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This article was published 15/10/2018 (1100 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Infrastructure, transit and housing were the main topics raised at a councillor candidate debate hosted by the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association on Oct. 9. Despite the all-candidates invitation, only Daniel McIntyre incumbent Cindy Gilroy and candidate Josh Brandon showed up for the debate; Sarowar Miah, who is also registered to run in the ward, was not in attendance.
Roughly 60 community members came out for the evening event held at Valour Community Centre’s Orioles Site (448 Burnell St.). The moderator asked candidates four prepared questions and then the forum was opened to the floor. Winnipeg School Division Ward 5 school trustee candidates Kevin Freedman (incumbent) and Cindy Murdoch also got a chance to address the crowd.
On the topic of infrastructure, candidates were asked what their main priorities were.
Gilroy said she will continue pushing for more recreation facility upgrades and road repairs in Daniel Mac.
"We’ve had years of tax freezes and that has impacted our infrastructure and now we are having to play catch-up," she said. "I’m very, very proud of the work that we’re doing, but we need to do more."
Brandon said he would like to see more investment in the city’s tree canopy, as well as street and sidewalk repairs and more cycling routes in the core.
"A lot of the infrastructure that we’ve done has actually helped facilitate suburban sprawl," he said. "We need to think about how we can take a load off the streets."
Candidates were also asked how they would increase bus ridership.
Brandon would reduce fares, increase transit’s operating budget, address overcrowding, shorten transfer times and create a frequent service network within core areas.
Gilroy is pushing for a low income bus pass and has helped initiate a city-wide functional transit study to look at route efficiencies. She also sees the UPass as a positive step for getting more post-secondary students using the bus.
On housing, candidates were asked how they would encourage more affordable housing construction.
Gilroy said the City is undergoing an affordable housing needs assessment and is running a pilot project in William Whyte on city-owned land. She said the City could use zoning by-laws, density bonuses, impact fees and tax incentives to encourage more affordable development.
"We have to make sure that we have affordable housing in every community so we can make sure that everyone has a choice in where they live," Gilroy said.
Brandon would like to see the City adopt an inclusionary zoning by-law that would require new developments to include affordable housing and would like a city-wide housing strategy enacted.
"I’m shocked at the amount of derelict and abandoned housing in our ward," he added. "We need to use our existing bylaw tools to crack down on those and turn that stock back into affordable housing."
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.