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Homelessness crisis, arts council funding among promises from Winnipeg mayoral candidates

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg mayoral race: September 27'
Winnipeg mayoral race: September 27
Here's what some of Winnipeg's mayoral candidates were pledging today – Sep 27, 2022

Over the course of the 2022 Winnipeg election campaign, Global News is sharing the various statements and pledges we receive from candidates for mayor.

Kevin Klein said if he is elected as mayor he will immediately be calling on other levels of government, including Indigenous governments, to work together with the city to address the homelessness crisis in Winnipeg.

“It is great that people are talking about the issue, but we need a leader who will get things done,” Klein said Tuesday.

Klein plans to purchase accommodation trailers that can be used to house people before winter hits.

Other plans he has to address the issue include:

  • Having the City provide land for the trailers
  • Asking the federal government, through current programs, to provide the funding for the tiny homes. Klein claimed the CHMC co-investment fund has money for projects that address the crisis today.
  • Asking the provincial government to provide staffing of the social services necessary to make this successful. Klein suggested a social worker could help Indigenous people access funding that is available today through various programs.
  • Expanding the Alternative Response to Citizens in Crisis (ARCC) pilot program, partnership with the Winnipeg Police Service and Shared Health.

“I have done this already and proved it can work,” he said. “I took Homes for Heroes to the province to gain their support and was successful, Homes for Heroes will help vets in our city soon.”

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Mayoral candidates Scott Gillingham and Shaun Loney did not speak on homelessness on Tuesday but have previously made similar promises throughout their campaigns

Read more: Province spending $5.4 million to help Manitobans experiencing homelessness

Gillngham’s proposal is to copy modular ‘rapid housing’ programs in Toronto, Vancouver and Surrey.

Under his proposed copy of Toronto’s approach:

  • The City would waive permit costs, property tax and land costs while pre-approving zoning for modular construction on six designated city-owned or acquired sites;
  • The City would access its share of federal Rapid Housing funds, or other CMHC funds if necessary, financing the capital cost of modular housing construction;
  • Provincial programs would be engaged for “wrap-around” social services to each site; and
  • Ownership and operation of each completed site would be transferred to non- profits and indigenous housing organizations through an RFP process.

In other cities, this approach typically means the completion of new supportive housing for the homeless within eight to 12 months of site approval. But Gillingham noted that “site approvals are the tough part,” so he is committing to lead council to find and pre-approve six sites by the end of 2023.

Candidate Loney said he will move quickly to implement an innovative plan to address homelessness should he be elected.

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The plan will result in people who are living in bus shelters and along riverbanks being housed within a year, with people living downtown to be housed in a second phase.

“There are a number of paths that are both more humane and more cost effective such as supportive housing, addictions treatment and mental health services,” Loney said.

Read more: North Point Douglas residents voice concern over growing encampments

Research shows that someone living on the street can trigger 100 or more interactions with emergency services in a year, added Loney.

“Our plan gives emergency services a new public safety tool that modernizes their relationship with nonprofits. This is how we get the kind, compassionate city we all want while protecting the public purse.”

Shifting gears, mayoral hopeful Jenny Motkaluk said Tuesday she promises to protect and celebrate the arts in Winnipeg.

Motkaluk said she will restore full funding to support the Winnipeg Arts Council (WAC), and guarantee predictable funding with annual increases moving forward.

“When I am mayor, funding for the Arts Council will not only be restored, it will go up. It’s
multi-year, it’s guaranteed, it’s going to go up two per cent a year for the next four years,” she said.

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“My plan for Winnipeg means, the arts community will have stable funding and not have to go cap-in-hand to beg for the support that should be a given”

Winnipeggers go to the polls Oct. 26.

Click to play video: 'Who’s on your ballot? Deadline for Winnipeg mayor, council candidate nominations passes'
Who’s on your ballot? Deadline for Winnipeg mayor, council candidate nominations passes

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