William Ralph (Bill) Clement

By Fred Morris

William Ralph (Bill) Clement
William Ralph (Bill) Clement.

William Ralph (Bill) Clement was born on June 3, 1948. Bill had a passionate interest in sports as a competitor, an administrator, and a fan. He enjoyed hockey, curling, football, baseball, and horse racing. He served as president of the Charleswood Curling Club. He served over two decades on the Winnipeg Enterprises Board. He belonged to the Charleswood Historical Society. 

In 1979, Bill married Debbie. They raised four children. 

As a business person, he was involved with a pool hall, skate shop, and sporting goods store. In 1972, he became involved in the swimming pool business. Even after becoming a city councillor, Bill remained involved in this business. In an early 2010, in a treasured email called the Happy New Decade, Bill explained to me the importance of time management in his busy life. 

In 1983, Bill was elected to Winnipeg City Council, defeating incumbent James Moore. He was easily re-elected seven times. As a city councillor, Bill knew everything about his ward. He was often referred to as the Mayor of Charleswood. He served under four mayors. At various times, he was deputy mayor, speaker, chair of the Infrastructure Committee, and chair of the Fiscal Issues Committee. 

Bill did not employ an Executive Assistant. He used some of this extra money to help Community Clubs and non-profit groups in his ward. The rest of the money was returned to the City. As an example, Bill spent only $38,387 of his $70,000 Ward Allowance in 2007. Bill returned his phone calls and emails. He was always visible in the community. I remember a political conversation with Bill when we were waiting in line at a Corydon Avenue Bank. 

During his term in office, Bill played an important role in a couple of notable transportation projects. Since the 1940s, a bridge linking West St. James and Charleswood had been on the political agenda. In the fall of 1995, the Charleswood Bridge opened under budget. As the South End of the City grew, Kenaston train delays became a big problem. In 2006, the Kenaston underpass opened. In 2003, the introduction of the Four District Police Model called for new modern and fewer District Police Stations. 

Bill began the work to implement this idea. Bill’s successor, Paula Havixbeck, ensured that Bill’s work was completed. On November 22, 2013, the new Grant Avenue Police Station opened replacing aging stations in St. James and Fort Garry. 

On April 6, 2010, the Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Bill, approved parking restrictions on Haney Street south of Grant. It had been a difficult issue. The following day Bill attended his last City Hall meeting. He died on May 3, 2010.

On May 19, 2010, City Council renamed the Charleswood Parkway the William R. Clement Parkway. The ceremony was held on June 30, 2010.

Bill worked hard to secure the funding for lights at the Eric Coy Recreational Center for the Charleswood Broncos. After his death, the project was completed. On Thursday, September 23, 2010, Bill’s family took part in a light-switching ceremony as part of a football double-header and barbecue.

It has been almost a decade since we lost Bill. He was one of Winnipeg’s greatest City Councillors.

Fred Morris describes himself as a political activist and sometime political candidate.