Firefighters deal includes 1.8% raise, then three 2% raises over 4 years

Council votes today on a labour deal for firefighters, a new gig for David Asper and a $6.5M skyscraper grant.

Council to vote today on labour deal for UFFW, new gig for David Asper and $6.5M skyscraper grant

The United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg voted on a labour contract Tuesday. City council gets a crack at the deal Wednesday. (iStock)

The union representing Winnipeg firefighters has voted for a collective agreement that will give them a 1.8 per cent raise in the first year and two per cent annual increases in the three subsequent years.

The four-year deal was ratified by members of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg on Tuesday and details were made public on Wednesday morning. The deal will cost the city an additional $12.9 million over the next four years.

If approved by city council, UFFW will become the first of five city unions to reach a labour deal with the city this year.

While the firefighters contract has no direct bearing on the city's negotiations with the other unions, including the Winnipeg Police Association and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, negotiating teams will be watching closely for hints about how far the city is willing to budge.

In addition to the firefighters contract, here are three of the more substantive items on the agenda for city council's meeting Wednesday:

1. New police board appointees

Last week, Mayor Brian Bowman filled two vacancies on the Winnipeg Police Board by recommending the appointments of lawyer David Asper and Canadian Footwear's Brian Scharfstein. Asper is slated to become the chair — a position which has been vacant since February, when North Kildonan Coun. Browaty resigned.

The appointments come before council Wednesday morning. Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie, the only councillor  on the board, has vowed to vote against the Asper appointment, claiming the city is supposed to appoint two councillors. The legislation governing the board suggests otherwise.

Indigenous advocates, meanwhile, complained last week Bowman did not take the opportunity to make the board more diverse.

2. A lobbyist registry no one has to sign

Council will also consider a Bowman plan to create a lobbyist registry that would ask anyone who meets with a city official with the intent of swaying their opinion to leave a record of their actions within 10 days of the meeting.

The registry is entirely voluntary, as the city has no authority to enforce it. This led former city councillor George Fraser to dismiss it last week as busy work.

3. SkyCity gets its grant

Back in March of 2016, Richmond, Ont., developer Fortress warned the city and province it will no longer meet a construction deadline that would allow it to access $14.5 million worth of city-provincial property tax rebates that would help build SkyCity Centre, a downtown tower billed as Winnipeg's tallest building.

The city then decided to offer Fortress an economic incentive grant to cover off its share of the tax rebates. But instead of handing over $6.5 million when the building is finished, the city advised it would dole out the money over 10 years.

Fortress initially balked at the idea. But the plan is back on the table now that the developer has a new partner, city officials said last week.

St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes voted against this plan at executive policy committee last week, explaining he was turned off by the urbanist rhetoric employed by city planners in the report recommending the grant.

The province's $8-million contribution to the project remains up in the air.


Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.