Mayoral hopeful Woodstock has renovation plan for rundown inner-city buildings
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This article was published 17/08/2022 (286 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
One mayoral candidate wants to reduce permit fees and make it easier for owners of dilapidated housing in the inner city to renovate their buildings.
Don Woodstock stood behind boarded-up buildings on Mountain Avenue Wednesday morning to discuss how he would make it more affordable for building owners in Winnipeg’s core to renovate them and keep squatters out.
The “livable sustainable policy” would be exclusive to the central areas of Winnipeg to fast-track these buildings back into livable conditions. The policy would see properties within the area receive high priority for city renovations through a grant program. New builders would be offered pre-made engineering drawings at no cost to them, and permits would be approved quicker.
“The people in the core, the original owners, they don’t have the money… so as a result of that, these buildings stay right there and stay dilapidated for a long time,” Woodstock said.
“Banks are very reluctant to lend in the core area, that’s why these buildings stay vacant for a long time. And so they become a place where criminals hang out, they become a place where people go shoot up drugs, etc.”
The grant program would include a requirement that rent control keeps the price low for years, Woodstock said, to prevent pricing people out of the community.
“I would challenge anybody to find me any neighbourhood in the south End, the West End, Waverley, where there’s a house that’s burned and it sits there for five, six months, a year or two. It doesn’t happen,” he said.
There are currently 627 vacant homes in Winnipeg. The largest cluster is in the William Whyte area, where 89 of the homes are located. Other areas with a high concentration of vacant homes include Daniel McIntyre, Spence, North Point Douglas and Dufferin. Some communities, including, Waverley Heights, Tuxedo and Westdale have just one vacant home.
Meanwhile, mayoral candidate Rick Shone promised to “modernize” Winnipeg’s 311 call system and alleviate wait times Wednesday.
“(It) is the first point of contact for Winnipeggers when accessing city services,” Shone said in a statement. “Throwing more money at 311 without looking at the underlying issues is not a long-term solution. We need to get it right.”
Shone said he planned to do that by eliminating 311’s email service, enhance online form-filling, hire a data analytics specialist to target repeated issues, invest in IT upgrades and improve 311 staff retention.
A semi-annual report of performance concerns and top call issues is also part of his plan.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.