MEDIA RELEASE – Less Means More, Says Winnipeg Think-Tank

Press Release, Municipal Government, Frontier Centre

[WINNIPEG] In a major policy study to be released today, Winnipeg’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy maintains that a vigorous effort to revitalize the city’s troubled downtown depends for the most part on a smaller but smarter role for government.

“Except in the area of public safety, where we recommend an expanded police presence, this body of work indicates that a vibrant downtown economy can be achieved by deregulating,” says the Centre’s President, Peter Holle. “Winnipeg is a diamond in the rough, with all the necessary elements for the creation of exciting living spaces in the inner city.”

Among the studies recommendations:

  • Building and zoning codes be softened or repealed to speed the conversion of underused premises into residences.
  • Rent controls be cancelled to revive private investment in affordable multiple housing.
  • The licensing and regulation of commercial activity be streamlined and reduced to spur entrepreneurial activity.
  • Public safety be increased by a rigorous policy of on-street community policing.
  • Downtown be made automobile friendly and transit services exposed to competitive provision.
  • Reductions in property taxes be accelerated and the assessment system reconfigured.
  • As in other cities, efficiency in city services be achieved by modernizing their delivery systems.
  • “We are convinced that this program could make Winnipeg a boom town again,” Holle adds. “A new vision of downtown renewal is sweeping the continent, and we are well positioned to take advantage of the lessons reform cities are teaching us. The secret is to bring people downtown again, not just to work and to play, but to live.”

    Along with the policy study, the Frontier is also premiering two shorter, ancillary reports – a statistical look at Winnipeg’s population patterns which shows that the city is not suffering from urban sprawl but from a simple lack of growth, and a backgrounder on housing prices. Over the period 1986 to 2000, Winnipeg homes increased in value by 23.6%, compared to faster growing cities like Calgary (125.2%). Together they demonstrate the breadth of the problems that face Manitoba’s dominant centre plus its inner city, and the need for comprehensive reforms to reverse its downward spiral.


    For further information, please contact:

    Peter Holle, President of the FCPP, (204) 957-1567

    Dennis Owens, Senior Policy Analyst (204) 957-1567