Gord Steeves to sell Winnipeg police HQ if elected mayor
Gord Steeves says if he's elected mayor of Winnipeg, he wants to sell the city's new police headquarters along with an office tower connected to it and the Millenium Library parkade.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, the former city councillor said too many of the city's assets, such as the Public Safety Building and its crumbling parkade, the former Blue Bombers stadium and the Arlington Street bridge, are falling apart because of poor maintenance.
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Meanwhile, cash is needed to address huge infrastructure deficits, he said.
"The City of Winnipeg is not great at managing large assets. We saw what happened with the Public Safety Building, the parkade that accompanies it, and the list of items that I read," he said.
"It is a challenge for a city to do that. The less of that that we do, the better."
Steeves said if elected in the Oct. 22 civic election, he would sell off the police headquarters on Graham Avenue, then enter into a public-private partnership and lease it back for 30 years.
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He said he would also sell the office tower that's connected to the headquarters and the parkade at Millennium Library which is located across the street.
Steeves said critics overlook how attractive it would be to have the Winnipeg Police Service as the main tenant of a building.
"This is a tenant that is going to attract an A-grade investor. Arguably you could not get a more solid tenant than the police department, who'll be taking the lion's share of the property," he said.
Could net $50M to $75M, says Steeves
Steeves said his plan would net $50 million to $75 million, which he would direct to street and other infrastructure repairs.
According to Steeves's campaign, the library parkade is estimated to generate $20 million to $30 million, and the tower — when fully leased — would generate about $20 million.
Through the public-private partnership, the police headquarters could bring in $200 million, but his campaign notes that there is an estimated $155 million debt on the building.
Using these figures, Steeves is going with a careful estimate of $50 million to $75 million in net proceeds.
Other questions remain about Steeves' promise. Even he admitted that it's rare to enter into a public-private partnership on a building that is already built.
Friday's announcement was not the first time Steeves pledged to sell City of Winnipeg property. Last Friday, he promised to sell off four city-owned golf courses if he is elected.
Vogiatzakis promises business tax freeze
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, mayoral candidate Mike Vogiatzakis says if elected, he would freeze Winnipeg's business tax and start a fund to help new enterprises grow.
"It's a blueprint to success. There's hundreds of businesses waiting who don't have financing and don't have a way of growing, and they're waiting for someone to help them," he said.
"That's what we're going to do as the City of Winnipeg — we're going to help businesses grow in the city."
He credited the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce's Manitoba BOLD campaign for the idea.
Vogiatzakis said the drop in city revenue would be made up by the growth of new businesses.
With files from the CBC's Sean Kavanagh