Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mayor defends $14-million subsidy

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MAYOR Sam Katz says he has no regrets about using city-provincial subsidies to help open an IKEA store in Winnipeg.

Four years ago, Katz and former Manitoba premier Gary Doer struck a deal to contribute $22 million to the redevelopment of the Tuxedo Yards, which includes an IKEA store and the Seasons of Tuxedo retail centre.

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Developers Fairweather Properties and IKEA Canada have spent $26.5 million on infrastructure for the project, including the widening of Sterling Lyon Parkway and Kenaston and Shaftesbury boulevards and three new traffic signals.

Under a plan approved by council in 2009, the city will pay back developers $14 million plus interest for infrastructure work. The province was expected to contribute $8 million over three years, beginning in 2010.

Katz defended the subsidies as a sound economic-development strategy for the city.

"...There's much more involved than a big-box store," said Katz, referring to eventual plans to develop condos, office space and a movie theatre on the site as well as retail stores.

Katz said city-provincial contributions will be recouped from new property taxes flowing from the site and did not agree this revenue could be offset by reductions in business or property-tax revenue in other areas of the city.

"I don't believe there's business lost. I think the city will continue to grow," he said.

Council documents show the city stands to earn $3.7 million of new municipal property taxes and business-tax revenue every year from the project once completed in 2018. The province stands to earn $2.23 million a year.

The total project may eventually entail $400 million worth of development and 1.5 million square feet of retail space, council documents show.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 20, 2012 A6

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