City should explore police use of Winnipeg traffic cameras, mayor says

Mayor Brian Bowman, a former privacy lawyer, wants the Winnipeg Police Service to explore the potential expansion of its use of surveillance cameras.

Brian Bowman mulls security, eliminating biz tax and a 'buy local' policy at state of the city speech

Mayor Brian Bowman addressed a chamber of commerce audience Friday during his state of the city speech. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Mayor Brian Bowman, a former privacy lawyer, wants the Winnipeg Police Service to explore the potential expansion of its utilization of surveillance cameras.

During his annual state of the city speech, Bowman said Friday he wants the City of Winnipeg to explore how traffic-management cameras can assist the police with public safety.

The mayor said the city will do this in consultation with privacy experts and the provincial ombudsman.

"We'll explore how we can possibly leverage the centre's traffic cameras to strengthen public safety," the mayor said during a noon-hour speech at the RBC Convention Centre, also vowing to use the cameras to identify potholes.

Bowman also used his speech to pledge to eliminate the city's business tax and electrify Winnipeg Transit buses, along with promising "a complete overhaul" of the city's 311 service, electronic tracking of all council votes and instituting a "buy local" procurement policy for city contracts valued at less than $100,000.

'Support local businesses'

The latter promise is reminiscent of one by former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis during her mayoral campaign against Sam Katz in 2010.

"I think more can be done to support local businesses," the mayor said, speaking to an audience dominated by Winnipeg businesspeople.

​Drawing attention to the relatively small rise in city spending this year, a move facilitated by collective bargaining deals council regarded as favourable, Bowman promised to lead a new national committee that will allow cities to share information in pursuit of "more sustainable labour agreements."

He also took the opportunity to reflect on his first four years as mayor.

"When I took office, city hall was a mess," the mayor said. "Winnipeg cannot afford another Winnipeg police headquarters scandal, ever again."

Bowman dispensed with any suspense regarding his electoral intentions later this year by announcing Thursday he will seek a second term.

The mayor arrived at RBC Convention Centre Friday morning via TappCar, the Edmonton-based ride-hailing company that began operating in Winnipeg on March 2.

Bowman used his 2017 state of the city speech to pledge to work toward bringing ride-hailing services such as Uber to the city. Uber and fellow U.S.-based service Lyft have declined to operate in Manitoba due to public-insurance requirements for drivers to purchase coverage based on time bands in advance.​

The mayor also found himself on Friday addressing the absence of Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, who left city hall in January to undergo addictions treatment at a Gimli-area detoxification centre.

"I want to wish him and his family all the very best with his recovery," Bowman said.