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 Mike Vogiatzakis. (View the original .PDF here.)
1. I would encourage all types of development downtown. My focus would be that the development would bring large amounts of people to the downtown area. I would be open to tax free zones, which would allow a new business to get off the ground. My goal is to create a vibrant downtown, thriving with people and businesses. I think the more diversity we allow to the downtown area the more successful we will be at creating a busy downtown.
2. I would have to say residents are tax-paying citizens and have a right to park on their street, without restriction. We need to get more people to start taking transit downtown, as downtown does have a lack of parking. If we are going to continue to develop on the downtown area we could do one of many things to attract people. For example park and ride, creating a large parkade, and to give people an incentive to get on the bus. A perfect example of parking would be to consider a Winnipeg Jets game being downtown, they attract approximately 16,000 people and seem to have no parking issues, do to a large majority of people using the transit system to get downtown. Another issue we will have in downtown in the near future is the Winnipeg police. With their headquarters moving downtown and hundreds of employees coming as well where are they supposed to park.
3. We need to create a walking area in the city of Winnipeg that has no car traffic. Where we can set up shops that will encourage people to shop. They will be affordable and cost efficient catering to all types of people. An area such as this would come alive and thrive becoming a hotspot in the city of Winnipeg. A perfect example would be the Exchange district. I would love to see shops of all different natures attracting residents from all areas of Winnipeg. Almost all major cities have an area like this except Winnipeg. As far as The Bay building we need to create a high amount of traffic downtown for anything to become successful with the lack of walking traffic in our downtown area it is hard for businesses to thrive and come alive and be able to pay the taxes, rent and employees. The old Zellers spot would be a great place for a farmers market. Where we would have local food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and many shops of all ethnicities. Creating a Folklorama experience, which would get people to come downtown and experience all these different shops and cultures. Are biggest problem downtown presently is safety people feel unsafe walking into a downtown area, we need to bring safety back to our downtown my plan for that is safe zones.
4. It would be ideal to build a large community centre in the downtown area that is accessible to all communities. This would be the start of many other businesses that would surround themselves around the community centre setting. I truly believe we need an area such as this to keep our youth busy with sports and other activities. Keeping youths active will help keep kids off the streets. It is also a great place to have community meetings, events, bringing more and more people downtown. The downtown area is a large area, my plan if I was elected would be to create a community club in the downtown area, that can be used for all types of functions. It would be accessible and productive. My plan is to build stronger communities and safer communities.
5. We need to create bike and pedestrian friendly paths that are clearly marked and safe. I am frustrated with the current cyclist plan they have in place. There has already been a death on Pembina highway with a cyclist on his way to a bomber game and more recently a cyclist hitting a pothole and dying. We need to put people first and get back to the basics. I believe it all starts with safety. Long term plan, long term vision. Proper planning along with systems and procedures in place that work. We have a plan to have the police cadets becoming more active in patrolling are city. I would like to see cadets on transit busses keeping the peace, and allowing the riders to feel safer. A quick example year one of a cadet would have to pass the police requirements to become a police officer in training. Year two taking over the parking authority of the city of Winnipeg. Year three the traffic division. Year four becoming more active in policing for example transit bus patrolling and policing. Also attending with police officers to different types of scenes or calls gaining different types of skills and street smarts of a police officer. Year five a city of Winnipeg police officer.
6. First of all I was brought up in the downtown area attending John M King elementary, General Wolfe Junior high and finally Tec Voc. As a youth I spent much of my time downtown by the University of Winnipeg. I think creating more living space downtown will help build a stronger community. We need to be creative, and make it affordable for people to rent and purchase. If I become mayor I will be thinking outside the box coming up with creative ideas to build communities. My plan would be to create more employment, more shops, more living space connecting communities together. I am presently extremely disappointed with our downtown we need to create incentive for businesses to want to relocate to these areas. I would like to see more community centres, more multicultural businesses and neighbourhoods, rapid transit that works and is cost and time efficient. I will bring priority signal transit to Winnipeg; we can do 211 intersections for $8 million dollars. For example this bussing system creates rapid transit through all the major intersections of Winnipeg. The transponder sends a signal to the light changing the light to green allowing a bus not to stop at a red light. It takes a ride that would normally be 30 minutes and brings it down to 20 minutes. This would encourage more people to take transit and leave their vehicles at home.
7. We need to make downtown people friendly. We also need to give people a reason to come downtown, by creating a safer downtown we would attract people who no longer wish to visit downtown because of safety concerns. We need to encourage businesses that attract people in our downtown area. Our streets need to be clean, free of gang activity and drugs. We need to create a friendly and safe environment with more shops, cafes and more people in the streets. We need to bring unique businesses and events to the downtown area and core. We need to build a new image and encourage Winnipeggers to come back downtown and to the core areas.
8. I wish to be a people’s mayor. The more contact I have with your community and others the better I can build the city. We need to work together as communities, to build a better Winnipeg. We need to have a long-term plan and a long-term vision. We must bring confidence back to city hall. I will respect you the taxpayer and the residents of the city. This can’t be my plan alone it needs to be our plan. I will listen, understand and respect others opinions and advice, we need to have community leaders join us at city hall when making major decisions about our city, communities and our neighbourhoods. My plan is to make Winnipeg a safer city, a city that you will feel comfortable raising your children in. A city that your children will want to stay and raise their children in. We have a great foundation we just need to build on it. Together we can build a stronger more vibrant Winnipeg that you will be proud of.
The Downtown Community Residents’ Association would like to thank Mike Vogiatzakis and his campaign for taking the time to respond to the questions from our residents. You can learn more about his campaign here. For responses from other mayoral candidates visit the DRCA election 2014 section.