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 Kevin Nichols' 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?
I am in favour of this program.
The City has a policy to request tenders on various activities, this encourages competition and helps the City get the best value for its dollar. There needs to be a process in place to accommodate the people that may not understand the process and lose out on an opportunity to provide a meaningful service or product. City liaisons need to help groups with the processes in place to enable them to provide a bid or job proposal.
The City should look at local purchasing first, this gives groups/co-ops a chance to compete not only locally but to show the world in a global economy the skills and product they may have. Buying locally, whether it is a product or service also helps the City should any issues arise. The seller is right there to answer questions and provide assistance immediately, not long distance or 1-800 –who- knows.
The cost savings are not fully realized in many cases. Down time costs more than most people imagine. Spending a little more to get good local customer service far outweighs the savings of a few dollars here and there. People don’t look at the big picture when making purchases. While a part or service may cost $5 more now, if it saves $20 down the road then it was money well spent. If the short sightedness we have today would have occurred when Duff’s ditch was proposed, Winnipeg would have suffered the same fate as Calgary did when they had a flood.
The more opportunities we provide to local people, the more the money stays here and the more the economy grows.
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 am in favour of the Right to Housing.
I would first like to see the end of apartments turning condo trend. This significantly reduces the amount of affordable apartments for not just low income families but for all people in general.
How would I go about this? Well, instead of providing funding to make shelters larger, why not take that same money and build low income housing. Provide grants to assist with building expenses. I would like to see this done based on a Habitat for Humanity model where the owner helps build the home. This provides them with a sense of ownership. There are numerous infill plots of land around the City that can be used, the City can provide that land at cost(perhaps taxes owed) and also provide a deferred property tax rate. All permit fees could be waived to help with the building process. Derelict buildings could be removed under the law at the owners expense and provided by the City to build new low income housing.
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?
I am in favour of poverty reduction.
The key to this is training. Look at what areas need the most workforce, what jobs are in need of filling, train people and fill those jobs.
Training can be paid for in the form of a long term loan. Once the individual is employed, the City can recoup its training money slowly, very slowly if you will. So slow that the individual will not even notice a difference on their pay. The idea is to make people self-sufficient, not recover the money all at once so that it puts a hardship back on the person. Eventually the money will be paid back and the cycle continues. The City will make up the interest lost by having an employed individual, working and paying taxes instead of drawing on resources that are already stretched thin. It would be a slow process but pay many dividends in the long run and work with the first question, providing a workforce that is not only local but skilled.
Programs would have to be set up with training facilities such as Red River College and other facilities to provide education. Communication and program application could all be done through the City.