Traffic-ticket fighters hit city roadblock

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO... It’s been more than a week since Todd Dube and Chris Sweryda of Wise Up Winnipeg finally had the meeting they hoped would be a breakthrough session with the city. The two crusaders for traffic-enforcement justice gave their compelling hour-long, PowerPoint presentation to Michael Jack, the city’s chief operating officer; and Janice Lukes, the public works committee chairwoman. The session went beyond the hour, which, speaking as someone who has sat through it, doesn’t surprise me.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/06/2016 (2370 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO… It’s been more than a week since Todd Dube and Chris Sweryda of Wise Up Winnipeg finally had the meeting they hoped would be a breakthrough session with the city. The two crusaders for traffic-enforcement justice gave their compelling hour-long, PowerPoint presentation to Michael Jack, the city’s chief operating officer; and Janice Lukes, the public works committee chairwoman. The session went beyond the hour, which, speaking as someone who has sat through it, doesn’t surprise me.

Later, Dube said Jack and Lukes were surprised with the content.

As I wrote late last month, Wise Up’s presentation — complete with charts, statistics, traffic tickets, exhibits and photos — makes a strong case that the city has ignored engineering deficiencies, such as short amber lights at high-speed intersections, as a way of maximizing traffic-enforcement profits and topping up the police budget by millions of dollars — at the expense of unwitting motorists.

Wednesday, I emailed both Jack and Lukes, asking them what they thought of the presentation and whether they would follow up on what they may have learned last week. Lukes’s emailed response said, in part: “I found it ‘interesting’ what Mr. Dube said. He may (have) felt I was surprised — I was interested in what he had to say — like I am with all folks who I meet with to tell me great stories.”

She went on to stress the obvious — that she’s not a traffic engineer or a cop — and to add this: “I do not know if what he presented was true or not — I do not know if his so-called inadequacies and substandard engineer(ing) and unfair enforcement is true or not… I listened. And will be meeting with the department to discuss further and listen to the professionals.”

As for the COO, he responded through an email composed by one of the city’s media handlers.

“Mr. Jack and Coun. Lukes met with Mr. Dube and his associate Chris Sweryda, received their presentation and had a respectful, thorough discussion. Mr. Dube and Mr. Sweryda raised a number of allegations regarding signage, speed limits and traffic law enforcement. Mr. Jack will be discussing the content of their presentation with appropriate members of the public service.”

Reading between the lines, I saw no point in asking the obvious followup question. When?

❚ ❚ ❚

HELPING TEENS SURVIVE… “How far would you go to save your child’s life?”

That’s the way I started a column last month about a couple who sold their home to pay US$8,800 a month to get their severely depressed 15-year-old daughter into an adolescent treatment centre in the United States. That was only after they couldn’t find the care she needed in Manitoba, or Canada for that matter.

Left: Wise Up Winnipeg’s Todd Dube (left) and Chris Sweryda alert motorists.

Only later — after the mother wrote to the NDP’s then-health minister Sharon Blady — did the province fully fund the daughter’s nearly year-long stay at the Sunrise Residential Treatment Centre and Boarding School in Hurricane, Utah. During the approval process, the family was informed their daughter was the first Manitoba adolescent funded for mental-health care outside of Canada.

Not anymore she isn’t.

Since the column appeared four weeks ago – and in one case, even earlier — the girl’s mother has helped other families desperate to find treatment for daughters with life-threatening mental illness. And this week she reported two more girls have been approved for treatment at Sunrise. In fact, one of them was scheduled to leave for Utah Wednesday.

What gives the other two families added hope for their girls — hope that wasn’t commonly known to exist before — is how the treatment has worked out for the girl they nicknamed “Canada” at Sunrise.

“Without it,” the father said last month, “I’m not sure where she’d be. I’m not sure she’d be here.”

The mother said she has given Sunrise permission to put other families in touch with her so she can share her experience and help them navigate Manitoba’s out-of-country treatment-approval process. As for “Canada,” her mother says she’s expected home in mid-July and, now 16 years old, she continues to do well. So well, “Canada” is looking forward to volunteering with the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba.

“She’s going to do peer support,” her mother said. “A kind of mentoring program for other kids struggling.”

“Canada” has come a long way in less in a year thanks to Blady, Manitoba Health and most of all, two caring parents who did more than sell their home to save their daughter’s life. And continue to help others.

❚ ❚ ❚

THE GOOD-NEWS ENDING … Eric Edwards, the young West End man featured in Saturday’s column who took it upon himself to lead a cleanup of inner-city basketball courts, was scheduled to be honoured by the Blue Bombers before Wednesday’s exhibition game.

Edwards was to be presented with four game tickets and the IBAM Community Hero Award.

It was a nice touch for a football club that has recognized the importance of and connecting with the community beyond selling season tickets.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

SUPPLIED Above: Eric Edwards hanging a net at a neglected inner-city basketball court. The 23-year-old was honoured by the Bombers with a community hero award.
History

Updated on Thursday, June 9, 2016 8:06 AM CDT: Adds photo

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