The race to the polls began 5 1/2 months ago, when two challengers — Jenny Motkaluk and Doug Wilson — filed their papers on opening day to run for the job of mayor of Winnipeg.
By the time the nomination period closed Sept. 18, seven nominated candidates had stepped up to challenge incumbent Brian Bowman.
• Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Eligible voters can cast ballots for mayor, city councillors, school trustees, and the Portage and Main referendum.
• Ballot question for referendum: “Do you support the opening of Portage and Main to pedestrian crossings?”
• Voters can visit winnipeg.ca/WhereDoIVote, or call 311 to find their designated election day voting station.
• All voters need a piece of valid identification that includes their name and current home address, or two documents that together show their name and current home address.
• Examples of acceptable documents: driver’s licence, enhanced identification card, SIN card, birth certificate, Canadian passport, credit or debit card, utility bill, health insurance card.
- Source: City of Winnipeg
On Wednesday, Winnipeg voters will decide if Bowman returns for a second term, or if Motkaluk, the front-running challenger, can pull off an election-night upset: much like Bowman did in 2014.
If polling is any indication, Bowman should win.
In early October, Probe polling (commissioned by the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV Winnipeg) showed Bowman with a comfortable lead among decided voters with 61 per cent support, compared to Motkaluk at 28 per cent.
In addition to casting votes for mayor, ward councillor and school trustees, there is a plebiscite question for the first time since 1983: Winnipeggers are being asked if they support re-opening the Portage Avenue and Main Street intersection to pedestrians.
At the ward level, there will be at least five new city councillors, after four incumbents decided not to run again, along with the creation of a new Winnipeg ward boundaries. One incumbent councillor, Janice Lukes, was acclaimed in the newly created Waverley West. Two former councillors — Grant Nordman in Charleswood-Tuxedo and Garth Steek in River Heights-Fort Garry — also decided to run again.
Here’s a look at the mayoral front-runners’ key promises, and a look back at the key moments along the campaign trail:
Bowman's top five promises
• Removing overtime when calculating police officers' pensionable earnings to save about $1.5 million annually from the police budget, which could be used to pay for 10 to 15 more officers.
• Freezing frontage levies and water and sewer rates.
• Scrapping $4.1 million in upgrades to the Fort Rouge transit garage in favour of 55 new heated bus shelters.
• Continuing to lower, but not completely eliminating, the business tax rate.
• Increasing property taxes by 2.33 per cent per year, with dedicated portions used to fund both road repairs and rapid transit to keep reducing the city's infrastructure deficit, while improving communication with local business owners who could be affected by road construction projects.
Motkaluk's top five promises
• Freezing Winnipeg Transit fare increases, adding 200 electric buses to the fleet, and halting construction of rapid transit corridors.
• Imposing a freeze on the water and sewer rates, and not allowing any new increases to go into effect until an audit has been completed of the financial and operational management of the water and waste utility.
• Capping property tax increases at 1.16 per cent annually, for the next four years.
• Changing the role and diminishing the power of the mayor's executive policy committee. Motkaluk says she wants all 15 city councillors involved in the strategic planning process, with the EPC relegated to implementing those plans.
• Rebuilding the 137-year-old Louise Bridge linking Point Douglas and Elmwood, and extending the Chief Peguis Trail to Route 90.
Other mayoral candidates' promises
Ed Ackerman: The filmmaker proposes building a $400-million "reverse toll bridge" that would pay motorists $10 a car to visit the North End and spend money in the area.
Tim Diack: The veteran Winnipeg Police Service member is seeking to tackle the city's crystal meth abuse problem by establishing a secure treatment facility, which could house anywhere from 50 to 100 individuals.
Umar Hayat: The entrepreneur promises to cut city spending by slashing civic grants to the Winnipeg Art Gallery to $600,000, from $5.6 million.
Venkat Machiraju: The Hindu priest supports the completion of an inner ring road running from Kenaston to Bishop Grandin boulevards, connecting to Lagimodiere Boulevard and Chief Peguis Trail, and more lanes on Keewatin Street and Inkster Boulevard.
Doug Wilson: The former mayor of Morden says poverty is Winnipeg's biggest issue, and seeks to work with the provincial government to increase wages and improve education.
Don Woodstock: The former Winnipeg Transit driver who runs a security alarm company proposes a hiring quota for Indigenous employees at city hall that matches provincial population percentages.
March 14: Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) announces she won’t seek another term in office.
March 22: Mayor Brian Bowman announces his intention to seek a second term in office.
May 1: The first day mayoral candidates can register. Jenny Motkaluk and Doug Wilson both make their bids official.
May 3: Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge) announces he won’t run in the upcoming election. Don Woodstock registers his campaign for mayor.
May 8: Umar Hayat registers to run for mayor.
May 11: Brian Bowman makes his re-election bid official, and registers his campaign.
May 29: Tim Diack, a city beat cop, registers to run for mayor.
June 21: Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) and Russ Wyatt (Transcona) announce at a city council meeting they won’t seek re-election. Wyatt later walks back that announcement and publicly mulls a re-election bid or a run at the mayor’s office.
June 30: The first day potential council candidates can register. Incumbents Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre), Matt Allard (St. Boniface) and Brian Mayes (St. Vital) all put in the paperwork to run for re-election. Janice Lukes (former South Winnipeg-St. Norbert ward) registers in the newly formed Waverley West. Couns. Scott Gillingham and Shawn Dobson both register to run in St. James (due to Dobson’s St. Charles ward being eliminated by the city).
July 3: Devi Sharma registers to run for re-election in Old Kildonan.
July 4: Ross Eadie registers to run for re-election in Mynarski.
July 5: John Orlikow registers to run for re-election in River Heights-Fort Garry.
July 6: Former city councillor Garth Steek officially registers his campaign to take back his old seat in River Heights-Fort Garry.
July 17: Motkaluk slams Bowman over his desire to see the Portage and Main intersection reopened to pedestrians, as she tries to make the intersection a wedge issue with voters.
July 18: Jason Schreyer registers his re-election efforts in Elmwood-East Kildonan.
July 24: Jeff Browaty registers to run for re-election in North Kildonan.
July 27: Motkaluk says she would stop construction on rapid transit infrastructure after the Southwest Transitway is complete.
Aug 10: Venkat Machiraju registers to run for mayor.
Aug. 14: Motkaluk announces plans to electrify the entirety of the city’s bus fleet over a five-year period, at the cost of $581 million.
Aug. 30: Ed Ackerman registers to run for mayor.
Sept. 7: Don Woodstock announces policy that would prevent senior city employees from having romantic relationships with people they oversee.
Sept. 10: Russ Wyatt officially announces he will not seek re-election in Transcona.
Sept. 14: Bowman announces his plan for property taxes if re-elected, which would see a hike of 2.33 per cent annually over his next term in office.
Sept. 18: The last day mayoral and council candidates can register. Motkaluk announces plans to change the capital procurement policies at city hall. Wilson announces his support for city-wide organic waste collection.
Sept. 25: Bowman announces he won’t rule out a supervised drug injection site in Winnipeg.
Oct. 1: Bowman promises to build 55 new heated bus shelters.
Oct. 2: The Urban Knights and Ladies Peace Patrol: a local volunteer group: tells the Free Press it wants mayoral candidate Woodstock to return a service medal he has been seen wearing on his lapel throughout the campaign. The group said after Woodstock’s membership was revoked earlier in 2018, he was told the return the medal. Woodstock refuses to do so.
Oct. 3: News breaks Machiraju has been arrested for breaching a protection order. Diack announces plans to make criminals foot the bill for policing costs.
Oct. 4: Motkaluk announces plans to create a meth task force, aimed at taking dealers off Winnipeg’s streets.
Oct. 5: Bowman says he’ll take a look at 24/7 construction, if re-elected. Ackerman reveals at a mayoral debate he’s homeless.
Oct. 11: Motkaluk promises to raise property taxes by 1.16 per cent over the next four years.
Oct. 12: Woodstock announces plan to freeze property taxes for the next four years.
Oct. 17: Motkaluk promises to freeze frontage levy rates. Diack announces plans to abolish the city’s executive policy committee, which he would not be mandated to do if elected.
Oct 22: Motkaluk announces she would implement a transit fare freeze over the next four years.
Oct. 24: Winnipeggers head to the polls.
1979: Portage Avenue and Main Street intersection is closed to pedestrian crossings in an effort to funnel foot traffic to the Winnipeg Square underground.
2003: Then-mayor Glen Murray initiates the City Crossing International Design Competition, that asked participants to imagine what Portage and Main could be if reopened.
2014: During his first bid to become Winnipeg mayor, Brian Bowman promises to have Portage and Main reopened to foot traffic by 2019.
September 2017: Dillon Consulting, an engineering firm, completes a 95-page report called the Portage and Main Transportation Study. Commissioned by the City of Winnipeg, the report outlines the implications of reopening the intersection. The study determines the biggest traffic delays would be felt during afternoon rush hour, adding an extra 33 seconds to the average commuter’s trip. It also pegs the cost of reopening the intersection at roughly $11 million.
October 2017: City council approves $1.5 million in spending on two separate contracts connected to Portage and Main. The first is an assessment and review of the underground concourse. The second: on hold pending the outcome of Wednesday's referendum: would hire a consulting firm to begin work on the redesign of the intersection, if opened to pedestrians again.
June 21: Couns. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) and Janice Lukes (South Winnipeg- St. Norbert) first float the idea of putting the reopening of Portage and Main on the ballot as a referendum question in the 2018 municipal election.
July 19: City council votes in favouring of including a question on the reopening of Portage and Main on the ballot in the upcoming municipal election as a non-binding referendum. Bowman and mayoral challenger Jenny Motkaluk have both said they will respect the outcome of the referendum, if elected.
Aug. 16: The Coalition for Portage and Main: a volunteer group committed to getting the intersection reopened: launches the "Vote Open" campaign. The group launches a GoFundMe page, attempting to raise $100,000. As of Oct. 23, only $13,000 has been raised. However, the group said it raised roughly $47,000 through private donations as well, as of election day.
Sept. 11: A Probe Research poll commissioned by the CBC finds 67 per cent of Winnipeggers are against reopening the intersection.
Oct. 12: Free Press columnist Dan Lett reports the barriers at the intersection may need to come down one way or another, regardless of the outcome of the referendum, due to underground structural concerns.
Oct. 24: Winnipeggers head to the polls, and will get their say on the intersection’s future.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.
Updated on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 9:57 AM CDT: adds amount of private donations to Coalition for Portage and Main
The Free Press Election Extra lets you know about everything that matters in 2018’s civic election. Receive it in your inbox three times a week until Election Day.Subscribe to Election Extra
By subscribing to the above e-mail alerts I agree to receive selected communications from Winnipeg Free Press, even if I have previously opted out from communications. E-mail preferences can be changed at any time under 'My Account->My Email Alerts'.