September in ‘The Peg’

Esplanade Riel Bridge and the Human Rights Museum seen from the banks of the Red River.

Esplanade Riel Bridge and the Human Rights Museum seen from the banks of the Red River.

We often take for granted the beauty of our home town. When we visit other places as tourists, we will capture our memories in countless photographs of the beauty and uniqueness each destination offers. To walk in your own community as a tourist, allows you to see and appreciate the gifts we often take for granted.

A fallen tree rests on the banks of the Red.

A fallen tree rests on the banks of the Red.

My home town of Winnipeg derives its name from the Cree word of “win” for muddy and “nippee” for water. Winnipeg is a culturally diverse city with about 100 languages and nationalities represented. Winnipeg has a flourishing arts scene, as well as a vibrant meeting place where the Assiniboine and Red River come together at ‘The Forks’. ‘The Forks’ is a public place where the diversity of Winnipeg can be celebrated through outdoor concerts, festivals, green space, patios and the ‘Human Rights Museum’ opening on September 21st.

Enjoy my hometown seen through my eyes as a tourist.

Human Rights Museum opening September 21st

Human Rights Museum opening September 21st

 

The Winnipeg Skyline from Tache Promenade

The Winnipeg Skyline from Tache Promenade

Winnipeg’s history is celebrated as you walk east from the downtown along the  ‘Riel Esplanade Pedestrian Bridge’ casually strolling along the Tache Promenade which celebrates the richness of Winnipeg’s francophone heritage.

St. Boniface Cathedral-Basilica on the Eastern Banks of the Red River facing 'The Forks' and the "Human Rights Musuem'

St. Boniface Cathedral-Basilica on the Eastern Banks of the Red River facing ‘The Forks’ and the “Human Rights Museum

 

St. Boniface Museum

St. Boniface Museum

In the shadows of the St. Boniface Cathedral-Basilica you will find the burial site of metis leader Louis Riel widely regarded as the ‘Father of Manitoba’.

Memorial to fallen World War 1 soldiers

Memorial to fallen World War 1 soldiers

Remembering our History

Remembering our History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing your stroll along Tache Promenade will lead you to Queen Elizabeth Way which will once again take you across the Red River.

Looking north along Queen Elizabeth Way

Looking north along Queen Elizabeth Way

 

Ladybugs enjoy a sunny September morning

Ladybugs enjoy a sunny September morning

Wild Flower line the bridge as you south to the entrance of the Bridge and sculpture by Catherine Widgery.

Wild Flower line the bridge as you look south to the entrance of the Bridge and sculpture by Catherine Widgery.

Turning right off of Queen Elizabeth Way you will begin your journey into ‘The Forks’ the meeting place of the past and the present. ‘The Forks’ represents what our city and people can be if we remember this is a place to celebrate our diversity, celebrate our cultures, celebrate everything that brings us together as one.

'The Forks' where the rivers and people come together.

‘The Forks’ where the rivers and people come together.

Oodena Celebration Circle. It pays homage to the 6,000 years of Aboriginal peoples in the area. Oodena, Cree for “centre of the city”, features ethereal sculptures, a sundial, interpretive signage, a naked eye observatory and a ceremonial fire pit, making it a desirable venue for Aboriginal and cultural celebrations or a place to simply sit and marvel at its beauty.

Oodena Celebration Circle pays homage to the 6,000 years of Aboriginal peoples in the area. Oodena, Cree for “centre of the city”, features ethereal sculptures, a sundial, interpretive signage, a naked eye observatory and a ceremonial fire pit, making it a desirable venue for Aboriginal and cultural celebrations or a place to simply sit and marvel at its beauty.

Remembering too much violence

Time to Remember, Reflect and find a new way

Time to Remember, Reflect and find a new way

A time to heal

A time to heal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beautiful September day enjoying a walking tour of some of Winnipeg’s most beautiful locations and letting one’s mind embrace the beauty of art, architecture, history and nature as they all come together to celebrate what we can accomplish when ‘We come Together’.

Cyclists enjoying a sunny September Day

Cyclists enjoying a sunny September Day

Reflections at the 'Meeting Place'

Reflections at the ‘Meeting Place’

 

A place to play for our children

A place to play for our children

 

The Red River looking east to St. Boniface

The Red River looking east to St. Boniface

This is my city. This is the place where like the two rivers, we come together and we call this home.

All pictures were taken by James W Hoddinott and my Sony A57

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Sustaintainable Growth: The Real Issues Facing our Next Mayor (Part 2)

 

Creating Sustainable Communities

Creating Sustainable Communities

One of the essential components of having an effective government, at any level, is the ability to create both short and long-term plans that fit into a comprehensive vision for municipalities, the province and the country. The difficulty with a government that is politically driven, is it creates a system based on ideologies, the desire to get votes, or rewarding individuals, groups or corporations in return for their support, rather than making decisions based on the basic principles of creating sustainable growth as outlined in well-thought out plans and visions that is service orientated.

Canada’s success as a nation has been based on understanding the need for economic growth as well as addressing the need to develop effective policies for people. When policies become too focused on the economic-side, inevitably the human side suffers and vice-versa. It is why politics needs to be removed from of the equation and decisions need to be based on effective and sustainable plans. The key to successful municipalities, provinces and our country is identifying our vision and then understanding where we are, the gaps and then implement the strategies required in order to move us closer to our vision. It requires both a plan, and a plan of action to be successful.

Examining the City of Winnipeg, it is this lack of a clear vision, plans that are ignored or not in place, as well as the politic interference that has seemingly corrupted and plagued decisions.

Growth is imperative for a city and through a well-thought out vision and action plan the politics of decision-making can be removed from planning. The Smart Growth Network of Canada was created to assist this planning process.

The Smart Growth Canada Network (SGCN) is a national organization founded in May 2003 to help advance the implementation of smart growth and sustainability principles across the country through education, research and capacity building strategies for the broad range of decision makers.

It is essential that in order to eliminate the debacles of the last Mayor and Council we need to implement the essential components of planning. The Smart Growth Network of Canada identifies 10 principles of Smart Growth. These are the foundations essential to guide our municipal government as well as serve as the cornerstone for our civil servants as they implement the City’s vision. If that was the case, the questions asked in council, at public meetings, as well as in the media would be based on “Is this helping us get to where we need to go?”

Sustainable Growth

Currently it appears Winnipeg does not have a plan for growth and it has created an environment driven by politics. Research currently over-whelming supports the need for cities to create walkable communities with a mix of residential and commercial use, making neighborhoods an attractive place to live. Research also makes it clear that ignoring the issues associated with Urban Sprawl and not focusing growth on enhancing already existing communities that utilize the services and infrastructures already in place is not sustainable, costly and is not environmentally friendly.

Urban Sprawl has created the need for people to use cars as they live further and further away from their work place. Our current reliance on cars creates a need to spend large amounts of money repairing the infrastructure required to support a system that is not sustainable in the long-term. Winnipeg needs to create a safe and effective public transportation system. In order to change the current car culture, it will require specific policies in regards to growth and the incentives required for development to occur in existing communities as well as incentives for the public to use public transportation as a move to a more sustainable city as we move forward.

Policies to decrease bus fares to increase ridership and enhancing service on major arteries as well as the Park and Ride locations that can serve as hubs for drop off and pick-up locations are some of the initial steps required to be implemented while the long-term infrastructure of the city is developed to create a sustainable vision for the city’s transportation needs. Some cities have provided free bus fare with exciting results. Less traffic would assist in the creation of safe routes for cyclists as well. In some respects it is expanding the transportation being currently utilized to get football fans to the new stadium but on a much larger scale. This can also be expanded for Jets’ games as well as getting people to and from work. In the long-run, research also indicates not dealing with long commutes and traffic decreases a person’s happiness and increases problems associated with mental health. All with huge costs that can be lessened through a planning process that incorporates people into the equation.

By designing Winnipeg moving forward that supports and encourages the need for public transport and walkable and cyclist friendly communities requires re-building existing communities to mixed-use development as well as capitalizing on existing green space. New developments must include Green Space for parks as well as common meeting places to build a sense of community. A plan for growth must include the services people need in their community for groceries, medical, and other essential services. It is essential communities are developed into self-sufficient pods that are unique with the city centre serving a place for all citizens to come together.

A city designed on these principles would certainly not entertain the removal of green or public land space but rather put a plan in place to enhance and develop the existing infrastructures to support the utilization of public green space.

In order to accomplish this kind of long-term sustainable growth it will require a Mayor who can clearly articulate a long-term vision for Winnipeg. It will require planning at all three levels of government but most importantly a change from decisions being based on politics rather than best practice.

 

To see 10 Principles for SMART GROWTH click on link below:

The Smart Growth Network of Canada 10 principles of Smart Growth

To see articles on the cost of Urban Sprawl click on links below:

Societal Costs of Urban Sprawl: A New Look

Hidden costs of sprawl will cripple cities, report says

Part 3: On the series Real Issues Facing a Next Mayor to be published on Wednesday, September 3rd.

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The Real Issues Facing our Next Mayor (Part 1)

city hall

One of the complicated issues relating to running for Mayor in the City of Winnipeg is the expectations of the voters wanting each candidate to explain:

1) What are you going to do?

2) Why should I vote for you?

This often results in as Bartley Knives indicates in his very good summary of the campaign thus far in his article ‘(Some) campaigns picking up steam: A look at the landscape in the mayoral race’ a torrent of promises. The other complicated issue is many of the major issues relating to economic growth, poverty alleviation, crime reduction, tax fairness and infrastructure improvement are not entirely something the Mayor or City Council can solve or is even in their power to solve unilaterally.

The requirements of a Mayor necessitate being an advocate for the City of Winnipeg and its people. It is essential the Mayor understand policy implications at the Municipal, Provincial and Federal Level. The City of Winnipeg is able to generate very little revenue to make the impact on infrastructure as a result of some inequities that have resulted by policies of both the Provincial and Federal Government.

A website every Canadian should visit is called ’Canadians for Tax Fairness’. It provides some excellent discussion points about the data and the truth about Tax Fairness in our country.

Property Taxes

proprty

Many people would describe Property Taxes as a necessary evil, but in Winnipeg and in Manitoba, it is counter-intuitive to the economic and educational growth the tax is intended to provide. Property Taxes, by most experts, is considered to be a regressive tax, as it impedes growth. Manitoba is the last province that relies so heavily on Property Tax as a method to fund education. Historically property taxes were seen by local communities as a way to address the unique educational needs of their communities. However, with provincial curriculum, educational policies, standards and most of what happens in schools in regards to programming, assessment and reporting is now mandated, therefore the rationale has lost its validity. Education is 100% the provinces responsibility (except on Reserves-more on that later), as well as the responsibility of every Manitoban, not only property owners. Even if School Divisions no longer collected educational taxes; despite what some may say; the need for School Trustees would still be required as representatives of the community’s voice and an integral part of the accountability process for education. Their role may become less focused on budget issues and more focused on student outcomes.

bill

Every property owner in Winnipeg when they open their letter from the Assessment and Taxation Department look to the bottom of the page to see how much they owe. They then will see how much goes to the City and how much goes to education. The City of Winnipeg has no control over the education portion of property taxes and for that matter neither do the Trustees of the School Divisions. When the province mandates educational policy and standards (which they should) the School Divisions must create and provide the systems and provide the resources to ensure these standards are reached.

The money needs to come from somewhere. Education is an essential component in the well-being of our society now and in the future. Property Taxes for education needs to end and the 35% of Education Taxes that are generated that way need to go back to the Province to fund. Currently the Province tries to make political points by giving money back to property owners and now even more if you are a senior. For more information on this matter visit: letsplayfair.com.

Imagine opening your Tax Bill and seeing it be cut in half. Imagine what that does to your spending money or the ability for business to develop the many empty lots in Winnipeg, improve property without the worry of increasing value. Imagine what it means to small business and their ability to grow and expand. The province could look at numerous other ways to fund education which the foundational principal would be to create a more equitable way to fund education.

Poverty

Canada's Oliver Twist

Canada’s Oliver Twist

This is a larger and more complicated issue which currently is eroding our human infrastructure and negatively impacting police services, ambulance services as well as the need to address the associated impact of what increased poverty does to the cost of many of our essential services. In Canada, child poverty remains high as well as the discrepancy between those that have and those that do not. This discrepancy is having a negative impact on Canadian unity. The majority of Canadians have seen a decrease in their disposable income resulting in everyone trying to maintain their standard of living with less. The double–edged sword of course is that if we don’t address poverty now, the costs associated with poverty such as medical, social services and crime will increase, resulting in the long-term costs continuing to balloon. We have high unemployment when it comes to full-time jobs for young people and 1/3 of people in poverty have jobs, but are the working poor.

wage

In the 1960’s more than 25% of seniors lived in poverty. This was unacceptable to Canadians and pressure was put on the government and society to solve this issue. The solution was the development of Old Age Security, the Canadian Pension Plan as well as Medicare to ensure all Canadians were able to benefit from being Canadian. It is those systems developed to assist all Canadians that also help provide Canadians with a social safety net that minimized our impact during the last global recession. The solutions needed today will require similar innovative changes to our taxation system to support families, decrease child poverty and provide people with full-time work.

The tax system can be a key tool for redistributing wealth. Closing the gap between rich and poor is not only a moral and ethical imperative, it is also critical to restoring a healthy society and a healthy economy.

Taxes could reduce inequality and boost economy: by Dennis Howlett, 05/22/2014

This is not to say the only solution is to increase taxes on the wealthy or on corporations but we do need to close Tax Haven loop holes immediately. Many G7 countries have already done so. Secondly, if the rationale for decreasing taxation for corporations is to create employment and that is not being accomplished despite profits and income of Canada’s wealthiest Canadians growing, then the Government needs to tax the so-called ‘Dead Money’ as former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney indicated. We need to create tax incentives that reward corporations who help strengthen communities and encourage growth of jobs and help educate Canadians to become part of the workforce.

Successful People

Successful People

A fair tax policy is essential to reducing income inequality and to re-building Canada. Since 1981 Corporations have seen a 40% reduction in their tax rate and this does not include the tax relief legally or illegally obtained through Tax Havens. At the same time individuals are paying more and small businesses that are often the life-blood of growth in local communities have also not benefitted to the same degree from Federal Government Tax Policies. The OECD states the top one per cent of Canadian pre-tax income earners captured 37 per cent of the overall income growth between 1981 and 2012, and now account for 12.2 per cent of the country’s total annual income.

All of this could be tolerated if as indicated by our Prime Minister that the reason for decreasing tax burden for Corporations and the wealthy was to create jobs. This has not been accomplished, rather, what has occurred is the decreasing of full-time jobs, decreasing of salaries and an increase burden on the so-called ‘Middle Class’ to support Canada’s economic and social infrastructure.

tracy1

The bottom-line is that by decreasing taxes for corporations, the support to assist all Canadians has also lessened. The untruthfulness of the rhetoric that lower taxes for the wealthy benefit everyone has not worked and our government has no evidence to support this is helping Canada be a better stronger, healthy country. A fairer tax system is needed and even one perhaps that can vary from corporation to corporation depending on the business’s committment to the creation of full-time jobs. Many Canadians have fallen victim to blaming the poor as being the problem rather than looking at what the data is actually telling us. This blame game is destroying the Canadian social fabric.

A simple example of excess of the wealthy is the purchase of car for 38 million dollars. The purchaser of the car did not want to be identified but if I was a business owner that 38 million dollars means a salary of $50, 000 a year for 760 employees. For the government, it means receiving taxes from 760 people were previously not paying taxes. It means more money for families, fewer children in poverty and an increase in spending in the local community benefitting small and local businesses. It means a reduction in social costs for our communities, increased employment and increased revenue to support our social programs benefitting all Canadians. Hey, but perhaps one person got a 38 million dollar car from the money they didn’t pay tax on because they took advantage of the loopholes in our taxation system.

This is certainly not something a Mayor or Winnipeg can solve alone, as Taxation is a Federal issue. It is estimated that by closing some of these loop holes and making a fairer tax system could net at least $40 billion dollars a year for Canada to invest in health, education and infrastructure development of our crumbling cities and towns. It would mean we wouldn’t need to have a fire sale of ‘Green Space’ in the City of Winnipeg to fix our roads. It would mean we could support children and families in the way that will benefit society today as well as in the future. It would mean jobs, training and a much-needed influx of capital for municipalities to address the issues related to roads, public transportation, public safety, frozen pipes, snow removal and creating a greener, more sustainable Canada.

This requires a leader, a mayor, who is vocal and will challenge the Federal Government to address these tax inequities that are putting such a heavy financial burden on provincial and municipal governments.

PART 2 (to be posted Sunday, August 31st) and discuss issues relating to Sustainable Development, City Planning as well as the need for an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Woman and I will include protection of children as well.

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Sunsets

Sunsets are one of the most photographed of nature’s natural wonders. There never seems to be a sunset exactly the same. It comes as no surprise the romance of a sunset whether it be as you stroll down the beach or admire the sun as it says goodnight with a group of friends, it is hard not to be amazed by nature’s tapestry.

      A Sail Boat on       Tamarindo Bay

A Sail Boat on
Tamarindo Bay

        A Sunset at Sea           Playa Grande

A Sunset at Sea
Playa Grande

A Sunset in Hanalei Bay on the Beautiful Island of Kauii

A Sunset in Hanalei Bay on the Beautiful Island of Kauii

A South Pacific Sunset on the Cook Islands  (Taken with a phone)

A South Pacific Sunset on the Cook Islands
(Taken with a phone)

A Maui Sunset

A Maui Sunset

 

A Big Island Sunset

A Big Island Sunset

 All photos taken by James W Hoddinott

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Bystanders to Violence and Neglect

children

In Canada the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) recently published a report that focused on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. The numbers are staggering for a country that prides itself on equality and issues relating to human rights. What is lost in the report that states there are 1181 missing and murdered aboriginal woman is the fact that if we take the report further we would understand that represents 11.3% of missing and murdered woman. Meaning there are over 13 000 missing or murdered woman in this country.

Individuals who want to continue to ignore or be bystanders to the violence, exploitation and abuse of missing aboriginal woman and the RCMP report want to make this an issue of race. In fact this is about far more than just the over-representation of aboriginal woman who are either missing or murdered. Globally people who are in poverty, marginalized, dealing with issues of neglect, abuse and find themselves not having their basic human rights realized are far more likely to be victimized.

It would be premature to focus on research outcomes without first addressing the context of the research. Violence against women is a significant societal issue. According to the World Health Organization, it affects one-third of women around the globe and represents a health problem of “epidemic proportions.”1

Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview

The most recent murder of Tina Fontaine brings to the light our need to be more vigilant in supporting our most vulnerable citizens. Our children, like Tina Fontaine, are at-risk of being abused, exploited and fall victim to those individuals that prey on children and those people most vulnerable. Canadian musician Wab Kinew indicated the over one thousand people who attended the vigil are stating ‘We will be silent no more’. Let’s be clear, there are people who know what happened to Tina Fontaine and the 1181 other aboriginal woman who are missing and murdered, as well as the over 13 000 other woman, but continue to remain silent. For our society to truly not be silent anymore those that were witness to or know who committed these acts of unspeakable violence and exploitation of woman and children will come forward and speak-up on behalf of the victims rather than remain in silence supporting the perpetrators of violence.

Violence and exploitation of woman, children and our vulnerable citizens is reaching epidemic proportions. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services ““After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world.” The ‘Not for Sale’ campaign indicates that there are over 30 million people enslaved world-wide and is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Issues related to child pornography, prostitution and free or cheap labour as the world seems to be adopting a money no matter what the cost attitude. Countries seem reluctant to deal with criminal activity of this magnitude, even at times seeming to portray the exploitation of woman as their choice, rather than seeing them as victims.

In order to start to make a difference and end the need to have vigils so we can hear the voice of the victim of such horrific acts of violence, we need more than laws and the enforcement of those laws but we need to change our own beliefs and attitudes about what is acceptable. We need to understand our responsiblity to protect all our children and vulnerable citizens. We need to all believe we are all born equal and we must work together to find a way that we remain equal no matter what race, culture or circumstance we find ourselves in.

It will require that we are no longer bystanders to violence and neglect. We need to protect our children by changing our attitude to the exploitation of woman and children through on-line pornography, child pornography or remain silent as they fall victims to drugs, alcohol or the sex trade. We must put a stop to those who earn their living through the exploitation of others.

We must create a more inclusive society where everyone matters, where people matter.

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Travel Costa Rica by Photograph

It is always a strange feeling. The moment you step on the plane to fly back home that feeling of didn’t I just get here envelopes you.

Prior to leaving people kept telling me how much they loved Costa Rica. Would this be like the movie everyone tells you to see and those high expectations leave you disappointed. With Costa Rica it was different. The experience exceeded the hype. Here are a few photos to share a piece of Costa Rica with you. ‘Pura Vida’ the good life.

Howler Monkey relaxing in Tamarindo.

Howler Monkey relaxing in Tamarindo.

Every morning and evening the sounds of the Howler Monkey filled the air. Initially what seemed strange by the end it was comforting as you felt a part of nature rather than an intruder.

The Beach at Sunset enjoyed by all

The Beach at Sunset enjoyed by all

It is hard to imagine a sunset changing the color of the sky, the sand and water but the magic of the sunset was the place to be as tourists and locals all relaxed on beach enjoying nature’s splendour.

 

The waves of Playa Grande

The waves of Playa Grande

Most days the waves were there to surf, bogie board or simply swim as the power of the ocean shared its playground. Some days on Playa Grande the waves and riptides were so strong we were reminded of the strength of nature.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

 

Iguana

Iguana

White-Faced Monkey

White-Faced Monkey

Crocodile of Palo Verde

Crocodile of Palo Verde

The wildlife of Costa Rica was there to see. Whether it be on a hike through a National Park, a boat ride down the river or sharing the town Costa Rica is the home to a variety of wildlife to please the professional or casual photographer like me.

The ocean paints a mural in the sand

The ocean paints a mural in the sand

A walk of the multi-coloured sand beach of Tamarindo Bay allows nature to use the beach as its canvas.

A trip to Costa Rica as discussed with other travellers who remarked “It truly makes you wonder if somehow we have our priorities mixed-up.” Sharing our world with the environment by letting it be part of us and us part of nature rather than pushing nature out to create our concrete jungles.

All photos taken by James W Hoddinott with his Sony a57

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Leadership: Vision, Action and Integrity

 buffet

Leadership whether it be of our country, province, city, business, education or our local communities and families all have something in common. It isn’t easy and in order to be effective it requires some of the same characteristics. Have you had the good fortune to see the dedication and strength of a parent as they put the needs of their children and family ahead of their own? It takes hard work, commitment, dedication and honesty. It sometimes means making tough decisions, it may mean doing without because of unexpected expenses or just the cost of living. It requires planning, organizing and communication.

This fall Winnipeggers will be going to the polls to elect a new mayor, city council and school trustees. People that have tremendous influence, yet the percentage of people taking advantage of their democratic right to vote continues to decline. It has become blatantly obvious that we need to do our due diligence by not only voting but also electing quality people. Many voters have lost their faith that we can elect someone with the integrity, intelligence and energy to make a difference at City Hall, in government at any level for that matter.

People have grown tired over the last few years of what appears to be a litany of broken promises, back door politics, favoritism and some serious financial over-runs that will negatively affect our City now and moving forward. One could go on at nauseam about the problems plaguing City Hall, but in the end, the current issues will be the starting place for a new mayor and council. The question we need to ask ourselves is which candidate, if any, has a vision for Winnipeg that is sustainable and creates a form of governance and leadership that will instil confidence in an electorate that no longer believes they have a voice. Governance is about more than what we need today, it must also be about ensuring that we create a sustainable future for our children and future generations. It is about balancing a budget and protecting our important assets so that we can have a city that is vibrant now and in the future.

In essence from the outside looking in, if we are to bring about the change required to create an effective municipal government it demands a unified effort by those elected to recognize our municipal government is broken and then put a plan in effect that will have community voice as an integral part of our local government. A daunting task to say the least. Winnipeg’s most valuable asset is the people. We need to value what they have to say about the needs of their community, their local neighbourhoods as well as their views on what our city’s priorities need to be.

It will require a mayor that can create a vision and belief in our city that people matter. All people. Many issues will require a leader who can partner with the other levels of government to put together a cohesive effort to unravel the complicated issues related to our faltering infrastructure. Examining the fairness of our current taxation system including the city’s ability to raise the needed capital to fund the projects required to put our city on its feet again. A mayor able to work with all levels of government, including civil servants, and businesses (please note that is plural) to create a strong and vibrant Winnipeg which will help make our province stronger. It is no easy task facing any newly elected officials.

What are the characteristics we should be looking for in our Mayor?

vision

1)      A Vision for the future. The mayor should be able to look at where the city is now and where it needs to be in two years, five years and even twenty-five years. It is looking at the city from above and identifying what pieces of the puzzle are missing and put a plan of action together that allows us to finish that puzzle. We don’t ram puzzle pieces in places they don’t fit.

2)      A great communicator. It is one thing to have a vision but can our mayor articulate that vision and convince others to join in making that vision a reality. The vision needs to become a shared vision. In order for this to happen it means meeting and talking with community groups, business leaders and developers as well as those everyday people who pay taxes to keep our city running.

3)      Be an inspiration to others. In the end it will not be the mayor who does great things but the mayor who creates an atmosphere where the people of Winnipeg are able to make each community a great place to live. The mayor needs to be the leader and facilitator in putting the vision into action.

inspire

4)      Is surrounded by good people.  Decisions need to be made by people who can make the vision and plans happen. We must take the politics, out of action. It easy for a mayor or political leader to lose their way as a result of political and media pressure. An individual who makes promises they can’t keep or is willing to sell off assets to keep the city’s head above water, is not the kind of person or mayor we need. The mayor must have people who keep the vision moving ahead and not get side-tracked because of an issue of the day or the day-to-day management of the city. If we have good people, the management of the city should take care of itself. If the management of the city’s daily affairs isn’t working, then that is another problem to be fixed, another plan of action to put in place. Do the civil servants and leaders in the city’s departments have the ability to advise the mayor and if so, do their voices count? If they don’t have the skills why not? All individuals both political and non-political, need to be focused on what is best for the city and set aside their personal interests and agendas.

5)      The mayor must be a person of action. Change is difficult. If what we are doing isn’t working we need to do something different. It must be done strategically and with an eye on the long-term vision. We don’t do something just to do something. It must fit into where we see our city going or it will cause more problems and cost more than the issue it was supposed to solve.

integrity

6)      The mayor must have Integrity. Michael Josephson in his article HIRE FOR CHARACTER, TRAIN FOR SKILLS: Character is an Essential Competence he states, “If you were hiring a new CEO, what are the most important qualities you’d look for? Surely you’d want a high level of demonstrated competence – knowledge, experience, intelligence, vision, communication, and relationship skills and the ability to motivate, manage, and solve problems. But what about qualities such as honesty, moral courage, accountability, and fairness?”

Each of us can make our own decisions as they read this article as to if any of our current candidates meet any or all of the criteria listed above. In essence it doesn’t matter if it is for government, business, or education, the qualities of a good leader do not change. It doesn’t matter what the situation, we need leaders with integrity, intelligence and energy. We need to have high expectations of our leaders. We don’t need someone whose goal is politics, saying what they think people want to hear. We need someone whose goal is to make a difference, create a better Winnipeg. Give people the facts about our current financial situation, be transparent with the data about our crumbling infrastructure, poverty and openly discuss possible solutions as we work on developing our shared vision for Winnipeg a reality.

We need someone who is willing to put the needs of our city and its people ahead of their own. We need a leader.

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