MAJOR decisions made by city council Wednesday during the last meeting before the six-week summer break:

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This article was published 22/7/2009 (4244 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MAJOR decisions made by city council Wednesday during the last meeting before the six-week summer break:


City-owned utility

What happened: Council voted 10-6 to create a new utility to assume responsibility for water, sewer, garbage and recycling services and possibly produce green power. The plan would also see the utility extend services to neighbouring municipalities and enter into some form of partnership with a private engineering consortium to complete approximately $1 billion worth of waste-water plant upgrades and combined-sewer replacements.

In opposition: Couns. Russ Wyatt (Transcona), Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge), Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), John Orlikow (River Heights), Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) and Lillian Thomas (Elmwood) voted against the utility plan for a laundry list of reasons, starting with the imprecise and seemingly contradictory business plan.

Quote of the debate: "They're throwing 'privatization' around the way Joe McCarthy used to throw around 'Communism,' " said St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel, referring to utility opponents who fear the private partnership will be a prelude to privatization of city services.


Parker land swap


What happened: Council voted 10-6 to give developer Andrew Marquess 57 acres of unserviced city land in northwest Fort Garry, where he hopes to build 3,500 townhouses, in exchange for nine acres of serviced land in the Fort Rouge Yards, which Winnipeg Transit desires for a garage expansion. The plan could also pave the way for a new bus-rapid-transit spur line toward southwest Winnipeg, an extension of Sterling Lyon Parkway east to Pembina Highway and new commercial development on land owned by Shindico and Manitoba Hydro south of Taylor Avenue.

In opposition: Gerbasi, Orlikow, Smith, Thomas, Vandal and Wyatt.

Quote of the debate: "The fact this is being rammed through here at 8:30 at night on a Wednesday in July is a bunch of garbage," a seething Wyatt shouted, repeating his assertion the plan is being rushed through city hall.

"We don't have immunity on the floor of council, so I can't say what I want to say," he continued, drawing references to last year's Riverside Park Management affair, which saw Wyatt and five other city councillors accuse Mayor Sam Katz of conflict of interest.


Grain Exchange Annex


What happened: Council voted 10-6 to ignore a historic buildings committee recommendation to grant heritage protection to the Grain Exchange Annex, an 89-year-old, three-storey building on Lombard Avenue, next to the older, larger and more historically significant Grain Exchange Building. The Annex's owner wants to demolish the building to create loading docks to service the Grain Exchange Building as well as a new parkade with main-floor commercial space.

In opposition: Couns. Wyatt, Gerbasi, Vandal, Thomas, Orlikow and Smith voted in opposition because they feel the developer could pursue his parkade plan without harming the annex.

Quote of the debate: Gerbasi could not believe Heritage Winnipeg supported the demolition on the grounds it would make the Grain Exchange Building more viable. "They're supposed to be a heritage advocacy group," she complained.


Whellams Lane apartments


What happened: Council voted 15-1 to allow Vancouver developer Devonshire Properties to add two new buildings to Edgewood Estates, an existing complex in North Kildonan. Two previous attempts to add to the complex were defeated or withdrawn in the face of opposition from residents and politicians.

In opposition: Thomas voted in opposition because she fears the new towers may cast a shadow on Chief Peguis Trail and create icy conditions for motorists.


Union Bank Tower redevelopment


COUNCIL voted unanimously to approve $2.9 million in heritage conservation grants and tax credits for Red River College's conversion of the Union Bank Tower on Main Street into a new culinary arts school and student residence.


And on the lighter side


THE marathon utility debate -- which lasted from 9:30 a.m. until 6:25 p.m., including a lunch break and 40 minutes of unrelated delegations -- was livened up by a University of Manitoba Students Union representative who gave city council a series of "failing grades" and a hilarious presentation by normally serious inner-city activist Tom Simms, who ridiculed the potential restriction of access to information about public-private partnerships by brandishing an oversized cheque to "We don't know."


And on the really funny side ...


AT one point, council speaker Harry Lazarenko made a reference to "Ukrainian president Obama." St. Vital Coun. Gord Steeves later corrected the error. It was a very long day.


-- Bartley Kives