manner. She deserves more respect than the small-minded allusions of a headline writer likening her to a breath mint.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 2, 2012 A11

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