Some councillors are suggesting that tax breaks could be one way to bring in grocery store chains to downtown Winnipeg, an area which has multiple vendors close up shop recently.

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge - East Fort Garry) and Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) point to a program in New York City where tax breaks are offered to grocery companies to set up shop in certain neighbourhooods.

"It's really just the idea of exploring what other options are there in these kinds of situations,” said Gerbasi.

The Zellers grocery store in The Bay basement in downtown Winnipeg shut down on March 17, with other grocery stores around the downtown core also shutting down recently.

The closures are forcing some downtown residents to go farther afield if they want to shop at larger grocery chains.

“It’s a hassle. Every week we have to go and drive 20 minutes, half an hour sometimes, just to get to grocery stores,” said Jaye Grant.

Costs at some of the smaller downtown corner shops can pose other issues.

“Prices are expensive in these little stores,” said Grant.

Mayor Sam Katz said he’d prefer something other than tax breaks to bring grocery chains to the downtown.

“They could lease something based on percentage of gross, as opposed to fixed rent, until it builds up,” said Katz.

Centre Venture and the Downtown Biz have hired a consultant to do a feasibility study on what it would take to bring a large grocery store downtown.

Coun. Eadie said he’s worried about grocery store options also dwindling in the North End, along with the core area. He said there are some residents in those neighbourhoods who can’t afford to head out to the grocery chains further away in Winnipeg.