WINNIPEG, MB - Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, who quietly announced he will be seeking a second term in the chair, delivered a pre-election style State of the Union address.
You can watch the address here;
Mayor Bowman's focused on four elements including the elimination of the business tax, Winnipeg is the only city with one, more accountability and a focus on safety as he spoke to a crowd of more than 1,000 attending the annual Chamber of Commerce event.
“The days of feeling like you have to whisper about your pride in Winnipeg are over,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Winnipeg’s strongest days are here. We are a city that’s growing, collaborative, and compassionate, and we need to be focused on building our city for families, for business, and for the future.”
In the coming year, Mayor Bowman emphasized the importance of planning for future growth, building strong government, protecting Winnipeg’s competitiveness, and ensuring Winnipeg continues to be an inclusive, safe city for families.
“Winnipeg is projected to grow steadily and strongly well into the future,” said Mayor Bowman. “We need to be smart in how we plan for this growth and this means making infrastructure investment decisions based on value for money and a business case rather than partisan politics.”
The Mayor highlighted how the City of Winnipeg has compiled an update on the state of its infrastructure and for the first time ever has prepared an asset management plan that applies a consistent approach to how data is collected and analyzed across the entire portfolio of city-owned assets.
“Smart decision making starts with strong, accurate information,” said Mayor Bowman. “These documents will help depoliticize decision making at City Hall and lead to smarter investment choices.”
The Mayor said the city’s overall infrastructure deficit has been reduced by three billion dollars from 9.9 billion in 2009 to 6.9 billion dollars today, and stressed that addressing this deficit – for a city that’s the economic engine of the province – is not something it can do alone.
“We need strong partners in our federal and provincial governments,” said Mayor Bowman. “The Waverley Underpass, currently on budget and on time to open in the fall of 2019, is a great example of what can be achieved when governments work together.”
The Mayor said that as Winnipeg’s population continues to grow into the future, it is important that the city maintains its competitiveness by supporting local businesses.
The Mayor outlined how the business tax has been reduced every single year over the last four years and committed to continue with reductions to eventually eliminate the business tax.
“We are the last Canadian city with a business tax, and the best support we can give to businesses fueling our economy is to be clear on the direction and commitment to ending it once and for all,” said Mayor Bowman.
To support local businesses, Mayor Bowman also committed to bring forward a motion tasking the public service to develop a new “buy-local” procurement policy for civic contracts valued at less than $100,000.
To help keep city costs more sustainable, Mayor Bowman announced that Winnipeg will lead the establishment of a new national committee enabling municipalities from across the country to share information to ensure more sustainable labour agreements.
“It’s time cities showed up at the bargaining table, better organized, and ready to better protect taxpayers and Winnipeg will help lead this effort,” said Mayor Bowman.
Mayor Bowman said that as Winnipeg grows, the safety of Winnipeg’s residents remains paramount.
“Everyone deserves a chance to thrive and grow, and they need a community that celebrates all those who choose Winnipeg as their home,” said Mayor Bowman. “Most importantly, all Winnipeggers need to feel accepted and safe.”
To help keep residents safe, Mayor Bowman announced:
the Winnipeg Police Service will be establishing a formal Illicit Drug Strategy relying on Smart Policing principles to target the challenging issue of meth and other illegal drugs;
$3.5 million dollars to enhance outreach services, expand foot patrols, and lighting to make downtown safer, complementing the existing work of the Winnipeg Police Service’s Centreline strategy; and
discussions later this year with frontline agencies including police, city planners, social and health professionals to find a way to reduce aggressive panhandling in the city.
Mayor Bowman outlined how Winnipeg is using technology and innovation to build Winnipeg for the future. By leveraging the city’s Transportation Management Centre (TMC), Mayor Bowman announced:
a pilot project this spring will use data provided by residents through the WAZE app and 311 as well as the TMC’s set of strategically located video cameras to more quickly and accurately identify potholes and prioritize repairs; and
a commitment to explore how the TMC’s traffic cameras can be leveraged to strengthen public safety by working with the Police Board, police department, privacy professionals, and the Ombudsman’s office.
“From potholes to public safety, there are ways to better deploy existing resources, use data, and improve services,” said Mayor Bowman. “This is innovation, and we’re using it to grow smarter.”
The Mayor said that by partnering with business owners to reimagine the Portage and Main intersection, the city has taken some of the biggest steps toward transforming its downtown in our lifetime.
The Richardson Building will be commencing improvements to their property this spring, and will be the first to remove barriers at the iconic corner, the first step in a phased-in process that will better connect downtown from the Bell MTS Place to the Forks, to Shaw Park, to North Main and through the Exchange District.
To further strengthen accountability and improve city services, Mayor Bowman also committed to:
the introduction of electronic tracking of how each elected member of Council votes at community committees, standing policy committees, and Council meetings;
electrification of Winnipeg’s transit fleet by working together with federal and provincial governments; and
a complete overhaul of 311’s existing online service to improve the quality of information available to residents.
In keeping with tradition, partial proceeds of the State of the City Address are donated to a charity identified by the Mayor.
The charity identified this year is the Bruce Oake Memorial Fund recognizing the efforts of the Oake family to end the stigma of addiction and increase health services in Winnipeg.
With files from the City of Winnipeg