WATER FOUNTAINS in the RETENTION PONDS

Photo Credit: Whyte Ridge Community Centre

July 23, 2020 – Update:

Council unanimously approved funding to turn the retention pond fountains back on for the remainder of this summer!

A HUGE thank you to everyone!

In my opinion – and many others – this was an incredibly short sighted decision by the Mayor and his budget working group. I have always said – all Councillors are elected to represent their constituents and should be part of the budget development process. It doesn’t happen – and that’s another topic for another day!

A lot of hard work – great support from residents and media – and we are going to be back in action!!

The Water and Waste Department indicates: “it will be approximately two to three weeks to turn on the fountains, taking into consideration any unforeseen issues that may arise and the fountains would be in operation till around mid-October.”

July 15, 2020 – UPDATE:

I presented to the Mayor and his Executive Policy Committee. They unanimously voted (7 votes) to enable funding to turn the fountains back on – this year.

  • Their recommendation now goes to Council on July 23.
  • I fully anticipate the remaining Council members will also vote to support turning the fountains back on.
  • In my opinion – this whole process has been ridiculous – short sighted and such a use of time and energy by so many.
  • I think if ALL 15 elected Council members participated  equally in the development of the annual budget – vs just the Mayor and just 8 Councillors – we’d have better decision making – better oversight – and better end results on many  at City Hall.

Thanks so much for all the emails to the Mayor and other Councillors and for doing media. Engagement can change the direction.

June 30, 2020 – UPDATE:

An update on the work occurring to get the aeriation fountains turned on.

  • See media coverage on the fountain budget cuts – thanks to residents who participated in the media articles to help raise awareness of this short sighted budget cut.
  • See Herbicides and Weed Removal in Storm Water Retention Ponds motion I brought forward requesting additional information.
  • July 8 – 9:30 am: I will be speaking to the Water and Waste Committee on July 8th, at 9:30 am.
  • RESIDENTS: If you would like to register to speak to the committee or to send in a letter expressing your concerns register for the Standing Policy Committee on Water and Waste https://winnipeg.ca/clerks/council/delegation.stm  to speak to the agenda item: Herbicides and Weed Removal in Storm Water Retention Ponds
    • You can speak to the committee via  Zoom, from the comfort of your home – if you have further questions on presenting to the committee, feel free to contact me: jlukes@winnipeg.ca

ALSO: I encourage residents to email the people listed below to express your concerns.

June 18, 2020 – UPDATE:

  • I spoke to C Gillingham, Chair of Finance. I was very clear that these fountains are not decorative – and that they were aeriation fountains used to circulate water in the retention ponds. He indicated the decision has been made for this year. For the coming years, changes can occur – but for this year, the decision was made.
  • I am requesting Water and Waste Dept prepare a financial and environmental summary of the added costs of herbicides and weed removal in the storm water retention ponds – that is required now that the fountains are off. This funding of $80,000 yr ($7,000/fountain) has been reduced from the Land Drainage and Flood Control Budget – which is $5,284,000 yr. I find it incredible that they cannot find $80,000 yr. and know there will be additional operating costs, AND if the fountains stay off for four years, for sure there will be damage to the fountain system itself.

I will be discussing this further with the Mayor and Chair of Water and Waste.

RESIDENTS – TAKE ACTION  

Please email 311@winnipeg.ca and REPORT smells / algae, etc. The department needs to SEE residents’ complaints – 311 will pass it on to the departments. I highly encourage you to send in complaints about the ponds.

I also encourage you to send an email to these people expressing your concern regarding the cuts:

June 16, 2020:

I want to apologize for the time it’s taken to gather this information. Things are not as open and transparent as often claimed!

I’ve now been informed that the Water and Waste Department will not be operating the fountains and lights at storm retention basins this year (list of ponds below), as funding was not approved during the 2020 -2023 multi-year balanced budget process. The department replied by stating:

  • It costs $320,000 over four years (2020 to 2023) to operate the 12 fountains in retention ponds. (approx $7,000/pond/yr)
  • The ‘fountain aesthetic maintenance work’ eliminated includes the annual installation, operation, maintenance, and removal of fountains at the storm water retention basins.
  • This has no bearing on pond health or public safety. Yearly maintenance of the storm water retention basins including herbiciding and harvesting of aquatic/land vegetation to maintain the aesthetic quality of the water and surrounding revetment continues.

MY COMMENTS & ACTION:

  • This ‘reduction’ was buried in the 2020 budget- in a billion dollar operating budget, small things can fly under the wire. Also, there is a two week turnaround to comb through the billion dollar operating budget – which makes it impossible to comb through every line item. I am also not on the Mayor’s executive policy committee and privy to countless private behind closed door meetings that occur for the budget.
  • There are hundreds of thousands of articles that state the benefits of aeration on water quality in ponds and I don’t believe for one second removal of aeration will have no bearing on pond health. The increase in herbiciding alone will have an environmental detriment, let alone the increased costs associated with herbiciding AND increase in the need AND cost for removal of aquatic vegetation.
  • I have offered to cover the costs of running the three fountains in the Waverley West ward with funding from a parks and greenspace fund each Councillor is allocated. The Water and Waste Department has refused the funding offer.
  • I believe that if the fountains are turned off for four years, there will be additional costs starting them up – greater than the costs of shutting them off. I expect then the department will say – no money to fix them.
  • I am working with the Chair of Finance to find some way of getting these fountains turned on – the cost to run is so small and its just incomprehensive that in the hundreds of millions in the Water and Waste budget -that $80.000 yr can’t be found. I will update when I know more.

The Water and Waste Department has followed up with the following list of fountains that pertain to the target reduction option:

SRB       2-2 – Isbister Park (Isbister St.)

SRB       2-4 – South Lake Park (South Lake Dr.)

SRB       5-5 – Lakewood Park West (Lakewood Blvd and Edgewater Dr.)

SRB       5-22 – Fountain View Park (Willmington Dr.)

SRB       6-7 – Thelma J Caul Park (Lake Lindero Rd) – Waverley West Ward

SRB       6-15 SOUTH – Lindenwoods Park (Shorecrest Dr.)

SRB       6-15 NORTH – Lindenwoods Park (Waterbury Dr.)

SRB       6-17 – Scurfield Park (Columbia Dr.) – Waverley West Ward

SRB       6-18 – Muy’s Park West (Queens’s Park Cres)

SRB       6-19 – Merle Guberman Park (Kerslake Place)

SRB       6-20 – Vanderbilt Park (Vanderbilt Dr.) – Waverley West Ward

SRB       6-24 – Muys Park (Lindenshore Dr.)