By Councillor Klein
I acknowledge and appreciate the efforts my colleagues on Council and the Administration make daily to navigate the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic impacts. The impacts are constantly changing, and concerns are growing for residents and businesses. Which is why it’s vital for City Hall to maintain business continuity that provides stabilization to our economy. Understanding the magnitude of this crisis, following the same old solutions would be dangerous. This is a time to consider various solutions that address expenses and lost revenues. After taking time to have conversations with a number of residents, small business owners, community organizations, and executives from corporations in our City, I heard a common request: “What’s the City’s plan?” Many in Winnipeg are worried about the future and want to have confidence in our decisions. The three scenarios presented today were not financial plans; they were estimates, worse case scenarios. I don’t believe they provided specific actions or defined strategic milestones that would launch initiatives. The three scenarios were not discussed or debated by all members of Council. There was no opportunity to offer alternatives prior to being introduced to the public, they were done behind closed doors. All financial decisions should be scrutinized by each member of Council. Now is more important than ever to include all elected representatives at the table. We must be open to potential solutions from everyone. We are facing a first-time crisis that demands a more strategic and inclusive approach. Residents want hope that municipal leaders will do all that’s necessary to implement initiatives that will successfully re-launch our Winnipeg economy. We need to work together to develop improved policy and many low cost and low risk actions which can promote the re-opening of small and medium sized businesses in our City. Residents need to be reassured that elected officials at City Hall are managing their tax dollars appropriately. Council has the ability to do this through improved processes, discussion and debate. Let’s proceed with a concentrated and reasonable approach in the reduction of expenses while simultaneously developing a strategy for a successful re-launch of the economy. There are many alternative solutions that would save tax dollars and create an environment the needed environment for growth (A few suggested solutions are provided below, and I look forward to increased dialogue with colleagues and other business leaders on these matters).