Summary of our 2nd Organizing Meeting

On Thursday, April 11, 2019 YIMBY Winnipeg had our second organizing meeting. We discussed a lot and gained more direction as a group.

One of our first topics of conversation was the Residential Infill Strategy. We noted that lack of notice for new engagement sessions and the comparably low funding for the strategy. This suggests it could be a bit of a ways away. However, it’s important YIMBY Winnipeg brainstorm and develop a clear line on what we’d like to see in the Strategy.

Also of note were the City of Winnipeg’s future greenfield liabilities versus the costs of renewing and upgrading old infrastructure for more dense infill. The exact life cycle costs of infrastructure in various parts of the city are not known, but there is interest in performing a study to find this out.

We moved on to what direction we want to go in terms of advocacy. Are we ready for a major campaign yet? What about advocating when it comes to major development proposals, such as the Parker Lands or the Canada Packers Lands brownfield site? We determined that, right now, the most good we can do as a group is to advocate for infill development that’s closer to being shovel ready and is of smaller scope than developing entire new neighbourhoods. We also decided that we’re not quite prepared to launch a big campaign … yet.

When it comes to advocacy through City of Winnipeg channels for specific projects, the Community Committees and Appeal Committee were highlighted as the best venues. Advocating for infill with a positive message in support of mixed-use density can help set a progressive tone early on in a Committee meeting.

Reaching out to other groups in the Housing Space was mentioned. A number of community organizations have housing plans and they would be good to get in touch with.

We discussed the idea of a Planning Commission, which is being suggested by some politicians and organizations. This proposal aims to streamline the process of reviewing developments. Risks were pointed out, however, such as the potential that the Commission could reduce councillor accountability for their decisions on projects while being staffed by people appointed by councillors One meeting attendee brought up the risk of a Planning Commission being used as cover to disregard the recommendations of the City’s urban planners.  A proponent of the Planning Commission is set to speak at YIMBY Winnipeg’s May 3rd meeting, so we should get to see the case for a Planning Commission in full detail next time.

A number of marketing matters were on the agenda. Thanks to the gracious efforts of a skilled volunteer, YIMBY Winnipeg now has a website: www.yesinwpg.com. At the moment, there’s past email newsletter content, a description of the goals of our group and some events.

During the website design, a volunteer brought up our name. YIMBY Winnipeg gives a clear understanding of our central mission and vision. It’s a label used elsewhere and helps people who know and support YIMBY goals easily find us. It can be polarizing and feed into adversarial rhetoric, however. As well, not everyone knows what “YIMBY” (Yes In My Back Yard) means. We discussed rebranding as Yes In Winnipeg, since we already do use it as a slogan. It was mentioned, however, that this could confuse people because there’s an economic development agency called YES! Winnipeg. We tabled the name discussion until next meeting.

With that, we decided to switch from bimonthly to monthly meetings. Our next organizing meeting will be on May 3, 2019 at 6 PM. The venue is to be determined and there will be a guest speaker, who’s in favour of a Planning Commission.