City briefs

Firefighters’ union sounds alarm

Tom Bilous, president of the local union representing Winnipeg’s firefighters, is voicing his concern about the wave of recent fires that have destroyed homes, businesses and historic buildings alike. Bilous says fire crews have battled nearly 500 fires so far in the 2024 calendar year, which began only 80 days ago.

Some pool closures paused for now

Three public swimming pools were slated for closure in the City of Winnipeg’s recent pre-liminary budget. Two of those pools will stay open. Windsor Park outdoor pool in St. Boniface will remain open for at least two more summers, while Eldon Ross pool in Brooklands will remain open until August to give the city time to court private buyers. Happyland Pool in St. Boniface will still close.

The (Video) King is Dead

One of Winnipeg’s last remaining video rental stores is closing its doors for good. Video King in Transcona, which for the last 40 years has offered movie rentals to neighbourhood residents, will close its doors on April 6. Owner Glen Fuhl told CBC News that the popularity of streaming services played a role in the closure. Video King also distributes rental copies of videos to various stores throughout Manitoba. Fuhl says this side of the business will continue.

Winnipeg police beef up retail presence

Winnipeg Police Service will increase its presence in retail stores in advance of spring break, which they say typically brings an increase in shoplifting. Police did not reveal in their press release how much tax-payer money will be spent to protect retail profits. In 2024, Winnipeg increased its annual police budget to a third of a billion dollars, which is over $100 million more than it spends on community services and public transit combined. One of every eight Winnipeggers currently lives in poverty.

Tory obstruction

The Progressive Conservative party, the opposition in Manitoba’s legislature, spent multiple days blocking efforts by the ruling NDP to pass bills, including one that would ban scab labour and another that would establish a senior’s advocate. The PCs have used procedural tactics to grind proceedings to a halt by airing petty grievances. For instance, interim PC leader Wayne Ewasko whined that Wab Kinew said Ewasko is against transgender people. On March 12, Ewasko said that schools should require parental consent to refer to students by their preferred names, a policy that is transphobic.

Cop sued for abuse – again

A Winnipeg police officer with a history of alleged misconduct is being sued for at least the fourth time. Winnipeg cyclist Leo Lafreniere alleges that Officer Jeffrey Norman Tasered and unlawfully arrested him after Lafreniere asked why officers stopped him on his bike and asked to see his license and registration. In 2019, Norman pepper-sprayed a cyclist who asked him to dim the headlights on his police cruiser. The Independent Investigations Unit declined to charge Norman, despite finding that there were grounds to arrest and charge him. Earlier this month, during a meeting of the police board, a community member was cut off one minute into their speech for accurately stating that Winnipeg police have killed nine people since the last city budget approval.

Published in Volume 78, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 21, 2024)

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