A Test for Institutional Innovation: Winnipeg's Unicity
MetadataShow full item record
This short paper is a broad look at Winnipeg’s political landscape in the years immediately following Unicity, and its impact on electoral politics, citizen engagement, planning, and administration. There is a brief historical background of Winnipeg’s political culture and public attitudes toward municipal government, Winnipeg’s economic position, the creation of Metro government, and the various proposals for municipal reform leading up to the implementation of Unicity in 1972. It looks for changes in the civic political structure by examining parties and coalitions, election results, and voter turnouts. While suburban interests quickly came to dominate Winnipeg politics after the formation of Unicity, the new structure had clearly made taxation more equitable by raising property tax mill rates in former suburban municipalities to rates comparable to those in the central city. The paper finds that the new Unicity government’s Resident Advisory Groups were becoming increasingly marginalized by council, in spite of showing some signs of being an effective and useful part of the planning and governing process. Unicity created increased efficiency in the area of downtown planning, though this raised the concern that not enough long-term planning and careful consideration of development proposals occur. Regional planning, meanwhile, continued to be met by conflict and opposition from the new Unicity government. This paper also raises concerns over what seemed to be a growing concentration of power at the administrative level, and a lack of local control when it comes to the provision of services.