DOWNTOWN NEIGHBOURHOOD ASSOCIATION

– Per Question Responses

In debates and public Q and A, you hardly have it where one candidate responds to 8 questions while the others sit and wait for their turns, so we present the answers to our questionnaire on a question by question format.
Below you’ll find the un-edited responses from each candidate, colour coded, in no particular order.

  1. There are many proposed new developments for downtown properties, including business, residential, and mixed use. As mayor, what kinds of developments would your policies encourage, and what incentives would you provide?

    • (Michel Fillion) I have always encouraged city council, through letters that I have sent in the past, to concentrate on residential development.  Notice that in most downtowns , after the offices close, are dead.  You can hear a pin drop in some of them.  To make a downtown vibrant, you need residential properties and all the amenities that go with it.  A reduction on property taxes does encourage people to settle in this area, but most important is the existence of amenities.

    • (Judy Wasylycia-Leis) I am committed to making Winnipeg a City That Works, which includes a healthy downtown. A vibrant core area includes a mix of affordable housing, a vibrant commercial sector, services people need and abundant recreation opportunities. I also believe people need arts and entertainment options all within easy access to their homes. If I am elected mayor, I am committed to ensuring that we encourage development that ensures long-term, sustainable growth of urban neighbourhoods. I will be laying our specifics on my plan during the campaign.

    • (Mike Vogiatzakis) I would encourage all types of development downtown. My focus would be that the development would bring large amounts of people to the downtown area. I would be open to tax free zones, which would allow a new business to get off the ground. My goal is to create a vibrant downtown, thriving with people and businesses. I think the more diversity we allow to the downtown area the more successful we will be at creating a busy downtown

    • (Gord Steeves) Downtown renewal is one of my five top priorities in this campaign. I support mixed-use developments in our neighborhoods, including downtown Winnipeg. These developments bring a concentration of businesses and residents while also providing connections to existing infrastructure.   A thriving downtown area is a combination of successful retail stores, various attractions, destination restaurants, live-work accommodations, and of course an inviting atmosphere.  This type of downtown not only carries a city’s economy, but also significantly contributes to a city’s identity.

    • (Brian Bowman) Downtown really is vital to the city and we will be releasing policies throughout the campaign that focus on downtown development and attracting more businesses and residential properties to the area. One thing we need to do is focus on investments in public amenities to create demand for business, residential, and mixed used properties to foster an atmosphere that is attractive to all Winnipeggers.

  2. Parking is a significant concern of the downtown residential population, with recent changes in policy removing the residential parking pass that other densely populated neighbourhoods still receive. What actions would you take to address the needs of street parking for residents?

    • (Mike Vogiatzakis) I would have to say residents are tax-paying citizens and have a right to park on their street, without restriction. We need to get more people to start taking transit downtown, as downtown does have a lack of parking. If we are going to continue to develop on the downtown area we could do one of many things to attract people. For example park and ride, creating a large parkade, and to give people an incentive to get on the bus. A perfect example of parking would be to consider a Winnipeg Jets game being downtown, they attract approximately 16,000 people and seem to have no parking issues, do to a large majority of people using the transit system to get downtown. Another issue we will have in downtown in the near future is the Winnipeg police. With their headquarters moving downtown and hundreds of employees coming as well where are they supposed to park.

    • (Brian Bowman) There should be a multi-pronged approach to deal with downtown parking, which includes public transit, integrated with rest of city, so downtown residents don’t absolutely need to own a car. We should look at other solutions such as promoting car share. For future developments we should encourage stand alone parkades to have ground level retail.

    • (Michel Fillion) Downtown should not be regarded as different than other residential communities. In fact, it is more challenging.  Parking passes will be reinstated and it will be business as usual.

    • (Gord Steeves) Parking is important for downtown residents, businesses and visitors. I support the plans to increase availability of parking in downtown. If I am elected mayor, I propose implementing a plan whereby any new residential development proposal in the downtown comes forward with a sustainable  parking plan available to residents and local businesses.

    • (Judy Wasylycia-Leis) Downtown parking is an issue that affects large cities across North America. I support efforts to reduce the number of surface parking lots in the downtown while improving transit and moving forward on rapid transit. However, I also recognize that downtown residents need parking options and I will work with residents of the area to develop solutions that balance the need for accessible parking with our desire to have livable, walkable downtown neighbourhoods.

  3. Basic amenities have become a hot issue over the past year and a half since the closing of Zellers in the basement of The Bay downtown. Immediate and essential problems with accessibility, affordability, and healthy variety of groceries and other basic living needs affect not just downtown, but other central neighbourhoods in Winnipeg. What actions would you take as mayor to implement a sustainable solution for these immediate needs?

    • (Brian Bowman) We need to draw more people downtown, creating demand in the market and making it more attractive to private sector retail. I would cooperate with agencies already working on these issues such the Downtown Biz, Yes! Winnipeg, Centre Venture and the real estate community. I would also encourage the development of downtown coops.

    • (Gord Steeves) I am aware of the needs for a downtown grocery stores.  I commend downtown residents for letting politicians know that this is a very real concern in the downtown area.  If elected, I’ll ensure there are more options including accessibility to buy groceries in the downtown area.  I’ll be making my announcement on downtown priorities in the near future.

    • (Judy Wasylycia-Leis) I too am troubled by the lack of a downtown grocery option in downtown Winnipeg. I am encouraged by efforts of the Downtown Biz to bring innovative solutions to the areas such as farmers markets at the Manitoba Hydro and Workers Compensation Board buildings. I think that we also look at different ways of doing things like supporting social enterprise that addresses pressing community needs while providing employment to people who need it. Most Winnipeggers are very familiar with BUILD, which is improving energy efficiency in homes in urban neighbourhoods and providing training and skills for people who are otherwise difficult to employ to give them an opportunity for better lives. I also recognize there is a need to work with private sector partners to find a long-term option for residents to purchase groceries in their own neighbourhoods. The current situation is not acceptable. When I was an MP I fought hard with community activists to ensure banking and mail services were retained and restored in the North End of Winnipeg. I can bring that experience to City Hall and will be on your side fighting for you.

    • (Mike Vogiatzakis) We need to create a walking area in the city of Winnipeg that has no car traffic. Where we can set up shops that will encourage people to shop. They will be affordable and cost efficient catering to all types of people. An area such as this would come alive and thrive becoming a hotspot in the city of Winnipeg. A perfect example would be the Exchange district. I would love to see shops of all different natures attracting residents from all areas of Winnipeg. Almost all major cities have an area like this except Winnipeg. As far as The Bay building we need to create a high amount of traffic downtown for anything to become successful with the lack of walking traffic in our downtown area it is hard for businesses to thrive and come alive and be able to pay the taxes, rent and employees.  The old Zellers spot would be a great place for a farmers market. Where we would have local food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and many shops of all ethnicities. Creating a Folklorama experience, which would get people to come downtown and experience all these different shops and cultures.  Are biggest problem downtown presently is safety people feel unsafe walking into a downtown area, we need to bring safety back to our downtown my plan for that is safe zones.

    • (Michel  Fillion) Being a resident of downtown, and have been for 8 years now, I certainly understand the needs we are striving for.  About 5 years ago, I wrote a letter to Jenny G. and Sam K regarding the grocery store issue.  The Avenue building was for sale.  I tried to explain to them that in Vancouver, there is a I.G.A. right on Burrard St..  Even though it has no parking, and even though a person has to go up an escalator to the second level of the store, the store itself is extremely busy.  This is not because they have more downtown population than us, if fact, I believe we have more than them. The Avenue building would have been a perfect location for this.  It was large, several stories, and in front of a huge bus stop, perfect for those who commute by bus to work, the elderly, the handicap, and of course, the local residents. Unfortunately, the building got bought by a developer and is now an apartment building.  We can possibly look at another building to do the same idea. Another building that I suggested to Jenny, Sam, and Centre Venture, is THE BAY.  They have now closed several of their floors due to low retail sales.  Would they be interested in leasing out floors, maybe one to Sobey’s or  Co-op, one to Wal-Mart, another one to Canadian Tire, and maybe split a floor for smaller retailers.  I think it is certainly a possibility since there is ample parking.

  4. The downtown core does not have a community centre or other public facility to serve as a meeting place for organizations like ours, except for the Dalnavert House which may not be able to provide this service anymore. As mayor, what policies would you implement regarding accessible public meeting spaces for residents and community organizations?

    • (Michel Fillion) The perfect building ( chuckle ) would have been my building, The White House, but it would have certainly be a conflict of interest issue.  By the way, it just leased the main floor starting in January.  There are plenty of buildings in the exchange waiting for development.  Being a section of the city in which I would certainly concentrate on for residential, one building designated in this area as a community public facility would make sense

    • (Gord Steeves) It’s unacceptable that downtown taxpayers don’t have proper access to public facilities that exist in other parts of the city. I’m open to exploring a variety of ideas as to how City Hall will provide better access to public facilities in downtown Winnipeg for residents and community organizations.

    • (Judy Wasylycia-Leis) I will work with downtown residents to explore all options to find space that would support community centre services. This includes making the best possible use of existing space as we consider future options for developing a community centre.

    • (Brian Bowman) It is a a real shame that the downtown does not have a community centre or other public space to serve as a meeting place. I would begin by assessing and identifying current public assets and finding provide sector partners to create community spaces. I would also work with City Hall administration to open up city properties including city hall for community gatherings.

    • (Mike Vogiatzakis) It would be ideal to build a large community centre in the downtown area that is accessible to all communities. This would be the start of many other businesses that would surround themselves around the community centre setting. I truly believe we need an area such as this to keep our youth busy with sports and other activities. Keeping youths active will help keep kids off the streets. It is also a great place to have community meetings, events, bringing more and more people downtown. The downtown area is a large area, my plan if I was elected would be to create a community club in the downtown area, that can be used for all types of functions. It would be accessible and productive. My plan is to build stronger communities and safer communities.

  5. Through Winnipeg Transit, the Active Transportation Network, infrastructure maintenance, and traffic laws and their enforcement, as mayor how would you plan to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians to make these more viable transportation options for citizens? In particular, what actions would you take to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe on downtown streets where traffic can be dense from rush hour or major SHED events?

    • (Brian Bowman) There needs to be better planning and input from stakeholders to provide practical solutions to ensure the safety of cyclists. One thing we definitely need is better signage. The Open Data and Open Government plans I have released would be helpful in this area. We should be giving more information to cyclists and the cycling community and engaging those who have the most knowledge of cycling downtown and allowing crowd sourcing of solutions.

    • (Mike Vogiatzakis) We need to create bike and pedestrian friendly paths that are clearly marked and safe. I am frustrated with the current cyclist plan they have in place. There has already been a death on Pembina highway with a cyclist on his way to a bomber game and more recently a cyclist hitting a pothole and dying. We need to put people first and get back to the basics. I believe it all starts with safety. Long term plan, long term vision. Proper planning along with systems and procedures in place that work. We have a plan to have the police cadets becoming more active in patrolling are city. I would like to see cadets on transit busses keeping the peace, and allowing the riders to feel safer. A quick example year one of a cadet would have to pass the police requirements to become a police officer in training. Year two taking over the parking authority of the city of Winnipeg. Year three the traffic division. Year four becoming more active in policing for example transit bus patrolling and policing. Also attending with police officers to different types of scenes or calls gaining different types of skills and street smarts of a police officer. Year five a city of Winnipeg police officer.

    • (Michel Fillion) Even though we have by-laws about road and sidewalk use, I’m sorry to say, that they are not enforced.  I would make it a point that our police force and cadets enforce these.  What we need is a bicycle plan to have them regarded the same as motor vehicles.  As far as pedestrians, I would put back the crossing buttons at the corner light standards.  They were taken out for absolutely the wrong reason.  This was a total disrespect towards downtown pedestrians.

    • (Judy Wasylycia-Leis) I am committed to implementing a comprehensive integrated master transportation plan that includes a modern transit system, active transportation and investments in our crumbling streets. If our city is to grow and thrive, all transportation options need to be supported. Safety of cyclists and pedestrians would be one of the key issues addressed in the plan.

    • (Gord Steeves) I supported investments in Active Transportation Network in Winnipeg when I was on Council. I will continue to support infrastructure investments to ensure safety of cyclists and pedestrians. My plan would be to bring existing City of Winnipeg committees (Active Transportation and Special Events committees) and departments of Public Works and Winnipeg Police Service together for better coordination and planning of infrastructure during rush hour and major events.

  6. Our downtown community has roughly 7,000 residents in the Broadway-Assiniboine and South Portage tracts. As mayor, what would be your goals and policies for future growth, if any, of the residential population downtown? Would there be any incentives for further housing, and if so, would it be aimed towards rented or owned units?

    • (Judy Wasylycia-Leis) I believe there is considerable room to grow in this region of the city. I believe we need to encourage a mix of residential options. These include affordable rental housing in addition to condo development. I also believe downtown residents deserve a say in the future in your community and that everyone needs to be able to participate in community planning, not just a few select developers. Your voices have not been heard in the past in various plans to develop our downtown. I am committed to ensuring my door is open to you and your ideas.

    • (Michel Fillion) I would certainly push in the development of rental units in the exchange district, from both ends of the scale. In order for this to happen, there has to be some changes in Property and Development, to accommodate property owners and developers in satisfying the Canada Building Codes. I should know the difficulty for I went through it when my partner and I refurbished the WHITE HOUSE.

    • (Gord Steeves) As I mentioned earlier, Downtown Winnipeg is a priority for me. I support various types of housing in the downtown, including rental housing. We should continue to increase the downtown population which in turn, will create strong communities attractive to potential businesses.   I feel it important to listen to the needs and concerns of the current downtown residents as we move forward with any downtown residential growth.

    • (Brian Bowman) We need to see greater density downtown. If predictions by the Conference Board of Canada are correct that we will have one million people by 2035. I’d like to see a higher proportion of those people living downtown. There should be a diversity of options for residents whether rented or owned units. We are working on further policies that will address these issues and will be releasing them throughout the campaign.

    • (Mike Vogiatzakis) First of all I was brought up in the downtown area attending John M King elementary, General Wolfe Junior high and finally Tec Voc. As a youth I spent much of my time downtown by the University of Winnipeg. I think creating more living space downtown will help build a stronger community. We need to be creative, and make it affordable for people to rent and purchase. If I become mayor I will be thinking outside the box coming up with creative ideas to build communities. My plan would be to create more employment, more shops, more living space connecting communities together. I am presently extremely disappointed with our downtown we need to create incentive for businesses to want to relocate to these areas. I would like to see more community centres, more multicultural businesses and neighbourhoods, rapid transit that works and is cost and time efficient. I will bring priority signal transit to Winnipeg; we can do 211 intersections for $8 million dollars. For example this bussing system creates rapid transit through all the major intersections of Winnipeg. The transponder sends a signal to the light changing the light to green allowing a bus not to stop at a red light. It takes a ride that would normally be 30 minutes and brings it down to 20 minutes. This would encourage more people to take transit and leave their vehicles at home.

  7. Studies and best case practises from around the world have shown that the downtowns that are visited and lauded are the ones that are vibrant, interesting and, most importantly, walkable. How would you improve the walkability of our downtown neighbourhood and draw Winnipeggers and visitors to our city and our core?

    • (Gord Steeves) Walkability is an essential part of any vibrant downtown as it helps create vitality within the community.  Key elements to a successful walkable environment would include street improvements, streetscape design and public interest in the surroundings.  To ensure the connectivity of our downtown area, we will continue investments in the existing infrastructure as one part in our plan for revitalizing the city.

    • (Brian Bowman) The biggest step towards making downtown more walkable is to open up Portage and Main to pedestrians. We should explore creating weekend or permanent pedestrian malls downtown. I have proposed an Office of Public Engagement which would reach out to residents, business owners and community groups like yours to find the best streets to make this happen.

    • (Judy Wasylycia-Leis) I think there are a lot of exciting things happening downtown. The MTS Centre and the return of the Jets have resulted in more entertainment and housing options in the downtown. I think the development of Waterfront Drive and other condo developments are creating positive momentum. We also have a brilliant arts community, many of whom make their art and perform downtown. This is a foundation of strength we need to build on. I do think we need to think of the downtown as a place where people live, work and play. Urban density begins with ensuring we have a strong, sustainable residential population. We a need to ensure there are housing options for people of all income levels, especially young families. We need to ensure there are parks and greenspace where children and play and where adults can relax and socialize. We need to restore our great urban forest. We need to develop public art that is a cornerstone of urban neighbourhoods throughout the world. Some of this exists in Winnipeg. But there needs to be more, recognizing that municipal government should be a partner but also needs community support given the infrastructure and fiscal challenges the city faces. We have some outstanding young chefs and restaurateurs in this community who are serving world-class food in restaurants and food carts. They are already bringing people downtown and we need to encourage this entrepreneurship and creativity. I also think we should also recognize the importance in the design of our buildings and take advantage of the great talent we have in this community. Finally, we can’t lose site of the basics that include pedestrian-friendly streets, efficient traffic flow, active transportation, and streets where people feel safe.

    • (Mike Vogiatzakis) We need to make downtown people friendly. We also need to give people a reason to come downtown, by creating a safer downtown we would attract people who no longer wish to visit downtown because of safety concerns. We need to encourage businesses that attract people in our downtown area. Our streets need to be clean, free of gang activity and drugs. We need to create a friendly and safe environment with more shops, cafes and more people in the streets. We need to bring unique businesses and events to the downtown area and core. We need to build a new image and encourage Winnipeggers to come back downtown and to the core areas.

    • (Michel Fillion) I think that out downtown is very walkable at the present time. I do not know if you are hinting about the panhandling which is another issue by itself.  How do draw population towards downtown is to have public events at different locations in the area.  Increasing tourism, which is fairly weak at the present time, is the key, which is, by the way, part of my platform.

  8. There is a disconnect between city leadership, decision makers, and residents of communities in regard to proper consultation, conversation, and overall trust in how our communities and our city are managed. How would you rebuild this trust? How would you improve communication between these parties? What changes are needed to address these problems?

    • (Mike Vogiatzakis) I wish to be a people’s mayor. The more contact I have with your community and others the better I can build the city. We need to work together as communities, to build a better Winnipeg. We need to have a long-term plan and a long-term vision. We must bring confidence back to city hall. I will respect you the taxpayer and the residents of the city. This cant be my plan alone it needs to be our plan. I will listen, understand and respect others opinions and advice, we need to have community leaders join us at city hall when making major decisions about our city, communities and our neighbourhoods. My plan is to make Winnipeg a safer city, a city that you will feel comfortable raising your children in. A city that your children will want to stay and raise their children in. We have a great foundation we just need to build on it. Together we can build a stronger more vibrant Winnipeg that you will be proud of.

    • (Gord Steeves) I have released my accountability in government platform which offers real solutions on how I will ensure Winnipeggers regain trust in City Hall. For example, urgent implementation of the recommendations of the recent real estate audits, establishment of a transparent budget process and administrative performance measurements are just some of the ideas I am proposing as we move forward to an accountable City Hall.

    • (Brian Bowman) I agree that we’re on the wrong track and there is a lot of work ahead in fixing the relationship between the decisions makers at city hall and residents of the city. That’s why we have have proposed an Office of Public Engagement. This new office will serve as the central system supporting all city projects.  It will ensure that there is consistency and transparency in sharing information with citizens on all projects, so that no project can slip through the cracks or fall off the radar until it is too late.

    • (Michel Fillion) When I am mayor, the last signature will be mine.  This will insure the citizens that everything will be done honestly, and correctly. If I have to get rid of a few civic leaders to do this, I will.  I have God on my side.  With the great one, myself  and the community to back me up, we will rebuild the trust and put this city to the shape it ought to be.

    • (Judy Wasylycia-Leis) Winnipeg is a warm, generous, talented and diverse community that pulls together in times of crises and comes together in times of celebration. There are great things happening every day because of the vision and hard work of our family, friends and neighbors. We have succeeded in spite of City Hall, not because of it. I have a plan to open City Hall and make sure you all have a voice in the decisions that are key to our future. I will be guided by you, not influenced by well connected insiders. My door will be open to you. I will ensure that there is an independent watchdog at City Hall and that I support the development of a professional, experience and neutral administration. I am committed to being a mayor that works for you. I can’t promise to be perfect. I will commit to be honest, open, accountable and on your side.

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WINNIPEG’S DNA:

is composed of residents who live in the areas between the Assiniboine River, Memorial Boulevard, Portage Avenue, and the Forks (South Portage, Legislature, and Broadway / Assiniboine communities).

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