Tenth and Rosser: Some notes and quotes

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The Eighth Street Bridge should be turned into a weather-protected active transportation corridor.

No, that’s not exactly what administration is recommending to city council. It’s a policy plank from my run for council’s Rosser Ward in 2014.

What city council will debate at its regular meeting Monday night is a recommendation — after some very serious, and very drawn-out studies and considerations — that the crumbling Eighth Street Bridge be scheduled for demolition.

And then to direct administration to engage CP Rail, the Province of Manitoba, and the Government of Canada as potential funding partners to explore options for an active transportation/pedestrian connection in the vicinity of Eighth Street to serve as a continued north-south corridor for the City of Brandon.

Ironically, the man who won that 2014 Rosser Ward race, Coun. Kris Desjarlais, and the sitting councillor he defeated, Corey Roberts, want to repair the bridge to vehicular traffic or apparently replace it entirely, respectively.

Both options are quite wrongheaded in my view. And apparently I’m on the side of the experts.

Patrick Pulak, the city’s director of engineering services and water resources, states in his report to council since the bridge has been closed there haven’t been any traffic problems.

States Pulak: “By all appearances, the citizens have adjusted accordingly with little or no impact to traffic in the area, and service is certainly within acceptable levels.”

And given the costs involved to repair or replace the largely neighbourhood bridge for vehicular traffic, I think I’m also on the side of the vast majority of Brandon taxpayers. And I hope, the majority of city councillors who should vote in favour of the admin’s report tomorrow night on the matter.

This excerpt from a Brandon Sun editorial is nicely phrased: “There are perhaps upwards of 50,000 citizens in this city. For Brandon taxpayers to be stuck with a potentially $35-million bill for the benefit of only a few hundred people — let’s be generous and say a few thousand — who would make use of a motor-vehicle bridge, defies logic.”

Mayor Rick Chrest has shown he can run a tight ship and this is one issue that simply can’t be moored for further study.

The Eighth Street Bridge is, literally, falling down.

I’ll be at the meeting tomorrow night and will follow up on this story.

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In more happenings at City Hall, does anyone recall a public statement from the city that it had decided to keep the Wheat City Golf Course open and as an 18-hole facility?

I’ve asked around and looked online and apparently it was simply a straw pole at some closed-door meeting of council.

The last official word I can find — unless I’ve been buried in a sand trap — is in the “Our Plan, Our City: Brandon City Council 2015-2018 Strategic Plan” developed following a two-day council retreat in March 2015:

“The Wheat City Golf Course and Recreation Centre are important components of the affordable and accessible public recreation options provided by the City of Brandon. The facility provides the only 18-hole golf course within Brandon City limits, and also provides outdoor recreation amenities like tennis courts, walking trails, a tobogganing hill, and groomed skiing and snowshoe trails.

“However, habitual flooding of the golf course from the nearby Assiniboine River and the aging status of the Recreation Centre Building has placed the City of Brandon at a crossroads for this public recreation facility.

“A strategic direction must be determined for the Wheat City Golf Course and Recreaton Centre. City Council is committed to looking at all options carefully and doing so with the community’s best interests in mind.”

Well I guess a decision was made. And there is some money for the place in this year’s draft budget. Now while I’ve always been of two minds about saving the course, I do admire a political body that can make a decision after so many, many years of indecision by its predecessors.

It just came as a bit of a shock. All of a sudden we find out that dike work had begun a few weeks ago, which involved the removal — and subsequent day and night burning — of some trees and other debris.

Then city announced Friday that this year’s golf season is set to tee off April 13. It included with the release an aerial shot of the course, which I’ve included on here.

“The Wheat City Golf Course will be offering an 18-hole green fee and 1/2 cart rental for $32 until May 30. The Pro Shop, located on 3500 McDonald Avenue, will open two days in advance of the season’s launch as the facility’s tennis courts will be available for play,” a city release said.

Apparently the previous plans for a private-sector condo development that could involve a new clubhouse, will be re-tendered. It will also coincide with an extension and level crossing of 34th Street to McDonald Avenue.

Plans for a private-sector development on the clubhouse site were made public a few years ago. But that’s when large areas of the golf course were subject to annual flooding that required expensive repairs.

The future of that place has been the subject of discussion for years.

But now it appears to have been settled.

Good to see the city moving Fore!-ward.

Wheat City Golf Course Brandon Mb

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I was rather shocked to hear over the weekend that Eric Lawson will be leaving Brandon for a job in B.C. starting May 2.

Lawson is publisher of the Brandon Sun and president of the Rotary Club of Brandon.

I used to work for Lawson as his managing editor. I admired his low-key and efficient management style (even his grace when terminating my position two years ago).

But I digress. I am vice-president of the Brandon Rotary Club. Lawson’s year at the helm will now be cut short by a couple of months, throwing president-elect Cheryl Winger into the fray. And forcing me to accelerate my Rotary leadership studies to back her up as needed. I’m looking forward to the challenge, but relieved to know there are many experienced members who will be more than happy to share their wisdom. For more on the club’s activities: rotaryclubofbrandon.org

And I’m sure the Sun will continue to kinda survive — as long as its parent company doesn’t let the publisher position sit vacant for too long, as it did in the early 2000s — while the newspaper weathers the storm of media fragmentation. And upstart information websites such as bdnmb.ca.

I wish Eric and his wife Linda well. I’ve included here a photo of Eric on a horse-drawn wagon before being paraded out last week on opening night of the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.

Royal MB Winter Fair Brandon MB

(UPDATE: A small edit has been made in this column for taste and style.)