Defining the problem of vacant derelict buildings


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In 2022, voters in the civic election demanded resolution to the problem vacant derelict buildings (VDBs). This article is part one of three on the topic to demonstrate councillors are working at resolution.

From 1996 to 1999, seven neighbourhoods were identified as being in serious decline: Centennial, Lord Selkirk Park, North Point Douglas, Spence, West Alexander, West Broadway, and William Whyte. Of the seven neighbourhoods, five are still housing improvement zones. There were 333 house VDBs, 133 multifamily BDBs, and from demolition over 200 vacant lots were owned by the City.

A Winnipeg Free Press article: “‘Whack-a-mole’ in the danger zone” by Erik Pindera (Sept. 22, 2022), provided an excellent description of today’s VDB problems, just like yesteryear. A total of 622 VDBs existed, including commercial, multifamily and houses – the Mynarski ward share was 202. The intensity of VDBs in the top 10 neighbourhoods can be seen in the accompanying table.

William Whyte and Dufferin have the highest percentages, but one must note the missing multifamily dwellings under the “# of VDBs” column. A column with the number of apartment dwellings is provided to allow for context, as many apartments may be in VDBs.

The following problems still exist:

• For every VDB resolved, one or more spring up;

• Housing stock at end of life or needing major renovation,

• Residents and families don’t have enough money to renovate or pay a mortgage for major renovation;

• Finding respectful renters is difficult;

• Renters not able to pay enough to sustain old housing stock;

• Property insurance too costly, slow to pay, and/or not in place;

• Real estate investors just using property value to borrow against to build portfolio;

• City can’t sell tax sale properties due to private sector disinterest;

• Habitat for Humanity and other ownership families bailing out due to health, safety and social issues;

• New infill builds damaged from crime or not salable.

My next column will cover partly unsuccessful actions taken in the past and today.

Ross Eadie

Ross Eadie

Ross Eadie is the Winnipeg city councillor for Mynarski.

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