‘Common sense must prevail’ on possible fines for clearing sidewalks: Winnipeg councillor

The chair of Winnipeg’s public works committee says the city needs to change rules that state people could face fines for clearing sidewalks themselves.

“The current bylaw does state that if people are clearing sidewalks, pathways, roads, that they can be fined,” Waverley West Coun. Janice Lukes told reporters during a break at a Wednesday meeting of city council’s executive policy committee.

But “common sense needs to prevail, because I think it’s ridiculous,” she said.

St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard raised the issue when speaking as a delegate before the meeting — the first for Mayor Scott Gillingham’s inner circle since the Oct. 26 municipal election.

“I think it’s ironic given that residents are required to maintain boulevards,” he said.

The issue of citizens taking it upon themselves to clear public paths recently made news when a group of cyclists decided to clear bike lanes that had become blocked by snow and ice.

Lukes said she has concerns about people clearing bike lanes that aren’t separated from a roadway, but people should not face fines for clearing a sidewalk.

She added that she is not aware of anyone receiving a fine for doing so.

Gillingham echoed Lukes’s “common sense” statement during a news conference on Wednesday. 

“If folks want to clear their sidewalks, I welcome that,” he said.

The public works department is planning a workshop on active transportation at the Millennium Centre at the end of January or February.

Representatives from the department will be on hand to discuss ideas about snow clearing with the community, Lukes said.

Increase ward allowances: motion

The executive policy committee also approved a motion Wednesday that would give councillors the first increase to their ward allowances in years.

Current ward allowances, which are used to pay for office staff, supplies, and furniture, are set around $85,000.

Old Kildonan Coun. Devi Sharma, speaking as a delegate at the meeting, said the turnover rate for office staff is more than 50 per cent.

“Our staff assist us to directly deal with citizens on ward issues and they are the first point of contact between the offices and the ward,” Sharma said.

That turnover has a “really negative impact to the citizens,” said Lukes, who supported increasing the allowances.

“You can’t respond to them, you can’t connect with them … because you don’t have the staff.”

The motion referred the increase to the 2023 budget process.

Going forward, increases to the ward allowances would be indexed to inflation.

3rd round of Rapid Housing Initiative opens

The third round of funding applications through the Rapid Housing Initiative, which provides federal funds for affordable housing projects, is now open.

The City of Winnipeg put out a call for submissions, setting the deadline as Feb. 3.

Gillingham noted the criteria for funding through the initiative say the units built must serve priority populations, which  includes women and children fleeing domestic violence, people with disabilities and Indigenous people.

He has also said he plans to use some of the funding for his election campaign promise to provide six parcels of city-owned land for the construction of modular housing for people experiencing homelessness.

The amount of money the city will get from the federal government for projects in this round hasn’t been announced yet, but will be a portion of $500 million being allocated between 41 cities across Canada, city spokesperson Kalen Qually said in an email.

The first two rounds provided funding of around $12.5 million each.

View original article here Source