PUBLIC HEARING TO BE HELD FOR IKEA/BIG BOX PLAN WINNIPEG AMENDMENT Today EPC recommended to council that a public hearing be held to consider amending Plan Winnipeg to allow the massive commercial development that includes an IKEA store and other big box retail. Council will affirm this next week and then it is expected that the hearing could be held on March 18th, 2009. The brief report on the matter states that the Planning, Property and Development Department supports the amendment and describes it as a "smart" development. It remains to be seen how smart this development is in terms of enhancing the overall health and vibrancy of our city. Hopefully, issues such as our Downtown First policy, neighborhood and quality of life issues in the surrounding community, encouraging alternatives to the automobile such as active transportation and public transit, and the accelerating costs of expanding our car infrastructure at the expense of our capacity to be sustainable will all be discussed in depth in the public hearing process. Public participation in the public hearing process is crucial. Stay tuned as more details emerge. 311 SYSTEM NOW IN EFFECT The new 311 system started up this week and is intended to deal with most customer service calls for the City of Winnipeg. It is reasonable to expect that time will be needed to work out any bugs that tend to happen with a complex change such as this. I would encourage people to let the 311 centre know of any problems that arise. I would also appreciate feedback from citizens about the new system. The Public contact information is as follows: By Phone: 311 By Fax: 311 By Email: 311@winnipeg.ca Toll-free: 1-877-311-4WPG By TTY: 986 1311 NEW PRESIDENT: A TIME FOR HOPE Each of us likely has had our own personal response to the swearing in of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. My view is that this change in leadership gives new life to often cited Tommy Douglas quote, "it's never too late to make it a better world." Things can only be better with the approach Obama is taking. What really stands out for me is the respectful, positive, inclusive and intelligent tone he inspires by his words. Farewell, George W. Bush and thanks for the memories. It is now time to rebuild and renew our communities and our world!! Thank you for your interest in Civic Issues! Cheers! Jenny Jenny Gerbasi Councillor Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry jgerbasi@winnipeg.ca