Steven Hennessey - Winnipeg Council Candidate for St. Vital

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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 Steven Hennessey'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?

I believe this policy can work at City Hall

I would like to see the creation of a Social Development Planning or Working Group that will advise on the following:

  • Build a sustainable public contract system
  • Develop regulations for the tender process
  • Community engagement
  • Benefits to the small business community
  • Review current best practices
  • Work to develop a strategic plan that works with City initiatives
  • Employment opportunities that include ongoing training
  • Splitting government contracts to assist with competition for smaller companies
  • Advocate for contracts for local events that include smaller companies

By developing a strategic plan with this working group we can create a permanent Social Enterprise Advisory Group that works toward common goals and develops partnerships.

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 not only believe that we can build 350 affordable units, but also we can build an additional 250 to bring it up to 600 units. We should be building at least 150 units a year for the next four years. Our City is in desperate need of affordable housing. This should be a strategy of both the City and Province undertake so that we can utilize all resources available. Part of the 1% PST increase should go towards these developments, including working with the federal government to continue to fund social housing projects.

We must also look at a future that incorporates both a municipal and commercial land tax on areas that are being underutilized or that are not being used for means to build more housing. The alternative is to provide grants to owners or developers in those areas to create the necessary infill to meet some of the City's housing needs.

We have seen for far too long that developers have guided our City with development of major projects. We need to provide developers with opportunities to include affordable housing with any new projects. These include the following:

  • Any development of major condo projects should include the development of affordable housing units. Inclusionary zoning must be a part of the future development of our City.
  • The building of suburban-style subdivisions create stress on our current infrastructure and underservice areas. We must look at rebuilding our current stock of housing. We have some of the oldest housing stock in Canada and we can use these areas to build affordable housing with mass infill programs.
  • Create land use development projects that rezone current commercial areas to affordable housing areas. There are a number of underutilized commercial and industrial areas that can be used to build affordable housing. We can connect to other resources provided by the Province and Feds to create sustainable communities.
  • Use the TIF Program, in conjunction with procurement practices, for social enterprise to build a sustainable housing program for the downtown, waterfront and surrounding areas.

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?

We need to follow the lead of other major cities that have increased funding for poverty reduction. We are lagging behind in our commitment to reduce poverty and a comprehensive review of our capacity at City Hall to create a poverty reduction strategy needs to be a priority. Consulting with partnering agencies and seeking input from CCED-Net will help the City the move forward.

I would like to host a poverty reduction forum with City Hall and partnering agencies to create a working document that the City can commit to for the next 20 years.  By committing to long term vision we can include the poverty reduction strategy as a part of the budgetary process on an annual basis.