Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The news today is that the Kelvin Community Centre here in East Kildonan will be shut down by the City of Winnipeg. The rationale is partly that the buildings are "dated", though from what Molly has seen of them they are quite structurally sound, perhaps more so than some other public buildings here in Winnipeg. The second rationale is that said Community Centre has lacked volunteers in years past and has had to be run by a City department. This has NOT been true during the past few months since the City floated the idea of closing the Centre. Since the plan was unveiled the Kelvin Centre has attracted enough volunteers to become one of the more vibrant Community Centres in the city. But the City continues with its original plan despite changed circumstances.
A little setting is in order for readers from the other side of the world. East Kildonan is basically a middle level working class neighbourhood here in Winnipeg. It is part of a federal constituency that is considered one of the safest NDP (Canadian social democrats) seats in Canada. The further south you go in this neighbourhood, closer and closer to the dreaded downtown Winnipeg, the poorer the people get. The Kelvin Centre is located on the south end of this neighbourhood.
The City's plan is to close down the Centre and expand the more northerly Bronx Community Centre. Molly lives between the two centres, closer to the Bronx Centre. What hasn't been mentioned in the local news about this event-so far- is that many of us in this part of EK oppose the expansion of the Bronx Centre because the city plans to cut off the "back road" that we often use to avoid the traffic on Henderson Highway. People have been organizing against this City plan around here for over a year now, but it appears that they won't listen to us either.
So what you have is the City overriding a newly viable community group who want to keep their own community centre in order to expand another where the residents want no part of such expansion. Is this democracy ?
Apparently a local city councillor for this ward threw a temper tantrum at Mayor Sam Katz in the hearing today and graced him with yet another name ie "sell-out Sam". Sammy has acquired quite a few of such names in his career. Local representatives of the Kelvin group claim that Katz and his confreres on City Council have said two different things. In public he says that the age of the building and the old state of the community's lack of volunteers is the reason for closing the Centre while in private meetings without the media he admits that this is part and parcel of the City's "general plan". These community reps are calling on support from other parts of the city because this general plan is to close more and more of the local centres.
More on this as the story develops.

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