City council race heats up in St. Norbert

The race for city councillor in the St. Norbert ward is starting to heat up.

Both candidates, incumbent Justin Swandel and entrant Louise May, have managed to gain support, but Swandel told the Manitoban that he feels comfortable in the race and called for a
flawless victory.

“I believe that the hard work that I’ve done, the millions of dollars of investments that I have brought into the area and the burning issues that I have dealt with and resolved for the people [ . . . ] that the people will respond positively and in my favor,” said Swandel.

Residents who spoke at a discussion group on Sept. 7 held by May, regarding crime and safety in the St. Norbert ward, felt differently, saying that Swandel as a city councillor has been
“unresponsive” in terms of communication.

Robert Coffin, a resident of Fort Richmond, felt that there should be more community outreach on a whole and not just in individual communication.

“I believe there should be more involvement on the local level, in the community clubs and the schools [as part of a] three pronged plan to put more police in the area,” Coffin explained.

Coffin said that the funds for a Winnipeg Police Department helicopter should have been considered more thoroughly.

“There probably is better use for the funds,” said Coffin.

May agreed, saying that the purchase of a new helicopter was a “poor decision.”

“It was a very expensive decision and the money could have been used much better,” May explained.

She added that the funds should have been used to get more officers on the street and more 911 operators in the emergency call centres.

May argued on her blog that a citizens’ oversight board in Toronto, consisting of criminology specialists with the public interest in mind, rejected Toronto’s proposal to buy a new helicopter.

May used this to ridicule the purchase of Winnipeg’s new helicopter, saying that if this board refused to buy a helicopter in Toronto, “Why does Winnipeg need one?”

Swandel, however, disagrees saying that holding that perspective on the helicopter is somewhat of an “outsider looking in” way of thinking, adding that the city must concentrate both on enforcement while looking after the needs of the community.

Swandel argued that the highest investments in terms of community investment should be where the most crime occurs: in the downtown area and the inner city.

“The highest investments in new community amenities like community centres and libraries happen in the inner city, mostly where the highest numbers of crime are,” said Swandel.

“We understand that both those pieces go together.”

Swandel was elected into the position of city councillor for the St. Norbert ward in 2006 where he was victorious over Glenda Whiteman 7,386 votes to 2,891.

Voting for the Winnipeg municipal election is set for Oct. 27, 2010 and citizens can find out more information on how to vote at

With notes from Sarah Petz.