Mayor-Elect Scott Gillingham on Homes and Land-Use
October 27, 2022
The mayoral campaign of Mayor-Elect Scott Gillingham featured a number of proposals on housing, zoning, and land-use. It will be interesting to see what movement there is on these proposals over the next four years.
These include a number of policy position announcements on infill and housing in his releases on safe spaces and infill development over commercial sites.
- Increase and extend funding for Winnipeg’s 24/7 Safe Space Grant Program: Gillingham promises to increase funding to support another 24/7 Safe Space site in the North End in addition to the two existing Safe Spaces. Safe spaces are a drop in site for the homeless and those at-risk. Gillingham promises to increase funding to the two existing sites gradually to improve service capacity and renew the existing grants to 2026, as funding expires in 2023 under current plans. The Gillingham campaign estimates the incremental cost through Operating Expenses over four-years will be $650,000 and through the Community Rent Credit will be $200,000 over four-years.
- Allow more residential construction by-right along the Pembina Highway & Portage Avenue commercial zones: Gillingham pledges to allow residential builds as-of-right, with no parking minimums, over existing commercial sites on Pembina Highway and Portage Venue. Existing C2 and C3 zoning rules already allow for up to four stories of commercial construction on these corridors. New mixed-use zoning rules for these corridors would permit taller housing builds, as long as these sites maintain a commercial street front. If successful, this approach would be extended to other major corridors.
- Senior Advisor on Homelessness & Street Safety: Gillingham pledges to appoint a Senior Advisor on Homelessness and Street Safety within the Mayor’s Office using existing budgets to help the Mayor and Council take action on homelessness, street safety, mental health and addictions policy. The Advisor will assist community organizations secure federal, provincial, and third party funding opportunities.
- Modular Rapid Housing program: Inspired by rapid housing programs in Toronto and other cities, Gillingham will launch a program that builds modular homes for the homeless and at-risk. This would involve securing Council pre-approval for six modular housing sites on City-owned or purchased land, which could provide 270 units of housing. As a part of this, the City would waive permit costs, property tax and land costs while pe-approving zoning for modular construction on all six city-owned sites. Provincial programs would be engaged to offer wrap-around supports at each site, while ownership and operation would be transferred to non-profits and Indigenous housing organizations using a Request for Proposal process.
- Policy for Emergency Shelter: Gillingham vows to work with the End Homelessness Coalition to provide emergency shelter in public buildings during extreme weather. This will involve the development of an extreme weather shelter policy for Winnipeg’s public buildings.
- Allow more residential construction over medium and large retail malls: Gillingham promises to allow residential builds over medium and large retail malls, by-right, on the condition of setbacks to minimize impacts on nearby residents.
- New tender to build affordable housing over Portage Place: Under a Gillingham mayoralty, Winnipeg would launch a new tender for affordable housing construction over Portage Place. This is in response to an effort to build 500 homes over Portage Place faltering amid confusion over affordable housing incentives offered by different levels of government. Gillingham would work with other governments, the Forks (who owns the land Portage Place is on), and Indigenous partners to tender a common aid package to any qualified bidder.
- Review barriers to office-to-residential conversion: Gillingham would request that City Council’s Property & Development Committee hold immediate public hearings to review any barriers to office-to-residential conversions.
- Integrate the Naawi-Oodena development into Winnipeg’s Transportation Grid: Gillingham pledged to integrate the Naawi-Oodena development, including thousands of homes, into Winnipeg’s Transportation Grid.
- Treaty Land Entitlements: Gillingham pledges to work with provincial and federal governments to identify opportunities to help in resolving outstanding Treaty Land Entitlements.
- Template Service Agreement for Urban Reserves: Gillingham proposes to use the Naawi-Oodena Master Development Services Agreement (NDSA) as a template, where possible, for urban reserve proposals. This will speed up negotiations. As mayor, Gillingham pledges to extend a government-to-government offer to Manitoba First Nations to use the MDSA for future urban reserve projects.
- Identify incremental rail relocation opportunities: Gillingham notes that there is federal funding available to study incremental rail relocation improvements. He pledges to support incremental rail relocation opportunities with priorities for study areas set by consulting Council and the public.
- Civil Service Reorganization: This proposal is to reorganize customer-facing services like 311 and permits into a single customer service department. Gillingham notes that this will “likely result [… in] the creation stand-alone City Planning unit, led by a Chief Planner”.
- Patio City: Gillingham supports a “right to outdoor dining” for restaurants in place of the current permissions-based process. Restaurants adjoining qualifying public o private outdoor spaces will be entitled to offer patio service on that space, provided basic rules on noise, safety, emergency access, pedestrian access, and access for people with disabilities are followed. Spot checks will be used to monitor and enforce these rules.
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