Mayoral candidate Glen Murray is promising more funding for the arts in Winnipeg and also wants to make design more of an integral facet of future city infrastructure projects and developments.
The former Winnipeg mayor, who sat in office from 1998 until he resigned mid-term in 2004, promised Friday to double arts funding, restore the grounds around Thunderbird House, create an Indigenous cultural district in the city and to create guidelines that ensure high design standards and “cultural authenticity” are built into future city projects.
By making design quality and attractiveness part of the planning process, the city can ensure “that the design configuration of every infrastructure project be modelled for uplift and property values and its impact on development base and growth in adjacent properties’ value,” Murray said during a campaign announcement at The Cube in Old Market Square, next to a Nuit Blanche installation of wavy-armed, inflatable stick people.
Murray said doubling the arts budget would take funding from $4 million to $8 million.
According to the 2022 city budget, spending on arts and culture this year was slightly more than $5.7 million, accounting for a $4.2 million grant for the Winnipeg Arts Council, $670,000 worth of grants to arts and cultural organizations and $835,000 of annual spending on public art, ornamental lights, flags and banners.
There are spinoff benefits for the community from investing in the arts and making public spaces more attractive, Murray said.
“Building beautiful has huge, huge consequences. It also brings people down. It creates more safety. It creates a perception.… The human rights museum is transformational in its image of the city. I don’t hear people speaking about Winnipeg as often as in terms of mosquitoes and cold weather.”
Klein promises to scrap ‘strong mayor’ model
Winnipeg should eliminate the mayor’s hand-picked inner circle known as executive policy committee, candidate Kevin Klein said on Friday.
The “strong mayor” model breeds division and interferes with consensus-building among councillors, Klein said.
“A leader should not have to count on a power grab to make things happen. A real leader involves everyone, every elected official deserves the same respect,” he said.
Klein has never sat on executive policy committee, although he did serve as chair of the Winnipeg Police Board.
Eliminating EPC would require the provincial government to amend the City of Winnipeg Charter, which Klein says he would ask it to do within his first year in office.
In the meantime, Klein says he would change the structure of EPC, reducing the number of councillors who sit on the committee from six to five, plus the mayor. Each councillor would be elected to EPC from the city’s five community committees of council, Klein said.
University of Manitoba politics professor Paul Thomas questioned whether the province would want to go along with Klein’s plan.
“Will this give enough coherence and direction at the centre of city government that the province could deal effectively with the city?” Thomas said.
“You might think that that would make it more complicated to negotiate in confidence with the city over, say, cost sharing or new programming and new budgetary transfers to the city.”
Klein said he doesn’t think the province would refuse a request from the city to change its governance model.
“I can’t see them trying to strong-arm a municipality and residents that, you know, would have to vote for them, who have made it very clear they don’t like the current model.”
Motkaluk repeats promise to kill photo radar
Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk elaborated on a campaign pledge to end all photo enforcement in Winnipeg.
“I will end all mobile enforcement, such as radar and laser vehicles. I will end all intersection cameras. Programs that rely on red-light cameras, fixed cameras and mobile cameras will all be terminated,” Motkaluk said at a campaign announcement in the West End, repeating a promise she first made earlier in September.
“A provincial review of the photo-radar program has been on hold since 2019 but when I am mayor of Winnipeg, I will not waste anyone’s time. It is nothing more than a cash grab.”
Motkaluk said she will also set up flashing lights at school zones to alert drivers of the lower speed limit while school is in session.
Klein has also promised lights in school zones, while candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette promised to review photo radar.
Motkaluk said she is more concerned with safety than revenue, but said she does not support the idea of reducing speeds on residential streets.
Motkaluk, Ouellette, Klein and Murray are among 11 candidates running for mayor. Idris Adelakun, Rana Bokhari, Chris Clacio, Scott Gillingham, Shaun Loney, Rick Shone and Don Woodstock are also running.
Advance voting starts on Oct. 3 and election day is Oct. 26.