Tag Archives: Brian Bowman

State of the City: Winnipeg Transit is on the Move

by His Worship Brian Bowman, Mayor of Winnipeg

Welcome back to another month of SmartBiz, Winnipeg! Last month I talked about tourism in our city, and this month I’d like to talk about rapid transit – something that will help support Winnipeg’s tourism, as well as benefit our residents tremendously as we grow towards one million people strong.

At the beginning of June, Winnipeg hosted many different Mayors from cities, big and small, from across Canada at the Big City Mayors Caucus meeting and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting and trade show.

It was interesting to speak with Mayors visiting from cities with one million people or more. In their cities, rapid transit is already well established and an important part of their transportation infrastructure. Cities like Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto all have some form of rapid transit, and some have more than just one.

For me, it is clear Winnipeg requires a rapid transit system, and the time to build that system for the future is now, before we reach one million people.

We need to make strategic investments in infrastructure based on future demands, not the demands of today. This is certainly not a new or novel strategy. All infrastructure investments we make need to meet current demands but also prepare us for future pressures arising from a growing city.

I believe Winnipeg needs to be part of the conversations other big cities are having, and that we need to keep our city moving forward. We simply cannot continue with previous City Councils’ track records of delaying decision making and forcing difficult decisions onto subsequent Councils.

Several years ago, City Council decided on bus rapid transit as the optimal rapid transit system for Winnipeg. In June, Council had a difficult decision to make with respect to land acquisition, and I expect there will be other difficult decisions to be made in this regard. However, I continue to believe in moving forward with a bus rapid transit system. But, like any project, I don’t believe in it at any and all cost. We need to monitor its progress closely.

This is why I was very encouraged to learn about significant cost savings identified for the second phase of the Southwest Rapid Transitway. Cost savings of $120 million have been identified for this project, and it is currently on-track and on-time with construction scheduled to start later this year.

It is unfortunate that some councillors want to move us backward and revisit the debate over what type of rapid transit system is best for Winnipeg. Some have even recommended the City cancel bus rapid transit in favour of a light rail system at anywhere from 2.5 to 50 times the cost of bus rapid transit. I don’t believe that is a cost or a delay the City can endure at this time, and do not feel we should be throwing away all of the money already invested in years of planning and engineering work. Through careful planning, however, investments being made today in bus rapid transit infrastructure can be converted to light rail in the future if required.

The second phase of bus rapid transit represents one of the largest capital projects in the City’s history. For this project, we have secured $365 million dollars from our provincial and federal partners. Now is not the time to walk away from $365 million in federal and provincial commitments, and to walk away from a project we need to build today to make our city better tomorrow.

I also do not want to go back to the days of Council fighting over what rapid transit system they want. I certainly appreciate for many councillors and many Winnipeggers, bus rapid transit continues to be a controversial issue. But I do not want to move our city backwards. I want to continue moving us forward and to build our city for the future.

As we get set to begin construction on the second phase of rapid transit, we need to begin examining the next best route. The City of Winnipeg’s Transportation Plan identifies the eastern corridor as the next priority for rapid transit, and work is currently underway to examine and develop the conceptual design as well as the broad implementation strategy for the next rapid transit route that would link Transcona to the downtown.

I believe Winnipeg’s future is bright. And, together, we can build a city we can all be proud of. A modern and efficient rapid transit system plays an integral role in supporting a city that is growing to one million people strong.

Winnipeg a tourism destination

by City of Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman

Hi Winnipeg, it’s a pleasure to be back for my fourth column with Smart Biz.

Summer is upon us – a sometimes short and sweet season here in Winnipeg. And although Winnipeggers know how to embrace winter more than anyone, many of us live for the hot prairie summers. It’s a fantastic time for tourism in our city, because there is so much going on! Continue reading Winnipeg a tourism destination

Mayor Bowman’s 2016 Winnipeg Budget Overview

Hi Winnipeg,

I’m excited to be back! This month, for my second column with Smart Biz, I’d like to talk about the 2016 City Budget, which was approved on March 22.

The 2016 budget is balanced, makes record investments in infrastructure, and maintains and invests in key services Winnipeggers have said they need. This includes increased investments to both the Winnipeg Police Service and Fire Paramedic Service.

I believe this year’s budget reflects a disciplined and responsible approach considering we are managing a $7 billion infrastructure deficit, and have inherited a structural deficit following 14 years of property tax cuts and freezes.

The 2016 budget builds our city for the future, reflecting the fact we are a growing, thriving city. It also maintains and invests in key services Winnipeggers have told us through the budget consultation process that they need.

Winnipeggers remind me regularly they want their streets fixed. The budget reflects this priority.

It includes a modest property tax increase that is entirely dedicated to infrastructure including building and repairing local and regional streets and sidewalks, and investing in the future Southwest Rapid Transitway.

It also ensures Winnipeg homeowners continue to have the lowest residential municipal property taxes when compared to other large cities across Canada.

Total capital investment into local and regional streets increases to a record level of $105.2 million this year, almost $2 million more than last year and $21 million more than 2014 representing a 25 per cent increase over the last two years.

As well, the construction of the Southwest Rapid Transitway is a key, strategic infrastructure investment required to support a more modern public transit network that is essential for a modern, growing city.

While the 2016 budget reflects significant investments in infrastructure, this priority does not come at the expense of key services Winnipeggers have told us they need.

The budget increases funding for both the Winnipeg Police Service by 6.32% and the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service budget by 6.63%.

Combined, these two departments comprise 44.6% of the total tax supported budget in 2016 and do need to be carefully managed.
I have and I will continue to support increased investment in the Winnipeg Police Service, and support the Winnipeg Police Board’s strategic plan to transition toward funding increases starting in 2017 to 2019 that are tied to or less than the rate of inflation.
The 6.32% increase for the Winnipeg Police Service this year is three times the rate of inflation, and represents a $16.7 million increase on a proposed police budget of about $280 million. This increase exceeds the City’s $9.7 million obligation under collective bargaining agreements.

It also builds on successive year-over-year increases to the Winnipeg Police Service. Over the last ten years, the Winnipeg Police Service budget has increased 80%. Over that same period of time, the City of Winnipeg’s budget has increased 68%. As well, the police service’s share of the overall City budget has increased from 21% in 2006 to over 26% in the proposed 2016 budget.

The 2016 budget makes many other important investments. It fulfills the City’s $10 million commitment toward the construction of Freedom Road, an all-weather road for Shoal Lake First Nation #40, by contributing a further $6 million toward the design and construction of the required bridges. The City of Winnipeg has been committed to Freedom Road from the beginning. I continue to support the project, and will work with Shoal Lake 40 First Nation and other levels of government to move it forward.

The 2016 budget identifies administrative efficiencies and tax supported savings that are invested into the renewal of regional streets. This year, the budget identifies $11.1 million in administrative efficiencies and tax supported savings that are invested directly into the Regional Streets Renewal Program. It also embeds the $1 million Innovation Capital Fund annually to facilitate investment in new and innovative ideas to improve efficiency, service delivery and responsiveness in city operations.

We continue to chip away at a structural deficit that we inherited following many years of property tax freezes. But we still have work to do.

While the 2016 budget is balanced, it does forecast a $51.7 million deficit in 2017 and an $81.9 million deficit in 2018.

Although the 2016 budget forecasts a challenging fiscal position in future years, we managed to reduce the deficit projected in 2017 by over 50 per cent from $115.2 million to $51.7 million.

Moving forward, we need to continue examining responsible and reasonable ways to address the structural deficit while we continue to work with other municipalities to obtain a fair share and a fair say in how provincial infrastructure dollars are invested in our communities.

As we continue this work, the 2016 City budget puts us on a disciplined and responsible track that builds our City for the future and invests in key services you’ve told us you need.

Brian Bowman’s vision for 2016

by Brian Bowman, Mayor of Winnipeg

Hi 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.
Continue reading Brian Bowman’s vision for 2016

How the media almost lost us a key Winnipeg development

By Dorothy Dobbie (photo courtesy of True North Sports & Entertainment Ltd.)

I am a huge fan of Mark Chipman for his courage in stepping up to the plate for the Winnipeg Jets, and for what he has done to support downtown Winnipeg.
I have worked with, admire, and consider Curt Vossen a friend, and know that he genuinely cares about what happens to this city.
I have worked with Ross McGowan and respect his creative deal-making genius and consider that he was a fantastic get-it-done guy for CentreVenture Corp.
And I respect and support Brian Bowman as mayor because I personally know his courage and I believe in his passion for doing things right at City Hall and making good things happen for Winnipeg.
For the past month these four people – great guys that I admire, respect and enjoy – have been at very public loggerheads. How did this happen? They are all white hats and very sincere. They should be each other’s best friends.
Answer: the media
Unfortunately, the local media has had a huge part to play in stirring the pot, creating dissension and “dragging this thing though the mud.” The motivations vary from personal to political, but the sad thing is, this media frenzy hurts us all and it really hurt the four proponents on a very personal level.
I carefully read and listened to everything that was reported. What I heard reported as fact was often very different from what I heard actually being said. Words were taken out of context, comments were spun in a twisted way; it was made to look as though the Mayor was calling the integrity of the other guys into question, when what I heard was his concern about the optics and the process.
And when the issue about process was being made, I heard reporters deliberately steer the topic back to personal vendetta issues.
Here were three very media un-savvy guys – Bowman, Chipman and Vossen – being manipulated by some pretty experienced and somewhat cynical people.
I have reason to know how this works; a mike is shoved in your face and you are asked the “When-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife?” kind of question that you can’t answer without a denial, which makes you look guilty.
The other trick they use is to lob a question at you that leads to a specific answer – maybe the topic isn’t even in play, but no matter how you respond, the question puts words in your mouth.
Or they will quote an out-of-context comment from the opposing side that is designed to elicit an angry reaction.
By the way, not everyone in the media agrees with these tactics and some of them have shared their concerns with me. They also underlined the personal context that shaped much of the reporting in this case.

Advice to the Mayor and the businessmen
If something such as this ever comes up again, guys, here’s what should happen.
You need to call together a closed-door meeting. Yes, sometimes you do have to meet behind closed doors to clear the air and get things done. Twenty minutes of straight talk between you would have sorted this out.
What should not have happened was the continued rising to the media bait, which only escalated the miscommunication and hard feelings that were put into play. It’s time now to put aside all this crap (I use the word advisedly), and move forward.
Mark, you aren’t going to pull the True North Square project. Brian, you have to be pragmatic about the need sometimes to find creative ways that are not bruited about in the media. And Curt, CentreVenture needs to continue to do the exciting and creative things that have been making a real difference in our downtown. We need the leadership of all three of you and we need you all to be in sync.