by Brian Bowman, Mayor of Winnipeg
I’m thrilled to be contributing a monthly column to Smart Biz Magazine. This is a great way for me to connect with Winnipeggers, and to fill you in on what’s been happening at City Hall. As you may remember, openness, honesty and transparency were among my key campaign commitments, and I’m delighted at this opportunity to further engage with readers from across Winnipeg.
I recently delivered my second State of the City Address at the RBC Convention Centre. It was rewarding to look back on the past year and recognize that we’re generating a lot of momentum toward building a modern, more open and transparent City. Winnipeg today is a growing, thriving city, and we are well on our way to building a more modern city through continued hard work and collaboration.
As part of my State of the City Address, I expressed my support for the demolition and redevelopment of the former Public Safety Building and Civic Parkade. This area represents a tremendous opportunity to further refine and renew our Exchange District, and to reconnect the East and West Exchanges. This will involve a lot of collaboration with Winnipeggers, Red River College, the Arts and Cultural Industries Association and leaders from the innovation, arts, and design sectors.
I also reconfirmed my support to remove the pedestrian barriers at Portage and Main as a key step to making this iconic area of downtown Winnipeg more accessible and engaging. I do believe Portage and Main is not just an intersection – it’s where Winnipeg has intersected with life!
To grow Winnipeg, we need to be open to all economic opportunities and options. Consistent with OurWinnipeg, the City’s long-term development plan, I reaffirmed my support for Aboriginal Economic Development Zones as a powerful opportunity to help build and develop our city. I have expressed my continued support to our federal government partners and I look forward to building inter-governmental cooperation and collaboration on how to use these opportunities to build Winnipeg.
In February, I was pleased to honour a campaign promise by initiating a discussion among other municipal leaders regarding the long-term future of funding and the need to find alternative revenue sources beyond property taxes.
In Winnipeg, we face an infrastructure deficit of over $7 billion. In Manitoba, municipalities are responsible for 60% of infrastructure, yet receive just 8 cents of every tax dollar to get the job done. Together with 137 other Mayors and Reeves across Manitoba, we continue to underscore to the province a need for a fair share and a fair say in how infrastructure dollars are spent in our communities.
As many readers will know, I have declared 2016 as the Year of Reconciliation for Winnipeg. It is my hope this will build on the years of important work by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and all of our grassroots organizations.
And I want to challenge all of you to consider what you can do – as individuals, as businesses – to respond to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Reconciliation is about resilience. It’s about honouring the truth, and reconciling for the future. And each of us has a role to play. Our success as a city depends on the well-being of all Winnipeggers, working together, so we all have an opportunity to participate socially and economically in life.
I want to again thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Mayor and all your efforts to build a stronger Winnipeg. Working together, Winnipeg is retaking its rightful place at the centre of this great country!
Thank you, Merci and Miigwetch.