Mayoral candidate Rana Bokhari pledges more money to replace Winnipeg's combined sewers

Mayoral candidate Rana Bokhari is promising to spend more money replacing combined sewers in Winnipeg.

Loney says Winnipeg needs nightlife mayor; Murray promises to extend libraries

Mayoral candidate Rana Bokhari pledged to spend more on combined-sewer replacements. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Mayoral candidate Rana Bokhari promises to spend more money replacing combined sewers in Winnipeg.

Bokhari pledged Monday to increase annual spending on replacing combined sewers with dedicated pipes for sewage and stormwater from $45 million every year to $60 million.

Combined sewers, which lie below older parts of Winnipeg, carry both runoff from the surface and sewage from homes and businesses. This mixture is pumped to one of the city's three wastewater treatment plants.

When heavy rains exceed the capacity of city pumps, rainwater-diluted sewage overflows into the city's rivers. That, in turn, results in more nutrients — primarily phosphorus and nitrogen — flowing through Red River into Lake Winnipeg, where they promote the growth of algae and alter the ecology of the lake.

Bokhari said she is aware the City of Winnipeg is just one source of nutrient-loading in the lake, but said the city nonetheless must do more reduce sewer overflows.

"Pointing fingers at another level of government, that doesn't get us as the City of Winnipeg off the hook," Bokhari said outside the North End Water Pollution Control Centre, where $473 million worth of upgrades to the plant's intake facility are underway.

Bokhari pledged to fast-track the completion of the next two phases of work at the plant, the largest of the city's three sewage-treatment facilities, because Winnipeg is a decade away from running out of capacity to treat more sewage.

The next phases of work at the North End plant include a $553-million biosolids processing plant that is awaiting funding approval and an $828-million nutrient removal facility that is not funded at all.

Bokhari said she would convince the provincial and federal governments to fund the rest of the upgrades. She would not say whether she would raise water and sewer rates to make that happen.

Loney says Winnipeg needs 'nightlife mayor'

Mayoral candidate Shaun Loney says Winnipeg needs two mayors — a regular, elected mayor to handle political duties and what he calls a "nightlife mayor."

Loney, the author of two books on public policy, promised Monday to create a new position of nightlife mayor to help revitalize downtown Winnipeg and enhance the arts and cultural industries.

Edmonton, Ottawa, New York City and Austin, Texas, are among cities with similar positions, he said.

Mayoral candidate Shaun Loney says Winnipeg needs a mayor and a nightlife mayor. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

The nightlife mayor would be responsible for streamlining the permits process for events and addressing noise concerns, among other duties, said Loney, adding he couldn't get food trucks to attend his own launch at Old Market Square because the red tape is so onerous.

"The food trucks said it's not worth going through the permitting process," Loney said. "How can we make it easier for the sector to be able to have pop-up establishments?"

Some of the duties Loney described are already fulfilled by an existing city position, the manager of film and special events, who earns $126,000 a year to troubleshoot on behalf of the entertainment industry.

The name nightlife mayor recalls Night Mayor, a 2009 short film by former Winnipegger Guy Maddin.

Murray makes library pledge

Mayoral candidate Glen Murray has promised to extend Winnipeg library hours.

"Time to reopen our libraries on weekends," the former Winnipeg mayor tweeted on Sunday, suggesting in a later tweet he would devote up to $2.2 million to make it happen, using funds from the grounding of the Winnipeg Police Service's helicopter.

Grounding the helicopter would require the co-operation of both the police and the Winnipeg Police Board, as Winnipeg's mayor does not have the authority to direct police operations.

Murray said in a statement he will cost out the promise later in the campaign. 

In 2004, during Murray's final months in office, he mused about closing and consolidating some Winnipeg libraries.

Shone promises Indigenous newcomer help

Following Murray's announcement, mayoral candidate Rick Shone promised to open libraries seven days a week. He did not cost out the pledge.

Shone, the owner of outdoor retailer the Wilderness Supply, also promised Friday to do more to help Indigenous newcomers to the city find housing and work.

He said he wants the city to work with non-profit organizations and Indigenous governments. 

"We need to be a willing partner to any organization that is offering supports … so that transition is successful as possible," Shone said outside the former downtown Winnipeg Bay building, which has been transferred to the Southern Chiefs' Organization.

Shone said he devised this pledge with input from Edna Nabess, a Winnipeg artisan. He said the pledge will require the city to devote two full-time employees to the work.

Shone, Murray, Loney and Bokhari are among 12 candidates registered for mayor. The other eight candidates are Idris Adelakun, Chris Clacio, Scott Gillingham, Jenny Motkaluk, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Jessica Peebles, Desmond Thomas and Don Woodstock.

The civic election is on Oct. 26.


Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.