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 Evan Comstock'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?
Yes, 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 is possible if we can adopt procurement processes from other governments that show positive impact. Governments as varied as the European Union to the City of Halifax have written policies. The EU ensures: the value is relevant to the initial goal, capable of being evaluated, complicity with current regulations, added achievement to the value for money and no disadvantage to local firms.
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?
Yes, I believe it is possible to create 350 affordable units over three years but this would take most of the actions you suggest and I am not sure if the City has planned well for these measures. I would like to take more time to assess how these measures have been planned for in other cities and how successful they were. My initial thoughts for optimal affordable housing is co-op housing. Co-op housing reduces expenses per family and creates ownership.
If the City facilitates a housing program I believe it will create opportunities for ownership and promote family dwellings.
I would like to see more families share a home, and where possible reduce the amount of dwellings per family-increasing space, reducing costs.
Currently the City offers $40,000 per unit in grants to developers building multiple units downtown. Let’s extend this grant to those who want to build co-op housing units.
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?
Yes, although I believe social programs should be federally and provincially funded, the City of Winnipeg can play host within by providing free space within community centres. I have worked with many underprivileged, immigrant and First Nations people; families living with emotional/physical disorders; and those who face cultural and educational barriers. If we can work together and show a sense of care, we can accomplish great leaps in creating positive identities, hopeful minds and meaningful lives.
I have designed employability programs for youth and worked with adult students to enter the workforce. I would like to see opportunities for all people to participate and feel motivated to be who they are each day. Beginning with an adequate place to live and access to educative tools- entry level positions are but a first step.