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This article was published 30/10/2019 (536 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region has high hopes that it will have a plan in place to be able to handle growth as the capital region heads towards a population of one million.
Colleen Sklar, executive director of Metro Region, said a new report to be released on Thursday called For the Benefit of All: Regional Competitiveness & Collaboration in the Winnipeg METRO Region, will provide the framework for the 17 municipalities in addition to the city of Winnipeg to do the planning together that will be necessary to create that readiness.
Metro Region commissioned Robert Murray, a government affairs and public policy expert with the law firm Dentons Canada LLP, who met with well over 100 stakeholders, including the mayors and reeves of all the municipalities in putting the report together.
"Regions across North America have become ‘regionalized,’" Sklar said in an interview earlier in the week. "What you have to do is build off each other’s strengths."
The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region has been mandated to be the province’s regional economic development partner for municipalities located in the capital region. Sklar said the organization has taken that to heart and commissioned the study to get the most accurate lay of the land.
The report will establish three strategies to create the conditions for economic growth in the capital region: develop a culture of regional collaboration, build a foundation for economic success and develop an investor-ready climate.
"I am enthusiastic about this," Sklar said. "We have the data now. This will provide us with a blueprint forward. It tells us the steps that are necessary."
Sklar said the report will help municipalities become more collaborative. For example, she said if there is water retention issues there are some municipalities that are better equipped to handle that.
She said the combination of firefighting assets and people across the 17 municipalities are equal to that of the city of Winnipeg but with five per cent of the calls.
"Maybe that’s something we should be taking a look at," she said.
While there has traditionally been competitive dynamics among the municipalities when it comes to economic development opportunities, Sklar said she believes there is political will available now to understand that working together and collaborating will create more successful outcomes for all municipalities.
Sklar said there also exists strong support from the province and from the city of Winnipeg, specifically from Economic Development Winnipeg.
"The Premier has a desire to get this going," she said. "We need to get busy developing this regional growth management and servicing plan. We need to understand where the growth is going to go and how to service that growth. That is what business wants today."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.