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Students shine bright at the State of the City Address

April 4, 2024

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce was pleased to host twenty high school students at our February State of the City Luncheon. In addition to attending the luncheon and the Mayor’s address, the students also sat down with Mayor Scott Gillingham for a question and answer roundtable.

Four students from the Seven Oaks Met School shared their experience:

Max Novak: The State of the City mayoral luncheon was a fantastic opportunity I am glad to have attended. As someone who is interested in civil politics, this event was perfect for me as I was able to gain insight on projects in the city, some of which I was aware of, and some not. Having the mayor speak about these projects gave them a feeling of significance and highlighted the importance of these projects above a more general announcement in an article. One I found particularly noteworthy was the mayor’s declaration of Winnipeg Transit’s intention to begin implementing the Transit Master Plan early the following year. This was a plan I was well aware of and have been following for the last few years, and it was satisfying to hear the project would finally be put into action, as before this there was no firm date.

Along with the opportunity to attend the event, we were also invited afterwards to ask the mayor himself a question of our choosing. When my turn came, I used this chance to ask about the Federal Housing Fund and the upcoming changes to the zoning by-laws to include up to 4-units per property. I inquired about whether this would also change parking minimums and other by-laws that would make it hard to achieve the intention of this goal. The mayor replied to the best of his ability and even brought up the fact that I was a page for City Council last school year, but I do wish I could have heard more. In the meantime, I will have to keep up with city council minutes to see if there’s any update in the near future.

Jonah Cross:  I was invited to the State of the City mayoral luncheon, in which Mayor Gillingham was the keynote speaker. I was one of the students in attendance and was given the opportunity to speak and ask questions in a group setting with Mayor Gillingham. He spoke passionately and proficiently about the issues he cared about, as well as the questions we asked.

When it was my turn to ask a question, I asked him what he thought the next generation of Winnipeg residents could do to foster a stronger community. During his speech, he had said that Winnipeg’s best asset were the people living here, and I wanted to inquire further. He said that it was all about the willingness to help each other and spoke of the merits of the necessary volunteering hours needed to graduate. He answered all the questions in a way we could understand while still being informative and professional, exactly what you would expect from a mayor. I very much enjoyed the event and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Winnipeg’s future.

Ethan Haskayne-Monkman: This February, I had the fantastic experience of attending the 2024 State of the City mayoral luncheon. This opportunity, presented to me by the Seven Oaks Met School, felt almost as if it had been tailored to my interests in politics (and food), and gave me the chance not only to learn firsthand what Mayor Scott Gillingham has planned for Winnipeg, but also to ask him questions in a personal interview with students from various schools after the luncheon had ended. During this interview, several students asked various questions about relevant topics including our city’s transit system, the police force, administration, and residential affordability.

When I received the opportunity to ask a question, I decided to inquire about what plans the mayor had to improve the city’s cycling infrastructure. I learned that Mayor Gillingham is himself an avid cyclist, and whenever possible will ride his bicycle to work. I also learned that there is a budget of several million dollars allocated to improving the city’s green transportation, including the public transit and cycling infrastructures. Overall, I am very glad to have been able to attend the State of the City luncheon and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the current events of our city, student or otherwise.

Luke Melvie: Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to have a roundtable discussion with Mayor Scott Gillingham, along with several other students at the State of The City Mayoral Luncheon. The issues we discussed varied from homelessness, crime, inflation, to housing. I was feeling brave that day, so I decided to put my hand up first. I threw him sort of a softball question, asking about his top priority as mayor. He said his biggest priority at the moment is housing. Creating long term solutions for affordable housing and bettering housing conditions for Winnipegers.

One person asked what his most difficult moment as mayor of Winnipeg has been so far. He said it was the issue of the remains of the missing Indigenous women at the landfills that struck a chord with him the most. The impact that it has on the families and the community is something that stays with him, he said. I found that very interesting. It was insightful to hear the mayor’s personal feelings about the issues that matter most to him. He also talked about how he would implement a squad of security officers in order to make transit safer. I found this very interesting, especially considering the problems with Winnipeg’s form of transit. I wanted to ask him more about his plans to prevent crime in the future, but other people had questions. Some of the questions people asked were surprisingly personal. There was a person who asked if he’d always planned on being mayor of Winnipeg. Going in, I thought that it would be more in the style of a press conference than a personal Q&A. There were also some other great questions regarding serious issues in the city. Overall, I found our discussion with Mayor Gillingham and the State of The City Luncheon to be a fantastic experience that I was supremely grateful to be a part of.


We thank these amazing students for being active and engaged participants in this event! Their interest, knowledge, and curiosity about Winnipeg is truly wonderful to see.

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