City of Winnipeg unveils COVID-19 economic recovery plan

Winnipeg City Hall. CP Images/Francis Vachon

The City of Winnipeg has its eye on economic recovery and it has a massive two-year strategy in place to make that happen.

The COVID-19 Economic Response and Recovery Plan has been unveiled and will be reviewed at a number of city committee meetings next week.

“There’s been some significant impacts downtown and throughout the City of Winnipeg,” Councillor John Orlikow said.

“And if we don’t help address the impacts that happened, such as lost business, slowing of development downtown, our parks, it’s going to take us longer to recover.

And I think we’re ready to recover. We’re tired but we want to move forward, so this plan is to show us that the City of Winnipeg is committed to speeding up as best we can, the recovery from COVID.”

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The plan targets businesses, community centres, downtown, and infrastructure.

The downtown strategy includes a request for $90 million, with $30 million coming from each level of government.

The city’s portion would come from Canada Community-Building Funds (previously known as gas tax funding) while up to $20 million in Tax Increment Financing would support construction of affordable housing in the downtown with a new program.

More than half of the proposed $90 million, would go to revitalizing downtown places, including the renewal of Broadway, upgrades to Central Park and more.

“This report clearly indicated downtown is a priority,” President & CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber and Commerce Loren Remillard said.

“There’s a recognition that our downtown is being severely impacted and this is putting in significant dollars. That’s very encouraging.”

The city would also continue to support community centres through operating and debt grants.

On the business side, the city says it would continue to increase the Small Business Tax Credit Threshold, and continue the temporary patio program and waiver of fees until the end of 2022.

And another $10 million from the Canada Community-Building Funds would be used to improve parks to accommodate physical distancing measures.

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Executive Director of Exchange District BIZ David Pensato is also encouraged by the report.

“This is a very strong signal that the city is willing to work with us,” Pensato said. “We’re looking forward to digging into the details with the city and other counterparts to make sure the investments being made are strategic and consequential.”

The report will be presented at the city’s five community committee meetings next week and then will be presented for consideration at the November 17 EPC meeting.

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