Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman appointed the city’s first Kid Mayor and Deputy Kid Mayor Thursday morning.
Nazar Viznytsya was picked from more than 200 other candidates to become Winnipeg’s Kid Mayor.
“I never dreamt of this,” he said. “It’s unreal.”
The 12-year-old submitted his application for the honour after being encouraged to do so by his teacher. His pitch focused on improving downtown safety — largely by suggesting more streetlights.
“I think it would be a good idea because more streetlights in downtown would just make more light,” Viznytsya said. “Robbers are less prone to rob someone if there’s more light.”
“A big reason people don’t want to come to Winnipeg is because it’s scary downtown, so more light would increase tourism.”
When Viznytsya returns to city hall on Tuesday to help Mayor Bowman chair the executive policy committee meeting, he will also meet with Police Chief Danny Smyth, and said he will be sharing his thoughts on how to make the city safer.
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Mayor Bowman also named 11-year-old Gabi Wagner as Deputy Kid Mayor.
Wagner’s suggestions for the city included equal pay for men and women, encouraging residents to spend more time outdoors and — like Viznytsya — improved street safety.
“I find it’s unfair that boys get more money,” Wagner said, noting she has two brothers.
“I think that there’s too many that do electronics and everything,” she said.
“I find it’s better to get outside in the sun, it’s healthier.”
Wagner also recommended the city plant more trees to help provide fresh air, and asked for more outdoor celebrations “so we can interact with one another and use less electronics.”
Viznytsya and Wagner were selected for their roles by a group of judges including the Hon. Gary Filmon and Johanna Hurme. The pair were the only ones who made it into multiple judges’ top three picks.
“Earlier this year, I announced the Kid Mayor initiative,” Mayor Bowman said. “It encouraged kids between the ages of eight and twelve to apply to be mayor for a day by explaining what they think mayors do, and what they would do to make Winnipeg an even better place to live in.”
He said the project was meant to be a fun way of educating Winnipeg’s youth on the workings of municipal politics. Some of the other submissions included pitches for indoor water parks, fixing potholes, banning smoking and three day weekends.