Six mayoral candidates took part in the Winnipeg Foundation Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum on the evening of Oct. 16 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The event focused on the survey results from the Youth Vital Signs report.
Brian Bowman, Michel Fillion, Paula Havixbeck, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, David Sanders, and Judy Wasylycia-Leis participated in the nearly two-hour forum, with topics discussed ranging from transit to poverty in Winnipeg. Gord Steeves was not in attendance.
More than 1,800 young people in Winnipeg, aged 14-29, took part in the survey facilitated by The Winnipeg Foundation. The report highlights the top five “Big Issues” and top five “Priorities for Investment.” Included on both lists is the topic of affordable housing.
During the forum, Bowman and Havixbeck received the most questions about affordable housing for students, especially in the downtown area.
Bowman’s platform focuses on making downtown liveable. He pledges to increase residents living in downtown from 15,000 to 20,000 in four years.
According to the report, survey respondents stated one of their top priorities is to find clean, affordable housing in all areas of Winnipeg. As part of his campaign, Bowman plans to implement more rooming houses.
“I would like to see legal rooming houses receive some incentives to have them increase the standard of living for their residents,” said Bowman.
Questions were submitted in advance, as well as at the forum. One audience member questioned the candidates on how they planned to implement affordable housing to the downtown area and Osborne Village.
“One of the things I would like to see is a really strong infill strategy,” said Havixbeck. “Incentives instead of road blocks for developers who want to develop in our inner city and core area neighbourhoods and Osborne Village,” she said.
Following the forum, Ouellette told reporters his own plans for developing affordable housing downtown referring to the implementation of the Land Value Tax.
“The idea for the Land Value Tax for downtown is to actually force more development to go downtown and to force developers to pay a price if they don’t do a thing,” said Ouellette.
While the candidates shared their plans if they are elected into office, one audience member said they would have liked to hear more about how they plan to implement their promises. Patricia Galicia, 24, a recent graduate from Brandon University says she was mostly hearing a lot of promises.
“I’m not hearing specific how-to’s, like what exactly are you going to invest in this, who’s getting involved, how much money are you going to spend on making this a reality,” says Galicia.
The election takes place Oct. 22.
All photos by James Turner
Click here to see the series of CNC articles by Red River College Creative Communications students who covered the Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum.