July 15, 2019

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Councillors on best behaviour first day

Diplomatic reactions to EPC appointments

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/11/2014 (1712 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On the first day of Winnipeg's 14th city council, recently elected and returning members struggled to familiarize themselves with a new political environment.

Rookie St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes worked at a table in the council building lobby as a crew prepared to tear out the carpet from her office, a main-floor space that used to belong to defeated Daniel McIntyre councillor Harvey Smith.

Four-term Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, no longer a member of executive policy committee, spoke diplomatically about his diminished role on a council led by newly elected Mayor Brian Bowman.

And the new mayor, facing one of his first gauntlets of reporters, proved he already possesses some political skills by deflecting questions about his choice of appointments to EPC.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/11/2014 (1712 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On the first day of Winnipeg's 14th city council, recently elected and returning members struggled to familiarize themselves with a new political environment.

Rookie St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes worked at a table in the council building lobby as a crew prepared to tear out the carpet from her office, a main-floor space that used to belong to defeated Daniel McIntyre councillor Harvey Smith.

Mayor Brian Bowman gets emotional during his first council address Tuesday night. He was back to work the next morning.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mayor Brian Bowman gets emotional during his first council address Tuesday night. He was back to work the next morning.

Four-term Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, no longer a member of executive policy committee, spoke diplomatically about his diminished role on a council led by newly elected Mayor Brian Bowman.

And the new mayor, facing one of his first gauntlets of reporters, proved he already possesses some political skills by deflecting questions about his choice of appointments to EPC.

"There's a lot you can read into a lot of the appointments. At the end of the day, I think these are good people," said Bowman of an executive committee that includes three returning members from Sam Katz's final EPC, two rookies and one promoted council veteran.

During the campaign, Bowman promised to allow council to decide who sits on EPC, but was advised by city staff and his transition team to observe the letter of the law governing those appointments.

The new mayor retained Couns. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), Brian Mayes (St. Vital) and Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) on EPC, but chose to strip the latter of the responsibility to chair a committee.

Bowman promoted thrice-elected John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) and found places at the big table for rookies Lukes and Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo).

He also removed 12-year council member Wyatt from EPC and chose not to appoint Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry), a 16-year veteran and the most senior member of council.

"I don't see two classes of councillors. I see 15 equals," said Bowman, dismissing the notion removing Wyatt or overlooking Gerbasi amounted to a snub.

"Everyone has something to contribute," Wyatt offered. "I look forward to working with the new mayor. I think he's energetic and has new ideas, and I want to do my bid to help him be successful."

As the outgoing finance chairman, Wyatt noted Winnipeg faces serious financial difficulties that extend beyond a looming year-end budget deficit and the unknown source of financing to complete the Southwest Transitway. The city bought insurance to cover the potential liability of a police pension plan that will not be secure if financial markets take a downturn, Wyatt said.

Bowman feigned a sunny disposition on the budget front, noting he has yet to be briefed by city finance officials.

"I hope we have a massive surplus," the mayor joked.

City council's new finance chairman, Morantz, was chosen on the basis of his experience in business, said Bowman, adding he did not see a risk in placing a rookie politician in charge of the budget process.

"Where some see challenges, I see opportunities for a fresh set of eyes to look at the books," the mayor said.

The appointment of Orlikow as property chairman, meanwhile, sends a message to Winnipeg's development community. The River Heights councillor was an outspoken critic of the Parker land swap and the fire-paramedic station construction program, which were assailed by a pair of external city audits.

"His appointment and others should send a message we need to have an activist agenda at city hall," Bowman said.

Orlikow said one of his tasks as property chairman will be "to rebuild a sense of trust" between the city and the development community and recreate a level playing field in the wake of the audits.

"It'll be open. It'll be transparent. Everyone will get an equal, fair shake," Orlikow said of the city's proposal-approval process.

The makeup of all council subcommittees will be determined Wednesday at council's annual organizational meeting.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

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