Winnipeg Free Press
In his ‘first column’ for View From The West, Chris Rose says- “Vancouver…has always been a bit of a dreamer”. Unfortunately Rose has inadvertently identified the cause of Winnipeg’s urban problems…loss of the ability to dream, or to be more correct, loss of any visionary leadership.
Winnipeg was always a city of dreams, a city hitting above its weight class, and a place where provincial and civic leadership led the city to success and prosperity. But all that ended in the ’70s.
The trees that grace our older streets were planted over a hundred years ago; The aqueduct that still provides the best drinking water on the continent to this city was build a century ago; Before that city leaders coerced the CPR to re-route its main line through Winnipeg; City and Provincial politicians established the Winnipeg Electric Co. so that Winnipeg would be at the forefront of cities, again a century ago.
Then came the last hurrahs in Winnipeg’s visionary political leadership: Duff Roblin, built The Floodway and did so against cheap short-sighted opposition and sniping that resulted in the disparaging nickname Duff’s Ditch, and guaranteed his defeat in the next election. Lastly Mayor Juba, with a great appreciation of the difficult task of bringing modern rapid transit to this city of rail lines and rivers, and realizing that without it the city would become a second rate city, tried to bring a monorail to the city. Again this resulted in his political demise.
Mayor Murray, despite his feuds with the Provincial Government that financially stifles the city, was able to, for a short time, to regenerate ‘dreaming’ in this city. Still there is optimism. Lloyd Axworthy continues to dream and build the future of the city, at least in the area that surrounds the University of Winnipeg. Despite the proof provided by Murray and Axworthy, Winnipeg remains hijacked by short-sighted, self-serving political leadership, highlighted by the Provincial Government insistence on an century old concept, a 1950s style bus road.
Winnipeg’s pedigree was about being a century ahead. Today it is about decline as led by our visionless “leaders”.