Winnipeg votes 2018: St. Norbert-Seine River ward profile

Winnipeg's southernmost electoral ward has a new name and new boundaries this year — and will also see a new city councillor after the Oct. 24 election.

New name, new boundaries for southernmost city ward — and a new councillor after Oct. 24 vote

Five candidates are running for the St. Norbert-Seine River​ council seat. (CBC)

Winnipeg's southernmost electoral ward has a new name and new boundaries this year — and will also see a new city councillor after the Oct. 24 election.

New ward boundaries for this election essentially cut the old South Winnipeg-St. Norbert ward (the city's largest, with a population of  68,112) in half. That created the new ward of Waverley West (where current South Winnipeg-St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes has already been acclaimed) and the renamed St. Norbert-Seine River ward.

Made up of the southern chunks of the former South Winnipeg-St. Norbert and St. Vital wards, the suburban St. Norbert-Seine River now includes neighbourhoods like River Park South, Dakota Crossing, Richmond Lakes and St. Vital Perimeter South.

Winnipeg Transit service to the city's southernmost ward is one concern for voters in St. Norbert-Seine River. (CBC)

Five candidates are running for the St. Norbert-Seine River council seat.

Other facts about the neighbourhood:

  • Because of ward boundary changes, statistics available don't precisely reflect the St. Norbert-Seine River ward, but numbers from the former South Winnipeg-St. Norbert ward give a sense of the area.
  • In the 2014 election, the former South Winnipeg-St. Norbert ward saw 49.94 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
  • From January 2016 to Sept. 28, 2018, South Winnipeg-St. Norbert residents made 14,326 to 311, according to city data. The top four reasons for 311 calls in the ward were related to missed garbage pickup (3,654 calls) and missed recycling pickup (3,612) and neighbourhood livability issues (over 2,863 calls).

St. Norbert-Seine River in the news

Meet the candidates

Markus Chambers is a public servant and the manager of employer engagement for Manitoba Education and Training. He also worked for Manitoba Labour and Immigration for over a decade. His platform includes improving roads and public transit, maintaining neighbourhood safety, establishing affordable student housing and adding more trash bins along walking trails.

Glenn Churchill is a transportation engineer with a private firm and has worked on road design, traffic analysis and active transportation projects. His platform includes improving road infrastructure and neighbourhood services (like snow clearing and garbage collection), increasing oversight at city hall, encouraging local business growth, improving services for seniors and implementing a youth advisory committee for the ward.

Nancy Cooke has worked for the province's Department of Infrastructure for the past two years, and runs a St. Vital dental clinic with her husband. She was previously a provincial PC campaign director. Her platform includes improving access to public transit, bolstering local businesses and continuing community development.

Chris Davis is a courier and has also worked as an electrical apprentice and general labourer. His platform includes continuing to grow rapid transit throughout the city, improving roadways, upgrading community centres and improving safety in school zones.

Nikolas Joyal is a political studies honours student at the University of Manitoba and a lifelong River Park South resident. His platform includes improving public transit safety, developing rapid transit, improving infrastructure and encouraging youth engagement.

What the candidates say on key issues

Questions in this section were among those voters in the ward said they wanted asked of candidates. Responses have been edited and condensed.

How would you improve public transit service for people in the St. Norbert-Seine River ward?

Markus Chambers: There's a couple of strategies that I have in mind. They include increasing frequency of routes and to reach into the communities where transit currently doesn't drive all the way to. I was talking to some university students who identified this as a real problem. A lot of times, they're taking buses that will take them to St. Vital Centre, [and] they're waiting there for lengthy periods of time before they can catch a connection which then takes them to the University of Manitoba. So, seemingly, driving an eight-kilometre distance is taking an hour and 45 minutes, which is unacceptable. 

Glenn Churchill: Actually, there is a study that's going to be done starting up shortly here by Winnipeg Transit. They're hiring a consultant to do that, and that's going to take about a year. And part of that plan is to review full-service [transit] in Winnipeg, both regular routes, [bus rapid transit], Handi-Transit and all other aspects of transit.

So once that study's done, or I guess while it's going on … I want to ensure that south Winnipeg residents, both in south St. Vital, St. Norbert [and] Fort Richmond, have their say in there, and that their needs are also met through that study. So part of that would be to have local buses run around, doing routes and delivering people to a central hub, whether it's St. Vital [Centre], or [the] University of Manitoba, where they can connect with larger routes going to downtown.

Nancy Cooke: I've been out at bus stops every day, Monday to Friday, since July 2, talking to transit users in order to understand what's working in the system and where some of the challenges are. And what I'll do is I'll bring forward that input and work with the city and city officials and transit officials and council, obviously, to bring forward a safe, accessible reliable transit plan for the city.

Chris Davis: Our whole transit system kind of needs to be re-looked at. I would like to see a bus that can get you from St. Norbert to St. Vital Centre and not take you 45 minutes to an hour, because you've got to go all the way to the U of M first, and then sit there, transfer on a bus, and then go back up Bishop Grandin [Boulevard]. Meanwhile, it's a 10-minute drive to the mall. So I want to introduce perimeter buses … so people in Charleswood who work in Transcona, the bus goes down the Perimeter [Highway] and it comes in, for example, off St. Mary's [Road], off St. Anne's [Road], and it feeds another smaller bus.… We need smaller feeder buses.

Nikolas Joyal: I think one of the big things is to keep investing into rapid transit. While it won't directly impact the St. Vital area, at least it will have a huge impact on the St. Norbert area, the area closer to the university. The big thing I'd like to see is transitioning from a radial system that we have now, where everything kind of comes outwards from the downtown, to more of a hub-and-spoke system, where the city identifies major hubs within the city — so shopping malls, universities, community centres, where they kind of act as a centre for the area.… They would all meet up at these regional hubs, and then from there, there would be direct buses from there to the downtown, or from those hubs to other hubs within the city.

What changes would you push for to improve kids' experiences in schools in the St. Norbert-Seine River ward?

Markus Chambers: Working with the school trustees, working with the schools themselves, the principals, the teachers. In terms of what I've seen in this area, there's a lot of diversity. So now, it's working with the school trustees, working with the educators, to ensure that there's also inclusion, that everybody feels welcome in school, nobody's bullied, nobody feels that they're not part of the education system, in terms of whether it's teaching or learning, and promoting a lot of that.

Glenn Churchill: That's provincial jurisdiction, the schools. That has nothing to do with city council. So there's nothing that council can really do about that.

Nancy Cooke: The role that a city councillor can play is by getting involved in infrastructure around the school, whether that's roads, road safety, traffic control features, playgrounds, parks and recreation spaces, safe crossing areas, all of those things are aspects of what a city councillor can review in conjunction with parents and schools.

I would work very closely with parent councils. I was a chair of the parent council at the school my kids went to for 10 years, and the issues of traffic and safety and speed and pedestrian crossings were things that we dealt with.

Chris Davis: School zones right now, they are [Monday to Friday], September to June.… What I want is [to] make it daily, and you make it habit-forming for people. When they come into a school zone, they know, "Oh, I've got to slow down.…" Take the grey area out of it for people, and then it's not a cash grab.

Nikolas Joyal: One of the things that the city would have a say in is sidewalks and streets and paths around the school. I think it's important that the city makes sure those are safe, well lit, well marked for cars driving, so that they're aware of where crossings are, aware that there's going to be kids.

And then another area would be in developing and maintaining playgrounds and sports fields and stuff around schools, because normally the city will maintain kind of a soccer field, or baseball diamonds, and the school is responsible for a very small area. So I think the two could work together to kind of maximize, and just get the most bang for their buck by working together to make sure that the playgrounds are modern, safe, accessible for people if they have mobility issues, and that they're well maintained, and that they're designed for kind of the interests of the community.

What's your vision for the future of this ward (and for the city)?

Markus Chambers: My future for the ward is to maintain all of the positive things that previous councillors have worked towards that make the ward a great place to live, and then improving on the things that need improving.… We want to ensure that crime doesn't find its way in our communities and neighbourhoods. We want to ensure that our infrastructure is renewed where roads are crumbling, or curbs or sidewalks are crumbling. We want to make sure that they're taken care of, especially for the seniors that are living in our area.

[And] we need to work towards proper legislation in place to give police the tools they need to fight against this growing [meth] epidemic. And for those that become addicted to these opioids and other drugs that are harmful to our communities, we need to find them the treatment that they need to get off of these drugs.

Glenn Churchill: Right now, it's very vehicle-dependent. I've heard a lot of people say that they have no option but to drive, because the bus service is infrequent or poor, and the cycling facilities aren't there, and other options aren't there for them to travel around. So I'd like to be able to expand the cycling infrastructure down to the south end of the city, and as well, improve transit in the area to have people have other options to get around.

Nancy Cooke: Mobility in and around communities and within our city is what makes it vibrant, so that's the one piece.

The other thing that's important to me as a business owner, and just a member of the community — one of the reasons I was attracted to south Winnipeg — is because of all the goods and services and small businesses and things we have access to. So I would like to work with communities and business owners and community members to help remove barriers to entrepreneurs and businesses, to provide a growth and economic plan so that we can bring services to the community that the community needs and wants, and also provide opportunities for the labour market.

And then my final piece that I would like to bring to city council and assist our area and the city with is just vigilance [with regard to] overspending, and making sure that the community's voice is heard, and that the priorities from the community are being addressed when the budgeting is being done and spending is happening.

Chris Davis: Janice [Lukes] has done a lot of good things in this area, and I want to keep doing the good things that she's done. I don't want to step in and just cancel everything. I want to kind of work with her and keep doing that, and then put my own spin on things. Like, we need to clean up the area. For example, parking for Wednesdays and Saturdays for the [St. Norbert] Farmers' Market. I can't get down my street. I can barely get out of my driveway, because everyone's looking for places to park. So we need to solve that problem, and just kind of get the small-town feel back into St. Norbert, instead of having us feel like a highway.

Nikolas Joyal: The whole reason I'm running is that I don't feel like the current council, or most of the other candidates, have a vision for not just next year or two years from now, but 10 or 20 or 30 years from now. And as someone who's in the 18- to 25-year-old voting demographic, I'm going to be one of the people that has to deal with decisions that are made now, and pay for decisions that are made now. So rather than the city saying, "Well, we have to spend X number of hundreds of millions of dollars on building new roads," I'd rather see them say, "Well, maybe if we spent some of this money on improving transit service, or making it easier and safer for more people to cycle or walk to work. Maybe we don't have to spend as much money on this thing in the long term."

I think my overarching dream would be to take the city to find a way to stop just expanding, and start to grow up instead of out.

Winnipeggers will vote for mayor and councillors in 15 city wards on Oct. 24, 2018. (CBC)

More CBC Manitoba election ward profiles:

​Journalism students from Red River College's creative communications program have prepared profiles of each city of Winnipeg ward ahead of the 2018 civic election for CBC Manitoba. Read all of our election 2018 coverage here


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