Devi Sharma - Winnipeg Council Candidate for Old Kildonan

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Staff and members of the Canadian CED Network – Manitoba (CCEDNet-MB) called on 2014 municipal election candidates to share their position on policies that support our collective vision of fairer and stronger local economies, reduced poverty, and more sustainable communities. This is Devi Sharma's response:

1. Are you in favour of this policy practice? If yes, how will you work to implement a procurement strategy that takes into account the added economic, social and environmental value of purchasing from social enterprises and other businesses that generate community benefit through the inclusion of Community Benefit Clauses in contracts and purchases?

In the heart of every community you will find great people. I support the City’s work with Community Centres, local immigration partnerships or organizations in the past to help with job training and placement.

The City has an on-going Sustainable Winnipeg Plan. It is a 25-year integrated community sustainability strategy for Winnipeg that supports the three interdependent pillars of sustainability: Environmental, Economic and Social. Its key directions align with the City of Winnipeg’s vision for a sustainable community: “Living and caring because we plan on staying.”

One of the City of Winnipeg’s priorities is to create a Sustainable Procurement Community Network and Corporate Sustainable Procurement Policy. CCEDNet-MB’s Community Benefit Clause can easily be used as a tool, which in turn, will benefit the City and our communities.

2. Are you in favour of Right to Housing’s proposal that the City of Winnipeg support at least 350 new units of affordable rental housing and 350 new units of social housing over three years? If yes, what City supports will you provide so this target can be achieved?

I support the City of Winnipeg’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy which places a high priority on homelessness and housing.

The Homelessness Partnering Strategy invested over $11.5 million in the City of Winnipeg. The City distributed funding to local organizations for the development of housing and support services for homeless and at-risk individuals in Winnipeg.

Since 2012, the City in its capacity as a Community Entity has committed approximately $13.3 million to projects that address homelessness in Winnipeg. Of the 43 projects  that have been approved for funding, 29 are service delivery projects, 11 are for capital construction (both new construction and renovation of existing facilities) and three  comprise a combination of capital construction and service delivery.

3. Are you in favour of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy for Winnipeg with targets and timelines? If yes, how will you partner with community-based organizations and other key stakeholders to create and implement one?

OurWinnipeg replaced Plan Winnipeg 2020 as the official development plan which will guide land use and development in a sustainable manner in Winnipeg over the next 25 years.  Along with OurWinnipeg, I recognize that affordable and accessible housing is an essential part of the mix for serving our diverse population and for creating complete communities.

I will continue supporting along with the Housing Rehabilitation Investment Reserve to contribute to the rehabilitation of existing dwelling units as well as the construction of new infill units within Winnipeg’s established neighbourhoods. The City has collaborated in creating new housing plans in the North Point Douglas, Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews, William Whyte and Dufferin Neighbourhoods, while a new housing plan for the West Broadway neighbourhood has been initiated.

International newcomers continue to be Winnipeg’s largest source of population growth. As the cultural diversity of our city is increasing, it is important to respond to an increasing diverse community. This Diversity is about all the ways people are different. This can include ethnicity, gender, family status, education, religion, sexual orientation, cultures, disabilities, and much more. By valuing these differences, we emphasize fairness for all and treat each individual with dignity and respect. Accordingly, the City of Winnipeg continues to foster inclusion and equity for all.

As a member of a first generation Canadian family, I am committed to support diversity-related training for public service staff. This training allows the City to continue its efforts to attract and maintain a more diverse and respectful workplace as well as ensure the services provided are sensitive to the needs of a culturally diverse community.

I also recognize the importance of the original people – the First Nations, Métis and Inuit – to the founding of our city. Each contributed culture, values and vision, which will continue to be important to our shared future. Today, the vibrant, diverse people who make up the larger Aboriginal community enrich and enliven the social fabric of Winnipeg: they remain vital to our economic and cultural future.