WINNIPEG — After a gruelling, day-long debate, Winnipeg has decided to dissolve its water and waste department to make way for a new stand-alone utility.

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This article was published 22/7/2009 (4475 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

City Hall was packed today as council debatet several contentious issues.

MIKE.APORIUS@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

City Hall was packed today as council debatet several contentious issues.

 WINNIPEG — After a gruelling, day-long debate, Winnipeg has decided to dissolve its water and waste department to make way for a new stand-alone utility.

During the final council meeting before the summer break, Winnipeg's elected officials voted 10-6 to create a new city-owned agency that will assume responsibility for water treatment, sewage treatment and garbage and recycling pickup and possibly produce green energy.

The vote came nine hours into a meeting that saw council suspend its rules to allow 23 public delegations to speak about the utility proposal, which a broad coalition of unions and social activists opposed due to the possibility of a partnership with a private engineering consortium.

The proposal was approved after every member of council addressed the utility proposal as well as several amendments, including a largely symbolic motion by council speaker Harry Lazarenko (Mynarski) to ensure a referendum takes place before any utility assets can be sold.

The city of Winnipeg is not allowed to do so under Manitoba law.

Meatier amendments saw Couns. Gord Steeves (St. Vital) and Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) also added in guarantees that garbage-service changes and any deals with private partners come before council if the utility is created.

Coun. Bill Clement (Charleswood), meanwhile, authored a motion to allow council retain control over big-budget utility expenditures and also the power to set water-and-sewer rates, at least for a while.

In the end, all the amendments passed.

Earlier this afternoon, a motion to delay the vote until September failed by a margin of 10-6.

The council meeting will continue into the evening. Major pieces of legislation still on the agenda include the Parker land swap, historic protection for the Grain Exchange Annex and the approval of two new apartment towers at Edgewood Estates in North Kildonan.