Bike Winnipeg calls for Removal of Councillor from Public Works Committee

Bike Winnipeg calls for Removal of Councillor from Public Works Committee Use of offensive terminology violates Code of Conduct for Council Members

Winnipeg, April 10, 2024: Today Bike Winnipeg called for removal of a member of the City’s Standing Policy Committee on Public Works due to a flagrant and deliberate violation of Council’s Code of Conduct for Councillors at a meeting of the Standing Policy Committee on Public Works on Tuesday, April 9.

Bike Winnipeg Executive Director Mark Cohoe was in attendance representing the shared interests of pedestrians for safety measures to be incorporated at the intersection of Osborne Street and River Avenue, and Osborne Street South. His presentation was in response to a report by the Winnipeg Public Service that failed to fulfil the October 2023 direction of the Committee. Along with 6 delegations, 15 written submissions unanimously called on the Committee not to accept the report.

Continuing his frequent practice of failing to attend the full Committee meeting to hear or question six delegations, including area Councillor Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry), Councillor Russ Wyatt (Transcona) later joined the meeting, offering advice contrary to the report he was commenting on, and characterized Cohoe and other delegations as ‘Bike Nazis.’ Wyatt’s use of the term was heard by those in attendance in the Committee Room gallery and on Zoom/YouTube streams. 

Use of the term ‘Nazi’ is not only offensive, it is also harmful to generations affected by Nazi Germany’s murder of six million Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. The fact an elected official would use such language in a public meeting without immediate censure should be of concern to every Winnipeg citizen. 

Executive Director Mark Cohoe has gained the respect, the support and the trust of countless elected officials and public servants over the years, as a thoughtful, intelligent and pragmatic voice of the cycling community and a supporter of all active transportation modes. For Councilor Wyatt to characterize Mark and the community he represents as a ‘Bike Nazi’ is deeply concerning.

As the City of Winnipeg moves toward its 2050 Transportation Action Plan, Bike Winnipeg looks forward to working with the City on finding solutions that embrace those goals. Key to that success is engaging in respectful dialogue that adheres to a level of decorum that Councillor Wyatt failed to meet in the Committee meeting. 

We as the Board of Directors for Bike Winnipeg call for an immediate removal of the Councillor from the Standing Policy Committee on Public Works in light of the seriousness of his violation of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council.


Background: Excerpt from Schedule “A” in By-law 19/2018, A By-law of THE CITY OF WINNIPEG to adopt a new Code of Conduct for Members of Council:

8. Respectful Conduct

All Members have a duty to treat members of the public, one another, City staff and their own staff with respect and without abuse, harassment, or intimidation.

Harassment includes:

i. any behaviour, whether a single incident or a course of conduct, that a reasonable person should have known would be unwelcome, and that is inappropriate, demeaning, humiliating, embarrassing, or otherwise offensive, including but not limited to:

a. verbal or written insults, abuse or threats;

b. racial or ethnic slurs, including racially derogatory nicknames; c. leering or other offensive gestures;

d. bullying; or

e. patronizing or condescending behaviour; and

ii. objectionable and unwelcome sexual solicitations or advances.

About Bike Winnipeg:

Bike Winnipeg engages with citizens, community organizations, and governments to create a healthy, sustainable, and equitable city where year-round cycling is accessible to all. We work towards a Winnipeg that embraces everyday cycling through our outreach, education, and advocacy.

We envision a Winnipeg where cycling is equitable and accessible for everyone. A place where every road is safe for children and grandparents to ride, planning a route is as simple as knowing where you want to go, and doing the weekly grocery shop by bicycle isn’t just possible, it’s preferable!