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This article was published 17/4/2012 (3469 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Mayor Sam Katz won't take part in council votes about a water park and hotel complex planned for city land near the home of his Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball club.
On Tuesday, the mayor pledged to recuse himself from two votes on a city plan to allow Alberta's Canalta hotel chain to build a water park, hotel and parkade on a city-owned gravel parking lot known as Parcel Four. The 2.2-hectare site sits at the southwest corner of Waterfront Drive and William Stephenson Way, just south of Shaw Park, where the Goldeyes play. Katz is the majority owner of the team.
The plan calls for Canalta to purchase the land from the city for $6 million and receive a $7-million grant in exchange for $700,000 worth of admission credits every year for the next 25 years. The proposal is slated to come before council's executive policy committee today and council on April 25.
Katz said Tuesday he will not take part in either vote to ensure he is not engaged in a conflict of interest. The water-park plan may negatively affect the Goldeyes by removing parking from The Forks, he said. "Even though there may be a detrimental impact -- i.e. parking would be removed in the long term -- to basically be very careful and to exercise extra caution, I decided today (to make) it official; I will be recusing myself," he said.
Under municipal conflict-of-interest rules, it's up to members of council to recuse themselves from any vote that may affect their personal financial interests.
Katz said the sole reason for the recusal is the parking issue and not the agent for water-park developer, Shindico Realty. According to provincial corporate filings, Shindico CEO Sandy Shindleman and COO Robert Shindleman are listed as directors of the Goldeyes, along with Katz.
In the past three years, Katz has spoken in favour of a water-park development and also taken part in two closed-door seminars about a water-park proposal for The Forks. One seminar took place in 2009 and the other last week.
Under municipal rules, council members may not "communicate with another councillor or with an officer or employee of the municipality for the purpose of influencing the municipality to enter into any contract or other transaction, or to confer any benefit, in which the councillor or any of his dependants has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest."
Speaking publicly in favour of a water-park plan did not contradict this rule, city clerk Richard Kachur said.
The seminars posed no problem, Katz said.
"The seminars are for information purposes," the mayor said. "From my point of view, a seminar is extremely different because there is no vote going on whatsoever."
Parcel Four became available to developers in 2009 as part of the city's search for a private water-park partner. The city plans to direct $600,000 worth of proceeds from the sale to its historical-buildings program as well as its enhanced land marketing program, city spokesman Steve West said.
The city does not plan to pay a commission to any company as a result of the sale, West added.
Council's executive policy committee is expected to approve the plan unanimously today. Couns. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) and Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) already voted in favour of an amended version of the plan that calls for councillors to approve the developer's final design. The stipulation was added to allay concerns about how well a Canalta complex would fit in next to The Forks and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said he will support the amended plan. "There's going to be ample opportunity to review what's being designed and constructed," he said.
Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James) also plans to support a proposal he said will add to the amenities in the area.
"Look what's there right now," Fielding said. "It's a gravel parking lot, for goodness sake."
Today: Six members of executive policy committee will look at a plan to sell a downtown plot of land known as Parcel Four to Alberta's Canalta hotel chain, which plans to build a 50,000-square-foot water park, 250-room hotel and 450-stall parkade at the site, near The Forks. The city would provide Canalta with a $7-million grant in exchange for 25 years worth of discounted admissions, valued at $700,000 annually. Mayor Sam Katz will not take part in the vote.
April 25: Pending EPC approval, which is expected to be unanimous, the plan will be voted on by city council as a whole.