After years of investigations, revelations of backroom deals and lawsuits related to City of Winnipeg land deals and awarded contracts, we need to restore the public trust in City Hall. And we can do this by having an elected executive policy committee (EPC).
Under the City of Winnipeg Charter Act, an EPC is established and councillors are appointed by the mayor with broad guidelines regarding its make up. Generally, it is made up of the chairs for the various departments at City Hall, like Property Planning & Development, and other appointments decided by the mayor.
In effect, an appointment of a councillor to EPC by the Mayor can act as a carrot or stick. Being part of the EPC means more pay for a councillor. Not doing what the mayor wants could mean removal.
This creates a de facto ruling bloc on council making up the majority vote, pushing councillors not on EPC to the side and leaving some Winnipeggers feeling like they’re not being heard.
What Winnipeggers have told us is that in order for City Hall to regain their trust, it is important for the mayor to work with all of City Council. In particular, to work together with council without the influence of the EPC.
To address this, I am proposing at the first meeting of council after a municipal election, that the members of EPC are elected by council. Additionally, at least once a year, council will meet to re-elect or elect new members to EPC.
This is first of many steps we will take to restore the public’s trust in City Hall. Politicians need to work harder and be much more open to earn back the public’s trust.
Admittedly, we recognised that without a change to the City of Winnipeg Charter Act the process of electing members to EPC is a symbolic one.
But an important one.
As mayor I will work with the province to amend the City of Winnipeg Charter Act and until it is, will recognise a vote by council and appoint EPC accordingly.
Finally, we find again that to create the city we want -- a city that is safe, thriving and livable -- a change or amendment to the City of Winnipeg Charter is required; something the city can’t do itself and that can only be done by the Government of Manitoba.
And something we will talk more about next…