Mayoral candidate Kevin Klein has experienced many of the issues Winnipeggers are facing today and he believes it gives him better insights in addressing them.
"I've spent most of my life in the private sector," says Klein. "Several years ago I was approached to run in politics. In municipal politics, I found that's a level of government that you can actually get a lot of stuff done. I always thought the government was dysfunctional from watching reporters cover it, from covering certain levels of government. I had to see for myself what the issues were and are they repairable."
What Klein found is that it was more dysfunctional and divisive than he originally thought.
"It caught me by surprise because we work for the almost 800,000 people that live in the city of Winnipeg and we have a job to do. We have to work for them and represent them and do what's in their best interest."
Klein has personal experience when it comes to experiencing homelessness.
"I see things on social media where people point to me, saying I've lived a privileged life. But as a child, we grew up for the most part with a single mom. We lived in government housing. Then my mom was murdered by her partner."
At that time, Klein shared that he and his brothers didn't have many supports or family around to help.
"I found myself having to stay in a Salvation Army shelter for a couple of days. I understand what it's like to be in that position. I wasn't there nearly as long as some individuals find themselves there now. I wouldn't compare my situation to theirs. But what I do understand is the fear and how important it is to offer you help and support."
This week Klein made a policy announcement stating if he becomes mayor of Winnipeg, he will address the homeless situation as a crisis.
"One lever we would pull is to get funding from the federal government to bring in accommodation trailers. We're starting to see jurisdictions across Canada, in B.C. and a couple in Ontario and some in the east coast, using them to address the homeless situation."
The trailer would allow people to have their own space and key that also gives them a physical address.
"We know in talking with homeless advocates across the country that 30 per cent of homeless people need to get a job. They can't apply for a job or federal funding without an address. We'd have social services on site that can help people do the paperwork and all of a sudden they're getting the government funding that's allowed to them."
Klein says this is the top priority and he would work on it the first day if elected into office.
"I would reach out to our Indigenous government leaders and ask 'How do we work together to solve this problem?'"
Rising Crime in Winnipeg
Klein was the head of the police board for a period of time and has worked with police services across Canada.
"The very first thing we need to do is allow police to do their job. I will not tolerate someone calling 9-1-1 when their house is being invaded, this happened a few weeks ago in St. James, where the operator said, 'I'm sorry. We have no cars available.' My research has shown that in 1998 there were 28 patrol cars that protected the city of Winnipeg. In 2022, we still only have 28 police cars."
Some officers spend hours of their shift waiting in emergency rooms for suspects to be treated and released. Klein has a short-term and immediate solution for this.
"I vowed to work with the province to put Sheriffs in place so that police officers can drop off somebody in custody, they can wait with the Sheriff that is legally allowed to detain individuals, to let the police get back on the streets so we don't have people in need of 9-1-1 waiting and waiting."
The other aspect of reducing crime is offering more community programs for young people, according to Klein.
No Easy Fix for Roads
Klein says in the past eight years, Winnipeg's property tax increased by almost 20 per cent.
"Two per cent every year was supposed to be dedicated to roads. Recently we haven't put it into roads because we have budget problems. I don't know if it's a revenue problem or spending problem but I'm leaning towards spending problem. How we're going to fix roads is a better relationship with our provincial and federal partners, and to make sure that the money we get to fix roads actually goes to fix roads."
Klein says fixing roads will happen one at a time, with a plan in place, putting the worst and most used roads at the top of the list.
He also says that instead of adding more taxes to Winnipeggers, he'll use the funds in place and they will simply be reallocated.
"We shouldn't be spending millions of dollars on political projects when we have to address our homeless situation or we have to address crime."
Anyone interested in finding out more about Kevin Klein's campaign can find it on his website.