September 12, 2018 7:32 pm

City closer to subsidizing luxury towers at True North Square

True North Square looks to receive increased funding from the city after Executive Policy Committee voted in favour of upping its share of costs Wednesday.

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The City of Winnipeg is one step away from approving dramatically increased funding to True North Square and its residential and hotel towers.

At Executive Policy Committee Wednesday, Mayor Brian Bowman and committee members voted unanimously in favour of a number of changes to the funding agreement.

The new plan comes as the province announced revisions to its funding agreement, and asked the city to do the same on Monday.

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READ MORE: Millions of taxpayer dollars could be used for highrise construction at True North Square

The main difference is the tax breaks the residential towers and hotel will receive. Initially, the province and the city had not planned to subsidize their construction. On Monday, the province stated the residential side of the projects would be receiving tax incremental financing.

The city confirmed Wednesday it plans to do the same, pending approval by full council. This would provide $8 million in tax breaks to the residential towers and hotel.

“This is about a partnership with the province. The province has stepped up in a significant way to support a transformative project in downtown Winnipeg,” Mayor Bowman said.

“I can’t recall another project that’s private sector-led, that’s half a billion dollars in mixed use in the heart of our city. It is transformative, it will give a lift to the surrounding area and other property owners as well as finally deliver a hotel connected to the Convention Centre that will help taxpayers.”

The residential units will not be subject to one of the city’s requirements for grants — the 10 per cent affordability clause in Winnipeg’s Live Downtown – Rental Development Grant Program.

READ MORE: 5 new rental developments making their way to Winnipeg

When asked if the city would consider waiving that clause for other future developments that asked for funding, Mayor Bowman declined to answer.

“I’m not going to answer a hypothetical question,” he said.

The city also plans to join the province in splitting the costs of certain aspects of the public realm sector of the project 50-50, instead of keeping its original share of the funding at one third as originally approved in the March 2017 council meeting.

Winnipeg’s overall contribution to all aspects of the project, including support for the hotel and residential towers is listed as $28,367,000, up from the $11,950,000 agreed upon in 2017.

The matter will need to pass at council on Sept. 20 before it is made official.

WATCH: First tenants move in to True North Square

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