Bowman pledges to build Waverley West rec facility using previously untouched growth fee cash
$4 million from growth fee fund would be invested in one neighbourhood where levies were collected
Brian Bowman wants to tap into a previously untouched fund to pay for a new recreation facility in Waverley West, he promised Monday.
The incumbent mayor made three pledges Monday afternoon to help the city's community centres if he's re-elected, including a promise to withdraw money from a growth fee fund that city hall has thus far been reluctant to use.
Standing outside the Waverley Heights Community Centre, Bowman pledged an additional $4 million to build a new recreation centre in the suburb, augmenting the $7.2 million the city already budgeted for the $30-million facility.
To pay for the extra $4 million, Bowman intends to use the growth fee fund, despite the city's reluctance to touch the cash because of a legal challenge mounted by the Manitoba Home Builders' Association and Urban Development Institute.
If re-elected, Bowman acknowledged his future colleagues may have different plans for the growth fee revenue. Fees levied on new developments in some areas at the edges of Winnipeg generated around $11 million this year.
"What I'm doing today is I'm positioning myself to be very clear with the residents of how I'd like those funds used," the mayor said.
Mayoral challenger Jenny Motkaluk criticized the proposed use of money subject to a legal challenge.
"How many more creative ways can Brian Bowman find a way to soak Winnipeg taxpayers? And spending money we do not own will compound the problem further," she said in a statement.
In other pledges Monday, Bowman promised to increase the amount of cash earmarked for renewing Winnipeg's existing recreation infrastructure from $965,000 annually to $2 million per year. The money would come from an existing grant program for community centres over the next five years.
He also said he would allocate $50,000 from his own office discretionary reserve to pay for the criminal record checks required for community centre volunteers.
Bowman said an investment in recreation facilities is necessary since the city's community centres face a $274-million deficit and the need will only grow with a booming population.
- With files from Bartley Kives