23 Feb

Winnipeg 311: The Wrong Answer

This past Saturday, I was out past the east Perimeter Highway and upon my return, I noticed the “Welcome to Winnipeg” sign on Fermor just west of the overpass at Plessis Road.

The sign had been dislodged at the middle bracket holding the two halves of the leftmost metal pole. The top half was hanging precariously on the lower half and only the broken bracket was preventing it from falling over completely.
I stopped to take a couple of pictures.

I suspected that a large truck with a heavy load probably grazed it pulling away from the shoulder and that the driver may have not even been aware that anything had happened.
This dangling sign is obviously a potential safety hazard, being so close to a busy highway. As a responsible citizen, I reported what I had seen via e-mail to the 311 service. I also attached the same pictures as shown above.
Having used the 311 service previously with positive results, I expected that the proper department would be notified and I would receive a reply thanking me for reporting it.
As they say in the Hertz commercials, “Not exactly.”
I did receive a reply from 311, but it wasn’t the reply I expected:
“Thank you for your email. I can certainly advise the correct department of the issue with the “Welcome to Winnipeg” sign, however they do require a contact telephone number is order to submit a report. Please respond at your earliest convenience and we will pass your information along to the department.”
I was dumbfounded.
Having been advised of the safety hazard, they would not take a report until I had provided a contact telephone number.
Wrong answer.
I thought about indulging the bureaucrat and providing my phone number, but, that too, would be wrong. A matter such as this needs to be forwarded to the proper department right away.
What did they need my number for anyways? Did they expect me to fix the sign? Did they think I was making it up?
Instead, I forwarded the correspondence to my councillor. His assistant replied promptly and assured me that the issue would be forwarded to the proper department for attention and apologized.
As a good friend and former colleague told me upon reading this story, “It’s hard being a good citizen, isn’t it?”
And it shouldn’t be.