A wrong turn

I don’t know when public attitudes in Winnipeg steered so far into hostile austerity, but it’s a problem that seems to be getting worse rather than better.

This week’s Uniter cover feature, by arts and culture editor Beth Schellenberg, examines how the city’s proposed 2020 budget aims to slash funding to virtually every aspect of the cultural sector. Whether it’s libraries, public pools, community centres or public art, everything seems to be on the chopping block.

They’re cuts that will disproportionately affect people in lower-income or lower-resourced neighbourhoods. Community centres in wealthy, south-end suburbs, however, aren’t faced with the same austerity. The city and province are also still more than willing to open their wallets and write cheques to local sports clubs, despite the fact that local sports teams are lucrative enough to operate on their own, or that high ticket prices often make sporting events accessible to only the city’s wealthiest residents.

Whether it’s the province backing out of 50/50 transit funding and fighting against the carbon tax, the city’s reluctance to dedicate public money to anything other than construction and cops or both governments’ commitment to spending to benefit only the most privileged Winnipeggers, there’s a clear disconnect here. A vision for a more equitable Winnipeg of the future is at odds with those trying to perpetuate its hostile past.

I don’t know when that hostility began. But it doesn’t take a detective to deduce who’s working to make Winnipeg better for everyone, and who’s working to make things easier for themselves.

—Thomas Pashko

Published in Volume 74, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 30, 2020)

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