Winnipeg’s city council has passed a motion to include a question about opening Portage and Main on the October civic election ballot.
Coun. Jenny Gerbasi was the lone vote against, meaning the motion passed 14-1.
North Kildonan City Coun. Jeff Browaty introduced a motion at city hall a few weeks ago calling for an additional question on the Oct. 24 civic election ballot:
“Do you support the opening of Portage & Main to pedestrian crossings? YES/NO”.
Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman says he’ll support plebiscite vote on Portage and Main, will honour results
The question was debated at Thursday’s meeting.
Coun. Browaty, who does not support opening the intersection to pedestrians, argued the public has not had a chance to have their say.
“I believe having a plebiscite will allow Winnipeggers to hear the facts on both sides and give proper consideration on both sides,” he told council.
Browaty dismissed notions that having a plebiscite meant councillors were abdicating their responsibility.
Coun. Janice Lukes echoed Browaty’s message, calling Mayor Brian Bowman and the office of public engagement to the carpet.
“What’s happened on this file over the past four years is absolutely a textbook example of an epic public communications and leadership failure.”
There has been no meaningful consultation on the project, she argued, leading to Winnipeggers’ ignorance around the issue.
“Other conversations rise up. Conversations that say ‘Why change? Why? Why would we change? We don’t understand so let’s not change. And flames are fueled to stay the same.”
WATCH: Mayor Brian Bowman on Portage and Main vote.
Mayor Brian Bowman, who said Wednesday he would support the question on the ballot, said the debate around the intersection was interfering with more pressing issues.
“I agree that Winnipeggers should be given an opportunity to have a direct say on this matter.”
While the question isn’t legally binding, Bowman said for him, the result of the vote will be.”
Coun. Brian Mayes said he wasn’t sure he would vote for a plebiscite but said after “hearing the vitriol” directed by both sides of the debate, he changed his mind.
“If the challenge is education, we’re going to give people several months and in a very public way to educate the other side.”