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This article was published 9/10/2018 (743 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Due to the redrawing of the city’s electoral map, at least one incumbent city councillor will be defeated in St. James in the upcoming civic election.
Scott Gillingham (St. James-Brooklands-Weston), and Shawn Dobson (St. Charles) were elected in 2014, and both are now running in newly constituted St. James ward. Kurt Morton is the third candidate.
Here’s a quick look at some of the issues in the ward:
In 2015, Dobson and Gillingham, as new councillors, poorly communicated the implementation of the unpopular Sturgeon Road roundabout. They should have called a public meeting much earlier than Sept. 14, 2015.
In December 2016, Morton made an impressive presentation to a City Hall committee on civic pools. He has continued to emphasize this issue by highlighting he proposed St. James Civic Centre renovation, an issue which may be problematic for Gillingham.
Since 2011, Gillingham has been promising — as a provincial election candidate, as a private fundraiser, and as councillor — to renovate the Civic Centre in order to provide a better home for the St. James Assiniboia 55 -plus Centre.
While provincial funding for such a project was announced in July to go with money that has been in the past three city budgets, nothing has happened. Uncertainty about specifics and the starting date of the renovations remain. Does the current proposal include the second rink mentioned in a 2011 election promise signed by Gillingham when he was a provincial PC candidate?
Another issue in the ward is the decision on where to construct the much-needed Bruce Oake Recovery Centre, which is planned for the site of the Vimy Arena, which was closed in 2013. Such a decision should have been made by the provincial government, as the province is responsible for both health and housing.
Dobson, a City Hall outsider, was likely unaware of the initial stages of negotiations. But did Gillingham, the insider, properly explain the concerns of the citizens that he now wants to represent?
As chair of the City’s finance committee, how could Gillingham, a fiscally responsible Conservative, approve the sale of any City building for a dollar?
Dobson has backed his constituents’ concerns over the Vimy Arena sale. However, back in 2015, Gillingham ignored a residents’ petition of about 200 names calling for the Lyle Street Habitat for Humanity project to be scaled back from 16 to 10 units.
Elsewhere, Gillingham championed the transformation of Amherst Park into Kapyong Park in honour of Canadian soldiers who in the Korean War. Dobson, meanwhile, championed the Snow Angel program which connects high school volunteers with seniors who need snow clearing.
The number one issue in the city is probably the debate over whether or not to open up the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street, which will be a plebiscite question on this month’s ballot.
Dobson has consistently opposed the opening of Portage and Main, while Gillingham voted in favour of a motion calling on the City to deliver agreements to reintroduce pedestrian activity at the intersection.
Another thing voters may want to consider is whether the ward’s successful candidate will lobby to increase the size of council or accept St. James’s diminished role.
My prediction: The probable winner will be Scott Gillingham.
Fred Morris is a community correspondent for St. James who is not running for city council for the first time this century. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
St. James community correspondent
Fred Morris is a community correspondent for St. James.
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