October 5, 2014 1 Comment
Reminder: Candidates who have not yet responded, but wish to do so, are welcome to send in comments prior to Election Day. New comments will be added at the earliest opportunity.
(Oct. 19 update: Hennessey)
(Oct. 8 update, 8:28 p.m.: Stiller)
(Oct. 6 updates to 5:05 p.m.: Churchill, Havixbeck, Hennessey, Jonasson, Borden, Wasylycia-Leis, Quaye, Metcalfe, Comstock)
On Oct. 22, Winnipeggers will elect a new mayor and city council, who will collectively set the direction our city will take for the next four years.
As a public service, I sent the following e-mail on Sept. 21 to all but two mayoral and council candidates. In one case, no e-mail address was available for the candidate, so I sent the message care of the agent as the next best option. In another case, both listed e-mails bounced, so I sent the invitation to the campaign office by post on Sept. 22.
I write a blog here in Winnipeg called The View from Seven (theviewfromseven.wordpress.com). It normally receives about 70 hits per day, sometimes more when there is a new post, and reaches people locally who are interested in politics and current affairs, directly and via Google. You might have also seen commentaries reprinted from time to time in the Winnipeg Free Press’s Sunday Xtra.
I am preparing to write a post which would allow all 2014 city council candidates to answer the following two questions in their own words: “Which city other than Winnipeg, anywhere in the world, comes closest to being the ideal city? Why?”
The purpose of these questions is to get a better sense of how candidates visualize “the ideal city” in their own minds — a relevant question given that the new city council will determine the direction this city takes over the next four years. Therefore, I do ask that all who respond please specify a city other than Winnipeg, and a rationale for their choice.
Responses will be published with little or no editing. Responses will be presented by electoral ward (or under the “Mayor” heading in the case of mayoral candidates), and sorted randomly. Where candidates have chosen not to respond, that will be noted as well.
Sunday, Oct. 5 is the target date for publishing this post, so I do ask that all responses be submitted by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 6 p.m. on that date.
Thank you in advance, and all the best.
Creator of “The View from Seven” blog, Winnipeg
Some candidates responded with impressively detailed and thoughtful responses, a couple didn’t really answer the question at all, and some have yet to respond. Space will be made available for late arrivals — but, like those who have already generously taken the time to respond, I ask that any further respondents please stick to answering the question at hand, and avoid taking shots at others.
I invite you to read the comments made by those mayoral and council candidates who have responded, and consider the extent to which each candidate’s view of “the ideal city” matches your own as you prepare to vote. And don’t forget to bookmark this page so that you can check again regularly for updates.
Thank you kindly to all candidates who responded.
Mayor of Winnipeg
David Sanders: No response as of Oct. 5
Paula Havixbeck: Is planning to respond as of Oct. 6.
Michel Fillion: Stockholm, Sweden Why? Like Winnipeg, this city enjoys the four seasons, visually and recreationally. It definitely shows cleanliness, respect for the past, aiming towards the future with technology. This city clearly paints itself as a city where citizens can thrive in an essence of enjoyment. ” To live, to work, to play ” is their hidden motto.
Robert-Falcon Ouellette: No response as of Oct. 5
Gord Steeves: No response as of Oct. 5
Brian Bowman: Campaign staff member wrote in response, “Thank you for providing Brian the opportunity to participate. I¹ve sent your questions on to him for response.” No further response as of Oct. 5
Judy Wasylycia-Leis: The ideal city is where poverty rates are low and quality of life high, with decent roads but also good public transit and active transportation infrastructure. The ideal city also has lots of opportunities for young people and a thriving arts scene. Lastly, it’s critical that an ideal city have an open, transparent government that uses taxpayers’ money effectively.
There are many cities in Canada and the U.S. that meet some or all of these criteria, but I decided to use Seattle as an example of a city that comes pretty close to being “ideal” based on these criteria. Poverty rates are relatively low. It has a great local arts, music and theatre scene and is highly ranked among North American cities for quality of life and business and career opportunities. Seattle is also well known for its extensive bus active transit systems and it has been working to increase cycling and active transit ridership, including overhauling its cycling master plan that calls for 474 miles of new or improved bike routes. Much of this is due to a progressive city government, which posts its data online and has been recognized for taking advantage of the internet to promote public participation along with more traditional civic participation methods.
No city is without its flaws, but I think Winnipeg could one day be a city that others aspire to emulate (even with our winters). We already have fantastic local arts, culture, and sports, and with new attractions like Journey to Churchill and the CMHR opening, we’re well positioned to increase our position as a tourist destination. What we need now is a progressive, forward-thinking, accountable city government with a vision to make Winnipeg even better. That means better infrastructure, including bike paths as well as roads; better services like public transit as well as snow removal, water and waste; and better opportunities, especially for young people. It also means a government that answers to the people of Winnipeg, rather than just to a few developers with high-placed friends. That’s why I have made these the core issues of my campaign over the past several months, as the basis of my vision for Winnipeg as A City That Works.
Evan Duncan: No response as of Oct. 5
Luc Lewandoski: No response as of Oct. 5
Marty Morantz: No response as of Oct. 5
Nadine Stiller: I think Calgary is an example of an ideal city because Mayor Nenshi is an exceptionally good Mayor and a politician who demonstrates integrity. His leadership was outstanding during the flood crisis and was exactly what the citizens of Calgary needed to see itself through. Also, Calgary is prosperous, has good infrastructure, public transportation and roads, and is home to and attracts industry and business.
Kevin Nichols: Cities are like cars, every one of them has their own unique issues. While some may be very luxurious, they can be expensive to repair. Some run great but look terrible, and yet others suffer from endless problems.
My ideal city, one with a low crime rate as well as opportunities for employment and growth. One that is clean with plenty of green space. A city that is easy to travel from one end to the other. A city where recreational facilities are placed to obtain the best location without infringing on others.
I can honestly say I have not travelled extensively to answer this question with first hand knowledge. So the city that comes closest to what you are looking for in an ideal city would be Sioux Falls South Dakota. This city was clean, very few infrastructure repairs being done or needing to be done. Recreational facilities were easy to get to for any visitor, and there were plenty of employment opportunities to be had. This is my ideal city.
Harvey Smith: No response as of Oct. 5
Dave Donaldson: No response as of Oct. 5
Keith Bellamy: No response as of Oct. 5
Godwin Smith: No response as of Oct. 5
Cindy Gilroy: No response as of Oct. 5
John Cardoso: No response as of Oct. 5
Jason Cumming: No response as of Oct. 5
Paul Quaye: An ideal is tough to be embodied in one city and would be more of an amalgam of many good ideas, practices and policies from many cities. For instance, I could say something like New York or San Francisco for reasons of critical mass or density of people to drive efficiencies of scale in many areas of infrastructure and transit as well as cultural centres and “must visit” areas that drive tourism. I could say Calgary or Vancouver as Canadian examples of progressive development with a dash of geographical luck. Others may include Quebec City for embracing their cold weather nature, many European cities (which I have unfortunately not visited as yet) for preserving their history and integrating it into their daily lives, and even small to mid sized cities across the US Northern Midwest (Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana) and Canadian Prairies for sheer perseverance.
My thought is that we should take these examples best practices and apply them to Winnipeg. Some things are out of our control like geography, as we are not a coastal city or in proximity to the mountains, but we can be the best Winnipeg we can be in shaping things that work elsewhere and adapt them to our circumstances.
Hope this answers the question to a degree. Not the direct single city answer, but no one place is perfect even in my opinion.
Thomas Steen: No response as of Oct. 5
Jason Schreyer: No response as of Oct. 5
Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry
Norm Miller: No response as of Oct. 5
Jenny Gerbasi: My choice is New York City. It is a high density, vibrant, diverse city with extensive mass transit, infrastructure for active transportation and gorgeous public spaces.
Recent efforts in enhancing “placemaking” have made their many districts/neighbourhoods even better places to enjoy with more public art, improved pedestrian environment..essentially making more space for people to enjoy the city and their lives by transforming wide streets to include seating, bike paths, microbusinesses and plantings. There is a rich cultural and creative life there which is also essential to an interesting and quality city.
Shane Nestruck: First let me say I have travelled widely in N. America and even in China, but I will have to limit my answer to the cities I am familiar with that have something in common with Winnipeg and from which we can learn. So I choose to suggest Montreal. Not for what it is but for what we can learn from it.
I grew up in Montreal and left there at the age of 30 (1978) having spent my youth playing music in every corner of that city with many of the cultures in that city.
Now it needs to be emphasized that Montreal is one of the architecturally most beautiful cities in N. America. This is partly due to the heritage provided by the Roman Catholic Church that chose to replicate many of the famous churches in Europe in the city. Also early in its modern history there was a serious respect for the historical value of ‘Old Montreal’.
Then there is the spectacular Mt Royal that is one of the greatest urban green spaces on the whole continent.
Of course there is the ATTITUDE that remains from the 350 years of competition with New York City to be the ‘Gateway to the Continent’. Yes NYC eventually had the Erie Canal that connected it to the Great Lakes but Montreal had the Lachine Canal ( named after one of the early fur trade ‘promoters’, La Salle, who suggested that the St. Lawrence would lead to China!) and then there was the St. Lawrence Seaway which (to my knowledge) was the last big attempt at outdoing NYC.
So I grew up in a particularly wonderful city but during my youth, life in cities changed, cars clogged the highways and roads and Montreal was ‘Traffic Hell’, a car-culture city that was destined to be consumed by its success and growth. For my whole youth the city was the site of construction failures as engineers and city planners tried every thing to alleviate the traffic gridlock… They even built a miles long ‘canal’, below grade, for a super highway that was projected to solve the problems but which , as happens in every such situation, only encouraged more cars…. The history of the 401 in Toronto and the subsequent failure of the 407 are common knowledge to eastern Canadians and to the populations of the eastern U.S…. But, nevertheless, Montreal tried those ‘failed’ concepts.
And here is WHY I chose Montreal: Then, at about the same time that Mayor Juba was promoting a monorail in Winnipeg, in Montreal a somewhat corrupt Mayor saw an opportunity to be seen in history as the saviour of the city. Using the ‘deadline of the 1967 Worlds Fair and Canada’s hundredth anniversary he managed to coordinate the forces in Montreal to build a subway. But not just a subway… a world class subway. Today, Montreal, a city whose existence was threatened by the automobile and ‘eternal road building’ has become the best city in N. America in which to bicycle, and the best city in N. America to live… because it has survived the threat and moved on into the future.
Since Mayor Drapeau, corruption has continued, maybe worsened, but the life of the city and the lives of the people there continue to be driven by an optimism that is reflected in the fact their city has a future, has survived the cancer that destroys N. American cities and can continue to thrive. No, not because it is the ‘Paris of N. America’, not because it has such historical, cultural and architectural beauty, not because it has such wonderful green spaces, but I chose Montreal because it somehow had the instincts, or is that political leadership, to survive the cancer of the car and again become a place to live.
Today Winnipeg is in the exact same ‘political swamp of ignorance’, ‘political bog of cronyism’, ‘political morass of corrupted values and shallow short-term thinking’ as Montreal was in the ‘60s. The only question is will Winnipeg survive this Dark Age of Political Leaderless Myopia!
Ross Eadie: No response as of Oct. 5
Trevor Mueller: Our modern working city will have:
Open and Transparent Government with recorded voting
Newsletters on what Mayor and council is doing and voting on
Roads we can drive on and don’t need continuous repair
Public transit that is safe and efficient for the entire city
24 hour drop in centers for youths
Every neighborhood that is safe
Clean water we drink and use
Dave Capar: No response as of Oct. 5
Greg Littlejohn: No response as of Oct. 5
Evan Comstock: The most ideal city that I have been to is Kyoto, Japan.
Jeff Browaty: No response as of Oct. 5
Andrew Podolecki: No response as of Oct. 5
Donovan Martin: Responded by e-mail, “Thank you for reaching out. I would love to participate. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Looking forward to reading your blog.” No further response as of Oct. 5
Devi Sharma: No response as of Oct. 5
Suzanne Hrynyk: No response as of Oct. 5
Anthony Ramos: No response as of Oct. 5
Dale White: I have not travelled too much but Saskatoon is my ideal. The road system is such that it easy to get around the city, It has beautiful trees like Winnipeg and the people are seemingly always positive and hopeful for the future. Winnipeg is very similar but still lacks the positivity and confidence. There is less negativity in Winnipeg than there was before but still too many people criticize every effort at making the City a better place. One of my campaign slogans: Imagine-a Better City!
Mike Pagtakhan: No response as of Oct. 5
Anne Thompson: Thank you for this platform. I pray you the strength to please forgive me as I am unable to answer the questions as written if I am to respond to the stated purpose.
I am one of those outside-of-the-box-still-inside-the-circle-of-Love-while-reaching-for-the-Light-of-Truth-type of person. My daughter says I need to learn to ‘talk young’, so here goes: Want truth? Talk to me. Everything else following this is just ideas with details.
I have yet to see the ‘ideal’ city although I have traveled as far East as Vatican City, as far North as Great Bear Lake, as far South as Guatemala, and as far West as Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. I am aware of physical neighbourhood features as well as other city qualities I believe would enhance our lives if added to what exists here.
The Ideal City Municipal Code keeps distance between matters of state and matters of faith to assure no extremist religious penchant. Ideal City also has in place policies and procedures based on agreed to principles and values – applicable to all Ideal City employees, including senior executives – that would ensure everyone knows what to do, why they’re to do it, and how to do it; that ensures everyone receives support to make them successful in their respective jobs; that ensures everyone follows through and is accountable for meeting their performance expectations and obligations. Much in the manner in which a successful company or corporation is financially structured, Ideal City’s financial responsibilities would focus to benefit primarily the shareholders, secondarily the customers, next the employees, then lastly, the general public.
Shareholders are defined as municipal taxpayers who are Ideal City residents (similar requirements as Manitoba Health), and the Ecosystem – both equal in whole or part; customers are the purchasers of Ideal City products and services (so a fee-payer is owed a service, just as a road toll payer is owed good condition well-kept roads on which to travel for getting to work/recreation/other after coming onto Ideal City roads from other municipal communities); employees are any person directly or through contract employed by the Ideal City; and the general public is everybody else, for example: non-resident municipal taxpayers (to discourage over-empowering absentee landowners), non-taxpaying municipal residents (such as, but not limited to students, temporary workers), the travelling public (through traffic), tourists.
Manitoba is a world leader in a technology that takes heat from frozen ground at low cost that Ideal City uses to the fullest extent of its citizens’ imagination, including having so-called ‘geothermal coil sinks’ from which neighbouring buildings – residential/commercial – draw upon for their heating and cooling needs. This renewable resource uses scant amount of electrical power that is drawn from the buildings’ own independent clean energy generators.
Food security is also more assured because geothermal-, hydroponic-, aquaculture-, and vermiculture technologies and processes are combined within a variety of urban buildings dedicated to waste reclamation and food production.
These municipally owned and operated industries, strategically situated throughout the city, offer bags and bags of worm castings and inert soil conditioning for sale in large indoor warehouse-style public markets alongside copious amounts of vegetables and fruit and fish raised there.
Ideal City actually adds to its treasury by processing its residents’ trash. The markets also offers neighbourhood meeting places, with independent restaurants and cafés dotting the area mixed in with crafters and artisans of all types and classes selling their wares. Examples of jobs from all classes of employment: from traditional, to manufacturing, to modern highly technical, to service, to entertainment can be found in their vicinity.
From reading, travel or documentary, I have learned that, for instance:
- In Manila, someone has developed a paint that mitigates the effects of pollutants emitted from motor vehicle tailpipes. This paint is supplied to artists who apply it onto surfaces (retaining walls, buildings, figures/forms) near roadways. The cityscape is beautified whilst pollution is minimized. The themes in many of the depictions are of cultural historic significance, lending a sense of ownership and of belonging to citizens.
- I wish I could accurately describe what I like about one of the good street planning examples from Brandon, Manitoba. I lived for a while in that fair city in a house at the corners of Brandon and Seventh, if memory serves me correctly. The residential streets in that area did not continue through. Rather the traffic is made to follow a curbed road curve. This has the effect of slowing and of minimizing traffic on so designed residential streets. Citizens of all ages and abilities were able to safely navigate the area. Active transportation was strongly practiced
Rebecca Chartrand: No response as of Oct. 5
River Heights-Fort Garry
John Orlikow: No response as of Oct. 5
Taz Stuart: No response as of Oct. 5
Ryan Davies: The ideal city is, to me, a place that is able to strike the delicate balance between economic viability, sustainability, and overall quality of life.
I’ve had the good fortune to live in a number of different cities in Canada and other countries. I’ve spent time in downtown Tokyo, marveling at the spectacular density and frenetic pace, and I’ve lived in Saskatoon, a small city on the verge of a major boom. I’ve seen the shocking disparity between wealth and poverty in Buenos Aires, and witnessed firsthand the geographic advantages and challenges in a city like Vancouver.
Each of these cities have elements that are an important part of what makes a city ideal, but for me, the city that comes closest to being ideal is actually Ottawa.
Ottawa consistently ranks highly in liveability studies. It has a thriving cultural scene, a stable and diverse economic base, and a viable transportation plan that includes an effective mass transit system as well as expanded infrastructure for cycling and active transport. All of these contribute to the overall quality of life in the city.
Ottawa faces many of the same issues that Winnipeg does including urban sprawl issues and an infrastructure deficit that continues to grow. Despite all of this, the city continues to make infrastructure repairs and new mass transit and active transit corridors a priority in order to facilitate growth and keep the city moving in the right direction, both literally and figuratively.
The crime rate is lower in Ottawa in every major category and has seen an 11% drop year over year. While Winnipeg continues to pour more money into policing and new hires, Ottawa has the highest rated police service in terms of effectiveness in Canada according to the Fraser Institute while having the lowest numbers of officers per capita.
The City of Ottawa is accustomed to a highly transparent system in having easily accessible records showing money spent and motions at City Hall, as well as a very strong tendering process that is again made widely available for the public to see. Their cultural makeup, layout of the city, earnings per resident and many other comparison points are very close to that of Winnipeg yet Ottawa continues to outshine Winnipeg in a vast number of areas as I have pointed out.
The great news is their model is highly attainable with similar outcomes very plausible. Winnipeg is at a crossroads and is failing in a great number of areas. We have created a deficit for ourselves not only financially but in a great number of areas. This can be improved upon by viewing models that are working in municipalities that closely resemble ours and Ottawa is a shining example of what can be achieved when we pull together as a community, demand change at City Hall and have leaders with the interest of the residents at heart and not that of special interest groups or their own bank accounts.
Paul Najda: Although Winnipeg is disallowed from your questionaire, I will pick this city but not present day Winnipeg.
To clarify, the Winnipeg of 50-60 years ago was ideal because of its potential. Unfortunately, since then it has gone in a number of wrong directions and is starting to suffer from big city problems. If I have to choose a present day city it would be Fargo, N.D. because it is now at the stage where Winnipeg was as mentioned earlier.
As far as what Winnipeg should strive for, Minneapolis, MN would be the ideal because of their quality of life, the arts, transportation, etc. and because of their similarity to us as far as climate and location. Thanks for gettiing in touch with me,
Matt Allard: No response as of Oct. 5
Brad Gross: No response as of Oct. 5
Shawn Dobson: No response as of Oct. 5
Grant Nordman: No response as of Oct. 5
Don Woodstock: No response as of Oct. 5
Dwight Hildebrandt: There are many Ideal cities around the world and in Canada but if I was to pick one that Winnipeg could learn from it would be Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
They are building a ring road that is a true ring road with bridges and on ramps and off ramps. This speeds up travel from one part of the city to another. They celebrate their river, there is a beach area and the river is the centre of their summer lives in that city. The river is in full view and surrounded by park land.
Saskatoon expands outward only so much every few years then they stop the urban sprawl and then the city must start growing upwards. This allows the tax base to catch up to the new infrastructure needs and costs. Their roads are taken care of and maintained. The people are happy and do not feel overtaxed and are not taken to the cleaners by photo radar being used in suspect ways.
Eric Holland: No response as of Oct. 5
Geoff Borden: Response coming soon, as of Oct. 6.
Stefan Jonasson: I’ve had the good fortune to travel across Canada, the United States and Europe, so I’ve experienced several world-class cities firsthand and I’ve seen both their virtues and their shortcomings. Several cities come to mind as excellent places, but the one that comes closest to being the ideal city, in my mind, is Copenhagen, Denmark.
Why? It’s a safe and clean city, where residents take pride in their surroundings and participate robustly in public life. Copenhagen is a city of parks and public squares, gardens and gathering places, where people come together for leisure and recreation. It boasts a quick and convenient public transportation system, alongside bike paths that are so well developed and used that they have left-hand turn lanes — yet automobiles are able to move quickly throughout the city.
The city is dotted with distinctive neighbourhoods, each with its own charm, yet each understanding itself as part of something larger than itself. Homes are well built and well maintained, offering a wide variety of housing choices, and even the least fashionable neighbourhoods feel safe and comfortable. Fine architecture is seen throughout the city and public art is there for all to enjoy. The cultural amenities of Copenhagen are remarkable — theatres, museums, amusement parks, art galleries, and live music venues abound. A wide variety of businesses prosper in Copenhagen, while workers are well-compensated and respected.
The people come across as simultaneously industrious and relaxed, working diligently but making time for family and friends. Offshore windmills bear witness to the city’s commitment to green energy, while a culture of recycling pervades the public consciousness. Overall, Copenhagen seems to be a city where the public good and private responsibility, community and individuality, have found their proper balance, so that the quality of life is enriched for everyone.
Scott Gillingham: No response as of Oct. 5
Bryan Metcalfe: My answer would have been Calgary. I lived there for a couple of years and have visited numerous times since. I personally like the way they have developed their road ways and pedestrian/bike paths which were done with good planning well in advance of their population growth.
Fred Morris: No response as of Oct. 5
Joe Chan: I am introduce my shifty hall and my dream city
[followed by web site link]
Janice Lukes: Responded by e-mail, “Kevin – this is an EXCELLENT idea – brilliant – I am on it! I have just the city – thank you for doing this!!” No further response as of Oct. 5
Sachit Mehra: I love Winnipeg. I chose to raise my family and continue to run my family business in this city.
However, if I had to choose another city as an “ideal city” to live in, I would have to say it is Montreal. Winnipeg and Montreal share many similarities; they have a diverse population and thriving cultural community. Both have strong market areas, eclectic hospitality venues and a variety of retail spaces. The economies of both cities are relatively diverse however they are challenged by rapidly expanding neighbourhoods, road congestion and the deterioration of green space.
I lived in Montreal with my wife, Caroline, and our two sons, Mohit and Givan, for three years. In that time, I observed and experienced many civic practices that I feel Winnipeg could take cues from.
The one that stands out the most is Montreal’s focus on transportation. The attitude I discovered in Montreal is that when priority is placed on making it as easy as possible for residents to move around the city, it will have a population that is more likely to spend, travel and enjoy the city’s conveniences to the fullest extent.
Although both Winnipeg and Montreal are similar in their cultural traits, Montreal excels in its approach to connecting its city centre and population through a network of transportation systems. This includes active transportation, a subway system, highways and an excellent transit system.
During my years in Montreal, I appreciated the ability to wander around downtown, rent a bike from an automated stall, travel to another area and then return the bike to another automated stall. The system was seamless and allowed me to travel without substantial cost or impact to my surroundings.
Another key piece to the transport map was the excellent subway system. It was efficient, clean and well networked with the trains running on time. What really stood out for me was that most every station had a personality of its own. Each one had a piece of public art, including sculptures and, in some cases, even stained glass. It was a joy to land at a new station and appreciate a new venue.
Montreal also enjoys a vast highway system for those that choose to travel by car. Generally efficient and congestion free, I found it easy to get from downtown Montreal to my residence off the plateau in a reasonable amount of time. The lanes were wide, traffic-light free, with good opportunities to merge off into surrounding neighbourhoods.
Finally, the metro, or transit system, is one of the easiest ways to get around Montreal. Fares are competitive and the buses operate until late hours to serve a variety of schedules. Winnipeg has an opportunity to move forward to address its transportation concerns and I feel Montreal’s model presents many ideas we can use as inspiration.
With our population increasing yearly, we will soon be a city of one million strong. With our current system of road networks, we will face a serious challenge to efficiently move our citizens around our city. With a newly elected mayor and city council, we have the momentum to transform our city’s transportation system and, in turn, and increase economic activity in our city while improving the well-being of our citizens.
I truly want to leave my kids a modern, forward-looking city that offers them a variety of choices. This is why I’ve decided to run for city council – to bring that change to City Hall.
Brian Mayes: I would say Paris is my favourite city to visit, but I don’t think one can compare a city that big to Winnipeg. I think of any city I have visited in recent years I was most impressed by Portland Oregon, so that will be my answer in terms of “ideal’.
There are obvious climate differences between Winnipeg and Portland, but Portland has done some thing well that Winnipeg could learn from: a downtown that is welcoming to residents and visitors through a mix of residential development, green spaces and historical preservation; a mix of bus routes, streetcars and light rail; and an environmental approach to some of the same problems (e.g. combined sewer overflows) that happen in Winnipeg.
Moreover, I found a real interest in urban issues in Portland, with public engagement in civic discussions. There were still problems that were not ideal – e.g. a large youth homeless population – but overall I thought Portland’s civic development offered some ideas for Winnipeg’s future.
Steven Hennessey: I am not a traveller so my experience in other cities is limited. Although Toronto, Dallas, Calgary and Vancouver are cities I have travelled to in the past, I want to draw on my experience in one city that I visited recently and is visited often by citizens of Winnipeg. Many people might not see Minneapolis as the mecca of ideal cities but I believe it sets some standards we can strive for as a comparable city within our climate, infrastructure needs and is also a reasonable distance to Winnipeg.
My first impression of Minneapolis is how the Highway/Freeway system flows. It is clean, continuous and easy to navigate. I believe our ring road system should be the same way. City council should develop a plan for the next 20 years to developing and designing our inner ring road and perimeter so that it flows continuously without traffic lights. The design of our traffic flow is critical to growth and prosperity.
The second most impressive part of the city was the waterfront development including current proposals to increase walkability and livability along the river. Current and new designs by the City of Winnipeg that include densification, footbridges and retail space will help rebuild our river front properties. I believe we can do this with private investment and skilled marketing. Having a vibrant riverfront creates growth, tourism and revenue.
I was also impressed with the downtown. It was active, busy and appeared safe. There were Police and security patrolling during events, mobile CCTV, city street workers on ‘segways’ cleaning and monitoring the downtown. It was also very well lit and had a good mixture of green space, architecture and entertainment. The arena and ball park attracted a great deal of business and the surrounding restaurants and pubs provided a feeling of connectedness. The LRT was also impressive and well set up and traversed the city from downtown to the Mall of America. Vehicle traffic was negligible downtown. We should be looking at future where we rely less on vehicle traffic downtown and use our existing rail lines for LRT while increasing bus transit through all downtown corridors.
Although we have some of the same amenities as Minneapolis we still lag behind in growth and vibrancy in the evening. The one current issue that faces both Winnipeg and Minneapolis is surface parking lots. Currently, Minneapolis is beautifying these parking lots as a step to increase development. Winnipeg should be looking at options to develop our surface parking lots and increase activity in the downtown area. I would advocate continued support for the Downtown Biz, Forks North Portage Partnership, Exchange District Biz and other stakeholders responsible for the continued development of our downtown. As seen recently with the proposed development of the parcel 4 at the Forks our growth as a city comes with innovation and creativity. As Minneapolis has shown, creative planning with continued investment works.
Glenn Churchill: From the cities that I visited, my “ideal” city would be New York City. NYC has many benefits and attractions that foster a great living environment.
Ray Ulasy: No response as of Oct. 5
Blessing Feschuk: No response as of Oct. 5
Russ Wyatt: No response as of Oct. 5
George Baars-Wilhelm: No response as of Oct. 5