Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham is calling for changes to the city’s zoning process in order to fast track housing construction.
The mayor says Winnipeg has a housing shortage and needs more homes to make them more affordable.
“This is a way to get housing built and get it built faster,” said Gillingham.
Gillingham is pushing for changes to the city rules to tap into some available federal funding for affordable housing.
The City has applied for $192 million from the feds that will go towards the construction of thousands of new housing units.
But in order to qualify, zoning reforms are required to get rid of what Ottawa calls “exclusionary zoning practices.”
Gillingham is asking council to approve changes that would permit the construction of four units on a single lot city-wide. The new rules would also allow up to four storeys to be built within 800 metres of frequent transit corridors, and allow mid-rise housing for mall sites and commercial corridors like Portage Avenue.
Gillingham said all would happen without the need for a public hearing or zoning application approved by city council.
“The city continues to grow and its effecting people’s affordability, many people can’t afford to purchase a home right now because of the cost of pricing,” Gillingham said.
The home building industry says the changes would incentivize developers to invest in Winnipeg.
“It will help by creating greater certainty for developers and for builders when they’re putting in an application for a project,” said Lanny Mcinnes with the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association.
But one member of the mayor’s inner circle is not in favour of the plan. City councillor Bryan Mayes says this would override new infill guidelines communities in Winnipeg have worked on for years.
“I don’t think we should be allowing people just to build whatever they want as of right without public input,” said Mayes.
One of those communities is Glenwood, where the local residents association has similar concerns.
“When you leave the city planning in the hands of the developers you get things in favour of the developer and not in favour of the residents,” said Rita Morier with the Glenwood Neighbourhood Association.
The mayor says there would still be restrictions around these projects.
“It’s going to be very gradual, I don’t think we should expect to see, you know, four plexes popping up all over the city immediately.”
The motion will now go to the Executive Policy Committee for debate and a vote.
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