Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/4/2008 (4331 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
During the 2007 provincial election, the NDP promised to expand the Southdale Community Centre as part of a $60-million pledge to improve recreation across the province.
The move immediately perplexed the Greater Council of Winnipeg Community Centres, the non-political body in charge of the thorny process of doling out scarce recreation funds. The $12.6-million Southdale project is just one of seven under consideration by the GCWCC as it completes a $43-million rec-centre overhaul.
Back in May, Finance Minister Greg Selinger said the province had no intention of jumping the queue in Southdale, where rookie NDP MLA Erin Selby wound up stealing a seat from veteran Tory incumbent Jack Reimer.
But earlier this week, Selinger singled out the Southdale Community Centre expansion in his 2008 budget speech, as he reiterated the province's $60-million recreation commitment.
City politicians and staff alike are now struggling to find a nice way to thank the province for the cash while insisting there may be other places to spend it.
"It's bizarre," said St. Vital Coun. Gord Steeves, who chairs the council committee in charge of community centres. "The GCWCC process is still ongoing. They are the ones who will decide where a new regional facility will go in southeast Winnipeg, and I don't know if it will be Southdale."
That decision will be made before the end of the year, said GCWCC executive director Marlene Amell, adding she's been eager to discuss the Southdale issue with the provincial government but has yet to schedule a meeting with the premier.
"All community centres fall inside our process, and until that is done, I don't see how we can go forward with one project over another," she said.
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, however, hinted some sort of deal involving Southdale could still be worked out, provided no queue-jumping takes place.
"Any commitment to community centres is a good thing," he said. "By the same token, we do have a process that must be followed."
On Friday, Selby said the budget speech earmarked money for recreation centres "like Southdale."
"Southdale's one of them, but it's not the only one," she said. "We've committed $60 million and that covers more than one."
Premier Gary Doer, meanwhile, said he's discussed the Southdale project with representatives from other southeast community centres, including Winakwa, which is touting its own $1.8-million expansion.
Winnipeg and Manitoba ought to develop a strategy to deal with fast-growing suburbs that have no recreation centres, the premier added.
"We want to put a marker out that the old days of having static populations should be met with a new policy to deal with growth," Doer said.
Existing GCWCC rules restrict the creation of new recreation space, or the expansion of existing facilities, to fast-growing sections of the city.
The policy was created because the city was struggling to maintain all of its rec facilities.
After a long consultation process, the GCWCC decided to close the Brooklands, Minto, Boyd Park and Kelvin community centres.