Both in­ner and outer growth vi­tal to Winnipeg

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - By Mike Moore

MY friend, Ste­fano Grande from Down­town Winnipeg BIZ, had an in­ter­est­ing ed­i­to­rial in this pa­per last Satur­day con­cern­ing city plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment prac­tices. In it, he be­moaned the con­tin­ued out­ward growth of the city in­stead of con­cen­trat­ing on the in­ner city and down­town.

Grande cited a note he re­ceived from the re­cently re-elected mayor of Cal­gary, Na­heed Nen­shi, claim­ing that Cal­gar­i­ans sub­si­dize new homes in new de­vel­op­ments by about $4,800 per unit. How­ever, he didn’t men­tion that the cost of gov­ern­ment-im­posed fees and charges in­creased by five times that amount over the past year, thereby mak­ing new res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment a pretty good in­vest­ment on their part.

Grande also talked about the per­ils of ur­ban sprawl and the cost to the in­ner city. In re­al­ity, the op­po­site is true. Winnipeg has be­come a more af­ford­able place to live, with as­sis­tance to those in need of hous­ing, be­cause of new de­vel­op­ment, not in spite of it.

For ex­am­ple, the Manitoba gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted pro­ceeds from the de­vel­op­ment of Bridg­wa­ter For­est and Lakes to fund so­cial hous­ing. They would not have the funds to do as much with­out it. Sim­i­larly, the city of Winnipeg will ul­ti­mately re­al­ize more than $200 mil­lion from the Waver­ley West de­vel­op­ments to­ward its op­er­at­ing rev­enue.

Road-build­ing and paving, wa­ter and sewer lines, util­ity lines, engineering fees, side­walks, street land­scap­ing, street light­ing, walk­ways and trails, parks and play­grounds and land al­lo­ca­tion for schools are all done at the ini­tial ex­pense of the de­vel­oper, and even­tu­ally paid for by the res­i­dents of a new neigh­bour­hood. Th­ese ameni­ties do not come from gov­ern­ment rev­enue di­verted from other nec­es­sary ar­eas.

There’s no doubt that a strong and vi­brant down­town ben­e­fits us all. The MTS Cen­tre would not be lo­cated there were that not true. How­ever, we need to de­velop and re­vi­tal­ize down­town Winnipeg in con­junc­tion with, not in­stead of, cre­at­ing ex­cit­ing new neigh­bour­hoods.

If we’re go­ing to con­tinue to at­tract more than 10,000 new im­mi­grants to our prov­ince ev­ery year, we need places for them to live and fam­i­lies to grow. And if we’re go­ing to in­crease our pop­u­la­tion by 180,000 peo­ple, as out­lined in the Our Winnipeg plan, we need a wide va­ri­ety of op­tions for peo­ple to live.

Mike Moore is pres­i­dent of the Manitoba Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

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