Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/9/2011 (3606 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When St. Boniface voters head to the polls Oct. 4, it may be with home sweet home on their mind.
Earlier this year, prominent local academic Tom Carter released a report on the housing stock in the community. It was commissioned by francophone economic development agency Entreprises Riel, and supported by the Old St. Boniface Residents’ Association
Carter report found a number of signs of decline in St. Boniface, including aging housing stock, relatively high levels of poverty, absentee homeowners and a growing transience of renters. However, the report indicated that these signs were not as severe as in other parts of city.
"This is not an excuse to take no action in St. Boniface," Carter wrote. "It does mean, however, that St. Boniface is less likely to be the target of significant government investment to change neighbourhood circumstances."
At the time the report was released in March, Norm Gousseau — executive director and CEO of Entreprises Riel — said he disagreed with that conclusion.
"I’m not convinced that the government doesn’t have a role here," he said.
And the candidates vying to be the next MLA for St. Boniface seem to agree with Gousseau.
Brad Gross, a real estate agent and the Manitoba Liberal Party candidate, said he believes the solution is to reform the building permit system.
"The big problem that we have here in Winnipeg and in Manitoba is the . . . process time for permits, if you’re developers, is a nightmare," said Gross, who currently resides in Osborne Village but is constructing a home in St. Boniface.
As example, he mentioned a developer who is building in St. Boniface, and had to wait eight months for his permit.
"What I would be doing if I were MLA in St. Boniface is expediting and trying to help the city speed up the process for getting permits through."
Alain Landry, a Norwood-based teacher running for the Green Party of Manitoba, said if elected his party would advocate for a system called laneway housing.
Laneway housing, which is already being built in Vancouver, involved smaller 500 to 600-sq. ft. units being constructed facing backlanes on the space usually reserved for a garage.
"It would revitalize the area because some garages are left to be unpainted, toppling over," he said.
New affordable housing would also ease the burden on the health care system, he said, since people can get sick from older housing.
"Just going in there and sealing with a caulking gun is not enough," he added.
Premier Greg Selinger, the NDP incumbent, said the government is already paying attention to St. Boniface.
"We are getting some very extensive investment in St. Boniface," he said. "We did a major project on Bertrand Street of 25 units of what we call visitable housing — housing that’s appropriate for newcomers, but also persons with any kind of physical limitation, and it’s been very well-received."
He added the neighbourhood won’t be ignored by the province’s dedicated revitalization programs.
"It has been part of our community revitalization programs in the past, and we will continue to have programs that cycle throughout all our communities to help things happen," Selinger said.
Progressive Conservative candidate Frank Clark did not respond to an interview request.