Marathon committee meeting tries patience of councillors
The East Kildonan-Transcona community committee held a lengthy meeting on April 26, which appeared to try the patience of councillors throughout the process.
The committee heard a number of delegates speak to concerns with or suggestions for the city’s proposed strategic priorities action plan. Former Radisson MLA Marianne Cerilli, for one, spoke to concerns regard the processes of approving the plan itself, as well as the city’s budget process, as well as concerns that priorities regarding expanding Kenaston Avenue and extending Chief Peguis Trail were incompatible with priorities regarding climate change and environmental stewardship.
“The city has to lead on that,” Cerilli said. “We need to have a new vision.”
“I appreciate everyone who comes to City Hall and takes time out of their day to present. These people are very passionate,” Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) responded to Cerilli’s comments. “But these people who present here do not represent most Winnipeggers, in my opinion. Each of us on council represent 45,000-ish people. They’re not looking to blow things up. They want their streetlights timed well so they can get to work as fast as possible. They want to drive their SUVs through the Tim Hortons drive-thru to get their coffee on the way to hockey practice. The consultation we get (here) is not as relevant as the consultation we get going door-to-door every four years, the consultation we get at Boston Pizza or the grocery store.”
Browaty, long a proponent of extending Chief Peguis west of Main Street, noted that the strategic priorities action plan was put together with input from all city councillors, and as a result he felt it was more representative than other planning documents, such as Our Winnipeg or the Climate Action Plan, which he said were products of the administration.
“As well intended as everyone who comes to present, great,” he said. “But it’s not representative of Joe Lunchbox Winnipeg who work all day long, who pay taxes, to provide for their families and make a life for themselves.”
“Sometimes what is popular is not always right, and sometimes what is right is not always popular,” Cerilli replied, noting that councillors have a responsibility to follow science when setting priorities, particularly those with an impact on future generations.
“Simply put, we can’t afford the road network we have today,” Greg Oughton, a mechanical engineer by trade who spoke against the major road projects, added. “We already have the capacity we need. We just need a mode shift to get to the capacity we’re looking for in these trade corridors. But the main reason not to build these highway projects is that it is fiscally irresponsible.”
Representatives from the WRENCH also pitched the committee on the organization taking a more active role in collecting abandoned bicycles, which they argued would not only free up city resources but have a positive net impact on waste diversion.
“A lot of what I’ve heard during this process is that we can’t have too much,” Coun. Russ Wyatt (Transcona) said about the strategic priorities action plan, before suggesting a series of amendments to the plan. “But I would argue we’re playing catch-up. Not enough has been done. The plan should be substance over vague statement or nice sounding statements.”
Grants were approved from the land dedication reserve for new goal nets for Apee Panchhi Park ($5,572) in Transcona, for accessible swings for the playground at Emerson Elementary School ($12,8100), as well as the Cool Streets program mural project in North Kildonan. Eight per capita grants were also approved for community groups and events, including $2,500 for the North East Winnipeg Historical Society Inc (split evenly between Elmwood-East Kildonan and North Kildonan wards) and $1,200 for the Miles Macdonell Collegiate Alumni Association.
One item, which has been before the committee before, was a plan approval for a renovation of the Canadian Tire at 1519 Regent Ave. West. The revamp includes expanding the store to the west, adding 51 new trees and over 700 shrubs along Regent and Peguis Street, and moving the garden centre. After much discussion, the plans were approved, with amendments for the applicant to consider, which include adding still more trees and remaining in communication with the city’s transportation department, regarding the potential for adding a public right away on the west side of the property.
“ … it’s not representative of Joe Lunchbox Winnipeg
“We want to have a beautiful city, but that really means we need to build beautiful,” Wyatt said. “That means we need to accommodate greenery in large asphalt parking lots. We see other jurisdictions in Canada doing that, dealing with exactly the same corporate entities we’re dealing with here.”
The committee also directed the public service to report back within 30 days on whether part of the old fire hall at 569 Watt St. could be provided to the 1st John de Graffe Scouts troupe for storage. The troupe had previously used storage of an outbuilding at Valley Gardens Community Centre (218 Antrim Rd.), but that building is no longer available.
In addition, the community recommended that the standing policy committee on community services consider the renaming the baseball diamonds at Valley Gardens Community Centre in honour of the late Shane Fox, a longtime community volunteer.
A subdivision, rezoning, and variance application for 1380 Ravelston Ave. W, which had begun in February, was discussed during a public hearing. The committee once again heard from the applicant, which intends to subdivide the lot, that is currently split-zoned for single-family residential and rural residential. The application would change the rural residential district to a medium density multi-family zoning in order to build four multi-family buildings, for a total of 51 units, rather than the 72 units initially proposed in February. Variances sought to reduce sideyards to provide space for to increase parking the parking ratio above the minimum 1.5 stalls per unit required.
The committee approved the application, with a number of amendments, including adding more bike parking and potentially adding a charging station for electric vehicles. Final plans will need to be approved by the committee before construction can begin. Nobody was registered in opposition to the project.
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112