Celebrating Housing in South Winnipeg & My Support in Securing More Housing
It was a great pleasure to attend the ‘top off’ party at the Align apartment block, located beside the Arc at the corner of Pembina Highway and Bison Drive. A top off party celebrates the completion of the top and final floor!
Congratulations Henry Morton and Neil Hylton on two beautiful structures! Thank you for these highly needed, mixed use – student oriented housing towers. Five years of planning and construction has now added 1,100 beds of safe student housing to the neighbourhood. BUT – we need more! Winnipeg is experiencing a housing crisis is being primarily triggered by an increase in immigration and the overall cost of housing.
Over the last 11 years (2011-2022) there has been a 38% increase in international students (4,000 more students at the University of Manitoba) yet the University has not added one additional dorm bed. In addition, the very successful Provincial Nominee Program has resulted in a significant increase of immigrants arriving in Manitoba.
Canada’s Immigration Minster Marc Miller recently announced the national immigration targets for the next three years:
- 2023 – 465,000 people
- 2024 – 500,000 people
- 2025 – 500,000 people
Winnipeg is one of the top 5 cities that immigrants chose to move to. Cost of living is a primary reason. Winnipeg has seen incredible immigration growth, considering that in 2015 just under 300,000 people came to Canada.
HOUSING ACCELERATOR FUNDING (HAF)
The Federal Government is offering cities millions of dollars to construct more housing to support immigration, and to enable more affordable housing. Winnipeg has applied for $192 million in housing accelerator funding (HAF), but observing what other similar sized Canadian cities are receiving, I anticipate we will receive around $130 million.
The funding will be used to support construction of housing, leverage private funding, and support development of affordable housing.
In order to receive the housing accelerator funding, the Federal government is requiring Council to:
- change zoning to legalize four dwelling units per residential lot be permitted as-of-right city-wide,
- legalize up to four storeys as-of-right within 800 metres of high-frequency transit corridors.
- allow for as-of-right development at mall sites and commercial corridors
Is it an over reach for the Federal government to direct cities on zoning? Many perceive it to be – others feel this approach is sometimes required to make significant change.
SUPPORTING GROWTH & GROWING THE ECONOMY
I will be voting to receive the housing accelerator funding. Upwards of $132 million will leverage additional millions from the development committee to build a lot of desperately needed new and affordable housing. This funding will leverage additional millions and will be a significant stimulus to Winnipeg’s economy through the trades and industries. This funding will allow Winnipeg to direct where housing is needed, which is a very rare opportunity.
There is a concern that changes in zoning to legalize four dwelling units per residential lot will destroy neighbourhoods. I do not believe that will happen. Countless Canadian and American cities have implemented ‘as a right’ four-unit developments and neighbourhoods have not been destroyed, but have gently changed.
Please know the City will implement rules around tree preservation, lot sizes, form and design details, and develop guidelines related to four dwellings per residential lot. It would be my great fear that if we don’t accept the Federal funding, our city would begin to decline.
We need immigration to increase our tax base, we need affordable housing to help so many homeless, but we need housing to make this happen. We need the Federal government’s funding support to stimulate housing growth for Winnipeg’s future.