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New mayor to share power

Will let councillors choose committee chairpersons

Mayor-elect Brian Bowman  plans to give councillors more influence.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Mayor-elect Brian Bowman plans to give councillors more influence.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2014 (1721 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brian Bowman says he will allow members of council to decide who will chair standing committees, even if he's not sure yet how that will happen.

Bowman pointed to council elections for committee chairs and members of executive policy committee (EPC) as one of his campaign commitments.

But it contravenes legislation that says the mayor must make those appointments.

"As I committed to during the election, the selection of EPC will come through the input of council," Bowman said in an email this week. "We'll be sharing more details on the process very soon."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2014 (1721 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Brian Bowman says he will allow members of council to decide who will chair standing committees, even if he's not sure yet how that will happen.

Bowman pointed to council elections for committee chairs and members of executive policy committee (EPC) as one of his campaign commitments.

But it contravenes legislation that says the mayor must make those appointments.

"As I committed to during the election, the selection of EPC will come through the input of council," Bowman said in an email this week. "We'll be sharing more details on the process very soon."

If Bowman keeps his pledge, it will be the first time in 25 years councillors have held such a vote. In 1989, Bill Norrie was the first mayor to appoint chairpersons of standing committees. The initiative was one reform put in place by then-premier Gary Filmon, who was a former city councillor.

The reforms ushered in the "strong mayor" era, which was reinforced a few years later with the abolition of the board of commissioners and the creation of the chief administrative officer.

Prior to that, Winnipeg's mayor was often seen as a figurehead while, behind the scenes, ambitious councillors formed an informal coalition.

The Filmon reforms gave the mayor greater influence, with the power to appoint a deputy mayor and committee chairpersons, who formed the executive policy committee, and the accompanying bump in salary and prestige that went with the position and helped secure a majority vote on council.

It's the closest city hall has come to a cabinet-style government.

But the "strong mayor" model has come under increasing fire for creating two classes of councillors — those on the inside, on the mayor's executive policy committee, and the others who often feel left out of the decision-making process.

Mayoral hopeful Paula Havixbeck vowed to break up the EPC model, rotating chairmanships among all councillors. Mayor Sam Katz proposed to give council the power to appoint three members to EPC.

During the recent election campaign, Bowman was critical of the "strong mayor" model and the gulf it fostered among councillors, describing EPC as "a breeding ground for patronage and comfortable (salary) top-ups."

Bowman said earlier this week his transition team will resolve the issue.

Bowman said he'll make those appointments at the Nov. 12 council meeting.

The easiest way to circumvent the legislation and keep his pledge is to allow councillors to vote on who will chair the standing committees — downtown development, finance, public works, planning and development, and protection and community services, and possibly deputy mayor — then formalize that voting with appointments.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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History

Updated on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 6:45 AM CDT: Replaces photo

9:52 AM: Fixes typo

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