Ouellette banks on new tax to fund housing units


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Mayoral candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette promises to create 1,340 housing units to help tackle the homelessness crisis.

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Mayoral candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette promises to create 1,340 housing units to help tackle the homelessness crisis.

Ouellette said the homes would be added within eight years, and offer a mix of transitional and affordable housing, depending on need, to ensure people no longer sleep in bus shelters and encampments.

“This is so important to the health of our city. Homelessness impacts everything that we have going on in our city. It impacts addiction issues, which has an impact on crime. It makes people feel unsafe in our downtown core. It makes it so that people don’t want to ride the buses,” he said.

Ouellette said he would also: work with community groups to expand emergency housing options; eliminate homelessness among youth who leave home due to abuse or neglect or who have ‘aged out’ of Child and Family Services; expand data-sharing among organizations that serve the homeless community to help co-ordinate services; and regularly work with community groups and governments, including Indigenous governments, to support those goals.

“A lot of children age out of care, so I think there has to be a lot of work with other levels of government … to ensure that no one ages out of care into homelessness,” said Ouellette. “I think it should be a basic policy that no one should age out of care into living on the streets.”

While he expects community groups, foundations and senior governments could all help fund steps to tackle the issue, Ouellette said his pledge to tax surface parking lots would help to pay the city’s contribution.

“We have to have resources to actually do something about this,” said Ouellette.

In August, he vowed to try to force owners of surface lots to pay the same tax rate as though there is a four-storey commercial building on each of their properties.

He estimates this would raise about $65 million in new annual revenue for the city.

Ouellette has noted he may require the province to agree to change an assessment law to impose that tax.


Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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