News / Winnipeg

City of Winnipeg asked to explore selling land for affordable housing

An advisory committee on housing thinks it's a worthwhile idea and wants city staff to explore the options.

A housing development in northwest Toronto in need of repair

File / TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE Order this photo

A housing development in northwest Toronto in need of repair

Turning some of Winnipeg’s vacant, city-owned land into more affordable housing could be a new subject of study at city hall.

An advisory committee on housing will ask city staff to write a report that details if, and how, some of the city’s underutilized properties could transform into new affordable housing developments, explained chairperson Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry.)

“It could be empty lots that have been demolished, it could be [city-owned] houses,” she said.

 “If we have this land sitting there and it’s not being utilized, it might be a tool to strategically help us get some more affordable housing moving in that area.”

Gerbasi said the idea emerged from brainstorming sessions with committee members, city staff and housing advocates.

But it needs more details, she said—hence the report's request to explore options and issues.

Gerbasi envisions the city will adopt new policies that allow some land be sold for $1 or at reduced rates to organizations and developers looking to build affordable housing units.

“The policies about real estate might not be taking into account affordable housing. They're just taking into account the city has land they should sell and make money off of,” she said.

Several areas of the city come to mind that have both a need for cheaper housing and available land, such as the William Whyte neighbourhood in the North End, said Gerbasi.

“Like every other city across Canada, we’re struggling with it. We don’t have enough affordable housing, in particular subsidized housing and low-income housing,” she said.

The committee will make its formal request for a report on Thursday, which will eventually be presented to the appropriate standing committee, which is likely planning, property and development.

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