Analysing the Portage and Main Vote results Fan letter to Ryan Palmquist
The Free Press again recently ran an analysis of the October 2018 Portage and Main vote referendum results and AGAIN characterized it is a vote of suburbs vs inner-city, the longer the commuting time the more likely to vote no. Actually looking at the results shows a different story. While it is true that Transcona ward had the highest percentage of “NO” votes among the 15 city wards the next highest was Elmwood/ East Kildonan, hardly a “wealthy suburban” area, and certainly closer to downtown than many other wards. In fact, Mynarski ward was the fourth highest percentage in terms of “no” votes. For clarity, one of main drags in Mynarski ward is Selkirk, which includes U of W’s new campus devoted to inner city studies. If Selkirk is in the wealthy suburbs, it appears that someone forgot to tell U of Winnipeg. Only two wards actually voted “Yes” in the referendum, and Point Douglas ward (which has some suburban elements) even voted “NO”. I knocked on many thousands of doors in St Vital and I can say that most people who voted No thought that re-opening was not the right use for scarce city dollars, rather than any consideration of commuting times.
The best analysis of the Portage and Main vote came in the Lance, courtesy of Councillor Matt Allard’s Executive Assistant Ryan Palmquist (disclosure: Ryan is a long-time supporter of mine). He pointed out that the vote results showed differences among class lines, rather than just “distance from Portage and Main”. For example, in St. Vital ward the only poll to vote “yes” included Kingston Crescent, which is one of the wealthier areas, but is not the section of the ward closest to Portage and Main. Clearly, length of commuting time was not the only variable.
Why does it matter? Because as we go forward, we need the suburbs and the inner-city to be talking, instead of engaging in inaccurate stereotyping. There may yet be some sort of compromise workable around Portage and Main (though probably not this term of office) but if that is to happen it helps to understand what really happened with the vote in 2018.