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 Lonnie Patterson'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 businesses that generate community benefit through the inclusion of Community Benefit Clauses in contracts and purchases?
I agree that there are ways to procure goods and services for the City of Brandon that provide added benefit to the community and that Council should look into how to implement this approach. I think one of the challenges with adding a Community Benefits Clause to purchases and contracts is that the positive impacts of this approach to procurement may not be well understood. If elected South Centre Councillor, my first task would be to become more knowledgeable about how this procurement approach has been successfully implemented in other jurisdictions. I would then spend time sharing what I have learned with Council colleagues and the broader community to generate support for it.
If elected, I would support the City of Brandon’s continued partnership in the Brandon Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP). I think BEEP is a great example of how government can work with the community to improve housing and at the same time provide job skills and experience to those that need it. I believe that the on-the- job training and job creation for people in Brandon with barriers to employment that can result from Community Benefits Clauses is one if its best selling points.
2. Which planning tools and powers would you ensure the City of Brandon acted upon to encourage the creation and preservation of affordable and social rental housing?
I agree that many families in Brandon struggle to find quality, affordable housing. I believe the solution comes from partnering with community organizations, developers and other levels of government to build on the work that is already happening. I think that the four planning tools outlined by Right to Housing (tax increment financing, cost offset grants, planning and land use, and inclusionary zoning) are all worth considering as part of a long-term plan to build quality, affordable housing.
There have been some innovative approaches to building more affordable housing undertaken in Brandon. The construction of STEPP (Solutions to End Poverty Permanently) homes is one of them and it was made possible by partnerships between the City of Brandon, Province of Manitoba, Canadian Mental Health Association Westman Region, Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Association and BEEP. If elected South Centre Councillor, I would be a strong supporter of the City of Brandon remaining a partner in the construction of STEPP homes.
3. Are you in favour of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy for Brandon with targets and timelines? If yes, how will you partner with community-based organizations and other key stakeholders to create and implement one?
Yes, I am in favour of developing a poverty reduction and social inclusion strategy for Brandon. I think a strategy created in partnership with the broader community will support ongoing poverty reduction work and help guide everyone’s focus moving forward. The Provincial All Aboard Strategy to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion is comprehensive and Brandon’s strategy should align with it.
With respect to targets and timelines, I strongly believe they should be developed at the local level with direct input from people in Brandon living in poverty. There is much debate around statistical poverty measures, such as whether to use the Low-Income Cut-Off or the Market Basket Measure or a combination of both. I don’t want a debate about statistics to slow down the development of a plan. Also, I have some slight concerns that the negativity associated with not meeting targets could undermine positive work that is helping people move out of poverty. However, if elected South Centre Councillor, I will actively work to develop a poverty reduction and social inclusion strategy for Brandon that sets out clear goals and plans of action.