Motkaluk unveils platform, vows to freeze property taxes, some city salaries

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Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk plans to freeze property taxes, along with the salaries of all city employees who make $75,000 or more per year, if elected.

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Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk plans to freeze property taxes, along with the salaries of all city employees who make $75,000 or more per year, if elected.

In a platform outline released Wednesday, Motkaluk revealed not just her first 2022 campaign pledge but dozens of ideas at once, after focusing on meeting with “thousands” of Winnipeggers since she registered to run for mayor on May 1.

“This plan is the product of everything that I’ve learned from (Winnipeggers)… It can be done right now and within our existing budgets,” she said.

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

“This plan is the product of everything that I’ve learned from (Winnipeggers)… It can be done right now and within our existing budgets,” said mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk.

If elected, she promised to: ensure building permits are issued 50 per cent faster; create a Winnipeg Transit police force; extend the Chief Peguis Trail to run from Main Street to Route 90; supply water and sewer service to CentrePort; “enable the private sector” to convert hundreds of vacant buildings into affordable rental units; abolish photo radar traffic enforcement; and build two new spray pads per year, all without raising property taxes.

To afford those changes, she would cut the assessment department budget by “at least 50 per cent,” eliminate city spending that goes beyond the municipal “scope,” prevent council from donating to charities, restrict grants to only those with “meaningful and measurable outcomes” and impose a wage freeze on all city employees who earn $75,000 or more per year.

“I’m asking our highest paid public employees to give a little bit more so that we can help those who are hurt the most. I will not impose taxes on struggling Winnipeggers so that we can give raises to civic employees who are already making more than $75,000 a year,” she said, noting the affected staff would include firefighters, police, paramedics, council members and others.

If elected as mayor, Jenny Motkaluk also promises to do the following:

— Ensure Winnipeggers who improve their homes, such as by adding a garage or deck, do not pay higher taxes for doing so.
— Review bus routes to ensure they connect to buildings of the largest local employers.
— Add more buses to increase the frequency of Winnipeg Transit.
— Improve bus radio communication systems to increase safety.

— Ensure Winnipeggers who improve their homes, such as by adding a garage or deck, do not pay higher taxes for doing so.
— Review bus routes to ensure they connect to buildings of the largest local employers.
— Add more buses to increase the frequency of Winnipeg Transit.
— Improve bus radio communication systems to increase safety.
— Set service standards for city departments and ensure they are met, with publicly tracked results.
— Revamp 311 to have requests directed to those responsible for the file.
— Push for the return of the Manitoba Integrated Organized Crime Task Force and the Manitoba Warrant Task Force.
— Provide “safe and secure” parking for Winnipeg Police Service members who work at the downtown headquarters.
— Create an affordable housing registry that matches private landlords with agencies to supply vulnerable people with homes quicker.
— Improve road signs to better warn drivers of upcoming school zones and high-speed, high-collision intersections.
— Add new tools to standardize construction contracts and reduce risk for taxpayers.
— Reverse a 10 per cent funding cut to the Winnipeg Arts Council made in 2020.
— Ensure “stable funding” for arts groups and large parades, including Pride and the Santa Claus parade.
— Plant two public trees for each one lost.
— Replace 14,000 trees that were previously lost.
— Prune public trees every seven years.

Almost 4,200 of the city’s roughly 10,000 employees fall into that category.

The head of the city’s largest union said the proposed wage freeze would risk worsening a shortage of municipal staff, since more workers could leave for higher wages elsewhere.

“I think at this point in time that’s a very irresponsible position to take when we’re in an economic downturn. And the city is most certainly challenged with recruitment and retention (already),” said Gord Delbridge, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500.

Delbridge said the pledge also raises questions about collective bargaining rights, since wages are typically handled during negotiations, not imposed by elected officials.

Motkaluk said she expects the city could abide by bargaining rules by imposing the freeze gradually as contracts expire.

To increase municipal tax revenue, she promises to extend city water and sewer service to CentrePort and expand the Chief Peguis Trail to attract new development. She expects those steps should offset the millions of dollars the city would lose each year by cancelling photo radar, which she claims has not improved safety.

Meanwhile, Motkaluk also doubled down on her controversial stance on Canada Day. In June, she faced backlash for criticizing The Forks’ decision to host an “It’s a New Day at The Forks” event, instead of its traditional Canada Day celebration on July 1. If elected, Motkaluk says she would replace three representatives that the city appoints to the Forks North Portage Partnership board with ones who would help ensure Canada Day is not “cancelled” again.

“I’m a proud Canadian and I love my country and I love my country unconditionally,” she said.

The Forks changed the celebration this year after consultations with Indigenous people, newcomers, youth and others. The discussions started after Canada Day 2021, when a group toppled statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth at the Manitoba legislature following a rally to honour Indigenous children believed to be buried in unmarked graves on the grounds of former residential schools.

While Motkaluk said her promises can be delivered without the help of other governments, one pledge calls to lobby the province to abolish the Winnipeg Police Board, an entity that provincial legislation requires. Motkaluk stressed lobbying another government is within the city’s power.

Motkaluk did not provide a cost estimate for her promises but said more details will be released over the next several weeks.

Winnipeggers will elect their next mayor and council on Oct. 26.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

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.

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Updated on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 4:40 PM CDT: typo fixed

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