Local News Briefs

Big Buff’s lawyer confident over charges

Dustin Byfuglien’s attorney is optimistic the most serious charges laid against the all-star Jets blue-liner will be dropped, the Winnipeg Free Press reports. A trial date will be set on April 19, barring the unlikely event the case is settled before that time. Mitch Robinson appears hopeful that two of the charges in particular will be dropped. “I’ll beat the boating while impaired charge and the refusal to give a chemical sample,” he said. Byfuglien returned to the Jets lineup Feb. 2 after an injury layoff.

Backlash over transit hike

City councillors and the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) have joined forces to fight a 20-cent transit fare hike. Along with other social organizations, including the Social Planning Council, the UWSA has partnered with Couns. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) and Ross Eadie (Mynarski) to repeal the increase. The motion to rescind the increase will be introduced at City Hall on Feb. 22. Opponents of the increase argue it will harm low-income transit users.

Reeve concerned annexation on the table

The reeve of Springfield is worried the City of Winnipeg may be planning to annex part of the rural municipality. Jim McCarthy has voiced his concern that a project involving the city and the province to improve fire protection by sharing services in Springfield could be the first step towards annexation. Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt introduced the motion, which will provide the area with fire hydrants, fire protection, paved roads and sewer services that will serve the RM’s industrial park. Despite the safety concerns that have been raised regarding a lack of fire protection services, McCarthy is not sold on the idea.

Cops and city still at odds over wages

Winnipeg’s police union is asking for a significant wage increase for Winnipeg police officers. The Winnipeg Police Association is currently embroiled in arbitration that will decide how much the pay of its officers will increase this year. The city is offering the association, who has been without a contract since December 2010, a retroactive increase of 3.47 per cent for 2011 and a 3 per cent raise for 2012. The union is looking for two identical raises of 5.75 per cent each. Compared to an annual budget of $153 million in 2006, policing cost Winnipeg $202.2 million in 2011. WPA president Mark Sutherland argues that higher wages are needed since a rising crime rate is making the recruitment of new officers increasingly difficult.

Local report explores effects of population growth

An administrative report released last Friday examines how Winnipeg could approach the issue of a rising population. Annexing parts of municipalities, service sharing and regional planning are all options the review considers. Over the next 20 years, Winnipeg’s population is expected to increase by around 174,000. Jino Distasio, director of the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Winnipeg, echoes the report by stating Winnipeg needs to start examining ways to deal with an influx of residents. “I think we may, in fact, see a combination (of options) where in the capital region we start to see more agreements between municipalities,” Distasio said.

Published in Volume 66, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 8, 2012)

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