City services require people to maintain them
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/10/2022 (237 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
“Life has to have refinement, not just in particular objects, but in every detail; especially in the detail of every day, every action.”
It is a nice sentiment, and it comes from a quote inscribed on a semi-circular slab of stone that rests on a cylindrical one about two metres in diameter, attributed to one Garth Ashdown.
The memorial is a curious sight to behold roughly one kilometre down a trail that starts at the Manitoba Canoe and Kayak Centre and follows the Red River through the Don Gerrie Park in South Osborne.
For much of the season, the trail was nearly impassable. High water levels in the spring left parts muddy or underwater, and as the river receded back down to its banks, the trail became overgrown.
No doubt a big cleanup effort was required to bring it to its present state, and it is a great place to stop and take in the refinement of a small detail of an everyday action before winter comes.
Of course, that cleanup effort would have been the job of city workers. They are often maligned by the public, but what would the city look like without them?
We could soon find out.
No deadline has been set, but Winnipeg’s largest union, CUPE Local 500, may soon go on strike for the first time since 1919. Wage decline has already resulted in retention issues which have disrupted some city services. Vacancies in 311 positions, for example, have resulted in 5 per cent longer wait times.
But a strike would affect nearly all city services — including water and waste, libraries, swimming pools, bylaw enforcement, building permits, and all of the department of public works, including streets and parks.
With an election coming up, candidates are leaning on the usual expensive promises to get themselves elected. It is easy to forget that existing services need to be maintained, and that it is the labour of people who work for the city that maintain them.
There is also the matter of the election itself; city clerks could find themselves in a scramble to run a smooth election.
So, who was Garth Ashdown? He was more than likely a local artist who lived in the neighbourhood until he was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident in September of 1995, but I couldn’t be sure. So, I reached out to 311 via email for more information.
311 replied several days later to inform me that they “notified Public Works” of my request, but were “unable to give an exact time frame of when they will determine their course of action.”
“Some requests take up to 30 days.”
South Osborne community correspondent
Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.