Council candidates cite Point Douglas ward for its blend of cultures
Three candidates are running in Point Douglas ward, the most diverse ward in the city and perhaps one of the most diverse in the country.
The North End ward extends from South Point Douglas and the Exchange District to the east and Omand’s Creek Industrial Park and Tyndall Park to the west and straddles both sides of the massive Canadian Pacific Railway yard and repair facilities. Somewhat ironically, it only includes half of its namesake Point Douglas with North Point Douglas in Mynarski ward.
“It’s an amazingly diverse ward,” said Winnipeg School Division Trustee Dean Koshelanyk, who is making a third attempt at city council after running unsuccessfully in 2006 and 2010. “You can get anything you can think of in the ward because it’s so diverse.”
“We have very diverse ward with about 15 neighbourhoods,” said
Vivan Santos, the executive assistant for current councillor Mike Pagtakhan for over three years. “There’s a lot of different issues so my office is super busy. I can get everything from poverty to littering to local criminal activities.”
“The name alone throws people off,” added Koshelanyk, who estimates about 60 languages are spoken in the ward.
“As a candidate, I’m really interested in attending every person’s doorstep in terms of reaching out and making sure that they have an opportunity to get to know me and know the kinds of things I want to get done,” said Kate Sjoberg, the former executive director of the Spence Neighbourhood Association and the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre. "When the wards are this big, it’s very difficult to do that in a typical campaign.
“We’re at the point where we’ve been to every part of the ward although there are some streets that haven’t hit yet. But I’m lucky to have a campaign team that can support me to get out there as much as possible.”
Crime and infrastructure - including the repair or replacement of the Arlington Bridge - are big issues in the ward as well as after-school and recreational opportunities for young people.
“We have a lot of young Winnipeggers who aren’t busy (enough) so I want to create an after-school program for these kids,” said Santos, who has been endorsed by Pagtakhan. “I have two small children myself and I know as a parent that keeping them busy keeps them out of trouble.”
Sjoberg also believes more needs to be done about poverty and homelessness.
“The reason I’m interested in running is that I know having worked on really big challenges that are relevant to the city such as housing, public transportation and these sorts of things, I know that getting the things done that we need at the community level is a lot easier when you have politicians who understand what’s happening on the ground and understand what the evidence show what we should be doing in government,” said Sjoberg. “I’m interested in taking on that role.”
Koshelanyk has a somewhat novel suggestion for what to do with the CPR rail yards: Have the city bid for Expo
2035 and use the land for the site.
“People don’t like talking about things like bridges and rail tracks, but they do love talking about and getting behind something like Expo,” said Koshelanyk, who plans to be a driving force behind the plan if he is elected. “If Expo is something we can use to make people aware that we need to get rid of these CP rail yards, then that’ what I’m going to do.”
Winnipeggers go to polls on Oct. 24.