Saturday, January 20, 2007

Since the recent decision by Mayor Sam Katz's Executive Policy Committee to close Kelvin (see previous posts here), despite the fact that the "reasons" given are either wrong or outdated further support has grown to keep this Centre open. The community has a website, 'Friends of Kelvin Community Centre' where the Elmwood community's side of the story is presented in a downloadable factsheet. The final decision on kelvin now has to go to a full City Council meeting that will be held this upcoming Wednesday, January 24th, at the City Hall Council Building, 510 Main St.. The meeting will unfortunately be held at 9:30 am when many working people cannot attend, but the Friends of Kelvin urge all who can to attend this meeting.
Meanwhile local Winnipeg Free Press journalist Gordon Sinclair Jr. has taken up the issue in two columns in the FP, one last Thursday (Jan. 18th) and today, Saturday, Jan. 20th. He points out something that the Friends of Kelvin also point out in their fact sheet, that "false economies" in closing community centres in poorer parts of this city will have to be paid for by increased youth crime. The Friends of Kelvin mention how they have working with local youth who used to vandalize the Centre and now volunteer at it. It doesn't take many stolen cars and high speed chases ending in crashes to equal the cost of keeping a community centre open. One traffic light or street light taken down may equal a week of keeping a centre open. Never mind the cost to the car owners. Molly has a front row seat to look out on the Henderson Speedway (oops, I mean Highway), and not a month goes by without a good major accident visible from my front door. Many of these involve high speed police chases in pursuit of stolen vehicles. Closing centres in poorer parts of town ends up costing more than keeping them open.
Canadian Olympic gold medal winner Clara Hughes (cycling and speed skating) has also signed on board. She grew up in the Elmwood neighbourhood, and frequented the Kelvin Community Centre. She also promised to help raise funds for the Centre if it stays open. She features in a number of TV ads that our local MLA, Jim Maloway, will begin airing on Monday. his ads, paid for out of his constituency allowance, will urge residents to show up at the Tuesday meeting and also phone both the Mayor and councillors urging that Kelvin remain open.
Mayor Sam Katz has been more than willing to bask in the reflected glory of Winnipeg's Olympians in the past, once creating something of a controversy by likening himself to "Hugh Hefner" surrounded by the exclusively female gold medal winners. Ooops Sammy. Control yourself. maybe he should realize that not all of these athletes come from privileged neighbourhoods like his own. But that would be too much to ask.
Speaking of Sammy Molly went to his promotional website to find a couple of interesting items. One is a portal entitled 'Promises Made:Promises Kept' which supposedly lays out what an honest politician our Mayor is. There is also a portal to 'Media' which only features recent items. There is, of course, no "search function" or visible archives on the mayor's site. Perhaps out of wisdom.
Items posted on the internet can come to have a life of their own. They become cached, and can be retrieved even if one erases them from the site. Here's one example of a "Promise Made' by Sam Katz in the media section of his own site on April 15th, 2005,
"As I promised during the election, there will be no forced closures of community centres," said Katz, "but we will have to make decisions with the interest of the whole city in mind, and this strategy ensures the ownership for those decisions is retained by the community"
Which community ? Elmwood, the North and West End, Point Douglas ? Or maybe just Tuxedo ?
A bit of a misreading perhaps ? Here's another item from the minutes of the City's 'Civic Environmental Committee' on May 9th, 2005:
"As I promised during the election, there will be no forced closures of community centres" said Katz.
The Mayor went on to say that,
"I firmly believe that the people who live in these areas know them best, and by working with GCWCC, our community centres will have an enhanced opportunity to manage their own futures".
Unless, of course, they live in Elmwood or other poorer areas where they "don't know best" and "forced closures" have to happen.
Love them Promises Kept.

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