The Misplaced Priorities of Mayor Bowman

The referendum on opening Portage and Main to pedestrians seemed to dominate the conversation leading up to the 2018 Winnipeg Civic election. Many people, with good reason, argued that the focus ought to be on far more pressing problems like the growing meth crisis, crime, and our struggling transit service to name a few. Any city the size of Winnipeg will have important issues and competing priorities that need to be addressed. Winnipeg, perhaps, has more than its share.

Yet in the middle of all this election consternation was a fleeting moment of levity: somebody, for some reason, built and installed an ironic HOLLYWOOD-style sign at Westview Park (a.k.a. GARBAGE HILL). Even though the city swooped in and immediately torn the sign down, it was a flash of genius, and I commend whoever did it. Maybe Banksy has never been to Winnipeg, but we have whoever did that, and it gave us something to talk about for a few days.

That was three months ago, back in September when the grass was still green. Now snow is on the ground, the election is a distant memory, and Mayor Bowman has settled into his second term in office. We can get down to the business of chipping away at those difficult problems that plague our city. Our journalists are documenting our meth crisis in a way that has never been done before, as the proposed Bruce Oake Recovery Centre inches closer to reality, a freeze on transit fares has been proposed for 2019, the Garbage Hill sign has been reinstalled, the Winnipeg Police Service has …. wait, WHAT?

Yes: our fine mayor has BROUGHT BACK THE GARBAGE HILL SIGN.

But, WHY?

The beauty of the sign was that it was anonymously done as a work of guerilla art, poking fun at our city. The humour is lost when it returns as an official City of Winnipeg project. Brian Bowman announced his intention to bring it back weeks ago and he obviously followed through on that. Most people would wish the mayor followed through on things that were much more critical to the well-being of the city.

It’s not that the sign cost a lot of money — there will be some minimal upkeep and maintenance cost, but the sign itself was donated — but that the mayor thought this was a good idea at all. The sign is only 3 feet tall, overlooking railway tracks and a West End community centre. Most people will never see it unless they go out of their way to find it. It serves no purpose other than as a tacky promotional opportunity for the Mayor who is hoping to latch on to the popularity of the original sign in order to enhance his own. Mayor Bowman is the kid at the Christmas dinner who throws cranberry sauce because everybody laughed when Uncle Ron accidentally spilled some on his shirt. It’s not funny anymore Brian. Grow up and focus on what’s important.

*****

photo borrowed from CBC

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