In the June Winnipeg City Council meeting, councillors debated the removal of glass from a transit shelter near the Kildonan Place Mall.
Councillor Nason requested the glass be removed, but council members opposed the request. Councillor Nason was concerned about the harm caused by allowing the unauthorized occupation of civic space, an occupation which does nothing to help the homeless or to encourage transit use. There was no discussion about alternatives. Nothing was done. The answer was just No.
What safety measures will the council direct the Public Service to take? None. They are willfully turning a blind eye to a serious problem that affects people trying to get to work, that affects the budget of Winnipeg Transit and that does not even help the homeless who themselves are often afraid to enter these spaces.
The current state of bus shelters is costing Winnipeg taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
On June 23rd, the day of the debate at City Council, it cost taxpayers over $10,000 to replace glass broken in bus shelters along Portage Avenue.
In 2021, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service responded to more than 1,700 calls for service to transit stops. The cost to taxpayers was HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars. Did the city council address these costs? No. They didn't even talk about it.
What about the thousands of people who no longer will use transit because they fear for their safety? How is the council going to fix that? No discussion.
I have tried to get this City Council to discuss the realities of our transit system. It's not safe for transit uses or for transit employees. I sent an official request for a public meeting about transit safety, but they ignored my request entirely. Since I sent my original request more than three months ago, more crimes have occurred, some against young people, and I am receiving more complaints from residents that use shelters along Portage Avenue.
Why are elected officials afraid to have these discussions?
How can elected officials ignore the millions lost from transit revenue losses?
Just two months back, Finance Chair Gillingham agreed that spending more on advertising would get people back on the bus. Really? It has not worked.
In the last budget Finance Chair Gillingham introduced, and many on City Council supported, spending millions on building even more heated bus shelters across the city. How can he and others justify decisions like that?
Why not invest in making transit safer? Invest in helping facilitate a solution. Why not invest in finding homes for homeless people! Perpetuating the notion of the homeless relying on transit shelters as place to live is ludicrous. There are better and more humane answers to this problem. Why are we afraid to discuss them?
We must have truthful conversations about issues in our city. It is no secret that the first step to fixing a problem is admitting we have a problem.
We should not be afraid to discuss the problems openly and together because that's where we will find the solutions.
I have ideas, but I bet you have some too. We should talk,