Score One for the Good Guys

Councillor Russ Wyatt does his Martin Luther impersonation for coucil. Photo: Sean Kavanagh

Councillor Russ Wyatt does his Martin Luther impersonation for Winnipeg City Council. Photo: Sean Kavanagh

I usually don’t stick my head into politics (mostly because I heard it gives you crabs), but this week it was hard not to be at least a little curious about the goings on at Winnipeg City Hall. The hot topic du jour was a bike and pedestrian strategy proposed by Mayor Brian Bowman, which had several city councillors’ panties in a knot – I’m assuming because it did not include a free trip to Disney for every thousand litres of gas purchased, plus a bonus turkey at Thanksgiving. The strategy earmarks $335 million over the course of 20 years, and would make badly needed improvements to Winnipeg’s bike and pedestrian infrastructure. This will, in effect, bring us up to where Copenhagen’s bike infrastructure was when Jesus did his first alleycat.

Councillor Russ Wyatt (who bears a striking resemblance both physically and philosophically to a certain crack-smoking ex-mayor) was an outspoken critic of the strategy, claiming Winnipeg elected Bowman to fix potholes, not build cycling paths. I know this Winnipegger sure did, because nothing makes a city greater than having no potholes. Wyatt also claimed that Bowman was strongly influenced by “the dictatorship of the Tweeting Class”, as opposed to good and honest folk who pay taxes.

Tonight council voted 12-3 in favour of the strategy, in spite of Councillor Wyatt’s clever tactic of tabling 20 individual motions in opposition, which would, in theory, have taken all night. I’m no political genius, but it sounds to me like the equivalent of a bratty kid at the dinner table eating their peas one at a time, chewing each one a thousand times. Not surprisingly, Council would have no part of it, which prompted Wyatt to pack up his Bob the Builder lunchbox and storm out of the room – but not before sticky-taping his 20 motions to Mayor Bowman’s door, Martin Luther-style, with “Democracy Denied” scrawled across each one. Mayor Bowman called the performance “unbecoming”, but Fringe Festival reviews are still forthcoming.

I don’t know much about the strategy, but I do know that it is a step and a pedal in the right direction. And I say that sincerely as a cyclist, pedestrian, and driver – not to mention HTA thumping, tax-paying, and crab-riddled citizen of the city of Winnipeg.