TIME TO BUILD WINNIPEG FOR THE FUTURE IS NOW: MAYOR BOWMAN
In his third State of the City address, Mayor Brian Bowman emphasized the importance of building Winnipeg for the future, preparing the City for strong population and economic growth, and announced new steps to reduce red tape including a new partnership with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce to help streamline and improve the City’s permitting process.
“Over the next twenty-five years, Winnipeg’s population is expected to chart strong and steady increases and we are on track to being a city of one million people strong,” said Mayor Bowman. “As a City, we need to be thinking about and planning today for a future we know is going to create increased demand not only on our existing city infrastructure and services, but also demand for new infrastructure and expanded services.”
“Planning for growth means figuring out how to pay the cost of growth that is fair and equitable to current taxpayers while also supporting our businesses, growing the economy, and working in partnership with other levels of government,” said Mayor Bowman.
The Mayor stressed the need for strong partnerships with other levels of government, and that no city in Canada can successfully build for the future without strong provincial and federal partners.
“I will not stand silent while other budgets are balanced on the backs of Winnipeg residents, and at the expense of Winnipeg infrastructure,” said Mayor Bowman. “We need to keep building, and we need to continue with important infrastructure investments we know we need to support a growing city.”
The Mayor emphasized the need to improve the City’s permitting process for local businesses, and announced the creation of a Permit Logistics Desk, a joint initiative between the City and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
“Delays in the permitting process impose costs to entrepreneurs and have an impact on all stakeholders, from the investor, the business, the architect, the engineer, and so on,” said Mayor Bowman. “This pilot project is intended to help reduce or eliminate delays in the permitting process, delays that can cost many businesses time and money,” Mayor Bowman explained.
Chamber staff working at the Logistics Desk will have complete access to all City permit services so that they can work with businesses as well as City staff to quickly identify issues and ultimately streamline the permit process.
To find ways to further reduce red tape, Mayor Bowman invited all businesses to identify through the Winnipeg Chamber any outdated and unnecessary City of Winnipeg bylaws that are creating obstacles to their success and that of the City’s, and committed to work with Council to remove them.
The Mayor outlined the need to bring Winnipeg’s economic development efforts more in line with that of the province, and recognized Economic Development Winnipeg’s efforts to more closely align their work with the Premier’s Enterprise Team.
“This alignment is critical,” said Mayor Bowman. “Winnipeg and its surrounding municipalities are home to two thirds of Manitoba’s population and Winnipeg has always been, and continues to be, the major economic engine of this province.”
“In the coming years, Winnipeg is increasingly going to be home to both more jobs and more people, we need to be ready for this, and we need to be working in lock-step with the province,” said Mayor Bowman.
In the State of the City, Mayor Bowman also:
- Supported the introduction of ride-sharing services like Uber, and committed to working with the province and the provincial Taxicab Board to move it forward;
- Welcomed Mr. Michael Legary who is joining the City of Winnipeg as its first Chief Innovation Officer;
- Announced letters of support from key Portage and Main property owners including Artis REIT, Harvard Developments, Scotia Bank, and Richardsons to work together to plan the opening of Portage and Main as one component of a larger vision to reconnect all four quadrants of Downtown;
- Announced that public and community engagement on the 2018 budget will begin this spring;
- Established a process with Economic Development Winnipeg to quickly assemble community experts to seek their input and advice in real time on emerging issues; and
- Committed to further business tax reductions.
In keeping with the tradition of the Mayor’s Charity of Choice, partial proceeds from State of the City ticket sales go to support a charity of the Mayor’s choice. Mayor Bowman announced that this year’s charity is the Bear Clan Patrol, an inclusive movement dedicated to changing our community for the better.