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What You Need to Know About Tomorrow's Winnipeg Election

The Candidates Brian Bowman - Former privacy lawyer and Winnipeg's first Métis mayor is running for re-election after serving one term. Less than 3 months into his term, Winnipeg was declared Canada's most racist city. Rather than denying the problem or becoming defensive, Bowman promised action - and has taken strides to address this issue, including creating an Indigenous accord. Bowman is also an active face in the community (he attended every single Folklorama pavilion!). He fell short of reforming city council, as promised in the previous election, but remains committed to pursuing new approaches to increase transparency, welcome newcomers and create a youth council. He has promised an increase in property taxes by 2.33% over the next four years. Jenny Motkaluk - A business-development consultant frustrated with the state of civic politics, Motkaluk has promised to make changes. Motkaluk is especially interested in taking a hard line on crime and cooperating with developers. She has promised to raise property taxes by 1.16% over the next four years and seems to be the most credible opponent to Bowman in this election. Don Woodstock - Former Winnipeg Transit driver interested in changing the city's anti-harassment policies to nurture a culture of safety in workplaces. Woodstock has promised a freeze on property taxes for four years and the elimination of growth fees. Tim Diack - This Winnipeg police constable has made it clear that he is not running just to serve the needs of the police. His property tax plan involves raising them by 1.2% in 2019, freezing them in 2020, and cutting them in 2021. Venkat Machiraju - An engineer dedicated to improving infrastructure, reducing property taxes, and encouraging development in the city. Umar Hayat - An entrepreneur and real estate investor committed to attracting more foreign investment and building a downtown grocery store. Hayat has pledged to reduce property taxes and reduce funding for the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Inuit Art Center by over 90%. Doug Wilson - This former mayor of Morden has stated that poverty is the most pressing issue facing Winnipeg. To address this, Wilson has promised to pursue better wages and educational opportunities for citizens. Ed Ackerman - An eccentric filmmaker that has pledged to reduce the police budget and build a "negative toll bridge" that pays people to visit the North End.

The Issues

Methamphetamine and Opiate Crisis With increasing numbers of possession crimes, ER cases, and methamphetamine-related crimes, the city is facing a dire situation that requires significant measures. Bowman and Hayat have stated that they would consider safe injection sites, which have proven successful in Vancouver. Motkaluk has pledged to create a specialized police task force and contribute $100,000 to a methamphetamine treatment wing at the Main Street Project. However, Motkaluk has not committed to covering the $400,000 cost of staffing the facility. Woodstock and Diack are also in favour of establishing treatment and intake facilities. Wilson, Machiraju, and Ackerman have not established formal stances on the issue.

Policing The Winnipeg Police Service has played an active role in the campaign process. They serve as an opposing force to Bowman by running disturbing attack ads criticizing the city budget for WPS. Nevertheless, members of the Police Service comprise 8 of the 10 top earners in the municipal government. Motkaluk recently stated that "f you take a walk, someone is going to threaten to stab you, and I'm not making that up and you know that it's true." This sentiment is evident in her policing strategy. She has pledged to double police officers in schools, create a crime-prevention fund and create a task force to redirect more police to front lines. Diack has promised to buy police new phones and computers, to force criminals to front policing costs, and to station a policing unit in the Health Science Center. Bowman has pledged to divert $1.5m a year from police pensions into front-line policing and divert $100,000 of his mayoral discretionary office fund to fund crime prevention, while Hayat has stated that he would freeze the police budget. Other candidates have not clearly stated their stance.

Environment The two primary environmental issues posed to candidates were on the topics of organic waste collection and plastic bag policy. All candidates but Ackerman have explicitly supported the collection of organic waste. On the plastic bag issue, Woodstock, Diack, Wilson, and Machiraju are all in favour of banning plastic bags. Hayat and Motkaluk directly oppose a ban on plastic bags. Bowman has encouraged the provincial government to lead a plastic bag policy, but the environmental policy of the provincial government suggests that this will not lead to a ban. Ackerman has no position. Additionally, Motkaluk plans to invest in electric city buses and Machiraju pledges to remove fluoride from drinking water.

Poverty Neither Machiraju or Motkaluk attended the mayoral forum on poverty hosted at the University of Winnipeg by several non-profit organizations. Bowman cited city hall's support for United Way Winnipeg's end homelessness plan, while Diack proposed an increased focus on schools located in the inner city. Ackerman wants to abolish the business licence fee for small vendors, while Hayat hopes to promote small businesses as well as attract foreign investments. At this forum, Wilson emphasized finding homes to get people off the street, while Woodstock discussed redirecting funds being given to corporations towards inner-city recreational activities.

Transit Winnipeg's transit system has been widely criticized for ineffectiveness. In response to this criticism, Bowman has pledged to divert $4.1m from the planned Fort Rouge transit garage roof replacement and spend it on 55 new heated bus shelters. Motkaluk and Hayat oppose rapid-transit lines and plan to stop development of the project. Diack intends to install panic buttons on buses and Machiraju supports more infrastructure projects like completing an inner ring road. Wilson and Woodstock are both in favour of more active transportation projects. In fact, Woodstock committed to a $2b project that would result in the creation of a light rail system.

The Referendum

Portage and Main

 

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