On the Next Episode of The Mayor: Winnipeg 2022
Updated: Oct 26, 2020
So, Mayor Brian Bowman has made a decision. He is not going to seek re-election in 2022 citing a perfectly valid reason ... not wanting to become a career politician.
As you know, I'm not the biggest fan of Bowman. I find very little that he does, has teeth. He's a nice guy but when you have a bully like Pallister in office you need more fight out of the mayor. I'm also a little iffy on his reason for wanting to resign from his post when the next election comes.
We're moving into this weird new world where the only qualification for office is to not have held office or been involved in politics at all. How are some of the most powerful jobs in the world filled with people that have less experience than is required to work at a gas station? It's wild.
Then, on the other hand, I understand not wanting to be a career politician. It's tough on a person. 50% of people seem to always hate your ideas, the media is always looking for an angle, and the nonsense you have to put up with is just demoralizing.
Why Bowman is leaving isn't really important, it's just the fact that he is. That means there is a wide open field for anyone that wants to run for mayor in 2022.
Who should win? I have no idea. I've always like Larry McIntosh but I feel like his time has come and gone. When I recently polled my audience on social media there were some names that came up:
Ace Burpee: I think Ace would make a good spokesperson or PR rep, but I can't picture him in office. I feel like his local celebrity conflicts with his ability to do the job.
Kevin Klein: If he wants to run, which he likely will, I'm thinking he needs to gain more trust. That driving and taking a picture thing is still weird to me, and could be indicative of a problem.
Russ Wyatt: With his strange story, I don't see him winning but he's an interesting contender. I feel like the election would be more about dirt slinging if he entered though.
Janice Lukes: While I doubt she could get passion behind her campaign, I can see the potential of her in office. I think she would add an interesting dimension to the debates, if nothing else.
Hal Anderson: Another interesting choice but I can't see him wanting to get into politics at this stage in his life.
Jenny Motkaluk: She ran before, and could again. But, she'd need a whole new team and a better strategy. That last run was a bit of a mess.
Devon Clunis: Another interesting choice, and perhaps he could help repair the public trust in WPS. Seems like a genuinely nice guy with a good head on her shoulders.
There were other names mentioned, but for the most part your eyes are already rolling back in your head because many of these names are unrecognizable. So, let's get to the grit of this blog; what I would like to see the next Mayor do with his or her time in office.
I wrote a similar blog in 2018 and 2017. Since they're getting shared again, I felt like it was a good idea to update my list for 2020 and beyond. In those previous blogs I spoke about what Bowman has done with his time in office and not much has changed so I'll jump right into what I feel the perfect platform should look like.
The Perfect Platform
I, and many, are over this whole process of elections, celebrity sparring and the cumbersome process of voting. The next mayor should update the entire system for 2022. In fact, these ideas should have been implemented several elections ago on a Federal level but since the government seems slow to change, I believe Winnipeg could stand out as a leader in election reform. What does reform look like to me?
No more long-drawn out campaigns, and no more aggressive campaigning. 3-months for people to get educated and get out to vote max!
Get rid of the need for finance at all. Build a simple website with the candidates side-by-side, their platforms listed in an easily digestible way, and then the ability for the campaign and citizens to speak about each platform item right on the site. Candidates could also upload a video with a third-party interviewer on each piece of the platform. If someone doesn't have web access, they can call a phone line to get a package mailed out to them or for pickup from City Hall. These politicians should not be celebrities, they should be public servants. We don't need a popularity contest, we need ideas that are also vetted based on a fair system.
Direct Answers Policy. If you want to run for office you should not be able to duck questions. "Why can't more road work be done at night?" The answer should not be, "My office has a 5 stage plan in place to understand the challenges in regards to road maintenance and we're looking to push forward into the future with all sorts of ideas that will come down the pipeline." The answer should be, "We're broke," or, "If you look at this clear analysis, it won't work because of A, B and C." Straight answers, every time.
Get rid of debates as they are. The format is weak at best. I'm so sick of watching adults bicker on TV. Grow up, let each other talk, and then (I dunno) put a button they have to press for rebuttals so that only their mic is on. They get one press of the button per topic. Put the debate on all free local TV stations, internet lives and stick to one good, clean debate.
Link voting to online banking. Seriously, when's the last time you've heard of banking websites getting hacked? Work with the local banks to give the power of ballot through their online portal. If someone isn't eligible for an account, we need a new kind of account that allows all to have one. There's a secure login, more people will vote, and we can actually be the first at something again.
Using social media, campaigning can become a lot easier and less expensive. No candidate for Mayor in Winnipeg has used social media correctly yet. It's time they learn.
Last point I'd say is that we should get rid of canvassing all together. We as citizens need to be more responsible about how we select our leaders so we should get more involved. Neighbourhoods could organize functions at community centres, in back yards, etc. Candidates could attend and talk with people on a human-to-human level. Door knocking is such a terrible way of communicating and there are strategies built to avoid questions. The whole concept is antiquated.
My big sticking point with campaigns now is that they're icky. It's a weird word to use but it's definitely how I feel. The shameless self-promotion, photo ops with babies, wasted money, and rat race of it all is actually disgusting.
We encourage politicians to be fake to get voted in then we wonder why they disappoint us over and over.
All over the world, police and citizenry are butting heads. Winnipeg is no different. We need meaningful reform here too. This doesn't mean defunding the police. I think that's a terrible idea and the social experiments that are engaging in this mindset are failing.
I believe police reform is actually pretty straight forward:
Cops need more time to train in non-lethal but effective force.
They should be mandated to submit for physicals and be in certain shape to do the job, otherwise they're pushing paper.
Bring back Community Police and get more boots on the ground.
It would be great if we could get a social worker called in to domestic situations with the police. They can evaluate the situation and make legal recommendations about the next steps.
We need more police in problem areas that get to know the community.
Cops need to be heard, as well. They're frustrated and have a lot of good ideas. Let's talk directly with the people who are affected.
That's just to start. We need this. The public and the police should not be so divided. We as a community need to stop jumping on situations with cops and assuming the worst too though. That doesn't help anyone.
I've lived downtown most of my adult life. What a shit hole. I work 10 seconds from home and I am constantly seeing violence or getting caught up in it because that's just how it is. I believe Bowman failed where Katz was succeeding. We need to re-strategize the entire idea of what our downtown looks like. I don't care if we steal ideas from other cities, but we need to do something before it declines anymore. Some ideas:
We need a Stephen's Ave, like in Calgary. It's so vibrant.
At some point we have to do something to bring life to Winnipeg Square.
It's time to connect from City Hall to the courts and everything in between via tunnels and sky walks. Let's stop pretending winter doesn't suck here.
We need many more community events outside when it's nice enough to do so.
I'd like to see a solid addictions centre just outside of downtown. A place of no judgement; just help and guidance.
We've created a problem for ourselves with the placement of the missions we have in the city. I believe in a contain and collapse style of crime fighting and helping the less fortunate. There are some hard realities to this approach though. Siloam and other missions should be between the underpass by Higgins and Inkster, Main to Mc Phillips. Why do I say that? If we can create well defined borders then we can start to work from the outside in to deal with crime and homelessness. Get real humane strategies in place that help enhance our downtown but also those that need more support in life than others. To some, this approach might seem cold, like creating a "Narrows" concept from Gotham. I'm not talking about centralizing the problem and letting it run amuck. I'm talking about focused energy to help and grow.
Somebody needs to come up with a real and viable plan for Portage Place Mall.
The money is already spent on destroying traffic flow in the Exchange in favour of bike lanes. There is not a lot that can be done. But, if we're going to go this route, we need to introduce Lime or other on-demand small mobile vehicle services so that those lanes get used more. The fact that we still don't have a service like this in Winnipeg is actually kinda ridiculous.
It's time to get a network of cameras covering all of downtown put into place. Just the public streets and back lanes, but the cops need these tools to keep people safe. Right now, there is a lot of reactive policing. Let's get proactive. I know, you're worried about your privacy but are you bitching at Polo Park when you walk around the mall because they have cameras? No. We're not talking about going into anyone's homes here. Just a level of proactive protection and deterrence.
I think we need a crime app, where people can submit their video and comments about a crime they witnessed anonymously.
I know, it feels like I'm harping on crime downtown, but honestly, it's needed. Our office was broken into twice in one day! In 2019, I was in 19 fights just walking home. Many people who come downtown have their cars broken into and feel unsafe.
This is partially because of the desperation in our city, but also because criminals know they can get away with most of what they do downtown. The cops that have answered my calls have said exactly that.
We need to get our priorities in order before worrying about vanity projects like a new logo, fancy looking decor for RT routes, re-opening Portage and Main, etc. etc. We get so caught up in vanity that we forget:
Our roads are falling apart and the technologies we have available are inadequate.
That prostitution should be legal. You may think this isn't a big deal, but it is. In the North End, there are women being controlled to give blow jobs for $10 and they get to keep $5. The conditions are dirty, the pimps are mean, and diseases are left to run rampant. This is an easy problem to solve. Stop telling women (and I guess some men) what they can and can't do with their bodies, legalize and regulate the trade. Register it, tax it, make sure it's safer. This is a big issue for some, but we don't solve problems like this by forcing it further underground. Shine light on the problem and soon enough, there will be vibrant solutions.
Bridging the gaps between neighbourhoods, backgrounds, and our people in general has to become a priority. We have racial and class divides that seem to get worse with every passing tick on the clock.
Universal Basic Income
The fact of the matter is what we are doing isn't working. Winnipeg's unique landscape, climate, size, and demographics make it the perfect test city for UBI. How this could work:
Manitoba Housing is converted to UBI housing.
Those building are regulated for clean living and helping those in the building getting acclimated into society.
Participants must do 10 hours per week of some sort of work that betters the community. I know this is a challenge for some mom's out there but I'm sure if mothers and leaders got into a room together, we could figure it out.
Guaranteed monthly income on a card that can only be used at approved businesses. This ensures the money is being spent on bettering their lives.
A yearly or even quarterly review of finances. Any excess money is then plotted for use with a financial planner.
This does rid of welfare, EI, CERB, and the many other programs that are broken or fragmented.
We have a real homelessness and drug problem in this city, and those who are in these situations are made to feel ashamed. Once again, shine light on a subject, make it shine.
A United Council + Public
City Council deals with issues that affect the public on a regular basis. It's time we got a City of Winnipeg app that allows for instant public feedback. We then need councillors to be in touch with their constituents, representing the actual needs of the people, and not guessing.
This is 2020, and it will be 2022 when the new Mayor takes office. Communication between City Hall, council and the public needs to improve drastically.
The numbers are there, urban sprawl is killing our budgets. We need to stop building new areas by the Perimeter and work within the boundaries already set. We're not building communities anymore, we're just building sections of the city that are trying to get as far away from downtown and the North End as possible. That, right there, is indicative of a real problem.
The city is horrible for traffic. We need real solutions to the problems we face. A few that come to mind:
Digital speed signs that have a dry and steady road condition speed and a dangerous conditions speed. We could break it up by seasons. Remember, we have to stop pretending like we don't have a uniquely crappy winter.
The fact remains that Route 90 from Lag to Inkster is a mess. It needs to be addressed. One of the most major routes in the city shouldn't jump from 50 - 80.
We know, that based on studies, red light cameras are not effective in preventing speeding, ticket quotas and a lack of circumstance when getting pulled over are out of control, our entire light system needs to be re-tooled for fairer traffic laws, and that's just scratching the surface. It's time Winnipeg listen to the engineers.
Traffic is a big problem in Winnipeg. Sure, it's not a problem like in LA but there is a lot we can do to fix the issues we have that are unique to us.
The Hard Conversation
The vast majority of people I speak to don't understand which of their tax dollars go to the city and how the budget work. The fact of the matter is that we don't have a lot of money right now and there are some tough decisions to make. We, as a city, need to come together and solve our issues together.
Will some cuts hurt? Absolutely. So where should we start? Well, I say we start with what kind of money is being spent on politics and politicians. Cut all the fat. Civic servants, remember? Secondly, we need to look at creative solutions to producing more revenue that isn't just a tax hike. Revenue for more value, not less. Third, I think a big place we can cut resources is abolishing the subsidizing of commercial operations like the Convention Centre.
Stop Bringing in US Companies + Focus on Local
Did we really need Target or Lowe’s when we have Walmart and Home Depot? It’s fine to bring in US companies but you have to limit the reach or we will have a balloon economy. When the US fails so will we. Prop up local and Canadian businesses unless the US companies can show a way to integrate local besides job growth. Yes, jobs are important but if there is a need the supply and demand chain will create the jobs.
We, the people of Winnipeg, and City Hall need to do a better job of supporting local businesses. This is key to being a self-sustaining city.
A Recipe for Success
Set deadlines for your goals, and don’t make promises. Make sure you cover 2 large and 1 small goal every month. Report what you have done on City authorized social media. By being clear you won’t have so much disappointment.
Stop Relying on the Media
Again, it’s 2020. Think forward!
I know this developer named Brett, and he can throw together a city initiative app for voting in no time flat. You would have stopped this ridiculous P&M discussion long ago if you just talked directly with us.
Thinking about cutting buses or raising parking costs? Let us vote on what we would prefer.
$12m to open P&M or to provide more camera coverage downtown? Let us vote on what we would prefer.
Stuck between cuts to 2 departments? Let us vote on what we would prefer.
Jeff Browaty has it half right. We should vote on P&M but shouldn’t have to wait every 4 years for an election in order to be heard. Provide the FACTS for each side of the debate, vetted by 2 independent sources with separate ideologies and then a vote option on an app. You could even get people to check the boxes under each paragraph to make sure they understand and read both sides before voting. If they check too quickly you know they aren’t actually reading. Yes, people need that kind of safeguard.
Cleaning Up Our City
Winnipeg is dirty ... often. In the winter, it's all the sand and salt from the streets and sidewalks. In the summer, graffiti is constant and there is trash everywhere. I think the province and city need to do a better job of dealing with petty criminals. I was a stupid kid and I paid for it. One summer spent scraping scuff marks off of a gym floor allows a kid to gain some perspective. We need to work on devising a plan that frees up our courts, cleans up our communities, and gives youth a chance to rehabilitate through some elbow grease.
So, I've mentioned weather related speed limits, connecting downtown fully and other ways to address our erratic climate, but the elephant in the room has yet to be addressed. We need an indoor waterpark and entertainment emporium. It's time. This city has a real problem with giving us too many things we don't want and depriving us of the one big attraction that would change the entire city overnight.
An indoor waterpark is not only a cash cow for the city, but there are so many ways to make money. Attach it to one of the malls but make sure the services are city run so that city makes the much needed revenue, then lease out spaces that surround the park to entertainment and food/beverage businesses. Think about it, Edmonton is basically Winnipeg with a much cooler mall. The tourism from up North and just South of us would be beneficial.
The upfront investment would be massive but the benefits are simply too exciting to ignore anymore.
There are more issues to explore but I only have so much time to write. I'm sure most of these seem like no brainers but many were on my list in 2012, 2016, 2017, and 2018. The questions we really have to ask ourselves at this point in history is why does putting real positive change into action take so damn long when it's a no brainer?
Something that has become abundantly clear is that we need a Mayor with a strong backbone but that is also going to go and work in the community to help understand and solve problems.
I want a Mayor that goes to the North End and sits down with the people.
I want a Mayor that doesn't have to defer questions about our lacklustre construction to others, and can answer why everything takes so long to build here.
I want a Mayor that offers straight up communication to the people, through the many methods that catch us up with the times.
I want a Mayor who is a visionary.
I want a Mayor who has the fortitude to work like an entrepreneur, inspire like a leader, and listen like a therapist.
Is that really so much to ask?
No matter who we give the rose to in the final elimination, I just hope that candidate is ready to shake things up because this show is getting boring.