October 12 mayoralty forum update

As you drive along Portage Avenue going east or west past the Winnipeg Real Estate Board at 1240 Portage Ave. or head south on Erin to Portage Avenue, you may catch a glimpse of our electronic billboard. The billboard is now displaying information on the WREB’s involvement in the mayoralty forum to be held on Thursday, October 12, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Hotel Fort Garry. 

If you are unable to attend, you can watch the forum on Shaw TV, cable channel 9, on: 

• Thursday, October 12 at 7 p.m.

• Sunday, October 15 at 7 p.m. 

• Friday, October 20 at 7 p.m.  

The WREB is teaming up with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and Manitoba Heavy Construction to ask all four mayoralty candidates some very important questions on a number of critical issues. Issues will include taxation, spending efficiencies, infrastructure, housing and development, downtown Winnipeg and civic/provincial relations. 

Each candidate will also provide an opening three-minute remark during which they will be required to outline their top-three priorities as mayor and the rationale behind their priorities. Concluding remarks will give the candidates an opportunity to clearly state their vision for the city. Just prior to this wrap-up question, each candidate will also be given a chance to ask another candidate a question.

Dave Angus, the president and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, will be the moderator for the forum. There will also be a media panel asking questions on the issues noted above. 

While it may seem to this point that the election has been rather dull, there has been no lack of important issues to discuss. How do we intend to maintain existing infrastructure and pay for new infrastructure? Is there a well-thought-out plan or framework  to pay for civic operations that takes into consideration the heavy dependency Winnipeg already has on property taxes? Are mayoral candidates aware that about half of a Winnipeg homeowner’s property taxes are used to fund education — a core provincial service? 

How do they view housing and development? What are their views on suburb versus inner-city infill developments? Are the mayoral candidates mindful and sensitive to the character of existing neighbourhoods when considering new infill projects or extensions to them? 

With Plan Winnipeg coming up for review this year, what do they see as components that should be updated or changed altogether? Is Plan Winnipeg responsive to a city that in the last few years has experienced some positive growth and new development?  

How do mayoral candidates envision the private sector, including a key group like the WREB’s Commercial Division, playing a vital role in renewing the downtown? Has the city done enough to market its surplus property?

With regard to civic/provincial relations are the mayoral candidates prepared to get behind the chamber and WREB to call upon the province to end rent controls like Saskatchewan did a long time ago? Are they at least in favour of a voluntary vacancy program similar to Ontario’s which has contributed to existing apartment rehabilitation and has increased new rental construction? 

Everyone knows the vacancy rate in Winnipeg is dangerously low. Something needs to be done if we are going to be able to effectively accommodate more immigration to our city to fill the skilled job shortage. The dearth of good rental units has been a contributing factor to increasing house prices which has affected housing affordability. 

The forum presents the opportunity to hear the candidates’ positions on these important issues. 

Get out and vote on Wednesday, October 25.