Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Manitoba Links Weekly: I Bet I Can Blame This on the Internet (ManLinkWeek 27)

You all know how much I enjoy trying new things and playing around with formats, so humour me as I toy with the routine a bit this week.

Yes, tonight's installment of ManLinkWeek will be a little different; instead of me giving you individual local links and then popping pertinent postscripts behind each one, this time around I'm going to give you a series of links uninterrupted and then task you with detecting the shared characteristic that unites them.

Are you ready? Here we go:

[Metro Winnipeg: Winnipeg's water-park dream]

[Winnipeg Love Hate: Winnipeg's Piss Pot]

[One Man Committee: I wanted to comment on the waterpark...]

[Anybody Want A Peanut?: Waterpark: 7 reasons to say 'no']

[Winnipeg Free Press: Water-park pickle]

[Winnipeg... one great city (or so they tell me): Winnipeg might get a WATER PARK!]

[Stumbling [a]Bordeaux: A letter to Sam Katz]

Let me ask you, then, gentle reader, having read and absorbed each of those items -- were you able to decipher the common thread that ties them all together? I bet you were!

The answer, according to the elected representative holding the second-highest political position in our city, is that they are all part of a sinister, politically motivated, self-serving web of deliberate deception.

[Stumbling [a]Bordeaux: A response from councillor Swandel]

[little gray bird: slip sliding away]

Did both of the concerned citizens above get the exact same email response, verbatim? That they did -- and there's no way of knowing how many other people received the exact same message, unless city councillors are usually in the habit of drawing up form letters for groups of two.

And what open-minded, consensus-building leadership did our fair townsfolk receive from Deputy Mayor and St. Norbert City Councillor Justin Swandel? I want to stress, to avoid any potential confusion, that I have not altered or fabricated anything you see below; what you are about to read is straight from the man himself, unaltered, as written for a mass audience.

I do hope that you will heed the second-last paragraph in particular, as I feel it best embodies the class, respect, and genuine warmth that our civic leaders show for engaged citizens like you and me.

The response, in full:


I'm not sure how this got off the track but there is quite a bit of misinformation/misunderstanding out there about this project. The project is going on land adjacent to the Forks not at the Forks. The plan is 2 phased; first, a 125 room hotel and a 50,000 sf indoor water park. The second phase will be another 125 room addition and a 450 stall parkade.

The only real issue here is whether or not it can meet the design standards and continuity with the existing built form. To ensure that happens we have 2 levels of accountability. The first is the Urban Design Guidelines and the design review process by the Urban Design Advisory Committee. For your convenience I've attached information on the guidelines and the committee. The second layer of design review is Plan Approval. As a condition of acceptance, the Downtown Committee insisted that final plans come back to committee for approval before any permits are issued. I can assure you the committee will be quite diligent in reviewing the plans.

This is not the first time folks have objected to something new at the Forks. Both the Skate board park and the Inn at the Forks raised similar concerns. Both projects have been an overwhelming success in spite of early objections. There have been other examples where objections have been raised to projects that have gone on to become some of the most valuable assets in our great City. The Eaton's Building/MTS Centre and Eplanade Riel/Provencher Bridge are two that quickly come to mind.

There is still other development to come at the Forks. The Forks itself has been discussing residential development and another parkade in that sea of surface parking along the Railroad on their property. If these move forward they would go through a similar design review process to ensure compatibility.

The final point I would like to make is regarding the City's $7million contribution and the public access agreement. For this money the City will get $700,000 annually of access for 25 years. This means that each year over 20,000 less fortunate Winnipegers, who might otherwise never see the inside of such a facility , will have access. We should be very proud of this achievement.

As you can see there is a lot more to this than a few flippant comments in a newspaper or deliberate misinformation campaigns in the blogsphere. Winnipeg is in a time of great success, this will only enhance that success and help keep the momentum going for many years to come rather than allowing the self-serving politically motivated naysayers to leave us with just a short blip of success.

It is hoped this commentary will help in your future discussions on the project. JS


Yes! As you can see! As you can see, any concern you could possibly express about the waterpark is either completely incorrect or maliciously manufactured by the cackling evildoers behind newspapers and blog sites, rubbing their hands together as they hogtie the very success of Winnipeg itself and leave it on the railroad tracks to die.

The only real issue here -- the only real issue, because there's obviously no legitimacy in whatever you're on about -- is whether the eventual design proposal will be pretty enough for a committee to okay it.

(It's a shame this story didn't break before the City gave up on that whole 'consultation process' life lesson back in February; I'd have loved to see how that idea would have been incorporated into this discussion.)

Now, I would have figured anyone interested enough to follow the news closely is likely already acutely aware of where Parcel 4 is, but I'd certainly hate to put more trust in anyone than our leaders believe they deserve.

Not that you could trust me, either, of course! I'm in the blogosphere, that dread beast of deception, that hegemonic hivemind which exists only to cloud the heads of the unsuspecting with its campaigns of misinformation and fear. Even as we speak, I'm sure those poor souls who were once led astray by its trickery are now blinking away the shadows of deceit and ruin as Swandel's email arrives upon their screens to illuminate their eyes with the light of truth.

"What's this? I've been flim-flammed! By the blogosphere! Augh, I should have known!"

Ha! Ha ha ha -- ahhhh. Okay, seriously, though, what on earth is this.

The second letter from Oystryk does a much better job than I presently could at addressing one of the more worrisome aspects of Swandel's screed:

"You seem to believe that because there was public opposition to past projects that are now widely seen as successful, all opposition to future development is in fact unwarranted and maybe even proof that the project will succeed. This is a very dangerous road to travel down. I would encourage you to revisit this thought process as it is wholly illogical."

And below that on the page is a second response from Swandel, one that does not address the above concern whatsoever but -- besides noting that "My response was generic in nature" -- primarily suggests that Oystryk would be less uppity about the whole thing if he just knew how to read properly. It opens with "I think you are reading too much into what I am saying" and concludes with "Hopefully you will take the time to reread and digest in its proper context." There, see? Your problem, which is your problem, is that you just aren't properly comprehending how right he is. Grievance resolved.

I'd just like to remind you all, at this point, that this is the Deputy Mayor; this is the man who gets to run the city any time Sam Katz is unavailable, as wildly infrequent as that scenario may be. So if you have ever wondered how the consultation and input of the public is perceived -- nay, valued -- among the upper echelons of our civic leadership, well, here we are. You live in a city where there is no such thing as a valid concern.

But perhaps I am wrong! I have been wrong before. So it is best if you consider for yourself: do the communications above read like those of an approachable and reasonable man, willing to accept citizen input and carefully consider alternate positions? Do you read his letter and think to yourself, "I bet if I phrase my concerns about the water park proposal just so, he'll open up to my viewpoint and we'll be able to work towards a satisfactory compromise"?

And, after having read the links at the top of this page, which ones do you figure he considers the "deliberate misinformation campaigns"?

Give the matter some thought, but not -- I cannot stress this enough -- not until you're safely away from the computer. That's the only way that you can be certain you're clear of my sinister mind powers, the ones that I obviously must have, because I come from the Net and am therefore the enemy.

I shall exert my corrosive control over the timid and weak-willed! I shall slay all success, reducing it to short blips whenever and wherever it may emerge! All Glory to the Blogosphere! Nyah hah! Nyah hah hah! Nyah hah hah hah hahhhhhhh!

Ahem. At any rate -- thank you for reading ManLinkWeek! I'll have another post up tomorrow night, one I dare suggest will be lighter in tone; rare though it may seem, I've a couple of things to be pleased about.


One Man Committee said...

"As you can see there is a lot more to this than a few flippant comments in a newspaper or deliberate misinformation campaigns in the blogsphere. Winnipeg is in a time of great success, this will only enhance that success and help keep the momentum going for many years to come rather than allowing the self-serving politically motivated naysayers to leave us with just a short blip of success."

I'm blown away.

What exactly did I, a supposedly "self-serving politically motivated naysayer", a person so obviously opposed to this city's prosperity, get wrong in my assessment of this debacle?

Anonymous said...

10 points for the Reboot reference!

Is anyone else concerned that Swandel is already talking about once the project is built and is a success yet at the same time telling anyone with concerns don't worry, we have final say over the design and only if it fits the site will it be built? It sounds like he has the rubber stamp already primed before we even see a sketch of this thing.

little gray bird said...

Thank you for providing a link to my blog post slip sliding away. I did receive a one-line reply from Mr. Swandel to my response which was to his response. It is set out in the comments section of my blog post. I also received a one-line response from Ms. Gerbasi which I also posted in my blog post comments.

The interesting part to note is that prior to sending my blog post to the mayor and councillors for their consideration I had never actually heard of Mr. Swandel Ms. Gerbasi or any other councillors and had a complete neutral opinion of them (The only name I could recollect with the mayor's name). I am relatively new to Manitoba and do not live in Winnipeg, but rather in a rural area a few hours from the city. However I believe I am now starting to form opinions.

Marty said...

Excellent post. Swandel's performance today as acting chair whilst the Mayor recused himself should be required listening for all bloggers, if only city hall would make the EPC audio readily available. And the exchange you comment upon, is but a bare shadow of his defamatory remarks at EPC about me and my advocacy career (when I was out of the room but captured on audio) and on the floor of council last spring, when I dared to question giving the Human Rights Museum a $3.6 million tax break.

I am glad that other bloggers are beginning to note his attitude of disrespect and contempt towards those who hold opposing views; it appears we are all, equally, inferior to him and his "vision" for speaking out.

The question is, how will he be held accountable.

Marty Gold

Anonymous said...

I too received what appeared to be a form letter in response to an email I sent to my councillor, Dan Vandal. Always nice to hear that while my input is appreciated, it is clearly wrong for the reasons outlined in this form letter.

In my letter to Mr. Vandal I did not once mention parking, as that was not one of my concerns - in fact, the only positive thing I see in this project is replacing a surface parking lot with *something*. Here's the final paragraph of his response:

In regards to parking, the city continues to work on improving public transportation, which offers a real alternative to the parking dilemma at the Forks. In addition, a four-story parkade will be built on this same site. All development will occur on what is currently a surface gravel parking lot and no existing green space will be lost.

Glad you read my letter, Dan. Also very interesting that this parking lot being replaced won't have a detrimental impact ... yet here's what the Free Press had to say about Sammy sitting out the vote:

After the meeting, Katz reiterated the plan will have a detrimental impact on the Goldeyes by removing parking from the area – and a detrimental effect poses a conflict of interest.

Right. This waterpark is going to have a "detrimental" effect on the Goldeyes ... and *that's* where the conflict of interest is. 'Cause there's no way Sammy and his Goldeyes could possibly reap any benefits from having a hotel and waterpark right across the street from the ballpark.

Brutal. I'll stop commenting now, because all my other complaints have been covered very well by several bloggers ... just found this little discrepancy in the way the parking issue has been spun to be amusing (in a "don't know whether to laugh or cry" kind of way).