Bowman focuses on continued growth in Winnipeg during final State of the City address

For the last time as mayor, Brian Bowman gave his final State of the City address Wednesday afternoon, focusing on the continued growth of the city.

Bowman was first elected as mayor in 2014 and was re-elected four years later. He previously announced he would not be running again in the 2022 mayoral election.

“Winnipeg, thank you. Thank you for placing your trust and confidence in me twice,” Bowman said starting his speech.

When first elected Bowman said Winnipeggers voted for change at city hall to help clean up Winnipeg.

“City hall was stuck, often seeming like it was looking backwards. So I used my first State of the City address in 2015 to envision what Winnipeg could become by 2045 if we amplified the optimism in the community and planned ahead for the future that we wanted.”

He said the vision for 2045 was different than what the city looked like when he first became mayor.

“We had to decide, were we ready to disrupt and grow or not? And aside from a few naysayers, Winnipeggers were ready for growth, in population and in our willingness to change and honestly embrace who we really are.”

Bowman said the city has accomplished a lot in his eight years as mayor, but noted more needs to be done to realize that vision.

“International recognition by Time and National Geographic as a go-to destination? Check. Waverley underpass? Check. Leading-edge transportation management centre, new downtown dog park, first rapid transit line delivered and the entire network planned? Check, check, check,” said Bowman. “The danger, of course, is believing the hard work is done.”

Bowman believes if the city stays on track, Winnipeg can reach one million people in the next 15 years, but he said the city needs to plan for the future and be prepared for when the time does come.

He said more people are wanting to live downtown and the construction of new apartments and affordable housing is proof of that.

Bowman also noted since he has taken power, city hall has become more open and transparent, saying the city has worked on gaining Winnipeggers trust.

On the topic of city finances, Bowman acknowledged the use of a multi-year balanced budget that he said helped the city manage its way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reconciliation was a strong point for Bowman, pointing to a Maclean’s title in 2015 calling the city the most racist in Canada.

“It was a tough day, but it was a defining moment for us.”

Despite the title, Bowman said they worked on growing and working with Indigenous communities and focusing on truth and reconciliation for the future.

“We responded with honesty and a pledge to do better and the Indigenous community put the faith in our community, one that had already let them down in immeasurable ways, to acknowledge their truth as our truth and trust that our community would actually turn the page on generations of injustice.”

He said the city has since become a national voice of truth and reconciliation by recognizing the past for what it is and working to improve human rights for all.

“When it comes to truth and reconciliation, we are forced to go to distance. And it’s true for all matters of human rights. We can never un-know what we have learned. The hearts and minds of Winnipeggers are now open and because of that I know we will keep learning and growing.”

Bowman said the city is well on its way to the 2045 goal, but Winnipeggers need to keep working, including the new mayor and council.

“Your vote for members of council and Winnipeg’s 44th mayor will determine if the seeds we planted are nurtured or neglected or if we keep moving forward or we go back.”

Bowman said he has poured his heart into improving city hall and Winnipeg and said he has even more faith and love for the city now than he did before.

“Serving our city as the 43rd mayor has been one of the greatest honours of my life.”

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