Evaluating Winnipeg’s Unicity: Citizen Participation and Resident Advisory Groups, 1971-1984
Wichern, Phillip H.
This study focuses on the participatory dimensions of Unicity, reviewing a variety of patterns and providing a comprehensive record of electoral and Resident Advisory Group participation from 1971 to the present. It also reviews and critiques published evaluations of the subject matter. Local and intellectual contexts are reviewed in the first major section following this introduction. The record of citizen participation under Unicity is examined in the second major section. The third and final section analyzes past evaluations and various options of response to the record in the context of the current Review and the future of citizen participation in Winnipeg civic affairs. The central thesis of this study is that citizen participation in Unicity has been unfairly evaluated, by applying reform ideas and standards of participation elsewhere, without properly taking into account the local political culture(s) and patterns of past participation. The first major section juxtaposes these aspects of Winnipeg politics with the nonlocal experiences and ideas which led to inflated expectations for participation under Unicity. The second section examines the actual experience with information, officials' attitudes, and various patterns of citizen participation under Unicity. The final section investigates the significance of the record in terms of previous evaluations, development of more realistic expectations, and the evaluation of various options as to "what should be done" (if anything) to relevant sections of the City of Winnipeg Act (Chapter 105, Manitoba Statutes).