UPDATE: This letter was published, under the title “One great Village”, in the Winnipeg Free Press’s July 29th, 2019 Letters to the Editor section.
The following was written as a letter to the editor for a Winnipeg Free Press story. As of the time of this post publication (July 25, 2019), it has not been published by the Winnipeg Free Press. To get it out, I’m sharing it here.
MORE HOUSING IN THE VILLAGE, PLEASE
Re: River Avenue infill gets green light
I often visit the heart of Osborne Village to enjoy its many restaurants, pubs and shops. It is a neighbourhood with an incredible diversity of people, which makes it quite a nice place to visit and talk to people. As a West Broadway resident, close proximity to the Village is a plus. A lot of people know this. No doubt, this contributed to the Canadian Institute of Planners declaring Osborne Village Canada’s greatest neighbourhood in 2012.
This recognition, however, poses a great risk. This means there’s too many buyers chasing too few available housing units in the Village. In a situation where such scarcity is being rationed off, in our current markets, the richer tend to win. This could be catastrophic for the Village, removing it’s mixed-income character and making it a more homogeneous neighbourhood.
Multifamily developments, like the one proposed for 290 River Ave, address this by expanding the housing stock. A broader set of Winnipeggers can afford a multifamily rental unit in the Village than could afford a large single family house on such valuable land. Our city coffers and hence public services benefit from multifamily infill.
Developers make a profit, but in this particular case, it’s one of the less problematic ways a capitalist can make a return: producing the socially useful good of rental housing. It would be great to get more nonprofit multifamily developments in the Village as well, of course.
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