The task we were asked to do two years ago is a really big thing. We have been charged with designing a Land Use Plan that would break with the 100-year status-quo, to grow stronger communities by spurring Manitoba’s economy to attract the population we need to grow and prosper. That, by anyone’s definition, is something really big.
Manitoba’s Visionary Past
So we looked back at some other big things we’re known for around here. In the 1920’s and 30’s, leaders of the day saw a future where we would need five lanes in each direction at Portage and Main and a commerce centre to rival Chicago and New York. That’s big and it’s visionary. And we still benefit from it, today.
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The 1950 flood prompted one of Manitoba’s greatest tests of leadership in Duff Roblin’s ushering of the huge, expensive, multi-jurisdictional undertaking of the Red River Floodway that continues to save our lives and our economy. The 50’s and 60’s also ushered in a sleek new mid-century modern world, because people were tired of war and lack, so they looked to the promise of new future, reflected in a new City Hall, Centennial Centre and Planetarium.
In the 70’s and 80’s there was a multi-decade plan to reclaim Winnipeg’s riverbanks from leaky old industrial buildings and railway yards. It was this 20 years of land use planning that opened up the potential for the Forks and created the space for the walkways to the Legislative Buildings, and to the new Waterfront Drive.
Big things don’t just happen. They require vision, collaboration, and long-term planning.
And we have some very big things we need to address for our future, today. That’s why the leaders of the 18 municipalities of the WMR are undertaking Plan20-50. We are increasingly competing for investment and employment against regions around us, like the Regina, Saskatoon and Calgary regions. And too often, we’re losing out because no matter how good you are as a superstar player, you’re always going to lose to a team.
This is key because we need a growing economy to create and maintain wonderful communities, even in predictable times – and these are not those.
We can predict that we have an aging population of baby boomers. We need more young people and young people need jobs. We are seeing the costs of maintaining our infrastructure rising in the face of climate change events, and we will need to build stronger infrastructure for the future. We need to protect our incredible and increasingly rare natural resources, like water, air, farmland, recreation land and minerals. We need to think about housing strategies for everyone. And we have to make the most of every taxpayers’ dollars.
Plan20-50 requires: leadership based on collaboration and inclusion; current and accurate information; and best practice solutions from around the world. That’s what we’re working to build, because nothing less will do.