Leadership must be held accountable


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/07/2022 (324 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For weeks, he called for the glass, doors, heating, and seating to be stripped from two bus shelters that were the subject of frequent calls for emergency-service response, and complaints from the constituents in his electoral ward.

Then, just two weeks after he and his colleagues in city council’s public works committee voted in favour of the idea on June 9, he stood in the courtyard at City Hall with fellow city councillor Sherry Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) to listen to advocates for the homeless.

By the end of the month, Coun. Shawn Nason (Transcona) had not only backed off his idea, but supported supervised consumption sites, and promised to work with Rollins on creating low-barrier housing.

His was a remarkable turnaround – one that was applauded by soon-to-be outgoing Mayor Brian Bowman – but it probably shouldn’t be surprising. It is an election year in Winnipeg, and the one-term councillor is running for re-election, and the issue seemed to catch peoples’ attention.

Not to be outdone, mayoral candidates in the upcoming civic election have copied Nason’s “strategy” (whether or not it was intentional) to raise their own profiled.

One is guaranteeing that all people who are living in bus shelters and along riverbanks will be housed within a year, and promised to install 500 electric vehicle charging stations. All the candidates will probably, eventually lay out plans to revitalize downtown, or improve infrastructure.

We have come to expect bold promises whenever an election is called. Whether or not the candidates can – or even intend – to keep those promises, and especially in a mayoral election with no incumbent, the maxim “fortune favours the bold” is one that candidates seem to be embracing.

But there is added pressure after two long years of hardship caused by the pandemic. The city is dealing with many challenges, and out of challenges can come opportunity – even now, when the budget is tight.

Big ideas often cost big money to implement. Our major problems won’t be solved overnight, and voters tend to have short attention spans, but not every issue requires a huge monetary commitment.

Holding owners of vacant buildings to account for fires in order to motivate them to find a use for these structures (there are 585 registered in Winnipeg, among them the Rubin Block in South Osborne), or investigating corruption in the awarding of city contracts, can be effective. But the public needs to be on top of itselected leaders, and not just during an election cycle.

Our mayor and councillors need not fear every sunrise until the next election, but they should always be aware of who they work for.

Andrew Braga

Andrew Braga
South Osborne community correspondent

Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.

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