Mayoral candidate seeks to boost city night-time potential
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/07/2022 (257 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If Shaun Loney is elected Winnipeg’s next mayor, another “mayor” would boost local nightlife.
Loney promises to create a new staff position of “nightlife mayor” to act as a liaison between the city and the arts and culture sector.
“It’s somebody that would be from (that) community who acts as a champion for the community to promote their success,” the 2022 mayoral candidate told the Free Press.
Loney admitted the inclusion of “mayor” in the title for an unelected position may appear unusual but said it simply echoes how other cities have labelled the role so far.
“It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek and it’s fun,” he said.
It can be challenging for businesses and organizations to tap into Winnipeg’s after-dark potential, due to red tape, said the entrepreneur and former policy analyst. A nightlife mayor would streamline the licensing process for businesses and events, proactively address noise concerns and help ensure safe, late-night transit can support patrons.
In return, he expects the effort would spark more late-hour events that attract people downtown and create jobs, boosting COVID-19 pandemic recovery in the city centre.
“There’s a lot of vacant commercial space downtown right now,” said Loney.
The city employee would also explore a potential dedicated night-time district where art galleries, theatres, bars, clubs and/or other venues could be centralized. That space would be seasonally closed to motor vehicles, said Loney.
“It just makes it more interesting, more pedestrian friendly, with room to celebrate on the streets and a reduction in noise concerns if all the establishments are operating on a similar time frame.”
Loney did not offer an exact cost estimate for the pledge, but said it’s not a big budget item.
The City of Winnipeg has an existing manager of films and special events who helps simplify the steps needed to set up movies and large gatherings. The nightlife mayor’s specific focus is needed to realize Winnipeg’s full economic potential, Loney said.
Many European and U.S. cities already have a nightlife or night mayor, while the City of Vancouver recently added an “Office for Night Time Economy,” he said.
Other mayoral candidates have added pledges to expand the hours for city projects or services to their platforms.
Don Woodstock said he would ensure construction crews operate 24-7 to speed up road projects and limit the disruption to traffic if he’s elected.
“We have such a limited time for construction season in Winnipeg… (we need to) minimize the mayhem and the unnecessary delays,” the small-business owner said.
While the city has studied the idea of switching to a 24-7 construction cycle, a 2019 working group concluded round-the-clock work should be limited to only major routes. Since so many Winnipeg roads are close to homes, a broader expansion risked triggering noise complaints and other disruptions, the report found.
Woodstock said he’s confident most Winnipeggers would agree the benefits of 24-7 construction outweigh the risks.
Two other mayoral candidates believe Winnipeg libraries should be open seven days a week. Presently, only four of Winnipeg’s 22 library branches keep Saturday hours, while none are open Sundays.
“Weekend and evening hours are ideal times to use public libraries, yet the majority of our city libraries are closed,” Rick Shone said in a news release. “Operating hours should reflect preferred times of use and meet this demand.”
Glen Murray issued a similar pledge on Twitter: “Time to reopen our libraries on weekends. Kids deserve safe places to learn and grow when and where they need them.”
Jenny Motkaluk, Chris Clacio, Scott Gillingham, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Idris Adelakun, Rana Bokhari, Desmond Thomas and Jessica Peebles have also registered to run for mayor. Mayor Brian Bowman is not seeking re-election.
Winnipeggers will elect their next mayor and city council on Oct. 26.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.