Manitoba

Winnipeg votes 2018: Transcona ward profile

Winnipeggers go to the polls on Oct. 24.

8 candidates running to replace longtime councillor Russ Wyatt, who was charged in July with sexual assault

Eight candidates are running for the Transcona council seat. There is no incumbent councillor in the ward, after Coun. Russ Wyatt decided not to seek re-election this year. (CBC)

For the first time since 2002, Russ Wyatt will not represent Transcona at city hall following the Oct. 24 election.

The long-time councillor, who was charged with sexual assault in July, is not running in this year's civic election. He also took a leave of absence from council earlier this year to seek treatment for substance abuse. 

In Wyatt's absence, eight candidates have put forward their names for the Transcona seat — the largest number of candidates in any of Winnipeg's 15 wards this year.

The East Transitway, which would connect downtown with Transcona, has been identified as the next priority for rapid transit development in Winnipeg after work is complete on Phase 2 of the Southwest Transitway. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

The city's easternmost ward has seen its boundaries change slightly this year — the former St. Boniface ward neighbourhoods of Dugald, Southland Park, St. Boniface Industrial Park and Symington Yards have been moved into Transcona under ward boundary changes.

Other facts about the ward:

  • The city's 311 data shows since 2016, Transcona residents have made the most complaints of any city ward about boulevard mowing (102 calls). In total, there were 10,310 calls to 311 from Transcona residents between January 2016 and Sept. 28 of this year. The most frequent complaint was missed garbage pickup (2,873 calls).
  • The city's CrimeStat website says there have been 264 crimes reported to police this year to date (as of Sept. 28) — a one per cent drop from 267 reports over the January to September period in 2017. 
  • The most frequently reported crime in the ward so far this year has been auto theft — 73 reports, up 22 per cent from 60 reports over the same period last year. Residential break-ins, though, are down — there have been 44 reports this year, a 39 per cent drop from 72 over the same period last year.

Transcona in the news

Meet the candidates

Alex Allard is a retired Winnipeg police officer. Allard spent 30 years with the police service and now volunteers and coaches hockey.

Basil Evan is a registered nurse and the quality officer for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority critical care program. He is a self-described human rights activist.

Shane Geschiere grew up in Transcona and now works in emergency care. He graduated from Transcona Collegiate Institute in 1997, and has degrees from both the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg.

Steven Lipischak has spent the last 13 years working in Transcona and has been involved in charitable work as the as director of marketing for the Vickar Automotive Group. He sits on various community boards, including for the Transcona Heritage Museum and the Transcona Rotary Club.

Shawn Nason has a history in local politics, working as the constituency manager for former Elmwood-Transcona Conservative MP Lawrence Toet. Nason is involved with the Oxford Heights Community Club, coaching and organizing for various sports at the club.

Raymond Ulasy is the only 2014 candidate who is running again this year. Ulasy, an addictions specialist who is chair of the Transcona Hi Neighbour Festival and has worked as an NHL scout, placed second, winning 4,277 votes to Wyatt's 8,490. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to a charge of trying to transfer weapons knowing he was not authorized to do so and was given a one-year conditional sentence that he served in the community.

Wally Welechenko g​raduated from Red River College with an advertising art degree. He started an advertising company and later a clothing line and went on to own retail stores. He has been a member of Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble since 1989.

Sandeep Sharma is also running for the Transcona seat, but did not respond to a request for biographical information.

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. Sandeep Sharma did not respond to requests for comment.

What can be done to improve transit service in the area?

Alex Allard: I know how city politics work, and I know damn well what's going to happen. If Transcona turns [a rapid transit route] down, they're going to take all that money, take all that energy, the engineering and say, "Let's go west instead of east.…" If all levels of government want to put rapid transit in Transcona for service east, I'm all for it. Let them build it for us. Why would we want to fight it?

Basil Evan: Transit is complicated. Transcona keeps getting bigger and bigger. And because it's getting bigger and bigger, communities start to grow and you need to have transit systems which can support different needs in the community.… To have an effective system you need to have a safe system.… There will definitely have to be some attention paid to not only making a service available, but available and safe to use.

Shane Geschiere​: We have to look at where we are spending our money. A lot of people are talking about rapid transit, and if this is a good thing or not. I understand we need to get people going places faster, and we need to get that done now. Buses for a lot of people are, if not an option, a necessity.… We also have to look at why ridership is down. Just from what I've been [hearing] people just don't feel safe, or they're going be waiting, [It's] just not a great service.

Steven Lipischak​: I spoke to the riders, just to see what they said, and I spoke to the operators, just to see what they had to say about rapid transit or things like that. I would think, and this is unofficial, 90 to 95 per cent of people that I spoke to are against rapid transit, against spending the money, including the operators. What they're suggesting, and I think it makes more sense, is that we put more buses on the roads during peak times, and have feeder routes.

Shawn Nason: What I'm hearing from people is buses are not coming at the time that they need, they're full when they get to their place on some of the major routes.… The other challenge is accessibility. We've got an aging population, a fair amount of people with disabilities, we want to make sure they have access to the system in an appropriate way.

Raymond Ulasy: Transit was an issue in 2014, and it still seems to be an issue now. It's one of the hot topics. It would be tops on my agenda in terms of what needs to be done here in Transcona.

Wally Welechenko: There's areas of Transcona — new developments — that don't have a lot of service, or no service at all. So, what I would like to do is run feeder busses to those areas. At the same time, take it a step further, and not use full-size busses. There's no point in running a full-size bus when there's either no one on the bus or very few people on the bus.

Transcona voters want the candidates to weigh in on how they'd improve active transportation links with other parts of the city. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Will you work with other wards/municipalities to help improve active transportation links across the city?

Alex Allard:I am looking long-term, where I would become a councillor, join forces with the North Kildonan councillor, the Elmwood, the St. Vital, the St. Boniface [councillors], because I have issues outside Transcona that would benefit the people of Transcona. We have to deal with trains, we have to deal with a very poor Louise bridge … we have to extend Chief Peguis into the northeast corner of Transcona. We have to be able to move in and out of Transcona easier than we are now.

Basil Evan: In the future, more and more of those relationships are happening. I think you have to do it in a step by step. First of all, through a needs assessment … and then take steps to partner with that community to say what can be done, how can we make this happen.... I think it's important each community and different ward is starting to see the need for improved relations.

Shane Geschiere​: That's something my team has looked at — some people have been talking [about] if we need more bike lanes out of Transcona going downtown. Those are always good options. I'm not opposed to things like that as long as it's fiscally responsible and good for safety for both drivers and cyclists.

Steven Lipischak: If there's a call for it, and more people would want to be connected everywhere else, I'm sure we could come up with a plan to connect more things like the Transcona Trail. If there's one or two people asking for it and the rest of the community is asking for something else, I would go with what the rest of the community wants.… I'm being elected not on what my thoughts are. I'm going to be running on what the community wants.

Shawn Nason: Our paved trail ends a couple hundred feet to my east, and goes all the way to Costco and terminates at Regent. What I'd like to see is working along with the rail owners there.… I would like to see that connected to get us to St. Boniface.

Raymond Ulasy: I think it's important that we work together as a council to ensure that we're bridging the gaps and trying to connect communities together. If the resources are there to do it, and the land is there to do it, I don't see it being an issue. I think it's something we should look at.

Wally Welechenko: Right now, the Transcona Trail ends at Costco. It's a trail that's used a lot, whether by people walking or by bicycle. The simple fact that it's used a lot means it would be a much more usable trail if we expanded it. To expand it to other areas would be a great idea.

How do you geographically balance services across the ward (for example, the moving of the Transcona Library out of downtown Transcona)?

Alex Allard: I spent some time with a volunteer group in south Transcona. They like to be small-town. You have to balance what everybody wants as opposed to what everybody is.… You have to look at each pocket as affected by Transcona individually. It's not the same problems throughout.… You really have to develop an understanding and start hanging with volunteer groups that are operating in those pockets individually and not give up on them.

Basil Evan: Is there an opportunity to come together and put together a service for these people?… We, as a society that is committed to social responsibility, recognize that as we make these improvements, we don't want people to feel like outsiders, or that they've been left out or services have moved away from them, especially when we know these services have improved. Anyone who's going to go to the new library is going to say, "Wow!"

Shane Geschiere​: Transcona is expanding.… I think they try to keep things a bit more central now, but I understand it's not going to be convenient for everybody. We've had the same issues with pools.… If we increase and have better service for things like transit, maybe it's more accessible for people that are used to walking to things like that. It's always a constant consideration.

Steven Lipischak​: Through accessibility. Not accessibility as in "people need to get in," but accessibility to the councillor, from city hall to the residents. I plan on doing town hall meetings once a month at different locations. That's been my "get-go" from the beginning — communication, openness, a willingness to speak with individuals.... I'm available all the time.

Shawn Nason: Traditional Transcona, downtown was the place, but it appears that city planning has decided that this new [library] is where it will be. It's hoped that the bus services will be able to accommodate getting people there to access the services at the library.… We've got limited resources at the city to support activity, and I want to make sure we're maximizing our community clubs, not to the detriment by introducing more services to the community.

Raymond Ulasy: Entertaining and looking at other options. Being open-minded and, of course, entertaining all ideas from either the community or the business community to fill close those gaps.

Wally Welechenko: Any decision that's made, you're going to have people that love it, and people that hate it. In the case of the library, it was nice where it was. I grew up in Transcona, so it's always the spot where the library is.… It's more central now.... You can't please everyone. You try to make everybody as happy as possible but you have to remember you can't please 100 per cent of the people 100 per cent of the time.

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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