November 12, 2018

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Mayor backs tax-rebate rule exemption

True North Square 'transformative': Bowman

The stakeholders behind the project have set their sights on the $400-million True North Square playing a major role in revitalizing Winnipeg’s downtown. (Mike Deal / Free Press files)</p>

The stakeholders behind the project have set their sights on the $400-million True North Square playing a major role in revitalizing Winnipeg’s downtown. (Mike Deal / Free Press files)

CITY hall looks poised to lift an affordability clause in a grant for True North Square that would see the major downtown development exempt from setting aside a portion of its residential units as affordable housing.

The proposal — which is bundled with an increase in the city’s share of the project’s $9-million public square — was approved unanimously by the executive policy committee Wednesday.

The proposal will now need to pass at the council level next Thursday.

Shortly after the EPC meeting, Mayor Brian Bowman wouldn’t say whether he would consider lifting the affordable housing clause for future developments that approached the city for funding.

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CITY hall looks poised to lift an affordability clause in a grant for True North Square that would see the major downtown development exempt from setting aside a portion of its residential units as affordable housing.

The proposal — which is bundled with an increase in the city’s share of the project’s $9-million public square — was approved unanimously by the executive policy committee Wednesday.

The proposal will now need to pass at the council level next Thursday.

Shortly after the EPC meeting, Mayor Brian Bowman wouldn’t say whether he would consider lifting the affordable housing clause for future developments that approached the city for funding.

"I’m not going to answer a hypothetical question," he told reporters.

The mayor went on to highlight the "transformative" nature of the multi-tower project, which is currently under construction. The stakeholders behind the project have set their sights on the $400-million True North Square playing a major role in revitalizing Winnipeg’s downtown.

Instead, it was the importance and scope of the project Bowman focused on when fielding media questions.

"I can’t recall another project that’s private-sector-led that’s a half-billion dollars in mixed-use in the heart of our city. It is transformative. It will give a lift to the surrounding area and other property owners and finally deliver a hotel connected to the convention centre," he said.

If approved by council, the grant will move forward with the affordable-housing clause lifted. The clause is part of the City of Winnipeg’s Live Downtown Rental Development Grant Program.

Depending on the nature of the grant awarded, the governing bylaw stipulates anywhere from 10 to 15 per cent of residential units in the development must be set aside as affordable housing for a period of at least five years.

"Affordable, in the context of a residential rental unit, means that its monthly rent is equal to or less than the median market monthly rent for that year as published annually in advance by the Department of Housing and Community Development of the Province of Manitoba," the bylaw reads.

The city is looking to revise its funding agreement for True North Square on the heels of the provincial government doing the same. The province has confirmed it will provide tax breaks — in the form of tax incremental financing — to the project’s residential towers and hotel, and the city is expected to follow suit.

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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History

Updated on Friday, September 14, 2018 at 6:14 AM CDT: Final

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