City & Politics, City Hall, Planning

Bowman back-pedals

In another, predictable blow to downtown revitalization, the City’s downtown development committee unanimously approved yet another surface parking lot, this time at the corner of the Upper Fort Garry provincial park. While only for two years (ostensibly to allow the Friends of Upper fort Garry more time to raise the revenues needed to construct–this is not a joke–an underground parking lot), the City’s decision has already been roundly criticized as yet another example of its lackluster commitment to eliminating surface lots.

When the City received a similar request from the Friends of Upper Fort Garry in 2012, then-Mayor Sam Katz refused them, saying to allow such a lot would be, “going in the exact opposite direction the city is moving towards.” What a difference a mayor makes.

Bowman, elected in part on the strength of his bike-and-pedestrian friendly, urbanist vision for Winnipeg, has since then failed to live up to the Bowmentous hype: he’s Back-pedaling Brian now. How else to explain his capitulation to the cyclophobic Russ Wyatt by delaying the implementation of the City’s downtown bike-and-pedestrian plan by tossing it to the newly-created, entirely unnecessary Office of Public Engagement?

Surface parking lots comprise 20 per cent of Winnipeg’s downtown area, a staggering amount of unimproved space in the heart of the city. Here’s what Brian Bowman, mayoral candidate, had to say about surface parking last fall:

[su_quote]The lack of direction from city hall over the years has produced a downtown with too many surface parking lots that create safety concerns, and too little development that brings actual people to live in the area.[/su_quote]

What changed, Mr. Mayor?