Poverty, homelessness and safety were just a few of the major topics that came up at a mayoral forum focused on issues youth found most important.
Organized by The Winnipeg Foundation, and based on its Youth Vital Signs survey, the event featured questions from young people directed at six of the seven mayoral hopefuls. Judy Wasylycia-Leis, David Sanders, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Paula Havixbeck, Michel Fillion and Brian Bowman attended. Gord Steeves was absent.
Candidates were challenged on how they would curb poverty amongst youth and create more affordable housing for them.
Brian Bowman said, he wants to focus on creating higher paying jobs for youth, not more jobs, and said he would like to see those who sleep under bridges or in back lanes get the help they need.
“These are not criminals; they are human beings, and they need help,” said Bowman.
Paula Havixbeck said she wants to bring back neighbourhood watch programs.
“People deserve to be safe, and I want this city to be the safest city in Canada,” said Havixbeck. She said, that having cadets in Charleswood-Tuxedo has been successful, reducing minor crimes in the area, and wants to bring that to more suburban areas.
David Sanders said he believes brighter lights would help people feel safer downtown and said he understands why women feel unsafe, but didn’t go into details about how he would change that.
After the forum, Bowman said he would like more multi-level parking instead of surface-level parking to make parking downtown safer.
Racism and cultural division was another issue brought up many times. Bowman said the most challenging part of his run for mayor has been facing racism during the campaign, being Metis himself. He said he wants to be known for being himself, and wants to be an example for youth, who “should be proud of who they are and where they come from.”
“My mother didn’t need another welfare program, she wanted a job with a living wage,” said Ouellette, who has also been directly affected by some of the issues brought up.
Wasylycia-Leis addressed the issue of division between communities, saying diversity should be celebrated, and the city should recognize the talents of everyone and work towards inclusive programs for everyone.
“Equality is a principal that must be at the root of our city’s future,” said Wasylycia-Leis.
Cristopher Clacio, 22, attended the debate, and urges young people to get involved.
“We need young people to go to city hall, and go to councillors and get involved,” said Clacio. Wasylycia-Leis also urged youth to get involved, saying that she wants to see more young people voting and trying to make a difference.
The election will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 22.
All photos by James Turner
Click here to see the series of CNC articles by Red River College Creative Communications students who covered the Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum.