Winnipeg IT manager dies at 50

Peter Bennett, a technology executive with the City of Winnipeg and a Technology in Government columnist who became a well-known expert on municipal IT issues, died last week. He was 50.

Bennett joined the City of Winnipeg in April of 1979 as a city planner before moving to a role in IT

a few years later. There he helped lead a project to develop the city’s land-based information system (LBIS), using co-ordinated geometry and triangulation techniques to identify transmitters at specific longitudes and latitudes within Winnipeg. The resulting Land Base Map, which maps out the complete city, is accurate within one centimetre, and is used by ambulance, fire and homeowners.

“It started literally from nothing, from our survey fabric, if you want to call it,” said Cliff Jeffers, the City of Winnipeg’s CIO. “He was one of the crucial players in making that thing a reality over many years.”

Jeffers described Bennett as a facilitator and builder of consensus who helped make projects succeed. “He was always interested in hearing the views of others, of obtaining co-operation and to be co-operative,” he said. “This GIS project was a major focus. What that did was bring together all sorts of people from different disciplines.”

Bennett served as president of the Prairie chapter of the Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA), and later brought his insights to a monthly column he wrote for Technology in Government

TIG editor Kathleen Sibley said it was Bennett’s expertise that led her to invite him to the publication’s advisory board at its inception in 2002.

“(He) was enthusiastic about sharing his ideas and experiences with others,” she said. “Despite his hectic schedule, Peter always had a few minutes to spare to provide feedback on TIG initiatives or to explain, for example, how certain technologies fit within the municipal IT space.” 

Jeffers said Bennett went on to lead in-house corporate development programs within the City of Winnipeg to mentor future municipal leaders. “He was a guy that became involved in all sorts of other areas of the city,” he said.

Bennett was remembered by his wife, children, mother and other friends and family at a service on May 17. Donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 200 – 6 Donald St., Winnipeg, R3L 0K6 or to the Messiah Lutheran Church Restoration Fund, 400 Rouge Rd., Winnipeg, R3K 1K3. NEIL BARDAL INC. 949-2200.

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