Winnipeg has become a better and brighter city in the last eight years, including taking up the challenge after being named Canada’s ‘most racist city’ to embrace the call for reconciliation, Mayor Brian Bowman said at his last State of the City address June 8.
Bowman spoke to a room of 1,000 attendees at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce lunch, most of whom were from the business sector. Bowman announced earlier that he will not run for office again, in the October 26 municipal election.
Just months after he was first elected in 2014, Bowman found himself in the glare of a 2015 Maclean’s Magazine article that labelled Winnipeg the country’s most racist city.
The newly minted leader addressed the need to work with the Indigenous communities to repair relations to improve the lives of Indigenous residents. Bowman launched the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord that has seen 186 businesses, associations and institutions sign on in partnership, committing to implement relevant Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
“I’ve had very personal moments of mourning and celebration” with Winnipeggers, the mayor said.
He ran through a number of accomplishments to make Winnipeg a better place to live. He credited the progress to the hard work of, and spirit of hope that prevails among, fellow citizens.
Those highlights included record road-renewal budgets, major infrastructure projects such as the new Waverley underpass, rapid transit, continued cuts to the business tax and championing the city to become a leading centre for innovation and technology.
Further, Winnipeg has assumed a national voice on racism and inclusion and has started a path to become an international leader in human rights, he said.
At City Hall, Bowman noted his goal was to “clean up” from past controversies and scandals, including with the construction of the Winnipeg police headquarters, which he noted a civil court has found involved instances of bribery.
“We’ve accomplished a lot but more work lies ahead,” he added noting that Statistics Canada has put Winnipeg as Canada’s 6th largest city, and on a path to growth.
“I’ve poured my heart into leaving City Hall in better shape than it was when I was elected.”
Among the nine hopefuls vying for the mayoralty in the October 26 election are Coun. Scott Gillingham, businesswoman Jenny Motkaluk, former Liberal leader Rana Bokhari and former Winnipeg MP Robert-Falcon Ouelette.