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It has nothing to do with the Centre of Excellence

March 08, 2010

I support investing in our inner City to support our youth in making healthy choices.

City Council must continue to work with all our partners, including religious organizations, non-profit centres and community centres, to make Winnipeg a great place for all. I commend all the people for everything they do to make Winnipeg a great place for all.    We are all together in the hope that this program will help save one or more youths and I have witnessed and be a part of that occurring already by existing programs in area.   For me, the type of organization is not for this debate rather the amount and the process of the grant are. Religious groups, as other groups, play an important role in our City and I support working with our partners.   The City of Winnipeg’s present commitment to the Youth Centre of Excellence is sufficient. The City of Winnipeg and Centre Venture have committed over $650,000 ($150,000 earnable from the sale of the Talbot property donated to them by the City and the donation by Centre Venture of the land on Higgins and Main valued at $500,000) and property taxes will be paid through another property as mentioned today by Councillor Clement.   The City, however, would be better served in investing the proposed grant of $3,4 million into existing youth service providers that we acknowledge are struggling to provide programming. The money would be better spent because:   The $3.4 million would be directed at developing relationships rather then bricks and mortar.  They Mayor indicates earlier incorrectly that we all support building of a new facility for the area which is not accurate but we all do support increase youth programming. Plan 2025 already identified that there is an abundance of programming space in the area however there is not enough programming support. The key to making a real change for people is achieved through providing relationships that are able to provide support. It is that human contact, mentoring and support that are critical. $3.4 will support many people through counseling, mentoring and providing human services directly to the people in need.   The $3. 4 million would be provided to a wide array of existing programs in a wide array of locations thereby strengthening local community programming.    Local programming has better outcomes then larger centralized services. Existing local service providers provide a variety of programming and supports and have the capacity to provide more.  The benefit of localized programming is that there is often a better connection with the family by the service provider thereby improving outcomes and working towards long-term solutions. The investment in smaller localized organizations will allow for more local programming to open longer and be more diverse thereby better assisting our youth.   It builds on our existing capacity.  There are many great proven programs that are culturally and community based that are working together in partnerships while the existing program has not consulted with the existing community. These groups need the City’s help and the additional funds would be used to increase programming including mentoring, counseling, etc.    Regardless of the fact that I believe the $3.4 million would be better spent on diverse existing local programming, it is unfortunate that this motion is been rushed onto council. While the Federal Government may have additional cash to spend, do we need to blindly follow.   Unanswered Question There are too many questions that are unanswered. For example:   This money is allocated to come the operating budget, not capital, therefore will this money come from existing community centre or other City programming next year?   We should know how we are going to pay for something before we make a 15 year/$3.4 million expenditure.   What type of programming and capacity is available in the community thereby determining what would be the most effective use of the funds?   When you add the land donations, the grant and other donations the question must be asked why the City will spending over 43% ($4 million) of the cost to building new recreational facilities while Winnipeg General Council plan 2025 does not indicate need for facility for the area but high need for programming?   If AMC and the Province are supportive of the program then why are they not helping fund it?   What other proposals would come forward if we made this $4 million offer open to other groups already working in the community?   Why is there not a provision to ensure City access to this centre like others?   The Other Side Points   Getting a new centre for 33 cents on the dollar is not worth the expenditure if the money could be better spent.   The argument that the land be provided to allow for tax revenue to be generated is in question. I have just learned that the Centre will a lease the land rather then have YFC pay property taxes and it is my understanding that the Centre will be given the land by Centre Venture with a value of $500,000. Councillor Clement indicated that the money would come from another property therefore is the YCE paying property tax? Regardless, if the group is not paying property taxes then that revenue is lost.    It is the fact YCE has a large interest group to draw funds from that further justifies that they have access to alternative funds that local community groups which by there nature (small/localized) do not have to draw support from.   Rather see an empty lot but other groups have indicated that they wish to use it. Other groups just want theirs is true of all groups here today.   The mayor listed many program that City supports to operating budgets of many groups and the Mayor indicated are all doing a great job. I believe that such a large list of existing funding to local programs indicates that we need to provide them further programming funding then increasing the number of groups programming for the area.   Without an open and transparent process, without knowing where the money would come from and in light of an opportunity to invest in existing infrastructure and people rather then brick and mortar prevents me from voting in favour of this motion.