Canada/Winnipeg considers new measures to combat vacant properties

Published on 24/05/2023 | La rédaction


Winnipeg had 471 vacant buildings in 2018, compared to 685 today, according to the mayor.

Two reports aimed at curbing the proliferation of vacant and dilapidated properties in Winnipeg are proposing new incentives and penalties to get property owners to act quickly.

A news release sent out Tuesday says the two reports detail the negative effects of vacant properties on safety, aesthetics and city resources, as well as outlining new strategies to better manage them.

There is a problem with getting [residential demolition] permits," said Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham.

The reports recommend simplifying and speeding up the process. As such, some residential demolition permits could be issued without requiring a permit for replacement construction, which is currently mandatory.

It is also recommended that four new enforcement and inspection officers be hired. The cost of the inspections will be borne by the property owners.

"We try to encourage homeowners to take care of their property first. However, when that doesn't work...we need to move to enforcement so that there are financial penalties."

- A quote from Scott Gillingham, Mayor of Winnipeg

A growing problem

Winnipeg has been dealing with a significant number of poorly maintained or abandoned buildings for years. The number of vacant or dilapidated properties is on the rise, according to Scott Gillingham. The number of such buildings has risen from 471 in 2018 to 685 today, he says at a news conference.

Vacant buildings not only affect property values, but also pose safety risks and contribute to a sense of decay in our communities," said Winnipeg's mayor.

He said the main threat posed by vacant properties is the risk of fire. In Winnipeg, we are seeing more and more fires," he said.

On my way here [Tuesday], I was informed that another fire broke out [Monday] night in a vacant building on William Avenue. This is the fourth one at this location," he added.

Ultimately, what we want is to see the number of vacant and abandoned buildings in Winnipeg drastically reduced. We want properties redeveloped. We want housing where there is none now," said the mayor.

In the coming weeks, both reports will be reviewed by the Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development before potentially ending up before City Council.

By the beginning of the summer, by July, I hope to see these changes begin to be implemented," concluded Scott Gillingham.


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