Plan for growth forum a key step for city

By Lanny McInnes

The Urban Development Institute (UDI) of Manitoba’s Plan For Growth forum, held on May 3, brought together about 100 key stakeholders — including city officials, residential developers and industry experts — to discuss how to strengthen the relationship and increase collaboration between the professional development industry and the city administration.

The forum identified and addressed gaps and challenges in the plans for the future growth and development of Winnipeg. It was the first time in nearly 20 years a forum of this type was held in Winnipeg.

Why was this such an important event? With Winnipeg’s population expected to grow to one million by 2040, understanding how we need to collectively plan for growth in a way that enables Winnipeggers to live, work and play in a prosperous and sustainable city is key to meeting our future needs as a community.

The forum began with an informative panel discussion on improving collaboration in planning and development and lessons that can be learned from the experiences other Canadian cities have gone through to manage growth.

The panelists included a mix of planning experts from Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg, with experience in both the private sector and civic administrations. The panel delved into lessons gained from collective planning and development in Winnipeg and in other major cities. The main message from the panel was that better and more open and frequent communication and the sharing of data will improve collaboration between Winnipeg’s civic administration and the development community.

The panel was followed by two presentations on identifying the capacity of residential land available to develop within the City of Winnipeg and how the city plans to fill the data gaps in order to have a full understanding of the land available for residential development, not just in new developments but throughout the entire city, including established neighbourhoods. These two presentations provided key data on Winnipeg’s residential land supply and how the city and developers will work together to address the gaps in the current data.

The commitment of developers and the city’s administration to collaborate on establishing and refining this data is important to all Winnipeg homeowners, present and future. Compiling sound data and information is key to developing a fact driven plan that lays out how Winnipeg will grow to a million people and identifies where development can and will take place. The City of Winnipeg’s review of the OurWinnipeg plan, the city’s municipal development plan, is well underway and a revised version is expected to come forward in 2019. The new OurWinnipeg plan will impact residents in Winnipeg’s older established neighbourhoods as well the newer neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city.

Understanding how and where we as a community will grow allows for investing in our city’s future — and the largest single investment most families make in their lifetime is their home.

Winnipeg needs an inclusive and fact-based plan for growth. Our city needs an approach to growth that drives both economic and residential growth in a sustainable way and is followed and implemented by our civic government to encourage confidence and investment. The residential construction sector has been advocating for this approach and it is encouraging that last week’s Plan for Growth forum brought Winnipeg’s development and planning community together to build stronger relationships and to share important data with each other. Doing this on a much more frequent basis, with open dialogue and information sharing, will help build a better Winnipeg for our future.

Lanny McInnes is the President  and CEO of the

Manitoba Home Builders Association