Cutting crime job 1 for next mayor

Making an effort to reduce crime should Winnipeg's next mayor's top priority, a new media-sponsored poll suggests.

Residents conflicted about transit

Making an effort to reduce crime should be Winnipeg's next mayor's top priority, a new media-sponsored poll suggests.

Or so say 40 per cent of citizens — two in five — who responded to questions posed in a Winnipeg Free Press/CBC Manitoba poll conducted by Leger Marketing.

The pollster randomly called 800 Winnipeggers and asked them to select among six options what the next mayor should make their top job upon taking office after election day on Oct. 27.

Fixing core infrastructure such as roads, back lanes and bridges ranked second among respondents, amounting to 32 per cent of those polled.

Others said spending more money on recreation and community services (14 per cent) should be the next mayor's top job.

Crime reduction was especially important to women, with 50 per cent of those who said it should be the first priority being female.

Incumbent Mayor Sam Katz has pledged to hire 58 additional police officers and has trumpeted the decision to add a helicopter to the Winnipeg Police Service arsenal as crime-fighting measures. Katz's pledge to add officers has drawn him an endorsement from the Winnipeg Police Association.

His main challenger, former NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis has said the city must turn its attention to the root causes of crime and has pledged $1-million for crime prevention efforts.

She has also promised a program to hire former gang members to do work for the city in an effort to build their job skills.

Transit confusion

Just 10 per cent of respondents said completing a rapid transit corridor to the University of Manitoba should be the city's top politician's number one task, and building a new stadium on the campus grounds garnered only two per cent of people's votes.

But that's not to say public transit doesn't rank as an issue of importance for citizens, with 59 per cent of people saying they want to see the transit system improve.

There's little consensus, however, on how to fix the system.

Twenty-seven percent want a rapid transit system with just buses.

Thirty-two percent want buses and light rail.

The mixed response is a sign that people are scratching their heads about transit, said Jino Distasio of Winnipeg's Institute of Urban Studies.

"This poll indicates that people are still confused. And despite the fact that tunnels are being built and pavement is being laid, we still don't have clarity. And that's unfortunate," he said.

A recent decision by Katz to favor LRT over a BRT system for the city has muddied the waters, Distasio said.

The poll results come from a random telephone survey of 800 adults living in Winnipeg. It was conducted from Oct. 6-17 and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.