Former Winnipeg City Councillor, Harvey Smith, who served the West End for more than three decades, passed away this past Sunday at the age of 80.
Smith was a dedicated and accessible constituency politician who proved that great accomplishments are possible without being on EPC.
Instrumental in securing $20 million from various public and private sources, Smith helped spearhead the refurbishing and modernization of the Cindy Klassen Centre, Central Park and the Sherbrook Swimming Pool.
He partnered with the local MP and MLA to share a constituency office at 892 Sargent Ave., so that citizens could go to one central place to voice their concerns.
During most of his political career, Smith had strong NDP and labour support. After winning his third straight City Election in 2006, some of his left leaning backers began to feel it was time for a younger representative. Harvey Smith’s name suddenly disappeared from the One Stop Constituency Office.
At a 2008 federal all candidates debate, I asked the local MP why Smith no longer shared his office. I received an evasive non answer.
In the 2010 election campaign, Smith was suddenly denied Labour Council backing. Labour Council endorsements are important but can be very secretive. It seemed some key people in the labour movement and the area NDP MLA were using every trick in the book to get rid of him.
At the age of 73, Smith decided to let the people decide. He was re-elected, proving that powerful political operatives do not have total control.
Smith showed that he still had the fire in his belly. He led a strong opposition to a 20 cent bus fare hike. As he was returning to his office after attending a January 31, 2012 University of Winnipeg Bus Fare rally, Smith fell and broke his hip while walking on Main Street. He returned for a City Council meeting three weeks after his accident.
In 2013, he renamed some of the worst streets in his ward after his EPC council colleagues. As the 2014 Election approached, it was clear that Smith would never completely recover from his broken hip. Unable to canvas, his re-election campaign fell short.
During the past 15 years, Harvey Smith became a family friend. He helped my mother’s co-operative adjust to the conversion of a neighboring bank into a restaurant.
In early 2002, I invited him to our Minto St. home and told him about my decision to run in a neighbouring ward.
In 2006, he encouraged me to become more aggressive in my approach to politics. Some of our current councillors may ague that I took his advise to heart.
Smith attended my mother’s 90th birthday party, and the 100th anniversary of the First Lutheran Church building.
When I saw Harvey Smith at the Feb. 18, 2017 opening of the refurbished Sherbrook Pool, I sensed the end might be near.
Rest in Peace.