Lifting the Veil of Secrecy at City Hall

WINNIPEG, MB – Today, Mayoral candidate Brian Bowman made the first of many announcements focused on changing the culture and perception of Winnipeg’s City Hall. Today’s announcement focused on a plan that will improve accountability, transparency and public engagement.

“For far too long, many Winnipeggers have been of the view that their City Hall has been closed off to them, the very citizens it is supposed to work for,” said Bowman. “Winnipeg needs New Generation Leadership.   Leadership that will bring good ideas and people in our community to City Hall, and provide Winnipeggers with positive, forward-looking, and inclusive leadership.   We need to end the divisive, secretive and short-sightedness that have taken over politics in our community.”

As part of Bowman’s Open Government and Public Engagement Policy For Winnipeg, he has proposed the following changes:

Increased Proactive Disclosure. While recognizing that some changes have already been implemented for the Mayor and Councillors, Bowman has proposed additional improvements that include:

  • Make council votes easily accessible, including the ability to archive and subsequently search online for past votes. Also include access to council expenses, including travel. 
  • Monthly, online, detailed publication of all discretionary budgets used by Councillors including but not limited to Standing Committee budgets; Speaker’s Budget etc.
  • FIPPA compliant publication of Mayor’s Office schedule & calendar, including calendars for Mayor’s Office senior staff.
  • Encourage Councillors to make FIPPA compliant publication of schedules and calendars.
  • Increase the frequency of online publication of Councillor Conflict of Interest declarations.
  • Mandate the City Clerk’s office to report annually to Mayor and Council on what other jurisdictions are doing in the area of Open Government. Identify new approaches and advances that the Mayor and Council can then consider for implementation in Winnipeg.
  • Open Government will be a mandatory section in the Mayor’s State of the City Address to Winnipeggers. It will identify areas recently introduced and will identify areas for future progress.
  • As Mayor, Bowman will lead and work with Council to ensure that the discretionary exemptions under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) will not be used to block the release of information. City Hall information that can be legally shared will be shared with Winnipeggers. Its release should not be an option to be decided by the political establishment at City Hall.

“We have a City Hall where it seems as if decisions are being made and presented to the Council as done deals,” said Bowman. “There is little opportunity for the Council, let alone the public, to voice their concerns or participate in debate. This has to change.”

Bowman asserted that Winnipeggers aren’t as engaged as they could be, and right now many roadblocks exist in simply accessing public information from City Hall.

“City Hall lacks consistency in allowing the public to be heard with respect to policy development or decision-making that affects how we live, work and play,” said Bowman.

As part of today’s announcement Bowman also highlighted the creation of an Office of Public Engagement. This new office will serve as the central system supporting all city projects.  It will ensure that there is consistency and transparency in sharing information with citizens on all projects, so that no project can slip through the cracks or fall off the radar until it is too late.  In past years this has become common practice in many major cities like Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa.

In addition, a central web page will be created for all public-facing projects that are looking for public feedback. 

“This is more that just announcing another town hall meeting,” said Bowman. “This is making better use of technology to reach Winnipeggers on their ideas for projects that are of concern to them.”

Today’s announcement is a first in the series of policies focused on improving governance at City Hall. In the coming weeks Bowman will continue to deliver policy that is focused on Winnipeg’s economy, communities, infrastructure and government.

People are encouraged to visit www.bowmanforwinnipeg.ca to learn more about Brian Bowman’s For Winnipeg Strategy and to learn about Bowman and why he wants to be Winnipeg’s next Mayor.

 

For more information contact:

Kelly McCrae

Media Relations

(204) 232-8652

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