Trifecta of vows from Winnipeg mayoral candidates

Three of the main contenders to sit in the mayor's chair at Winnipeg City Hall all made announcements around the same time Wednesday.

Transparency, tourism and tax increment financing for housing among promises from candidates

Three of the main contenders to sit in the mayor's chair at Winnipeg City Hall all made announcements around the same time Wednesday. 

Gord Steeves said if he's elected mayor, he will create a buffer zone between the city's administration and politicians to ensure political influence plays no role in city decisions. (CBC)
​Gord Steeves pledged more openness and transparency at city hall if he's elected mayor Oct. 22.

The former St. Vital councillor repeated his promise to resurrect the executive policy secretariat, which was eliminated a number of years ago. 

Steeves said some of the controversy city hall has become embroiled in might not have occurred if this "needed buffer between policy makers and administration" still existed.

Steeves said the office would vet reports to ensure political influence has not played a role in city decisions.

The office, he said, would be under the responsibility of the CAO, or Chief Administrative Officer.

When reporters questioned that, pointing out concerns about the relationship between former CAO Phil Sheegl and outgoing Mayor Sam Katz, Steeves repeated that the CAO would be in charge, explaining, "It would have to be somebody." 

More tourists in Winnipeg

Lawyer Brian Bowman focused on tourism Wednesday. 

Bowman said he will implement the WINNIPASS to make Winnipeg's destinations more accessible, and offer discounts.

Close gap in affordable housing

Judy Wasylycia-Leis said if she's elected mayor, the city would play a greater role to encourage the development of more affordable, safe social housing. 

Standing in front of the Living Gospel Church Family Place on William Avenue, home to some 38 immigrant and refugee families, the former NDP MP and MLA said it's an example of what Winnipeg can do as a city to fill an "important gap in affordable, safe housing."

Former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis said if elected mayor, the city would play a greater role to see the development of more affordable safe social housing. (Catherine Dulude/CBC)
"Our plan will enable the private and not-for-profit sectors and other levels of government to leverage more value from their investments," she said.  

Wasylycia-Leis said while the city plays a minor role when it comes to funding, it can play a larger role in overseeing the creation of more housing, including tackling the problem of homelessness by: 

  • expanding use of tax increment financing
  • using inclusionary zoning policies and buy-out options ​
  • prioritizing land for affordable housing, including pre zoning when land is available
  • donating land for affordable housing using the Merchants Corner project as a model success
  • providing waivers of development fees for affordable housing 
  • taking a more active role enforcing existing regulations and bylaws to ensure safe living conditions 
  • actively engaging with the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council to implement the Action Plan to End Homelessness

Wasylycia-Leis said while tax increment financing has been used to increase housing and commercial development in Winnipeg's downtown, its use can be expanded as well as the question of where it's applied. 

"We have used it most extensively in the Downtown BIZ to great success," she said. "We need to do more in the downtown area because we still have not achieved the density that we want to see nor have we achieved the provision of affordable housing stock to meet all the needs. So obviously, more in the downtown area is essential but it could reach beyond that, to other areas in the city as well."