Chuck Lewis, owner of Expert Electric, resident of Westwood, and Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood resident advisory group member, deserves our thanks.
Chuck has persevered for over four-years to erect solar-powered flashing amber lights in schools zones throughout the City of Winnipeg at his own cost. He would also pay for maintenance for a decade. Surely, this is one of the most generous offers ever made by a citizen in the history of this City.
Shortly after being elected, I met Chuck who he told me of his offer and the many obstacles he had hit at City Hall. I told him, “That’s not right; let’s try again; nobody would say no.” I was wrong.
We were able to sign a mutually acceptable agreement with the Public Service this last summer. Chuck and I were both excited that the flashing amber lights were going up after years of trying. We were wrong.
Residents have been asking me, what happened?
Here are the facts: When presented to the Council committee, the flashing amber light agreement changed from what Mr. Lewis had signed. That’s why Mr. Lewis rescinded the offer.
The committee of four councillors debated accepting the gift and the terms. The committee members wanted to make their changes. A few suggested that the flashing amber lights don’t work. (The City of Ottawa tested five traffic safety methods, flashing amber lights with speed indicator was number one)
This committee of four, three of which are Executive Policy Committee members, determined that it would be best left in the hands of the Mayor and EPC to make the final decision. The media, social media, and residents became very vocal and let the Mayor know.
Nevertheless, the Mayor and EPC ignored the terms Mr. Lewis and the public servants had agreed upon. Instead, they voted to accept the proposal, but based on their own terms and not the terms that Mr. Lewis and the public service had previously agreed to in the summer.
The motivation for the resistance to Mr. Lewis’ plan is hard to understand. The gift offer was made with the safety of our children in mind. Yet, his offer was met with countless delays. To have Mr. Lewis’ generous offer treated this way is embarrassing for our city. Why wouldn’t City Hall graciously embrace the offer with warm thanks? Is the leadership concerned that a few dollars from speeding fines will be lost? Do those dollars matter more than the safety of our kids?
This latest delay is very disappointing.
Chuck, I want to apologize for the stress this has caused you, and I want to thank you. Your heart is in the right place, and I know Winnipeg thanks you.
I believe many within the public service and some councillors I’ve spoken with also want this done, and I know you do. We won’t give up my friend until the last flashing amber light is up.
City Councillor Kevin Klein serving Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood and Chair of the Winnipeg Police Board.