Fixing Winnipeg’s Downtown

Publication, Housing Affordability, Frontier Centre

“Fixing Winnipeg’s Downtown” takes a different approach to downtown renewal. In place of advocating more government money and subsidies for the inner city it suggests basic policy reforms to tax, regulatory and service-provision policies that degrade the viability of Winnipeg’s core area. It explores root-and-branch changes that target the causes of long-term decline rather than superficial and simple short-term approaches that focus on temporarily alleviating the symptoms of inner-city stress.

Thirty nine recommendations for fixing Winnipeg’s downtown:

  1. Liberalize zoning restrictions to encourage residential conversion.
  2. End separate use zoning.
  3. Reverse the top-down zoning process with a focus on user needs.
  4. Restore original building codes for older structures.
  5. Implement a quick permitting standard for residential conversions and renovations.
  6. Monitor permitting turnaround times and pay performance bonuses for speed.
  7. Unlock potential investment in downtown housing by revoking rent control.
  8. Replace that protection with needs-based subsidies for the poor.
  9. Streamline business permitting and licensing procedures.
  10. Use pay bonuses and penalties to encourage prompt permit service.
  11. Encourage entrepreneurship by shrinking the regulatory load.
  12. Create a genuine one-stop shop for permits and licenses.
  13. Refocus the regulatory framework for taxicabs on safety and hygiene; remove all entry barriers.
  14. Adopt an on street-focused policy for community policing.
  15. Require the removal of all graffiti within 24 hours.
  16. Introduce performance pay into police compensation linked to improved crime clearance.
  17. Put trained officers back on the job by using civilian administrators.
  18. End the 24-hour two-officer police car policy.
  19. Reconsider justice policies that divert police resources away from traditional crime-fighting activities.
  20. Convert one-way streets back into two-way streets where possible.
  21. Eliminate parking meters in low-use areas to “fill” the streets.
  22. Replace them with two-hour parking and on street parking permits for residents of building conversions.
  23. Remove rush-hour turning and parking restrictions.
  24. Sell city-parking garages and invest the money in building more.
  25. Lower fares and improve transit service by adopting a European-style competitive transit model.
  26. Make public transit subsidies from the provincial conditional upon the competitive least cost subsidy model.
  27. Apply managed competition to suited City services.
  28. Give internal business units the freedom to redesign workflows.
  29. Include management overheads in all cost reporting and service bids.
  30. Introduce gain sharing and performance contracts as incentives.
  31. Make budgets transparent by levying a capital charge on assets.
  32. Legislate a clear separation between Councillors and service delivery.
  33. Make the City Manager the only employee answerable to Council.
  34. De-emphasize property taxes by exploring other revenue sources.
  35. Fund education with general revenues not property tax.
  36. Create an arts endowment with asset sales and eliminate the amusement tax.
  37. Impose fully costed user fees on services used by non-residents.
  38. Restore a high-density advantage with localized user fees calculated with neighbourhood-based costing.
  39. Reform the assessment system by basing property tax on land, not buildings.

Download “Fixing Winnipeg’s Downtown” Policy Series 14- pdf file (54 pages)