Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ditch the 1960s: Build in, not out

  • Print

An urban planner by trade, I try to keep current with best practices in city planning, urban policy and city development in all parts of the world.

Recently, an email was sent to me from Calgary's re-elected mayor, Naheed Nenshi, in which he talks about how it has cost Calgary $1.5 billion over the last decade to subsidize the cost of new homes in new neighbourhoods. Who pays for it?

"Currently, all Calgarians subsidize development of new communities by approximately $4,800 per home. In 2012, this subsidy cost Calgarians close to $33 million," Nenshi writes.

Nenshi has promised voters he will negotiate a new agreement with the development industry to eliminate this subsidy and promote thoughtful growth in central Calgary.

In Winnipeg, too, taxpayers subsidize urban sprawl -- at the expense of downtown and the inner city real estate markets. It has come to the point where those markets need incentives to balance the playing field. While the cost to taxpayers has not been quantified, Winnipeggers are becoming more aware of this serious issue.

Terracon Developments, which plans to build a 593-unit subdivision on a 74-acre site at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and King Edward Street -- a development known as Castlebury Meadows -- has been recently approved by city hall, despite significant opposition from the city's own planning department. A deal was reached to subsidize Castlebury Meadows at $1,200 per home for a total of $700,000.

Yet we often hear how "broke" our city is. There's not enough money to fix and maintain roads -- yet we build more. There are escalating sewer and water infrastructure costs -- yet we build more. New fire and police stations are expensive to build -- yet we build more. Cost of transit continues to rise even though it's minimally used by suburbanites -- yet we buy more buses and build more bus shelters in distant neighbourhoods where there is no demand.

This should be a wake-up call to Winnipeg taxpayers.

We need to revitalize and strengthen our inner city and downtown instead of continuing suburban sprawl that leads to an unsustainable, less vibrant and expensive city.

At the end of the day, homes will be built, and neighbourhoods will come alive, and developers will make money, and so they should. They drive our economy. But there are questions that continue to evade our city. What's best for our city and its people? What makes good business sense for taxpayers? What are your kids' visions for our city?

Critical decisions made by politicians with regards to how land is used by developers can either lead to an average city that can barely sustain itself, or to a great city, one that is fiscally sustainable, vibrant and a place where you want your kids to live. This is a challenge to our political leaders: Ditch the 1960s approach to building cities. Winnipeggers want and deserve more from their city, and it starts with leadership.


Stefano Grande is the executive director of Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 24, 2013 A13

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Lindor Reynolds speaks candidly about life with terminal cancer

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you support Pimicikamak First Nation's protest against Manitoba Hydro?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google