PRESS RELEASE: Heritage conservation districts must be used with care

YIMBY Winnipeg has observed the increased role Heritage Conservative Districts have played in development and infill debates in Winnipeg. Heritage Conservation Districts and general Heritage Status declarations can be a useful tool for conserving unique, historic architectural forms and sites of shared public history. The increased use of Heritage Conservation Districts as a smokescreen, however, for opposing neighbourhood growth and opposing more housing for people is troubling.

Heritage Conservation Districts could serve a role in guiding development around areas with an abundance of sensitive architectural and historic landmarks. These districts should not be used, however, just because one does not want growth and change in their community. Infill should be a growing share of Winnipeg’s development and housing stock, for a number of reasons.

Creating mixed-use, walkable and dense neighbourhoods is essential for our city’s future. Mixed-use density that enables more walking, biking and transit use is crucial for lowering our carbon emissions. With carbon pricing and looming climate change, Winnipeg will have to plan for smarter growth. Infill is an essential part of this. The benefits to the public treasury of more people in more taxpaying properties on a block is significant. Repairing or upgrading infrastructure in mature communities is much more fiscally sustainable, long term, than continuous infrastructure sprawl.

YIMBY Winnipeg urges the Winnipeg Public Service to be extremely rigorous, careful and impartial in the designation of Heritage Conservation Districts. We also urge Winnipeg City Councillors to recognize that Heritage Conservation Districts should be used as a tool to preserve architectural and historic landmarks, rather than as a blunt instrument to oppose any infill one dislikes.

Dylon Martin
Interim Spokesperson