Progressive & Fair Downtown Development Policies

 
 

Background

Progressive and fair downtown development strategies are necessary for downtown Winnipeg to flourish. In the BIZ’s supportive role to CentreVenture, we hope to attract more people to live downtown. New residents help create activity at all hours of the day, they frequent retail and cultural institutions, and energize older buildings. In 2011, we hosted a forum that allowed the City of Winnipeg to promote its Housing Plan’s goals and successes to date. The BIZ continues to meet with city officials and CentreVenture to undertake the strategic implementation of this plan, in a coordinated manner with all relevant stakeholders. After years of advocating, sometimes all by our selves, a downtown housing plan was developed with tools that have positioned downtown living to really take off. The new Downtown Residential Development Grant (DRDG) Program, effective January 1, 2010, provided a total of $20 million of incremental tax grants – $10 million from both the Province and City. The program has since been doubled to $40 million. After many years of advocacy, a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) zone was created to help downtown grow. TIF is a public financing method that has been used as a subsidy for redevelopment and community investment projects seen in many countries like the United States.

Strengths

  • The development community responded to the DRDG and within 10 months the funding was allotted
  • CentreVenture has obtained DRDG applications for 31 projects totaling over 1,700 new downtown residential units
  • University of Winnipeg housing development helps increase diversity in the downtown

Weaknesses

  • Current development strategies don’t address the pedestrian realm
  • People who decide to live downtown still need to leave downtown for necessities like groceries

Threats

  • Individual commercial developments that don’t fit into an overall plan for downtown can take business away from existing downtown commercial areas

Opportunities

  • The area surrounding the MTS centre is downtown’s first Tax increment Finance zone – the SHED (Sports, hospitality, entertainment district)
  • A successful downtown entertainment district can help change the perception that downtown Winnipeg isn’t vibrant
  • The downtown Winnipeg BIZ is a member of Downtowns Canada – a coalition working towards protecting and promoting the value of Canada’s downtowns

Option 1 – Provide affordable housing

  • Implement inclusive zoning that requires residential developers to include a predetermined percentage of affordable units

Option 2 – Improve the pedestrian realm

  • Increase pedestrian comfort by turning one way streets into two way streets

 Option 3 – Provide under-utilized public land for private development

  • A downtown grocery store is needed
  • The public sector can provide land in order to make a downtown location more appealing to developers

Option 4 – Set maximum parking standards

  • Even if there are no parking minimums, developers will likely try to include more parking for their customers
  • This results in an overdependence on automobiles and decreased pedestrian comfort