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This article was published 2/12/2017 (859 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
South Winnipeg could flood city hall, not with water from the Red River but with a dozen or more delegations to oppose a budget that cut out millions in recreational facilities planned for the area.
They know they're fighting a rising tide of frustration over hikes to transit fares and the prospect of cuts to nearly two dozen bus routes but hockey rinks, soccer fields, basketball courts and baseball diamonds are their priority.
Community leaders called a morning meeting Saturday at one of only two community centres that serve the 60,000-plus area residents, in an effort to muster a political stand at city hall Tuesday.
If necessary, they'll hire buses to take residents down to city hall, they said.
The day-long forum Tuesday is the only public platform set aside by the mayor's cabinet, the executive policy committee, to hear opposition to the proposed budget for 2018. Everything from bus route cuts to opening up Portage and Main could come under fire.
South Winnipeg expected development of recreational services when Bowman won the mayor's chair and as the city heads into an election year, residents say showing they're steamed is a good political strategy.
"Several millions were earmarked (for South Winnipeg recreational facilities) and now we've seen that drop away," said Winnipeg South Community Centre president Craig Sheldon.
"That sends a clear message to the community so we're trying to rally residents to make it known that this is unacceptable," Sheldon said. "The city's got to provide those services. We're not asking for anything that isn't already in every other part of the city."
it doesn't help that the ward's councillor, Janice Lukes (South Winnipeg-St. Norbert) and Bowman have repeatedly and openly clashed on the council floor, said residents who expressed support and sympathy for their councillor's efforts to push the rec agenda forward.
"He needs to know it's not a Janice issue. It's an issue with 60 or 70,000 residents. We need to talk about it," Sheldon said of Bowman.
The community centre Sheldon chairs is one of two in the ward, three if you count the community centre located in St. Norbert.
Residents calculate that by the city's own guidelines for recreational services, a ward as big as Winnipeg South should have five more recreational and community centres.
There's no guarantee that expressing frustration will hit the mark and loosen up millions of dollars that disappeared under belt-tightening after the province imposed massive austerity measures.
Mayor Brian Bowman made good on his threat of widespread cuts and service rollbacks; they are a reality in the city's proposed budget for 2018.
Transit riders will be hit with a larger-than-usual fare increase and service on some routes will be reduced or, in some cases, eliminated. There will be cuts to recreation services and the libraries budget is essentially frozen.
And as the Free Press reported earlier, the budget also proposed an unprecedented cut to one of city hall's sacred cows — the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
Winnipeg South is the largest ward in the city, with more than 60,000 people who pay more than $400 million a year in property taxes, several people said at the hour long meeting Saturday.
Waverley Heights and Waverley West neighbourhood have burgeoned in recent years, adding a population the size of Brandon to Winnipeg, according to Saturday's public discussion
In another twenty years, that's expected to double by an additional 20,000 households.
Many of those properties are in affluent neighbourhoods, but there are also plenty of seniors on fix incomes, multi-generational families with little kids and grandparents under the same roof and immigrants new to Canada.
"South Winnipeg is very diverse. And people here need a place to play hockey, play sports together. I know bus service is very important but this is huge," said Manitoba Islamic Association president Osaed Khan, a parent in the ward with two boys who would love to play hockey, if they could.
"We're hoping to get our voice heard, all the community groups in South Winnipeg. I'm hoping we have a place to play soccer, hockey and many sports because (right now) there's not enough space," Khan said.
Updated on Monday, December 4, 2017 at 7:27 AM CST: Fixes typo