|Posted by winnipeg chapter on April 23, 2012 at 11:50 PM|
We need your help.
Contact your City Councillor and tell them to vote "no" on public money for a private water park...
Devi Sharma 986-5264 email@example.com
Thomas Steen 986-5195 firstname.lastname@example.org
"Old Kildonan Coun. Devi Sharma appears to hold the deciding vote on Winnipeg’s water-park subsidy on Wednesday, as all 14 other councillors have come to a decision about their intentions.
Elmwood-East Kildonan Coun. Thomas Steen said today he’s leaning in favour of voting for a plan to sell Parcel Four, a city-owned surface lot at the southwest corner of Waterfront Drive and William Stephenson Way, for $6 million to Alberta hotel chain Canalta, which itends to build a 250-room hotel, 50,000-square-foot water park and 450-stall parkade on the site. The proposal calls for the city to offer Canalta a $7-million grant in exchange for $700,000 worth of admission credits every year for the next 25 years.
Up until today, Steen and Sharma were the only members of council who had yet to decide on the plan. Sharma said she remains undecided, but Steen said he’s leaning in favour of voting yes because water park’s location at The Forks will be convenient for children in his ward.
Only 15 members of council will vote on the plan because Mayor Sam Katz has recused himself from the vote. Katz is the majority owner of the Winnipeg Goldeyes, which play at Shaw Park, immediately north of Parcel Four.
Seven councillors now plan to vote in favour and against the Canalta proposal. None of them are bound by their intentions and may change their mind on Wednesday."
It's roundabout privatization: reduced hours in public pools, fewer pools, and huge increases in the fees over the last couple of years. Then talk about getting out of the business altogether. Now Sam Katz is trying to give public money for a private pool.
1. Public money should not be for private profits.
Another proposed water park is already planned for the "Seasons of Tuxedo" development. If another company can make this project without public money, why should the proposed one at the Forks use our public money?
If this proposed water park truly needs $7 million in public funds to design this facility, it is probably not profitable enough to attract investors. This means there's a good chance it will be asking for more public funds in the future, leaving the city on the hook once again.
The location is to be next to the historic Forks Market buildings, the the Espanade Riel, and the Museum for Human Rights - three of Winnipeg's greatest architectural destinations. The hotel chain specializes in poor cookie-cutter architecture, which should not be built at the this location.
This water park is far from world class. It will not be on the list of the top 30 largest water parks in North America.
4. Public Access Agreement
Details of the Access Agreement are not being revealed until after the vote. How low income individuals will have access to this site has never been publicly discussed in detail. Allowing social service agencies decide who gets a voucher and who does not will provide those low income individuals who use social services but exlude those who do not from receiving vouchers. This is one of the many possibly problems in the access agreement, which should be publicly debated before holding a vote.
Winnipeg's existing recreational services are being cut. These are the facilities built within existing communities. In the 2012 Operating Budget, operating expenses towards wading pools has a decrease of $871 thousand since 2011, and total Recreation operating expenses have decreased by $1.48 million. Reducing existing services and providing private centralized services reduces access to low income residents.
5. Conflict of Interest
While the mayor will recluse himself from this vote, the ethical concerns remain. The mayor's private business and restaurant (Goldeye's and Hu's on First) will likely increase in land value and business activity due to the adjacent recreational destination. The mayor was involved in promoting the $7 million grant for a water park, and his business partner Sandy Shindleman, as a director of the Goldeyes, has helped secure this deal. Although the mayor won't vote, he was heavily involved in making this deal come to light and will see a financial gain as a result.
Please act now.
Time is of the essence.
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