Winnipeg: The Unicity Concept
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This is a transcription of a speech given by Dr. Lloyd Axworthy to a seminar on regional government in 1976. It looks back candidly at some of the outcomes of Unicity, both from an administrative and democratic perspective. Axworthy pays particular attention to the original intent of the Resident Advisory Groups (RAGs) to be a more robust and decentralized form of political representation. The RAGs soon found themselves not adequately provided with necessary resources from either the City or Province, and became ineffective and largely irrelevant to the decision-making process. In looking at the political structure, this speech discusses how Unicity was seen as an attempt at creating a parliamentary system at the municipal level, and how the popular Winnipeg mayor Stephen Juba successfully fought for a directly-elected mayor. It also examines how Unicity created further dominance of suburban home-owner’s interests in Winnipeg politics. In spite of Unicity being an act aimed at reform, Axworthy suggests there was a lack of reform in the general political attitudes on council. Financial benefits of the Unicity structure, including the amalgamated city’s better position in the bond market, and more equitable taxation levels, are also highlighted.