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Blow for condo subsidy

CITY hall has moved one step closer to quashing a controversial plan to offer $10,000 subsidies to buyers of new condominiums in the Exchange District.

The downtown development committee Monday endorsed an administrative report that proposed using the condo subsidy funds -- a total of $2.43 million -- for streetscaping and safety initiatives in the Exchange.

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said the public would not support the condo subsidy.

"There was a discomfort with that type of incentive," Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) said following the meeting. "The idea you're putting money in the pocket of people who may already have money."

The condo subsidy and the streetscaping program are both elements of the $7.8-million Exchange-Waterfront Neighbourhood Development program, a comprehensive strategy designed to increase residential and retail density in the area.

Funds set aside for the condo-subsidy portion of the program will now be plowed into the streetscaping portion.

Because the strategy was approved by council, quashing the condo subsidy and redirecting those funds will need to be approved by council.

Receipt request opposed

A request from some councillors and the public for the release of all expense receipts related to the police headquarters project is meeting opposition from city hall.

The downtown development committee opted to take no action on the request -- from Coun. Paula Havixbeck, councillors on the Assiniboia community committee, and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation -- following the advice of civic administration.

The CTF had earlier requested the information through an Access to Information Act request and was told it would cost $3,000.

But the CTF's Colin Craig said the receipts would be part of the audit council ordered last week on the police headquarters project, adding there shouldn't be any costs associated with the request and the fee should be waived.

The administration was opposed to waiving the fee and told the committee the receipts shouldn't be released at all, claiming they would be needed for the audit and staff time would be spent removing the names and addresses of the suppliers and other businesses.

Coun. Brian Mayes, a member of the committee, said there seems to be no purpose in releasing the receipts publicly if they form part of the audit. Mayes added, however, he will support releasing the documents at a later time if they are not included in the audit, which must be completed before the end of June.

"I appreciate people want the information but it's going to be coming forward as part of a larger audit," Mayes said.

Cash for river trails

CITY hall is giving the Festival du Voyageur a $40,000 grant for its annual river trail program.

The downtown development committee approved the grant Monday, even though Festival had requested $50,000.

The city has given Festival $40,000 annually for the trail events, which include skating rinks, curling sheets and warming huts.

The funds are provided through the city's riverbank stabilization fund.

New boss at MPI

DAN Guimond is the new president and chief executive officer of Manitoba Public Insurance.

He was named to the top spot by Premier Greg Selinger, a news release issued by the province Monday says.

He replaces Marilyn McLaren, who announced her retirement last fall as Feb. 21 after 35 years with the Crown corporation.

Guimond has been at MPI for about 30 years and prior to his promotion was vice-president of strategy and innovation and chief information officer. Guimond starts in the new position Feb. 24.

Two sought in invasion

WINNIPEG police are looking for two men following a home invasion in St. Boniface.

Just before 7 p.m. on Sunday, police responded to a call to a home in the 200 block of Bertrand Street, where a robbery had just taken place. Two intruders forced their way into the residence after a 67-year-old man answered the door.

They were armed with a black pistol and pepper spray, police say.

If you have any information, please contact investigators at 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 4, 2014 B2

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