On July 15th, 2014 the Downtown Community Residents’ Association reached out to all mayoral candidates. We offered them the opportunity to respond to some important questions from downtown residents. (See the full questionnaire here.) We’ll be posting the full responses from each candidate individually in order to give our community – and the entire City of Winnipeg – the opportunity to see each candidate’s vision for the downtown. The responses will be posted in the order the were received from each candidate.
Below are the responses from Judy Wasylycia-Leis. (View the original .PDF here.)
1. I am committed to making Winnipeg a City That Works, which includes a healthy downtown. A vibrant core area includes a mix of affordable housing, a vibrant commercial sector, services people need and abundant recreation opportunities. I also believe people need arts and entertainment options all within easy access to their homes. If I am elected mayor, I am committed to ensuring that we encourage
development that ensures long-term, sustainable growth of urban neighbourhoods. I will be laying our specifics on my plan during the campaign.
2. Downtown parking is an issue that affects large cities across North America. I support efforts to reduce the number of surface parking lots in the downtown while improving transit and moving forward on rapid transit. However, I also recognize that downtown residents need parking options and I will work with residents of the area to develop solutions that balance the need for accessible parking with our desire to have livable, walkable downtown neighbourhoods.
3. I too am troubled by the lack of a downtown grocery option in downtown Winnipeg. I am encouraged by efforts of the Downtown Biz to bring innovative solutions to the areas such as farmers markets at the Manitoba Hydro and Workers Compensation Board buildings. I think that we also look at different ways of doing things like supporting social enterprise that addresses pressing community needs while providing employment to people who need it. Most Winnipeggers are very familiar with BUILD, which is improving energy efficiency in homes in urban neighbourhoods and providing training and skills for people who are otherwise difficult to employ to give them an opportunity for better lives. I also recognize there is a need to work with private sector partners to find a long-term option for residents to purchase groceries in their own neighbourhoods. The current situation is not acceptable. When I was an MP I fought hard with community activists to ensure banking and mail services were retained and restored in the North End of Winnipeg. I can bring that experience to City Hall and will be on your side fighting for you.
4. I will work with downtown residents to explore all options to find space that would support community centre services. This includes making the best possible use of existing space as we consider future options for developing a community centre.
5. I am committed to implementing a comprehensive integrated master transportation plan that includes a modern transit system, active transportation and investments in our crumbling streets. If our city is to grow and thrive, all transportation options need to be supported. Safety of cyclists and pedestrians would be one of the key issues addressed in the plan.
6. I believe there is considerable room to grow in this region of the city. I believe we need to encourage a mix of residential options. These include affordable rental housing in addition to condo development. I also believe downtown residents deserve a say in the future in your community and that everyone needs to be able to participate in community planning, not just a few select developers. Your voices have not been heard in the past in various plans to develop our downtown. I am committed to ensuring my door is open to you and your ideas.
7. I think there are a lot of exciting things happening downtown. The MTS Centre and the return of the Jets have resulted in more entertainment and housing options in the downtown. I think the development of Waterfront Drive and other condo developments are creating positive momentum. We also have a brilliant arts community, many of whom make their art and perform downtown. This is a foundation of strength we need to build on. I do think we need to think of the downtown as a place where people live, work and play. Urban density begins with ensuring we have a strong, sustainable residential population. We a need to ensure there are housing options for people of all income levels, especially young families. We need to ensure there are parks and greenspace where children and play and where adults can relax and socialize. We need to restore our great urban forest. We need to develop public art that is a cornerstone of urban neighbourhoods throughout the world. Some of this exists in Winnipeg. But there needs to be more, recognizing that municipal government should be a partner but also needs community support given the infrastructure and fiscal challenges the city faces. We have some outstanding young chefs and restaurateurs in this community who are serving world-class food in restaurants and food carts. They are already bringing people downtown and we need to encourage this entrepreneurship and creativity. I also think we should also recognize the importance in the design of our buildings and take advantage of the great talent we have in this community. Finally, we can’t lose site of the basics that include pedestrian-friendly streets, efficient traffic flow, active transportation, and streets where people feel safe.
8. Winnipeg is a warm, generous, talented and diverse community that pulls together in times of crises and comes together in times of celebration. There are great things happening every day because of the vision and hard work of our family, friends and neighbors. We have succeeded in spite of City Hall, not because of it. I have a plan to open City Hall and make sure you all have a voice in the decisions that are key to our future. I will be guided by you, not influenced by well connected insiders. My door will be open to you. I will ensure that there is an independent watchdog at City Hall and that I support the development of a professional, experience and neutral administration. I am committed to being a mayor that works for you. I can’t promise to be perfect. I will commit to be honest, open, accountable and on your side.
The Downtown Community Residents’ Association would like to thank Judy Wasylycia-Leis and her campaign for taking the time to respond to the questions from our residents. You can learn more about her campaign here. For responses from other mayoral candidates visit the DRCA election 2014 section.