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Plans for big change in Dufferin area

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The Dufferin Residents Association is working on some big changes around the neighbourhood.

The association tabled its first-ever neighbourhood housing plan with the city in October and held an implementation meeting for it two weeks ago.

Association chair James Favel said the plan will serve as a document for the city to consider when looking at development options for the neighbourhood.
Sandie Komarniski, past chair of the association, said she hopes the plan leads to improvements so that "hopefully people will stay longer."

The plan, which was created after consultations with about 200 people, includes housing and demographic data detailing the makeup of the neighbourhood and statistics on available property.

However, it also identifies a series of goals for the neighbourhood to meet in order to improve the quality of life for residents. The plan calls "for Dufferin to be a respected neighbourhood with: quality affordable housing, services, amenities and enforcement of all laws and bylaws equally with other areas of the city of Winnipeg; a safe place where residents can be proud to live."

Among a shortlist of goals are increased bylaw enforcement, promoting local awareness of grants and resources, expanding the Tenant Landlord Co-operation program currently offered by the North End Community Renewal Corp., and developing a "green" neighbourhood plan.

"We’re doing gardens and stuff like that, and we have Manitoba Green Team, we have grant money... for people to go around the neighbourhood picking up garbage," Favel said.

In terms of bylaw enforcement, Favel said the organization wants to crack down on the illegal dumping of garbage and the practice of commuters who come in from outside the area clogging up back lanes with parked vehicles.

Favel noted association members have been meeting with a bylaw enforcement manager on a monthly basis.

Jessie Leigh, community development worker for the association, said the city’s bylaw enforcement staff has been doing an effective job so far.

"They’re really coming down hard on people who have committed bylaw infractions, and that works great for the things that have been sitting around for six months, or a year," Leigh said.
However, she noted there is a balance to maintain, since the association wants to ensure low-income residents aren’t being penalized for infractions which may be beyond their control.

"If you’re going to get nailed for your roof, and you don’t have the money to pay for it, that could make the difference between being a homeowner or renter," she said, adding the NERC is working on ways to mitigate that issue.

Street lighting is also a serious issue, since many homes in the neighbourhood are quite old, and aren’t equipped for outdoor lighting. So far, they’ve succeeded in getting the city to install LED lights at Immaculate Heart Playground at Stella Avenue and McKenzie Street, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

"If we can come up with a neat solution, solar powered or something, that’d be swell because it’s going to be pretty expensive to try to get electricians to go around," Leigh said.

On Dec. 12, Leigh met with representatives from tri-level government partnership LiveSAFE, which was interested in reviewing the project since the city is funding it. Leigh gave much credit to LiveSAFE for their co-operation with the association.

In order to keep in frequent contact with residents, the association will be expanding publication of its newsletter. Originally a quarterly product, it will now put out a full-colour, quarterly issue and a black-and-white monthly issue.

"We’re really starting to take off with the residents association," Favel said.

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