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'Virtual town hall' on Veolia touted in robo-calls to voters

ABOUT 100,000 Winnipeg homes received robo-calls Wednesday night inviting them to a "virtual town hall" about the city's waste water management deal with Veolia Canada.

The voice of Lake Winnipeg Watershed co-ordinator Vicki Burns invited Winnipeg voters to take part in a conference call tonight at 7 regarding the "secret deal" with the environmental consulting giant.

"This is the biggest issue the city has faced in years and will affect our waste water system for generations to come," Burns said in a message sent by Toronto firm Strategic Communications.

The conference call, organized by the Winnipeg Citizens Coalition, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Water Watch and the Council of Canadians, will allow Winnipeg voters to speak to Veolia critics from Richmond, Calif., and Indianapolis, Ind., said Citizens Coalition co-chairwoman Bobbi Ethier.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2010 (2529 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ABOUT 100,000 Winnipeg homes received robo-calls Wednesday night inviting them to a "virtual town hall" about the city's waste water management deal with Veolia Canada.

The voice of Lake Winnipeg Watershed co-ordinator Vicki Burns invited Winnipeg voters to take part in a conference call tonight at 7 regarding the "secret deal" with the environmental consulting giant.

Mayor Sam Katz has promised to expand last month’s popular Lights on Broadway festival (above) to four days.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

Mayor Sam Katz has promised to expand last month’s popular Lights on Broadway festival (above) to four days. Purchase Photo Print

"This is the biggest issue the city has faced in years and will affect our waste water system for generations to come," Burns said in a message sent by Toronto firm Strategic Communications.

The conference call, organized by the Winnipeg Citizens Coalition, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Water Watch and the Council of Canadians, will allow Winnipeg voters to speak to Veolia critics from Richmond, Calif., and Indianapolis, Ind., said Citizens Coalition co-chairwoman Bobbi Ethier.

"To my knowledge ,this is the first virtual town hall that's taken place in Winnipeg," she said. "Voters can get involved without having to get dressed and leave their homes."

Ethier said the conference call is not intended to support mayoral challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis, a staunch critic of the Veolia deal. Wasylycia-Leis has repeatedly called on Mayor Sam Katz to publicize aspects of the deal, which will see Veolia Canada design, build and possibly help maintain at least $661 million worth of improvements to two city sewage treatment plants.

Katz's re-election team called Ethier's statement ridiculous and condemned the automatic call.

"We're not surprised. It's just more mistruths and fear-mongering," campaign spokeswoman Bonnie Staples-Lyon said. "And it's coming from Judy. It's almost the same language."

 

Katz boosts Broadway festivals

 

MAYOR Sam Katz is promising to boost the downtown street festival Lights on Broadway from one day to four and earmark cash for Ciclovia and neighbourhood block parties.

On Wednesday, Katz pledged to set aside $57,000 a year in in-kind services for Lights on Broadway and Ciclovia, the popular cycling festival. In-kind services include police and transit overtime as well as funds for public works staff who block off roads for the street festivals. The city spent $40,000 on in-kind services for the festivals last month.

The cash will allow Lights on Broadway to run for four Saturdays instead of one. That was the original idea, but the city balked at the cost of street closures, local promoter Bruce Rathbone said earlier this summer.

Katz said Wednesday the food kiosks, musical and dance events and lighting displays help lure people downtown. He also pledged to boost the general street-closing budget from $47,000 to $100,000 to help blocks and community groups host events.

 

Wasylycia-Leis defines her pension pledge

 

MAYORAL challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis has promised to donate her parliamentary pension to the Winnipeg Foundation if she's elected mayor next week.

In the spring, the former Winnipeg North MP promised to give up her $68,000 annual pension she receives based on 13 years as an elected official in Ottawa. The pension would be donated as long as she is mayor.

On Wednesday, she said the Winnipeg Foundation would direct her pension toward children's programming.

Wasylycia-Leis also pledged to reinstate an access co-ordinator at city hall and hire a new integrity commissioner.

She said she has not yet had time to sit down with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which has been asking to view her Ottawa expense receipts.

 

Kowalson supports councillor term limits

 

RIVER Heights-Fort Garry candidate Michael Kowalson says he'll propose term limits if he gets elected next week.

Kowalson, who is challenging Coun. John Orlikow in one of the toughest ward races in the city, said councillors should serve no more than two terms to keep council vibrant and fresh with new ideas.

He invoked the memory of former councillor Brenda Leipsic, who also supported term limits and almost got them passed at city hall.

Last week, in a tersely worded statement, Leipsic's children withdrew their support for Orlikow and endorsed Kowalson.

Kowalson, a Tory, said he'd lobby for changes to spending rules that favour incumbents, such as the use of ward allowances for advertising and information flyers before a campaign begins.

 

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

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