Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk announced Wednesday that she’d pursue an “inclusive governance model” that allows the entire Winnipeg City Council to contribute to a vision for the city, if she’s elected. Motkaluk alleged the current system allows the mayor to set priorities instead, which executive policy committee members simply “rubber stamp.” And that leaves council’s nine non-EPC members largely excluded, she argues.
“I think it’s very important that we give a voice to every single member of council in that planning process … because otherwise the people who live in the wards where the members are not (on EPC) are marginalized,” said Motkaluk.
The candidate said she would instead hold a closed-door strategic planning meeting at the start of the next council term to allow input from all 16 city council members. Motkaluk said that would reduce the pressure on councillors to support the mayor and free them up to focus on constituents’ priorities instead.
“Everybody should have the chance to put up their hands and share with us what the top priorities for their ward (are),” she said.
Motkaluk said she expects councillors would agree on at least a few ideas, which would then be pursued.
Meanwhile, candidate Tim Diack said he’d push Winnipeg Transit to replace the buses it retires each year with electric ones, if he’s elected as mayor.
“Electric buses make a whole lot more sense, as opposed to diesel. You can talk about the rising cost of fuel, the environment, noise pollution. And maintenance costs are much less for electric than mechanical (buses),” he said.
Diack estimates each electric bus costs about $200,000 more than a standard diesel one and that Winnipeg Transit replaces an average of 32 buses each year. At that rate, his plan would cost $6.4 million in its first year. Diack said he’s open to speeding up the process if federal, provincial or other funds became available.
“If someone is willing to front the money to us, let’s flip over as fast as we can. But the cost of $200,000 more per unit is a limiting factor,” he said.
To improve transit safety, Diack also proposes to add a $640,000 panic button system to buses that links directly to police, who could then tap in to camera and audio monitoring of those buses in real time. Transit’s current panic button alerts initially go to a 24/7 transit control centre, whose operators then notify police of serious incidents.
Winnipeggers will elect their next mayor and council on Oct. 24.