Brian Bowman delivered his first state of the city address as Winnipeg's mayor Friday and walked off the stage to a standing ovation.
“When I was elected last October, I promised change, and we’ve already been making big improvements with the changes I’ve made during ... my first 150 days in office,” said Bowman. “Streets are seeing an unprecedented investment of $103 million dollars for renewal, and we’ve stood firm on our commitment to keep moving forward with Rapid Transit."
Homelessness, racism, PST
Bowman spoke of a futuristic vision for the city that involves leading the nation in eradicating homelessness, working with the indigenous community to address racism in the city, as well as boosting the economy and fixing Winnipeg's roads with help from the province's PST revenues.
“All of this keeps us looking ahead, and keeps Winnipeg moving forward in a way that supports our greater vision for the city: a city that works with an open and transparent city hall, a growing, thriving, more modern city that we are all proud to call home, and a city that no longer relies on the regressive, outdated property tax — a city that receives its fair share of the PST.”
Bowman addressed a largely business-oriented audience of more than 1,100 at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce's annual state of the city luncheon, which started at 11:30 a.m. at the RBC Convention Centre and ended around 1:45 p.m.
- Winnipeggers to pay more: taxes, garbage fees and transit
- Bowman's budget 'too expensive' for some families, but road money 'long overdue'
The rookie mayor, who was elected in October, has long identified Winnipeg's crumbling roads and other infrastructure as an issue, as well as the state of the city's finances.
Moving forward, the mayor said the city's budget process will be more participatory and seek input from the general public in 2016.
"Our funding model, it’s not sustainable and we’re being held back when we need to thrust forward," said Bowman.
Bowman talked in broad terms about a more dynamic downtown Winnipeg — including increasing the amount of jobs, improving rapid transit and housing, and making The Exchange “the silicon valley of the north.”
Anti-racism summit, advisory circle
But he also unveiled plans to address entrenched attitudes and systemic racism in the city.
“We need to change how we think and act in Winnipeg to get unstuck," Bowman told the crowd.
Bowman named broadcaster and First Nations leader Wab Kinew to head up the newly created Indigenous Advisory Circle to tackle racism in Winnipeg.
He also announced a partnership with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to hold a National Anti-Racism Summit in September of this year. The conference will bring people together from across the country to think up solutions to racism in its many forms in Canada.
Business summit, infrastructure
Bowman also said the city will hold a business summit in October and develop a plan to fix Winnipeg's roads.
The summit and its associated quarterly meetings will give small business owners an opportunity to share their thoughts on policy and initiatives with the general public.
Chaired by the city's former CAO and President Annitta Stenning, the BuildWINNIPEG task force will develop a 10-year plan of action to improve the city's roads, rapid transit and active transportation infrastructure, Bowman said.
“We are standing on the edge of bigger dreams for Winnipeg, and we will make progress," Bowman said.
"Council is committed to meeting the goals of Winnipeg, and I look forward to strengthening our future partnerships so we can keep moving the city we love forward over the next four years. Winnipeg’s best days are still to come.”