Thunderbird House, no masks, tiny homes, transportation pledges: mayoral roundup


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Mayoral candidate Glen Murray wants to give Thunderbird House an extensive restoration.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/09/2022 (243 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mayoral candidate Glen Murray wants to give Thunderbird House an extensive restoration.

Renewing the cultural centre, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years, should be held with the same urgency as maintaining Winnipeg’s museums, Murray said during a news conference at the 715 Main St. location.

“We have not treated it with the reverence we have the Manitoba Museum, which somewhat ironically and sadly, contains many of the traditional cultural regalia and important pieces of living Indigenous culture, which is under glass,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

Thunderbird House needs to be restored and cleaned up, says Glen Murray. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press files)

“You look at the massive investments, and quite rightly, at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, when the human rights of Indigenous people that are so shamefully ignored here at another cultural building.”

He was joined by several Indigenous leaders, including Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson and End Homelessness Winnipeg president Jason Whitford.

While End Homelessness is not backing any one candidate for mayor, Whitford agreed renewing the space was an urgent need.

“We have a responsibility as organizations, government, a community, to help heal our people. We need healing resources such as the Thunderbird House,” he said.

Murray did not have any estimates about what a full restoration could cost the city.

As he spoke to the gathered crowd, people across Winnipeg received automated texts from his campaign, asking if Murray could count on the recipient’s vote on Oct. 26.

Glen Murray didn't have a cost estimate for his plan to clean up Thunderbird House. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The program was introduced to his campaign by someone who had worked on a provincial campaign in the past and used a similar mass text system, he said. The candidate clarified he was not using a list of phone numbers from the province, but otherwise didn’t have details on how the text program worked.

The Municipal Councils and School Boards Elections Act permits candidates to contact people on the voters list for soliciting contributions and campaigning.

“This has come up periodically in the context of federal elections, where people have been sent mass text messages from candidates or political parties,” said privacy lawyer Andrew Buck, a partner with Pitblado Law. “There is not a lot of direct regulation of these messages because the law doesn’t view them as being commercial in nature.”

Motkaluk pledges arts council funding

Jenny Motkaluk pledged to restore funding to the Winnipeg Arts Council and stood behind her decision to go maskless at a debate in a building that requires the use of masks.

Motkaluk was booed by attendees at a Monday forum on the environment for mayoral candidates at the University of Manitoba after she expressed she would no longer be following COVID-19 safety recommendations.

Jenny Motkaluk is done with COVID protocols. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

“I did not have a mask on. I announced my intention not to have a mask on and not a single person from the institution had anything to say to me about that, which just goes to show that they don’t stand up for their own principles, and I do,” Motkaluk said Tuesday.

Masks are required indoors on the U of M campus.

“The University of Manitoba can have all the policies that they want, but as a candidate for mayor of Winnipeg, I wanted to make sure that Winnipeg voters know that I am not going to wear a mask anymore. I’m done social distancing, and anybody else that wants to do the same can join me,” she said.

The Winnipeg Arts Council budget was cut 10 per cent in 2020 and has been frozen at that level since. Motkaluk said she would restore it, which would add $500,000 to the council’s $4.2-million budget, and provide an additional two per cent annual increase.

“My plan for Winnipeg means the arts community will have stable funding and not have to go cap in hand to city hall to beg for the support that should just be given,” she said.

Klein vows to build tiny homes

Kevin Klein wants to invest in small homes to immediately house people in need before winter.

Kevin Klein believes building tiny homes could help the city deal with the housing crisis. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The mayoral candidate criticized rivals for “ignoring the crisis we have today” by promising to implement long-term plans. His campaign includes both a five-year plan and immediate changes, he said.

“Winnipeg needs to address the housing crisis immediately. We have been listening to residents throughout our city, and they want leadership to address the crisis we are facing today,” he said in a statement.

Such moves would include requesting funding for so-called tiny homes from the federal government, getting the provincial government to provide staffing for the social supports needed to get the people using such homes into more permanent accommodations, and to place the homes on city-owned land.

Klein’s longer-term plan would reduce or eliminate property tax for non-profits and prioritize their occupancy and building permits.

Shone wants to increase active-transportation budget

Rick Shone wants to double the city’s active-transportation budget and transition Winnipeg vehicles to zero-emission.

Rick Shone wants to increase the active-transportation budget. (Kelly Morton file photo)

“How we build our city has a significant impact on the health of both our residents and our planet,” Shone said in a statement. “That is why I have already made significant commitments such as eliminating parking minimums, planting more trees, building an active-transportation system that works, and improving public transit.”

This is the second of a three-part environment sustainability plan from Shone, who owns the Wilderness Supply stores in Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, Ont. Last month, he promised to fast-track cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in the city, minutes before his own bike was stolen.

Shone also wants to end all parking subsidies for City of Winnipeg employees to encourage people to find more environmentally friendly ways to work, and install 100 electric vehicle charging stations across the city by 2026, so those driving are inclined to pick a more sustainable car.

“The world is facing a climate crisis and we must all act to reduce our emissions and build a better city for future generations,” said Shone. “While Winnipeg is only one small piece of the puzzle, I strongly believe in leading by example and committing to realistic concrete actions that will make a real difference.”

Ouellette focuses on transit

Transportation was front of mind for more than one mayoral candidate Tuesday.

Robert-Falcon Ouellette wants to make transit safer and more affordable. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Robert-Falcon Ouellette wants to improve capacity of Winnipeg Transit routes based on demand from ridership, bring back the free Downtown Spirit routes, and introduce paying by debit card, credit card or tapping with a phone for fares.

Previously, Ouellette had promised to make busing free for riders 17 and under, and said he would like to reduce fares for certain groups, believing the decrease in revenue would be made up by an increase in ridership.

“That’s our goal: to deliver a transit experience that Winnipeg will prefer to driving,” he said. “Getting people out of their cars is one of the best ways to reduce emissions and our carbon footprint, to make Winnipeg a green city.”

Ouellette also introduced his plan for a transit security program, which would train supervisors in the style of peace officers, and hire security guards to ride on problematic routes.

— with files from Joyanne Pursaga and Chris Kitching

Malak Abas

Malak Abas

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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