Winnipeg mayoral candidates promise support for parades, Portage Place transformation and green infrastructure

Support for Winnipeg street parties, a plan to transform Portage Place, and making the city more environmentally friendly were among the promises mayoral candidates made on Wednesday.

Jenny Motkaluk wants to give annual grants of $50,000 to each of the city’s four largest parades and street festivals to help them pay for a permanent co-ordinator.

“When I’m mayor, I will provide meaningful support to our largest parades that provide the colour to our world of black and white and celebrate the things that we value,” Motkaluk said during a news conference at the Archambault Performance Pavilion in Transcona.

“In exchange, I will expect each parade to make their event the very best it can be and the result should be spectacular.”

The Santa Claus Parade, Pride Winnipeg, the Filipino Street Festival and the Sikh community’s Nagar Kirtan Parade would each receive the annual grants. 

Motkaluk also wants the city to do more to recognize Cruise Night — the weekly car show along Portage Avenue every Sunday during the warmer months.

“I’ve talked to a number of cruise night participants … and generally speaking, they feel like they are not welcome. And that’s the bottom line, we need to welcome them and be grateful that they’re here.”

A woman wearing a suit is standing a podium and speaking into a microphone, with a pavilion in the background.
Motkaluk also said she wants the city to show more support for Cruise Night and allow professional wrestling in community centres. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

If she’s elected mayor, Motkaluk said she would also allow professional wrestling performances in community centres.

Support plan to transform Portage Place: Bokhari

Rana Bokhari announced her support for a plan to transform Portage Place.

Last week, a coalition of non-profit organizations released a proposal, based on recommendations in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ State of the Inner City report, that would see the mall converted into a community hub featuring affordable housing and other services.

A woman wearing an animal print jacket and black shirt is standing in front of a large building with a sign reading "Portage Place" in large letters attached to it.
Rana Bokhari pledged her support for a plan to redevelop Portage Place Shopping Centre into an Indigenous-led community hub. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

“We recognize that this has already been a gathering space for so many years for Indigenous people and newcomers, so let’s make that a reality,” Bokhari said, speaking outside the mall on Portage Avenue.

“Let’s include all the other aspects that will contribute to the wellness of people in that same building.”

Using the example of the acquisition of the Hudson’s Bay building by the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, the redevelopment plan would give Indigenous people the first opportunity to own the Portage Place property. If no Indigenous developers show interest, the building would be publicly owned.

The city, provincial and federal governments all need to get involved to support the plan, Bokhari said.

“It has to be a community, all levels of jurisdiction coming to the table and I believe they will do so, because it’s in [their] best interest,” Bokhari said.

“They did it for the Hudson Bay and I would encourage them to follow that same line of reasoning.”

The organizations began working on the plan for the mall after Toronto’s Starlight Investments backed out of a deal to buy it last September.

Green infrastructure, energy

Two mayoral candidates released plans to make the city more environmentally friendly.

Scott Gillingham and Rick Shone both released plans to retrofit the city’s existing portfolio of buildings.

Shone’s plan also called for the city to require, where possible, new buildings to be built to LEED-Gold standards

A smiling man wearing a blue suit jacket and shirt is standing in a park with a construction site in the background.
Rick Shone wants the city to retrofit its buildings to be more energy efficient and committed to launching a city-wide composting program if elected mayor. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

“We wouldn’t do that all at once, but when it makes sense to do that to each building it would happen for sure,” Shone said in an interview in downtown Winnipeg. 

Gillingham proposed converting the city’s municipal accommodations department into Winnipeg Green Properties and Green Power, with a focus on retrofitting city properties. He would also seek external financing for the addition of solar panels and geothermal heating to city buildings.

Shone also committed to launching a city-wide composting program.

A report on a recently concluded pilot project in five neighbourhoods is expected early next year, but Shone said the city should commit now.

“We’ve been talking about composting for over a decade and the pilot project was just basically one way, in my opinion, to stall the process and just kind of kick the can down the road,” he said.

At a mayoral forum on the environment on Monday, Gillingham said he would wait to see the results of the pilot project before committing to the program.

Motkaluk, Bokhari, Shone and Gillingham are among 11 candidates running for mayor. Idris Adelakun, Chris Clacio, Kevin Klein, Shaun Loney, Glen Murray, Robert-Falcon Ouellette and Don Woodstock were the other candidates at the forum.

Advance voting starts on Oct. 3 and election day is Oct. 26.

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