Given the dangerous state of our streets which are riddled with potholes this spring, there is no question that we must do a better job, not just on pothole repairs but on a host of issues affecting our city.
While it is easy to deflect blame on the weather, wet spring and lack of roads budget, much of the problem stems from a workplace culture of resignation (giving up) on addressing the most basic of issues.
Over successive terms, we, the City Council, the administration, and to some extent the public have become willing to accept low standards, poor quality, and snail pace slowness as the norm. But it is time for a reset, to raise the bar, to return to being a healthy and vibrant city.
It’s not acceptable for residents to be living in bus shelters or for transit riders to feel unsafe taking the bus (with over 1,700 safety incidents reported to the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service in the past year).
It’s not acceptable to have a lack of ambulances (28 hours with no available ambulances in January) and increasing response times – year after year.
It’s not acceptable to have the highest violent crime rate in Canada, the highest assault rates, the highest homicide rates – year after year.
It’s not acceptable to allow sewage to spill into our rivers – year after year.
It is not acceptable that we have not only allowed these situations to become “normal”, but we have adopted them as part of an unspoken culture: “It’s too bad… but it’s Winnipeg and these things happen.”
Winnipeg is better than this. We are better than this.
Between March 8 and April 12, one month, three children between 12 and 16 years were sexually assaulted (and in one case kidnapped) while waiting at bus stops in broad daylight. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!
On March 2, almost a week prior to the March 8 assault, I tried to force an Urgent Special Meeting of Councillors and delegates to openly discuss and take immediate actions on Transit Safety. There had been several other Transit assaults and a death which occurred in January and February.
My multiple requests by formal letter and as an in-person committee delegate were ignored. The complacent and resigning culture of City Hall once again failed residents – especially, the three children who may have been better protected had emergency action been taken to respond to the trend of earlier assaults.
The current atmosphere at City Hall fosters complacency and an acceptance of “norms” which are unhealthy for Winnipeg and its citizens.
We need to raise the bar, set a culture of achieving much higher standards, improve quality expectations and timeliness, act with urgency rather than resignation, and eliminate the old complacent and substandard mindset.
Potholes are only a symptom of a much more deeply rooted sickness in overall culture. There is more to our city and our population than this culture of resignation. We can do better.
If you don’t like potholes, remember to get involved at City Hall and play your part. You might even consider running for office and being part of the desperately needed culture change.
Kevin Klein is the city councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood.