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u Time to clean up the swamp at city hall Continued from page 1 Why development fees are so resented


These fees can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is in addition to the “impact” fees of $59.48 a square metre for new housing developments! All these assessments come with add-ons for “direc- tor” reviews, administration fees for refunds, appeals, and so on and so on. No wonder the Homebuilders are livid.


The schedule for these Planning, Development and Building Frees and Charge runs to almost 40 pages. Have a look for yourself at https://www.winnipeg.ca/ ppd/fees/pdf/Planning-Development-and-Building- Fees-and-Charges.pdf. We keep hearing that nobody wants to establish a new business in the city and if they do, they often soon regret it. Another example of unreasonable demand and de- lay is in the area of occupancy fees; my own company spent a year obtaining one of these, even with the help of a former councillor who knew the ropes. Imagine then how long it may take the Main Street Project, which is ready to move the homeless into the refur- bished Michel Fabrics building at Main and Logan. All that is holding up their move is the occupancy permit! Meanwhile dozens of unfortunate people huddle to- gether in an old pickle factory! But development is not the only place where we see mismanagement, an insular and insolent culture and a blind eye toward the real needs of citizens. The mess in the police force


Let’s look at the police department, an area I have written about in the past due to costs that hover around one-quarter of the entire city budget – indeed, in 2018, the police budget took up 27 percent of the total operating budget. According to a 2016 CBC report, the city police


budget ballooned by over 60 per cent over the pre- vious 15 years. Don’t blame the Police Board. Their share of budget oversight represents only 15 per cent of the total, most of which is clawed back by the city for “rent”. The rest of the expense, 85 per cent, is tied up in “statutory” costs for union agreements covering salaries and benefits. These are so extensive that the police services agreement, now in effect and extending to the end of 2021, is over 217 pages long, and this is


Reader believes politicians only serve themselves


and would like to give you another slant on life while you are “serving” the pub- lic.


D


I put serving in italics because ex- political persons describe this life as if they were doing so voluntarily. I am an owner of a 95-year-old company in Manitoba that I have owned for 20 and worked for a total of 35 years. I used to be the guy with the answers


in my industry, now, sadly, I do not have time for that as I spend most of my days weaving through the countless rules and regulations imposed by politicians who like you, are "serving the public". Serv- ing the public with your enhanced pen- sion and inflated, proportioned, tax-free salary. Voted into power by the idealized youth who quickly forget the color of your socks or the style of haircut as they have move onto turtles, AIDS in South Africa or the lack of a good WIFI signal at their local Starbucks. I am stuck weaving through countless government tax grabs that benefit you and the persons and companies who got you into power, all the while punishing the lessening few who actually support all of your social program through the taxes we pay.


Now I watch as my children graduate university and are told that there is no use in applying for this job or that job as it is solely for the employment of a minor- ity or specific gender type. I work each and every day at my small business while the Prime Minister calls me a crook, all the while him and his finance minister


6 www.lifestyles55.net


orothy, I read your article in Lifestyles 55 entitled the High personal cost of political service


in addition to a second agreement covering the salaries of the Officers Association.


Who is responsible?


Who negotiates those agreements? Not the elected officials, although the mayor signs the agreement and lip service is paid by the councillors to the content. The City Clerk has his John Henry on the document, as do the Chief of Corporate Services, the Manager of Labour Relations and the City Solicitor. Councillors may get to vote, but I have to believe that they don’t know the de- tails of what they are voting for, or they just plain don’t know how to deal with the cards they are being dealt. Meanwhile, at the actual policing level, there is stress and overwork, say officers, who feel that the deployment of human resources is out of whack with reality. They say there are too few officers available at any given time to do the job, given new regionalized deployment rules. The most they can do is put crimes on a priority list, try- ing to attend to those that are life threatening first and getting to other crimes “whenever”. It is not a lack of money in the system, they say. It’s how it is being spent. Then there is the police headquarters, tens of millions of dollars over budget and still not entirely functional – and the City continued to pay the contractor despite the fact that more than 40 deficiencies were discovered at move-in, including faulty ventilation and leaky pipes! Crumbling buildings and byways


Winnipeggers have come inured to the site of decaying


streets and structures. One need only look at the boule- vards with their crumbled curbs, their weedy greens, the trampled and muddy surfaces that were once grass. Let’s not even talk about the trees that are under duress from all sorts of influences.


Last summer on a warm day driving downtown, I was astounded to see furrowed paving which was heaving in the sunlight. What kind of shoddy materials are going into the supposed street repair and maintenance we have been hearing about?


Structural issues at Portage and Main


During the recent debate about opening up Portage and Main, nobody at the City confessed to the fact that the underground walkway is a complete structural di- saster. The odour of sewer gas pervades the concourse. Water leaks into some of the rental spaces. The stair wells


READERS TELL US


changes the rules, allowing them to per- sonally squirrel away millions. And at the end of it


all, what do I


get? No E.I. benefit, no pension, just a hefty capital gain for years of hard work to support the continually increased weight of a government planted firmly on my back and totally out of control. Then I read your article whining


about how hard public life is after one term. You should go and borrow mil- lions of dollars, start your own small family business and see what is there at the end of the day. Do this while you and your wife decide that she is going to leave a great job to stay at home and raise our kids. No government subsi- dized home care, nobody blaming the government for our lot in life. Just three great kids a great marriage, and several sacrifices along the way. You want to talk about PTSD, you


should try life on the other side of the fence. The government has no social safety nets for me!


Clark Myers


record straighter. First, to respond to the personal comments: you should know that I took a shocking salary cut when I was elected 35 years ago. I have never received and am not entitled to a pen- sion. I receive no benefits. I lost a family business to dishonest employees while I served as an MP. On leaving as part of the 1993 outward wave of the Tories, I had to start over again, this time from a deficit position. There were no ben- efits, no soft landings. I started another business in my spare bedroom from nothing, supporting my husband, who also lost his career thanks to my time in Parliament. Somehow, I have managed to keep this current family business op- erating and employing people for the


D


ear Clark: Thank you for your com- ments. They allow me to set the


past 21 years. I have to meet a payroll every week. I am not entitled to EI or any other benefits, and I will work until I expire. But that is not the point. What is the


point is that 98 percent of the people I have met who give up their normal lives to run for election do so because they have a burning desire to make a differ- ence and a better life for all. Many end up sacrificing


personal


lives, businesses, careers and even their families because what they do for you and me every single day takes tremen- dous concentration and dedication. Do I agree with every decision taken by various governments at all levels? No, I do not. But I know that the individuals are acting according to their honest con- victions. They tell us what those convic- tions are before we elect them. You can’t blame them for acting on those convic- tions when they win. Furthermore, government is complex.


Politicians pass legislation with a certain broad intent. It then goes through the system where regulations interpreting that intent are written. Often the result is a dim imitation of the original intent and it is this that overburdens us with – well, regulations. Do I like high taxes? No, I do not,


but I know that most of the population would react with horror if they had to pay out of pocket to see their doctor or go to the hospital. They would protest strenuously if they had to pay the real cost of their university educations. It is time that we citizens took a very


hard look at the burdens we place on those who are elected to represent us and begin to appreciate that while their work appears glamourous and satisfy- ing, the main satisfaction comes from the knowledge that you tried to serve and that you have done your best. The alternative to sending these folks to do the work that most would shun is


to have chaos or a dictatorship. Then we ungrateful citizens would have some- thing to really complain about.


Dorothy


Public office costs hank


T you for


for the walkways themselves are dirty, stinky and crum- bling. Instead of revealing how this will have to be dealt with in the very near future, specious numbers about the high cost of barrier removal were floated to support what appeared to be an interest in defying the important removal of this symbol of a city in decline. I could go on, and I will, but in future issues. Message to our elected representatives


For now, my message is this: Our mayor and council- lors need to step up to the plate and begin to take back control of city hall. I cannot believe that many of them are satisfied with the status quo. They are civic-mind- ed people who were elected because they thought they could make a difference. Yet, I hear that those who came into the job so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed four years ago are feeling beaten and defeated. Where is the feisty, curious, eager energy of those folks now? Where are all the probing questions, the direction to administration to shape up or ship out?


Some have moved on. Some were replaced by young-


er, eager councillors in whom I have great faith. Some are biding their time, perhaps, thinking of a future run for the top job. My advice to those is speak up now or forget any serious run at being mayor in the future. A new broom must sweep clean


The City CAO, Doug McNeil, is leaving in April. This opens up an opportunity to bring a new and outside broom to begin the necessary clean up. It would be wise to look far afield for someone who has managed an ef- ficient, modern city in the past and who has no three- decade-long relationships with local bureaucrats and lo- cal attitudes. We need someone tough and visionary, someone who is not afraid to rock this little boat and spill out the dead- weight. There are many, many fine people working for the city. I know their frustration with the status quo mirrors my own and is probably even greater, since they have to pick up the dirty linen left by some incompetent, self-inter- ested managers. The Mayor must put tough-minded people on the se- lection committee. They must make management excel- lence their only criterion and pay what it takes to get the job done.


your February


editorial on the personal cost of public service.


Right off the bat, I’d like to underline


the fact that I disagree with a lot of what you write in any given issue of Lifestyles 55. You and I view economics and pub- lic policy through very different lenses. That said, I did spend 24 years living


in Ottawa, much of it working in the federal public service (and some of that as a private-sector contractor). The far- ther I am from the nation’s capital, the stronger my impression that most Ca- nadians give little thought to the fallout from electoral defeat for an individual leaving public office. In this age of social media, that fallout is undoubtedly much greater than it was in previous eras. Melissa Pilon Winnipeg


Likes the idea for the Bay


national shopping arcade. I think this is a wonderful idea. This idea would bring more people downtown on Portage Ave- nue, which from what I see unless there’s a jets game, (there is not much foot traffic downtown on weekends) looks forlorn. I think you should run for mayor or at the least, be his assistant/advisor. Always en- joy your articles.


D


Val Bercier March 2019


ear Dorothy: Re: your article about the Bay being turned into an inter-


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