Now preparing for his sixth State of the City Address as Mayor of Winnipeg, Bowman is reflecting on what got him elected – and re-elected – to office, and his vision for the future of the city as it continues to grow.
“I was elected because I ran on a positive campaign for positive change, and in my re-election I ran a positive campaign, and the fact that Winnipeggers embraced that and provided me with a stronger mandate told me and continues to tell me that people want to continue to see positive change in the community, and they want to see us continue to grow in a smarter and more sustainable way,” Bowman says.
“I like to think Winnipeggers are starting to see themselves as a ‘big city.’ We’re not a small town, we’re not a mid-sized city, we’re a big Canadian city. And along with a growing city, there are the opportunities that come with being a big city, and there are also challenges.”
Challenges, Bowman elaborates, like moving the city’s population around in a sustainable way, public safety concerns, and waste water management. Challenging puzzles for any growing city, but puzzles Bowman feels fortunate to be able to try to piece together.
“We’re not going to agree on every issue in terms of how we build the city in smarter ways,” Bowman says. “But even when we’re having really heated debates on these issues, the fact that we’re debating issues and not scandals, the fact that we’re debating how we grow, that’s what I wanted to bring to the table and I’m really encouraged by the fact that even in this multi-year budget exercise, we’re having these forward-looking debates, and we need to have those as a community.”
And while any community will often find itself split on how to tackle major issues, there are also moments of celebration that bring the entire community together, and remind residents that we all play for the same team.
“I was fortunate enough to be in Calgary for the Grey Cup win,” Bowman says. “The fact that we were there, in the biggest game of the year, and to be able to see that Cup come home where it belongs, was great.
“[The parade] was amazing. People from all corners of the city came out. I’ve been a season ticket holder for 20 years so; long-suffering fan. Great to bring it home.”
And while he refused to make any prediction on when the city might expect a Stanley Cup parade (for fear of ‘jinxing’ the Winnipeg Jets), he did point to True North Square as one of the most positive and significant new developments in the city over the past few years.
“It hits so many checkmarks that we want to see in our community, from residential to commercial to entertainment,” Bowman says. “It’s exactly the kind of transformative investment we want to see in our downtown.”
On January 24, Bowman will deliver his State of the City Address to more than 1,000 attendees at the RBC Convention Centre. It’s an event he says he looks forward to every year.
“It’s an opportunity to provide an unedited vision for the city,” Bowman says. “It gives an opportunity to reflect on the past year, but also, what I really like about it is to be able to set the stage for community building efforts both here at City Hall and in the community for the coming year.
“Just to present that forward-looking vision is really important and is something that the mayor needs to be able to provide.”
Among the topics Bowman expects to speak about are Winnipeg’s continued growth as families continue to choose to move to Winnipeg, public safety challenges, infrastructure developments, and the One Million Tree Challenge.
“I’m not going to shy away from talking about the topics that are of most concern for people, but I also want to set a positive vision for the future, and a positive vision for the coming year that hopefully we can all continue to support.”