A program to get rid of surface parking lots in downtown Winnipeg by developing apartment units is moving to a vote at city council.

Under the plan, approved Wednesday by the city's executive policy committee, developers would get a tax break on property and education taxes in exchange for building the rental suites.

Mayor Sam Katz promised several years ago to get rid of some of the surface parking lots that litter downtown.

Under the proposal, which now goes to council for a vote, developers would pay the increased amount of taxes associated with the new development. However, they would receive a reimbursement, in the form of a grant from the city, equal to that amount.

The annual grant would last anywhere from 12 to 20 years, depending on the location. For example, if the rental housing development "supports adjacent developments in targeted areas of the downtown," the grant will be extended by four years.

Additional extensions will be added if it wipes out an existing surface parking lot, or if it incorporates it somehow into the new housing unit.

Not everyone on his Executive Policy Commitee approved of the plan this morning.

St. Norbert councillor Justin Swandel voted against the program saying it should also include a strategy for condos.

Mayor Katz says there are enough condominiums in the city centre and more on the way.