PCs power grab takes away your voices

July 21, 2020

If you've ever been frustrated with the way development happens in the City of Winnipeg, the Pallister PC government is about to make it worse. It's important you know, so we can act now to stop it.

The Pallister PCs are proposing to take all planning and development decisions away from the City of Winnipeg, and hand them to an unelected commission where developers will get a right of appeal, but you as a citizen won't.

It's undemocratic and it's unfair. It's a power grab that takes away your rights.

You may wonder what the Pallister PCs and the provincial government have to do with how the City of Winnipeg runs its business. The answer is - everything.

Everything from the way the city approves developments to how it raises taxes, and whether or not to call an inquiry into how the city built a fire hall on land it didn't own - it's all up to the provincial government.

Why are we facing service cuts, crumbling infrastructure and service closures? Because the PCs have cut funding for infrastructure to the City of Winnipeg.

I know that folks in Glenwood, St. Boniface and St. Vital have been frustrated because developers seem to be able to do whatever they want. They are tearing up neighbourhoods and dropping in monster houses, or building sprawling subdivisions that cost more to service than older neighbourhoods.

In May 2019, the PCs commissioned a one-sided report on the City of Winnipeg's planning and permitting process. It was sloppy, filled with mistakes and ridiculous economic projections. The report consulted with more than 50 individuals, but of the 17 groups named, none were citizens or residents' associations.

On the same day the government tried to bring in its budget and a global pandemic was declared, it introduced bills 48 and 49, both of which will take the current process and make it much worse.

These bills take citizens, homeowners residents' associations, elected officials, and entire municipalities out of the development process - leaving all decisions to an unelected planning commission appointed by the provincial government.

The Pallister PCs are taking away the right of residents to have final appeal on decisions directly affecting their neighbourhoods. They are taking away the voice and say of democratically elected councillors and mayors.

There is no question there have been outright scandals in planning, permitting and development. Instead of inquiries, the Pallister PCs have swept them under the rug.

Do Winnipeg and Manitoba need investment and development?

Of course. But we don't need more bad development where the revenues keep generating less than the environmental, social and service costs. And above all, we need to preserve your right to have a say in your community.

We need to understand what is wrong with the development process and get to the bottom of the scandals that the PCs have ignored.

Developers need clear rules and clear enforcement, but above all, we need to remember that developers and governments are supposed serve citizens, not the other way around.

My fellow Manitoba Liberal MLAs and I have developed a petition to ensure that you have a voice in the process. Please email me at dougald.lamont@leg.gov.mb.ca and we can send you a copy.


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