Winnipeg proposing two-year COVID recovery plan
The City of Winnipeg wants to increase affordable housing units downtown, upgrade park space, and keep some business supports going as part of a two-year pandemic recovery strategy.
A 118-page report outlines how the city could tackle the social and economic obstacles created by COVID-19 shutdowns.
A number of measures would need to be approved as part of the upcoming 2022 budget process at Winnipeg City Hall.
For businesses, the report recommends the small business tax credit threshold keeps increasing, as well as a continuation of the temporary patio program to the end of next year. It also says permit fees should be waived to encourage more block parties and festivals.
It also says the city should work with Economic Development Winnipeg to bring national and international events here, which could help the struggling hospitality industry.
“When you look at our attractions our restaurants, our venues, you know that industry is predicated on bringing people together," said Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg.
Under the plan the emergency line of credit for the convention centre would be extended.
The big budget ask is around affordable housing. The report says the Downtown Biz and other partners are calling for $30 million from all levels of government for their own recovery plan.
The city report says to meet its share, the city should offer $20 million of property tax grants to bolster construction of affordable housing downtown.
"You don’t have to go far to see the impacts we’re having right now on the lack of affordable housing, including transitional housing," said Coun. Jon Orlikow.
The other $10 million would be used for infrastructure projects and open spaces.
"We’re really trying to focus in the short term on connectivity and mobility throughout the Downtown, and by that we mean pedestrian experiences and people coming downtown being able to get from one area to another," said David Pensato, executive director of the Exchange District Biz.
For parks and recreation, a $10 million request is being made to improve regional park infrastructure for social distancing, adding splash pads, converting closed wading pools to playgrounds, and upgrades for active transportation infrastructure.
There is also a section on help for community centres.
One recommendation says the city should eliminate a requirement for centres to match a renovation grant by 50 per cent in order to qualify.