Challenges of Rapid Growth in the South Winnipeg–St Norbert Ward
JUST RECEIVED – New 2016 Data from Statistics Canada*
Recently compiled 2016 Stats Canada data shows the South Winnipeg-St Norbert ward now has tens of thousands more residents than many other wards in Winnipeg . . . with an estimated population of 68,000 residents! Our ward’s population is double the size of some other wards!
Rapid growth brings many great opportunities, i.e. growth = new roads, expanding tax base, new commercial developments, etc. It also presents challenges when not properly planned for, and in my opinion, the City was not prepared to handle this rapid growth. The Neighbourhoods of Bridgwater and South Pointe are filling in much faster than anticipated, and with this rapid growth, we are seeing a lack of adequate maintenance of parks and green space; lack of schools, lack of recreation complexes, and more.
Please know that I have been working and continue to work on all of these files in order to rectify these challenges, but it takes time and it involves many stakeholders.
Resources and Timely Responses
Currently, each Councillor receives the same amount of funds to support running an office at City Hall. In 2017, each Councillor’s Ward Allowance** is approx. $81,000 regardless of the number of residents. Whether it’s 32,000 or 68,000 residents, the funding remains the same. When the ward population has increased to almost twice that of other wards, but the funding is the same, it becomes extremely challenging to provide a timely response!
SPECIFIC to my office, Bev (our Operations Manager) and I are receiving an extremely high volume of e-mails and phone calls daily. We average 80+ enquiries every day, and are not able to provide the timely responses we want to. Please know I am extremely frustrated, and we are responding as quickly as we can.
Having a ward population of 68,000 means it takes us longer to reply to enquiries, investigate the concern with various City departments, and then provide a formal response. I recently secured a Ward Intern to help with office work over the summer to catch up on the back log, and we are asking for your patience. Please know that we WILL respond. Give us a week or so, and IF you haven’t heard from us – be persistent. Please call or e-mail again!
I am frustrated that I cannot deliver the same level of service to residents as Councillors with smaller wards. I brought this issue forward in 2015 to Council, but there was no interest from my colleagues to base ward allowance on a ‘per person’ basis. I’ve worked in service-based industries all my life – it is horribly frustrating to not be able to respond to inquiries in a timely manner. I do apologize.
Fixing the Problem
I have requested a BOUNDARY REVIEW which will be occurring in fall, 2017. The review will examine changing ward boundaries to balance population numbers within each of Winnipeg’s 15 wards. There will be opportunities for the public to provide input in fall, 2017 on how ward boundaries should change. I will be sharing details of the public consultations on my website once I have received them.
I expect the new ward boundaries to be implemented for the NEW Council term starting in fall, 2018 – after the next civic election. UNTIL THEN – I apologize for the slower than ideal response times – but encourage you to be patient and persistent.
*Portions of this data has been compiled by CBC and the Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region.
**A Councillor’s Ward Allowance is the SAME AMOUNT for each ward and is commonly used to fund the following services:
- Ward Assistant
- Community Events Support
- Community Consultations
- Community Outreach (i.e. newsletters, website)
- Office Costs (i.e. office equipment/furniture, telephone, office supplies, stationery, photocopying, postage, etc.)
- And additional ward specific activities as determined.