Group plays shinny in Winnipeg to protest proposed budget cuts to recreational services

Budget for All hosted a street hockey match to protest city budget cuts. Michael Draven/Global News

A group of Winnipeggers got out their hockey sticks for a unique protest on Sunday.

Budget for All hosted a street hockey game at True North Square to protest proposed cuts to recreational centres, arenas and programming.

Organizer Jake Nikkel says they want to get the attention of Mayor Brian Bowman and city councillors.

“The proposed closures to arenas and rec centres and rec programming, this is going to have a deep and damaging impact on our city’s ability to stay happy, healthy and connected. We know that things like rec programming bring people together,” he said.

READ MORE: City of Winnipeg departments propose closing fire hall, libraries and pools amid budget caps

In November the community services department officials brought forward a list of 21 things they say would need to be cut to meet its 0.5 per cent budget increase cap.

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Director Cindy Fernandes says drastic cuts would be necessary to manage mandated salary and benefit increases for staff.

The list of proposed service cuts includes:

  • Shutting down the Eldon Ross Indoor Pool, Kinsman Sherbrook Pool and Transcona Centennial Indoor Pool
  • Closing the Peguis Trail Health and Fitness Centre
  • Keeping the Terry Sawchuck Arena closed
  • Reducing the number of wading pools from 81 to 43
  • Shutting down the Happyland and Windsor Park outdoor pools
  • Closing down the Westwood, Fort Garry and West Kildonan libraries
  • Closing libraries on Sundays and at 8 p.m. on all other days
  • Reducing leisure guide activities by 50 per cent, excluding learn to swim programs
  • Reducing some grants

Nikkel says there are other ways the city should look at making cost-saving measures.

“The city has a lot of options to deal with the questions of how to pay for things. For example, they could redirect money from the hugely overinflated police budget or hugely inflated road budget.”

The city’s preliminary budget will be tabled March 6.

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