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More housing, transit safety officers highlighted in Gillingham's State of the City

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During his second State of the City address, Mayor Scott Gillingham called for a housing boom.

He announced that he wants to approve 8,000 new housing units by Nov. 30 to combat the housing crisis.

"What we need to focus on is delivery, momentum, outcomes," he said.

The city normally green lights around 5,000 units annually, but the mayor wants all departments involved to speed up the process tied to developments.

"If a traffic study is really, really needed, let's do a traffic study. If it may or may not be needed; let's think twice about that because there are some units being built right now where there are reduced parking minimums."

The industry notes approvals and permits are slowed because they have to pass through too many hands at city hall.

"He's named every department a housing department. That's music to our industry's ears," said Lanny McInnes, the president and CEO of the Manitoba Home Builders' Association.

Premier Wab Kinew was on hand for the speech. He said he supports the move, hoping it will help tackle homelessness and make rent cheaper.

Plus, Kinew suggested the province is looking at amending legislation, which shifted decision making authority over developments from local governments to the municipal board.

"Well there's a certain threshold that needs to be cleared before it go there. I think we could look at something like that," said Kinew.

"There was one significant project we approved as a council, I think still was a great project. I got overturned by the municipal board. That's hundreds and hundreds of units that are not being built," said Gillingham.

The mayor also talked about downtown safety in his speech, announcing 21 transit safety officers are set to be onboard in 10 days.

The plan is to have them focus on five problem routes.

"We need to make sure people can arrive to work and get back home safely," said Loren Remillard, the president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. "(I'm) really excited. Ten days, can't wait."

The mayor noted a grievance filed by the Winnipeg Police Association last month is not stopping the city from moving forward.

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