Winnipeg’s Next Mayor Needs to do Much Better than Bowman
It’s election time in Winnipeg again and we really screwed up as a city letting Brian Bowman run things for 8 years so now we have the chance to do better.
I’ve touched on why I feel Bowman was a terrible photo op Mayor but I’ll highlight my top 3:
- He let downtown fall apart.
- He did very little to curb the homeless crisis, unless you consider handing out burn barrels to be real action.
- He also did not give us the transparency at City Hall he spoke about during both elections.
And I’m not even getting creative here. There are dozens of reasons Bowman’s reign was more of a whimper than a roar. He had a few accomplishments but most of those were projects that would have happened regardless, like the downtown dog park.
I like Glen Murray’s initial insights. He says he was Mayor once and has learned a lot since so he knows he could do even better this time. But then again, if you hear how his last job went, you gotta wonder how the staff will take to his return.
I also like how Kevin Klein doesn’t seem to hold back. He goes after council regularly, which is refreshing. But, he had that whole driving while on a cell phone issue that he lied about constantly and he throws off used car salesman vibes, which won’t play well with voters.
The nice guy in this election is Scott Gillingham but I think that’ll work against him. He was a pastor which means he lives by rules I think he’d have a hard time following in politics. He comes off very Bowman-like in a less hyper manner. He seems like a genuinely good human but maybe too good for the current system. I think he’s in the right role as a Councillor.
Who Will Win?
I’m putting my money on Murray (that’s not an endorsement). It’s just that Winnipeggers are pretty traditional in their voting styles. Murray has better name brand recognition and looks more approachable.
It’s a toss up as to who places second. Right now, I’ll put my money on Klein but who between these two will take second place is going to be determined by the 7-days before the election.
I have to admit that I do like the idea of our old-Mayor being the new-Mayor.
Glen did a decent job his first time around and he won’t require any on the job training. He can hit the ground running and we should see a lot happen in his first 100 days; a lot more than usual. If we don’t, something is very wrong.
I have met a lot of politicians in my life from civic to federal, and one thing they all say is that the first time they take an office, there is at least 6 months of massive learning curve. Glen won’t need that.
What are the Issues?
You might be looking for the issues that pollsters say burn in the hearts and minds of Winnipeg voters. If that’s what you’re after, click here.
This time around, I did things a little differently. I compiled my list of must have solutions of Winnipeg and I also ran some ads asking my lists and others for their opinions. I’m going to keep this to a top 10 list instead of an infinite scroll.
There are plenty of other ideas but I know y’all are not reading a 55 minute blog.
Before you read my list, understand my viewpoint. Under Bowman, I believe we’ve collapsed so far into a pit of crisis that to truly repair the damage we’re going to need to accept that there are uncomfortable conversations coming, and probably some uncomfortable cuts.
Far-lefties need to stop approaching everything with their blanket outrage and Far-righties need to realize their endless Freedom nonsense and anti-medical fixation are a waste of time. They need to get back to being fiscally responsible, and hold City Hall to said standard.
The Top 10 Asks
- Downtown Rebuilt
- Homelessness addressed
- Route 90 expanded
- Fair traffic enforcement
- Green incentives for downtown businesses
- Election & voting reform
- Real crime reform
- An indoor waterpark
- Use social media properly
- Stop wasting money on nonsense
Downtown Rebuilt & Homelessness Addressed
Under Murray, downtown was improving. Under Katz, downtown was improving. Under Bowman, downtown went to shit.
I live and work downtown, and in the past few years when I look out over my balcony the area looks more like an episode of The Walking Dead than any bustling downtown legal drama like Suits.
It is time to admit three very unfortunate truths about our city; we have a huge drug problem, homelessness is the new urban sprawl, and crime downtown is disgustingly high.
We’ll address the first point later on.
In regards to the second, we have not isolated the majority of the homeless population. They don’t have a central hub of assistance. Missions are slammed. There is no graduation procedure in terms of levels to assistance. We have human beings dying on the streets in winter and female homeless that are living a life where they expect to be raped in the summer. The solution to makeshift bus shack housing was to remove most of the bus shacks, which is no solution at all given that most businesses have had to lock their doors just to keep people out of their lobbies in winter or rain. Real action is needed and we’ve messed this up so bad, the solution is going to hurt.
First, we need to isolate the missions to between Logan and Selkirk, and Main and Salter. Why? Well, first off, it’s because the area has fallen apart completely. In order to bring it back, we need to build the community that once existed in the North End. That doesn’t happen by ignoring the problems between these streets, but rather building up the area to thrive again.
Another plus is that there are a lot of vacant buildings in the area and I think the city should essentially gift them to missions to assist in resources and facility growth. This is also an area of the city with a large unemployed population. Keeping new jobs isolated to the area whenever possible will bring that sense of community.
Additionally, there needs to be addiction recovery incentives in a facility that doesn’t immediately kick them out and re-introduce them to their drug using peers.
The most expensive part of this is instituting a graduated support system.
Temporary housing can only go so far. Our Missions do the best they can with the resources they have but housing first programs adapted for our city would be an amazing addition.
This would be a large small housing community with these homes gifted to the homeless that are identified by Missions. The community would be isolated and administered 24/7.
Gifting would be in exchange for 10 hours of community service per month (eg: cleaning up areas of downtown) if they have a FT job or 10 hours per week if they don’t, a code of conduct agreement, and a cleanliness pledge.
Each tiny home would be outfitted with a proper bathroom, small kitchen, bed, small living room with a TV, computer, and internet access. The goal is to get the homeless functioning in society again. Once they graduate from the tiny homes they go into Manitoba Housing or the Winnipeg Housing Co-op, and eventually off of assistance.
This alone would drastically improve downtown but it’s not enough. We need COMMUNITY police downtown. This means cops walking the beat, talking to area businesses, helping out, and not ignoring crimes like they often do now. I know that sounds like a bold statement but stand out on my balcony for a few nights and you’ll see cops drive past problems all the time.
One of the worst things this city ever did was getting rid of community police stations.
Additional ideas include:
- More quality camera coverage with live monitoring.
- Rock glass funding for all downtown businesses with main level windows.
- More LED lighting with no dark areas. Have you tried walking by the construction zone at 201 Portage lately? Make a key fist.
- Zero tolerence for pan handling.
- Bus shelters with bus pass scannable entry.
- Revitalization of Portage Place into an entertainment and trend emporium complete with movie theatre, waterpark, laser tag, bowling, and much more.
- Better connectivity between Winnipeg Square and skywalks.
- Tax incentives for renewal projects that come complete with a security plan.
- Continue the improvement of walking and biking paths, and no that doesn’t include re-opening Portage and Main.
- Revitalization and better business planning for Winnipeg Square. Also, addressing mobility issues that exist for those trying to cross at the intersection.
- More green space including on top of parkades with rarely used top levels. These spaces should have performance capabilities as well.
- Back lane revitalization plans getting away from the look and feel of the past and driving forward in a similar fashion to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
- More skating rinks for families once the other improvements are done.
- Proper clustering.
- Turn the former police station grounds into a large park similar to Columbus Commons in Columbus, OH with a touch of Town Square in Las Vegas. At that point, Old Market Square would be redundant. Make that grounds for a night market.
Route 90 Expanded
If you’ve ever driven pretty much anywhere else in the world and then come back to Winnipeg, your frustrations run deep. The fact that we don’t have a single freeway and the Perimeter Hwy has been completely ruined with traffic lights every 35 feet is a bit criminal. We need 3 lanes of free flowing traffic with a fourth and fifth lane to off ramp.
Add to this, the need to make Lag a freeway and let’s bring back a near stop-less Perimeter.
It simply takes too long to get around Winnipeg when everyone else is trying to get around. Whoever designed the infrastructure in this city should never be allowed near another city again.
This is a big, expensive ask but a critical one. Smart people need to do their smart people thing and figure this out. Will it hurt our pocket books? Yep. Will our city be better for it in 10 years? Absolutely.
Given that I don’t have access to the books at City Hall I can’t say how this should be paid for but it needs to happen.
Fair Traffic Enforcement
You want us to believe that our traffic laws are actually dictated by safety? Okay, hire a panel of engineers to create our speed limits and traffic laws. Bar politicians like Matt Allard from having any say. Everyone I know in traffic engineering laughs at Winnipeg’s programs, especially in the states and Calgary.
Our enforcement is too clearly about cash grabs. Whenever I tell a cop in the states about how much our fines are they say the same thing … your city must be broke.
Also, let’s get some winter and summer speed limits going, ignore whatever genius is trying to push 30 kms residential roads every few months, and start innovating in this area.
The 30 kms in residential areas debate really irks me. I can kinda see the logic in school zones but at the end of the day we have too many people screaming about government overreach in this town and not enough people willing to be accountable for them and their’s to look both ways before they cross the street.
I was a kid once. My school had a 60 speed zone right outside of the doors. I and no other kid at the school were hit by a car. These speed limit adjustments are simply pandering to the loudest whiners in the room.
Or maybe I’m wrong.
In that case, I’d love to see any evidence that since school zones became 30, it’s saved lives. To that end, I’d love to see the research that led to the change in the first place. I still have yet to see the actual meta analysis on this topic. Link me if you’ve got it.
Green Incentives for Downtown Businesses
Do you know how hard it is to recycle downtown? It’s nearly impossible. Add to that, all the barren roof tops that could be green and solar spaces and this is an easy one to get on board with.
This touches on all points; environmentalism, beautification, better air quality, and more.
Businesses all over the city, but especially downtown should be offered tax benefits to go green in their offices. It’s good for morale, community building, and our struggling environment.
Let’s face it, our downtown is pretty pathetic. 300 Main adds a bit to the appeal but one big building every 5 years is not going to make our downtown any better in the next 50 years.
How cool would it be to see green rooftops as far as downtown reaches? We’d see teams up on their rooftops in summer working, enjoying the sun, and in the winter, we could see snowmen and Christmas lights all over the city.
I know this one is a little fluffy but it also has real world implications like going green, better workplace morale, a more beautiful view, and much more. Not every suggestion can be hard hitting.
Election & Voting Reform
Winnipeg rarely leads in much of anything. We usually just recycle ideas from other places. Here is a real chance to show the world we have fresh ideas.
Get rid of election cycles and advertising. Get rid of the false promises and lame door knocking. Remove all the kissing babies and shaking hands.
Instead, set up a very easy system built out of the foundations of technological advancement.
Anyone that wants to run for Mayor or Council must submit their paperwork to do so by X date. That paperwork must include their platform that is well sourced.
An independent panel of fact checkers will review the paperwork and allow only those who presented truth to run. Each platform is submitted to a central website and information hub. Anyone without internet access can request the information from 311 via mail or fax.
One debate on Shaw TV, one on MTS TV, one special newscast dedicated to the candidates with backstory and vision is awarded to a local news station pulled from a lottery.
No advertising is allowed, no annoying signs, nothing. We vote on the vetted issues, remove the lies, and keep it quiet. Politics should not be about celebrity, but rather goals.
Attach voting to online banking and have those who don’t have bank accounts or don’t bank online show up to an area bank to vote on paper.
Banking has thee most secure system of online data management and people could vote from their devices at home on any polarizing topics as well as who we want to represent us. This adds flexibility and accountability. Let’s make voting for ideas the new norm. If we do it from our phones then we aren’t put out by “referendums”.
If you don’t like attaching it to banking then there should be a dedicated city app for voting and live updates.
Lastly, and most controversially, raise the voting age to 25. The vast majority of people under 25 couldn’t care less about politics. They often vote for who they’re told to vote for or who they see the most.
Real Crime Reform
Can we please admit that we screwed up by removing community police stations? No one knows who the cops in their area are anymore unless something bad happens.
Bring back area police stations and community policing events that allow the police to get to know the residents they represent. Allow councillors to work with the police in a more substantial role so that everyone is well represented.
All police should submit to spontaneous social media checks, psychiatric evaluations, and whenever possible should be partnered up with those who are opposite gender or of a different race. I see far too many white male cops in this city walking around. Show us that you can be good people doing good in the community for EVERYBODY!
Remove any financial barrier of entry to become a cop and start making the training more about diffusing, negotiation and racial sensitivity training. Maintain a fitness protocol and boy … do I know too many cops that really don’t know how to shoot a gun, especially when under pressure.
I don’t have all of the answers for this one but I do know there is systemic racism within the police force in Winnipeg and that shit needs to go NOW! How are you going to have cops that are biased against Indigenous people in Winnipeg of all places?
I want to see good cops celebrated publicly. Let us know they’re out there and let us understand their stories. The number of cops I see breaking traffic laws, driving past crimes downtown, and walking around with a shit attitude is staggering.
Is it no wonder that trust in our police force is at an all time low? The city literally does nothing to fix this issue.
Last point on this: stop putting cops on traffic duty. That’s for cadets or even a new arm of WPS. When I can’t even get cops to show up after my office is broken into but in the same morning a staff member of mine gets a speeding ticket for going 72 on Portage (even though the lights are programmed for that speed) there is something very, very wrong.
An Indoor Waterpark
I mentioned this in the revitalization of downtown. We need an indoor waterpark. This city is quite boring in terms of what there is to do year round as a group and as a staple form of entertainment.
Make it 3/4 family and 1/4 18+. Open up shops and restaurants on a boardwalk. Put in a beach. Add in bungee jumping and other fun activities. Throw in some hot tubs, cryo facilities, saunas, a gym, and man would it be cool to be there at night as a snow storm takes place outside that can be seen from a glass ceiling.
Edmonton is pretty much just Winnipeg with a cooler mall. So let’s even the scales, make it accessible and show the world Winnipeg has more to offer than a Slurpee title and The Forks.
We’ve been talking about this forever and if there is one city in North America that should have an indoor waterpark; it’s Winnipeg. I actually elect that this be a city run facility and that all profits go back into city coffers. Outside businesses could pay points to the city for setting up shop in the coolest spot in town.
There are endless revenue opportunities here. Just don’t get Tanya Hall to run it. Same last name, no relation.
Use Social Media Properly
The City of Winnipeg’s social media is a bunch of people talking to a wall. There are barely any responses, and when there are they are likely bots or just links to articles.
Politicians need to remember the word SOCIAL before the media part. Have these helpful little life hacks called conversations. We have a lot of smart people living in Winnipeg that are too smart to run for office. I guarantee though, they won’t be shy about sharing ideas if they know that the city cares about what they have to say.
You don’t need the traditional media to get your message across and you don’t need polling. A large percentage of Winnipeggers of all ages are represented on social platforms. Start talking with us about what’s going on.
You’ll be surprised how many good ideas and cost-effective measures you’ll find. One thing is for sure, you’ll stop wasting millions of dollars on crappy slogans, brutal logos, and endless uninspired marketing campaigns.
Stop Wasting Money on Nonsense
Look, we’re aware that government and wasteful spending go together like Sonny and Cher, Kanye and Kim, and Eminem and The Game; in that it’s a dysfunctional relationship that ruins everything in it’s wake. But, enough is enough. This, this, this and the 3 mentions on this list shouldn’t happen.
It has been very clear that the last few administrations had no interest in cutting costs or improving our systems through innovation. We also need to look at some privatization with oversight particularly in the area of transit and operations. I know privatization is an ugly word but like I said, our city needs to be having some uncomfortable conversations right now in order for us to move forward.
Admit to us that we need to run through a difficult period to get to where we want to go. Admit that our roads suck because we don’t have the money to innovate and let the people decide whether taxes should be increased to facilitate or whether we should just suck it up and stop complaining.
Basically, we’re looking for a Mayor with brutal honesty, who will do the hard thing to move us forward. The pandering of the Bowman administration has set us back years while other governments sped past us.
Stop being a politician for a minute and just be responsible leaders taking the interests of the city into account before all else.
I’m no expert and these are certainly not the best of all ideas. However, the problems we have are staring us in the face and they’re only getting worse.
We need a strong Mayor, not Mr Photo Op, Barney Bowman. We need someone who will think outside of the box, have hard conversations, and who we will see leading from all sides … not just Tuxedo.