On July 15th, 2014 the Downtown Community Residents’ Association reached out to all mayoral candidates. We offered them the opportunity to respond to some important questions from downtown residents. (See the full questionnaire here.) We’ll be posting the full responses from each candidate individually in order to give our community – and the entire City of Winnipeg – the opportunity to see each candidate’s vision for the downtown. The responses will be posted in the order the were received from each candidate.
Below are the responses from Michel Fillion.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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. 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.
The Downtown Community Residents’ Association would like to thank Michel Fillion and his campaign for taking the time to respond to the questions from our residents. For responses from other mayoral candidates visit the DRCA election 2014 section.