It is disheartening listening to the current Mayoral campaigns. It feels like each of the candidates is trying to reach the voters by offering BAND-AID solutions for the comprehensive challenges facing Winnipeg. The 2011 City of Winnipeg document called A Sustainable Winnipeg is one of four documents supporting the voices of Winnipeggers from the Mayor’s Symposium on Sustainability in April of 2009. Here we are in September 2014 and we still remain a city without direction, without vision and a lack of faith that we have the capability to put a plan in place that will move OUR WINNIPEG towards a sustainable future.
Our infrastructure deficit continues to grow each year we ignore the symptoms of a city with crumbling roads, developer-driven communities that appear more focused of building houses rather than enhancing Winnipeg and building a community. In ‘A Sustainable Winnipeg’ the people of Winnipeg stated:
Citizens have told us they want a future which includes opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and walks of life to live, work and play in the same community. It includes a sustainable transportation system that connects Winnipeg’s communities. In our sustainable city, tree-lined streets and trails and pathways are ribbons of green or white that link neighbourhoods and a diverse system of parks, open spaces and natural areas. Vibrant and safe neighbourhoods, including the Downtown, offer clean, animated streets and walkways, quality entertainment and shopping and thriving residential communities.
A Sustainable Winnipeg (Page 7)
The people of Winnipeg have provided their input on numerous occasions but we have a system of government that is guided by politics rather than creating a workable plan that will take us to the city the people of Winnipeg want, deserve and research supports. The Mayor and previous City Council ignored the voices of the people who elected them and our current candidates are ignoring the challenges Winnipeg faces. In previous consultations in regards to development in ‘The Exchange’ by-laws were changed without consultation or by ignoring the people who spoke for a different kind of development.
The three audits reinforced what people have been thinking about politics and politicians. Decisions without proper process, accountability and a lack of transparency and perceived favoritism. The audits clearly identified next steps for our next Mayor and Council as well as the public administration. However, like so many reports without a commitment to implement the recommendations and a plan of action the audits are destined to collect dust on the shelves of politicians and bureaucrats. Do any of our prospective Mayors have the courage to address the numerous recommendations and put the plan in place to make the changes necessary?
Do any of the current Mayoral candidates have the courage to put in place a plan to create the sustainable Winnipeg citizens are asking for? On page 9 of A Sustainable Winnipeg the following statements are identified as the foundations needed for effective change.
- Include everyone: goals and actions need to consider all Winnipeggers and address accessibility.
- Work towards equity: opportunities and access should be shared.
- Make decisions transparently: decision-making processes should be as clear and as open as possible.
- Be continuous and resilient: the plan needs to be permanent, but it also needs to respond to new opportunities and threats, like Peak Oil.
- Everything should align: every part of the plan, from its vision, through to its goals, objectives, targets and measurement need to work together.
- Measure progress: every goal needs targets, indicators and regular measurement, and results should be reported.
- Adapt: lessons learned from measurement and experience should lead to changes, and new ideas should be accommodated.
- Promote sustainable thinking: deal with the causes of our challenges to sustainability, some of which are based on habits and old ways of doing things.
- Human Element: address the social dimension of change – raise awareness, educate and support change towards sustainable behaviour.
- Set goals: measure progress using targets, indicators and regular measurement; report results
The people of Winnipeg know what kind of city they want. The people of Winnipeg in their vision for a sustainable city clearly identify the challenges that need to be addressed. The people of Winnipeg understand that change takes time and resources. The people of Winnipeg also understand we need a change. We need a plan, a plan of action and most importantly a plan to move us closer to our vision of a city as outlined in ‘A Sustainable Winnipeg’.
The disheartening part of the current Mayoral campaign is that despite so many candidates both old and new, the change Winnipeggers want is one again mired in politics rather than a vision of action. Mired in the promises of ‘Band-Aid’ solutions to lure voters rather than the comprehensive policies and plan essential to be inclusive of all people as we work towards a society that addresses equity for everyone.
A plan to create the place we all can call ‘Our Winnipeg’.
“Sustainable Winnipeg” would make a great campaign platform for a prospective mayor of Winnipeg. Are there any candidates who have the will, intelligence and political support to put such a comprehensive action plan together? To make things happen, we need a focused and energetic group of like minded people to educate citizens of the possibilities and communicate the vision loud and clear. What would a fully sustainable Winnipeg look like? What would be different from what exists now? I think citizens need concrete examples of how we can build the foundations to effect change. We need a shot of “Winnipeg Pride” to light our political fire – and a mayor who’ll make us proud. .
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