Archive for July, 2011

Headed the wrong way

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

After 10 years of joint administration, the Town of Neepawa and the RM of Langford are parting company. It’s entirely the wrong move. Instead of parting ways administratively, the two municipal jurisdictions, which are joined at the hip anyway, should be merging.
This parting of the ways is bad for our municipalities and it sends a very negative message to senior governments. Provincial and federal governments tend to want to help communities that cooperate and get along. It doesn’t look like Langford and Neepawa are getting along very well.
In a thinly veiled and tersely worded letter last week, the RM of Langford informed the taxpayers that the joint administration agreement, which had been in place for 10 years, was dissolving. It will cost Langford taxpayers more money. It will likely cost Neepawa taxpayers more money. More importantly, it will throw up a road block to provincial and perhaps federal funding and support. There will be longer delays, if that’s possible, in getting things done in this neck of the woods. It’s just a bad, bad move.
And who is to blame? Quite frankly, both councils have screwed up badly on this issue
Looking at a bit of history, Neepawa, Langford and many other RMs and villages before they were founded, were once part of the County of Beautiful Plains. Neepawa was formed in 1883 and that year also marked the construction of the BP County Court building. The county court building is a massive building that sits, to this day, in the centre of Neepawa. Out of that building, the whole area was administered. In the late 1880s and 90s, RMs started to form their own areas. In the early 1890s, two RMs, Glendale and Osprey joined to become Langford. In 2000, Neepawa and Langford, although keeping separate jurisdictions and councils, entered a joint administration agreement. It fell apart this year.
Carberry and North Cypress have had a joint administration for many years, as have Hamiota and the RM of Hamiota. The Town of Killarney and the RM of Turtle Mountain actually amalgamated, as have Shoal Lake and the RM of Shoal Lake.
When the RM of Langford and the Town of Neepawa entered into a joint agreement, the initial discussions also included Reeve Ed Levandoski of the RM of Rosedale. Levandoski, to his credit, wanted to consider it. The Rosedale council of the day refused to even discuss it.
Certainly, the RM of Langford, the Town of Neepawa and likely the RM of Rosedale should all be one municipal district. Many people don’t realize that all the urban development west of Nick’s Repair on the north side of Hwy. #16, is in the RM of Langford. All the new development west of the Veterans’ Way used to be in Langford. The area occupied by Hylife used to be in Langford.
Countless council and administration hours are spent on ironing out who pays for what when it comes to the vet board, the water lines, the Neepawa and Area Planning Distrist and about 15 other joint agreements.
What it boils down to is there are a whole lot of people who have been on councils and who are still on councils who can’t seem to play in the same sandbox. It’s ridiculous and it’s costly.
Councils over the years, just for an example, have fought for hours on end over who fixes the culvert on Goverment Road allowance south of the chicken barns. It’s barely into Langford but it’s argued that Neepawa people use the road more than Langford people do. Silly stuff.
We have a jointly funded vet board, fire department, a share in the landfill (garbage dump), planning district and many other boards. Unfortunately council bickering have become an industry unto its own. Having meetings, but accomplishing nothing, has become a well paying job.
We need to call a referendum within the next year to amalgamate and get on with life. To have about 16 councillors, two reeves and a mayor administering an area as small as Langford, Rosedale and Neepawa with a population much less than we had in 1950 is simply ridiculous. There’s only about 7,000 people in the whole area for heaven’s sake. That’s one counillor or reeve (mayor) for every 315 people.
The City of Winnipeg has 15 councillors and mayor, one for every 37,500 people.
We rural folks must be a sad and sorry lot that we need a 100 times more administration than the City of Winnipeg. I guess we rural folks aren’t as self reliant as we claim we are.
Think about it folks (and councillors). Why would anyone outside the area take us seriously when (a) we can’t get our act together and (b) we need 100 times more councillors to babysit us than do the residents of the City of Winnipeg?
It’s no wonder rural Manitoba is shrinking, we’re too childish to get our act together.
We need one CAO, a council of not more than eight people and a mayor for Neepawa, Langford and Rosedale. If we could get to that point, maybe senior governments might take us seriously. As long as we stay huddled in our little enclaves of 1,000 or 2,000 or 4,000 people and we don’t get our stuff together, we can never see real progress. I think the community is ready, maybe even some of the councillors are ready. Even if they aren’t, the time is long overdue to amalgamate. We are a community, we act like one all the time for commerce, for events, for sports, for everything except our administration. We need a ward system with a mayor elected at large.
And what do we call it. Certainly not Neepawa, but how does Beautiful Plains Municipal District sound?
Has a nice historic ring to it doesn’t it?

Let’s think this through

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Needless to say, last week’s column “Lies my Premier told me” received lots of feedback.
None has been negative so far and that leads me to believe that the defenders of all things NDP may not want to get into a public debate about the topic. The column outlined seven main areas that the two most recent premiers have lied about to Manitobans.
The most interesting comment on the column came from a young person who said it made them re-think their support for the NDP. That’s a good thing. Everyone should think about their support for a political party and then make an informed decision and cast a vote. The collective, informed opinion of everyone is needed to get the right decision at the ballot box. It was encouraging to hear that the column helped to encourage evaluation.
Manitoba has a basic problem and that is the bulk of the votes, and therefore the bulk of the seats, are in Winnipeg. Now, having worked, lived and campaigned in Winnipeg, I have learned that for the most part, residents of Winnipeg are fine folks.
The only problem is that they don’t understand rural issues and, conversely, rural Manitobans don’t understand urban issues all that well either.
However, there are some things we can easily agree upon. Years of neglect and incompetence by governments at all levels have yielded some long term messes that will take two decades to fix. That said, we must start the “fix” and here’s what needs to be done.
1. Taxes must not go up, they are already too high.
2. Taxes are being collected in the wrong way, especially with regard to schools being partly funded by property taxes. That system is unfair, outdated and very ineffective in raising money for schooling.
3. We all have a huge infrastructure deficit, be it in roads, water, sewer or public buildings. It doesn’t matter if you live in the suburbs, downtown Winnipeg, Brandon, small towns on a farm or in a rural or remote community, we all have a huge infrastructure deficit.
4. There is a housing shortage and there are several government issues that are contributing to it.
5. Governments must, must, must balance their budgets or the economies will collapse.
6. There will have to be some reduction in the the number of programs offered by government.
7. Gangs and hooligans have way too much control in our society.
8. Governments have to start thinking; it’s a lost art in governments at all levels
9. Health care funding and administration has to be overhauled. When you have that many bureaucrats you will always have trouble.
10. We will all need tolerance and patience as we move forward, be it at the municipal, provincial or federal level.
At this point in history, we have a majority federal government and hopefully they can do what they said they were going to do. We had a municipal election last fall and we need to encourage our councils to do the right things. We have a provincial election this fall and we need a change in government.
Remember, if you don’t get involved in politics, your life will be controlled by the people who do.

Lies my Premier told me

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

As a life-long Manitoba resident, I have always viewed the position of premier of Manitoba with respect. The premier of Manitoba is someone we should all be able to look up to, a person to be admired. Think of D.L. Campbell, Duff Roblin, Ed Schreyer and Gary Filmon. Even Howard Paulley, although he was a bit slanted off to the left wing, had a respectable public persona.The two most recent premiers have shattered that theory. They have laced their every day work with outright lies. Not satisfied to be run of the mill politicians who may have a tendency towards a little truth stretching or embellishment, these last two have spread outright lies. To go even further, the last two premiers have built their platform, their actual government platform, on these lies. It’s shameful to say the least. Here’s seven that have been real humdingers. The lies appear in quotation marks where the actual words have been spoken. The ones not in quotes are untruths that have been inferred by words and inaction.

Gary Doer: “In the 1990s, the Conservatives fired 1,000 nurses.” 
That line was repeated many times and when Doer was really on a bombastic roll in the legislature he would pump it up to 1,500 nurses.
The truth: The Conservatives transfered the contracts for Manitoba nurses from hospitals and care homes to regional health authorities. Nurses were not fired, they were transferred.

Gary Doer: “The capacity of the Shellmouth dam will be expanded in a couple of years.”
The truth: After many years of waiting, it hasn’t happened but it’s still being promised.

Doer and Selinger: The east side boreal forest will be a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The truth: While this claim has been repeated for several years, Selinger has now admitted under questioning that no application has even been made and neither he nor Doer have even talked to UNESCO.

Doer and Selinger: The cost of a west side BiPole III hydro line won’t cost much more than an east side route.
The truth: Manitoba hydro documents show that west side BiPole III will be massively more expensive than the east side route and massively more expensive than originally stated.

Doer and Selinger: “We balanced the budget.”
The truth: The Manitoba budget hasn’t been balanced in years as the debt has climbed steadily to around $21 billion. Over and above that, if it hadn’t been for increases in federal transfer payments from Ottawa, Manitoba would likely be bankrupt by now.

Selinger (and Stan Struthers): “It’s not a matter of running out of money, farmers and property owners will be compensated.”
The truth: Manitoba is severely in debt, has a mounting deficit and it’s unlikely people will ever compensated to recover from the 2011 floods, never mind the last several decades of man-caused flooding in the Shellmouth area and the Grassy Marsh area.

Selinger: Manitobans will embrace the Spirited Energy slogan.
The truth: To quote Bartley Kives of the Winnipeg Free Press, “Spirited Energy didn’t just fail because the slogan was idiotic, although it most assuredly was. The campaign failed because it had no discernible objective and no measurable goals, unlike a real tourism campaign or a genuine economic-development strategy.”
Maybe the old and familiar “Friendly Manitoba” wasn’t so bad a slogan after all. Perhaps with one exception, Manitoba has been entirely too friendly to premiers who have not told us the truth. This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247