Winnipeg will pay rich people to move downtown, rid area of pesky poors


The City of Winnipeg recently unveiled a controversial plan to turn what is currently an underpopulated section of downtown into a residential neighbourhood. In a bid to fill empty condos and spur development of new ones in the heritage Exchange District, the city plans to fork over $10,000 cheques to anyone who buys a condo in the area and commits to living there for at least five years.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, the bizarre $2.3-million incentive is part of a larger $7.8-million plan to kickstart development of the Exchange Waterfront Neighbourhood, an area that is rich in heritage appeal, but lacking in actual persons buying into the expensive renovated condos in the area. The money for the Exchange Waterfront Neighbourhood Development Plan is to come from future property taxes.

The rest of the $$$ is earmarked for things like marketing, development of parking and car-share options, safety improvements and (my personal favourite) “$120,000 over seven years to cost-share the creation of more patios.” Winnipeggers love their patios, and I am one of them, let me tell you! But we really only get to make use out of the bloody things three to four months of the year, if we’re lucky.

But $120,000 for patios is a far cry better than $2.3 million in $10,000 cheques to rich people for buying condos in an area where typical residents barely make $10,000 in a year. And this comes after developers were given $20,000 per unit to develop the condos in the first place. $30,000 per unit of taxpayer cash is a pretty sweet penny. Maybe I should get into the business of robbing taxpayers blind property development?

Of course, Peg City Twitter types took to the issue straight away:

Then again, maybe everyone’s overreacting? Those condo buyers will probably take those 10Gs and trickle that scrill down to the multitudes of the poor who currently call our downtown streets home. That’s how the economy works, don’t it?

Fuck sakes, Winnipeg.

[image via AdolfGalland/Flickr]

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  • Brian

    Don’t worry, I’m sure the rich people who move in to these taxpayer subsidized condos will be generous towards and will never complain about panhandlers.

  • Al far as I can see some people will eventually be forced out on the street.. that’s my take on this. That’s discrimination. The problem of poverty and crime in this city / province just escalates.

  • aaron

    I don’t see what the problem is. The city has found a creative way to create critical mass. We’ve been talking about downtown revitalization for years, finally an idea. They’ll recoup from property taxes that currently don’t exist. I’m in the lowest tax bracket, and do not see this as a rich issue. Don’t try and create one.

  • Keith

    What a bunch of whiners. The Exchange is Winnipeg’s jewel and needs to be supported until the day it’s as wealthy and self-sustaining as River Heights. Would you rather all the rich people stay south of the river and the taxpayer eventually gets asked for $$$ to renovate and restore the deteriorating heritage warehouses?? Next step is enough of a police presence that “rich people” feel safe living there and not threatened by aggressive panhandlers.

  • Michael Handelman

    Governments discriminate against those who reside in higher density dwelling units due to zoning, development charges, property taxes (based on the value of land and building rather than land alone) and land transfer taxes making it more profitable for builders to build outward rather than upward, resulting in low-density land uses paying less in property taxes than the cost to provide services and high-density land uses paying more in property taxes than the cost to provide services.

  • Colin Craig

    Good post, terrible policy.

  • Kate

    This article’s a little sensationalized, no? Just for the record, I’m not rich, but I can get a mortgage for a condo.In regards to Point Douglas, which is where I live, I can assure you that there are no panhandlers constantly roaming about except for in front of the bars on main. Sure Point Douglas has shady spots, but it also has a forward thinking, proactive aboriginal community alongside tradespeople, students and artists. There’s also still a lot of affordable housing in North Point D for lower-income families. Those condos on Waterfront need to be filled and people who are ignorant about PD need an incentive. They’re an ugly waste of space if they remain lifeless. The person who mentioned the property taxes paying the city back was on to something. They’ll fork out the incentive and then get it back later.

  • Alex

    I wouldn’t consider condo-buyers in downtown “rich”, but what I haven’t heard anyone say is that I suspect the real estate developers will be pocketing this money - when affordability rises (eg lower interest rates, tax incentives, or rebates like this) developers tend to raise their prices… since when you apply for a mortgage all this is taken into account and raises the maximum mortgage you are allowed to take.

  • Bob

    “Most residents barely make 10 000$ a year”. I’d love to see a source on that!

    • Bryce6pk13

      Minimum wage is what $100

  • Lineup

    I don’t understand what’s wrong with trying to revitalize an area that’s desperately needed it for years. These condos aren’t even remotely expensive, so I’m not sure where exactly you get the idea that it’s all about rich people. This article reeks of bitterness.

  • kalrisk

    You can’t force people to move into downtown. As nice as it may be, there are larger concerns. Violence is still incredibly high downtown and that is primarily due to a the winnipeg police force concentrating their efforts on petty “crimes” like having a broken head light or not signalling. Apparently gun and drug control is not a list of their priorities so why bother moving downtown then? I already moved away from that disgusting city.