Brandon Municipal Election 2018

Brandon Area REALTORS® represent 265 REALTORS® in Brandon and surrounding areas, from that group is a Political Action Committee. We participate in advocating to all three levels of government.

Brandon Area REALTORS® has a vested interest in the following topics; we asked the candidates for City Council to take a moment to provide us with a few short answers to these questions.

1. Affordable housing

A) What, in your opinion is affordable housing?

B) What should the City of Brandon’s role and strategy be when it comes to affordable housing?

Responses:


 

Affordable housing is accommodation (owned or rented) that a person or family can afford. The amount of rent or mortgage that is affordable would depend on family income. For myself, while I was in University I rented a basement apartment for $300/month. This was affordable to me. I purchased my first house in Winnipeg for $80,000 and I could afford the mortgage payments. This was affordable to me. I then purchased a home in Brandon for just over $200,000 and I could afford the mortgage payments. That in my opinion is affordable housing.

I think the city of Brandon should play a minimum role when it comes to housing. This is primarily a private sector issue when it comes to building apartments/townhouses/side-by-sides/houses at a reasonable rate. Prices are also dependant on the housing market and resale values.
The Province of Manitoba should be primarily responsible to providing (subsidized housing) as they do with Manitoba housing. The city could play a part in rental assistance or for low income families to purchase their first home. The city could also provide more lots for organizations such as habitat for humanity for example.

– James Montgomery - Ward 3


Affordable is a moving target. It’s virtually impossible to define. But to try to narrow it down a bit maybe it’s a home a couple, each making minimum wage can buy. So combined income of $47,000 would need to service a mortgage, taxes and of course other debt. A pretty tough task.

We can play a role in the overall strategy by being flexible in design standards, variance to some regulations. Reducing barriers due to regulatory process would be helpful but much of the current new home pricing is due to ever increasing building codes and this is more of a provincial issue.

– Glen Parker-Ward 9


Housing that is adequate and affordable for an individual based on their circumstances.

Take the lead in developing partnerships with senior levels of government and community partners, such as non-profit organizations, local businesses, and the development industry.

— Bruce Luebke - Ward 6


I would say that "affordable housing" is housing available to anyone that is within their means.

So regarding the city's role, I don't believe the city can dictate the market. Since MB Housing fits into affordable housing that mandate is fulfilled. What I can say next is that for every new home built and buyer moves in there is a previous residence now vacant. (Of course it may have sold or been rented) To which gives way for lower end of market housing to come available to new buyers or renters. Essentially everyone is given an opportunity to move up the housing chain when new homes are occupied. I believe the city should make it easier for developers and builders to get that job done timely and efficiently.

– Brock McEwing - Ward 9


Affordable housing is housing that is geared to a persons income. I believe that a reasonable percentage would be 35% of their income.

The City of Brandon’s strategy should be to give developers tax breaks and where possible help them to acquire land.

– Ron Brown - Ward 8


I believe affordable housing should be an apartment that citizens are capable of affording without taking away your ability to save for retirement or down payment for a house one day.

The city needs to look at policies that can help with people self-improvement, job opportunities, and look at halting rent increases for a few years so people can actually catch up on there expenses.

– Gordon McRea - Ward 5


I feel affordable housing stockpiles in a community are important. Housing is a core necessity to life and giving everyone the opportunity to access safe and cost effective housing opportunities should be a goal of our community. It is not always the case though. In my opinion, there needs to be a diverse range of affordable housing options to ultimately be most effective. So often communities get boxed into the concept that affordable housing must solely be based on standard occupancy tenancies (single family dwellings). We need to be diverse in our approach to affordable housing including shared living opportunities, larger occupancy buildings and unique opportunities such as shared student and senior housing options. We need to be sure as a municipal council that we continue to be advocates to both our provincial and federal counterparts that affordable housing need is a discussion that continues to happen at all levels of government.

The City of Brandon is in a unique position when it comes to affordable housing. It is not solely the role of a city to be the providers of this. A city should be a strong advocate for the need and where possible offer incentives to private business to seek out affordable housing opportunities as part of their current business structure. These incentives can be accomplished through tax incentives, access to land reserves for use in an affordable housing strategy, and assistance with regulatory constraints that private business often faces in attempting to get affordable housing opportunities off the ground. The City of Brandon should also be assisting in accessing dollars that could then be used to incentivize affordable housing reserves through programs like the National Housing strategy. The strategy, as it is proposed, plans to inject $40 billion dollars into housing over the next decade.

– Shaun Cameron- Ward 4


As there is no definitive answer to what is affordable housing, that answer will vary from person to person. What I find affordable would not be the same as others either by being too high or too low for personal financial situations.

Continue exploring opportunities to work with non profit groups and BNRC. Whether it be financial resources from our affordable housing reserve or administrative help.

– Shawn Berry - Ward 7


Affordable housing is having housing available at all levels of affordability. The term is most often used in relation to availability of housing for the people in the lower socio economic levels. It is important to have suitable housing for all economic levels of society.

I believe that the City should have a strategy that ensures that all kinds of housing is built to satisfy the needs of all of the citizens.

– Karen Peto - Ward 4

 

2. What should the city’s role and strategy be to encourage continued growth and redevelopment in our downtown?

Careful consideration should be given to tax incentives to encourage business growth downtown. The Brandon Downtown Development Corporation is already actively engaged in promoting downtown development and growth. We have some very successful entrepreneurs who should be commended for their commitment to our city and particularly downtown development.

– James Montgomery - Ward 3


Increased openness to ideas, reduced regulatory hoops and a continued partnership with Ren Brandon and potential developers.

– Glen Parker - Ward 9


I believe downtown needs an ‘anchor’ of some sort in order to see significant and sustainable growth and redevelopment. Thus, I believe the City’s role should be to encourage a major business or organization to move into the downtown area, and come up with a strategy include an incentive program in order to make that happen.

– Bruce Luebke - Ward 6


If the city wants t encourage downtown growth let's look at what has worked. Chez Angela bakery took time and the BDDC with its help to revitalize an older building, created jobs, brought new life to a dead area and pushed crime and criminals away. This was an all around win for the downtown and the city. (And my belly) A vision to allow development and accessibility progress to happen. The city could look to encourage other business to go downtown but ultimately we will need people. A housing complex on the old strand seems like a good idea to fulfill this vision.

– Brock McEwing - Ward 9


The city should continue to give developers and businesses tax concessions and help Brandon First in developing the downtown area with lighting, store fronts and assisting new businesses.

– Ron Brown - Ward 8


Crime causes some concern with people which bring in the belief it’s not safe downtown. The bear clan and discussion on more feet on ground can lower crime in the area. The other issue with downtown is parking space, which limits how many people can stop downtown. The city could look for a space to expand on parking in the area. The third concern is a lack of interest downtown; we will have to discuss more entertainment in the area to bring back interest.

– Gordon McRae - Ward 5


As the former Chair of the Downtown Development Group, I have played an active role in development in our city’s downtown. Ultimately, groups like the DDG are effective in delivery of the need in downtown and allow an opportunity for the city to be active in a downtown discussion, while remaining at arms length of the organization. I feel the city can play an active role by continuing to fund initiatives in our downtown that foster growth both from a population lens and a community builder, tax base lens. We could further growth in our downtown by working with groups such as our post-secondary community to expedite work on building a student housing opportunity as part of a bigger structure. By increasing the critical mass (population base) we can more effectively turn the corner on opportunities in our downtown. Ultimately, the true measure of the vibrancy of a city can be seen in their effective management of their downtown. As a city we have a ways to go, but we are headed in the right direction.

– Shaun Cameron - Ward 4


Again working with organizations like the DBDC and continuing programs like the TIFF's to help with promoting downtown development.

– Shawn Berry - Ward 7


I am happy to see the amount of infill that has already occurred in the downtown area. The city should continue to encourage this and to encourage business to locate downtown as well.

- Karen Peto - Ward 4

 

3. In regards to the new East Brandon Industrial Secondary Plan, what actions should we expect from our council in this next term?

If I’m successful in being elected I will work as part of our council team to ensure the proper processes are followed for the East Brandon Industrial Secondary Plan.

– James Montgomery - Ward 3


I believe we need to continue on the path we are on, developing infrastructure and have move in ready sites. Tax deferral programs may help entice some business but we must be careful we are not giving new business an unfair advantage over established business within our city. Again simplifying the process to get from planning to planting – reducing hurdles for new business and/or developers.

– Glen Parker - Ward 9


I would expect the next step(s) to be taken, which I believe would be to determine the infrastructure investments that should be a prioritized, and determining what, if any, ‘incentive packages’ could be offered to entice industrial companies to set up shop in Brandon.

– Bruce Luebke - Ward 6


My approach to business and taxation is this: we need Economic Development. If we want to spend more money we need more. By focusing on bringing business to Brandon we can employ people, stimulate the economy, grow tax through business and not the homeowners. A 20-40-60-80-100, 5 year incremental tax increase incentive could be used to bring value added business and keep local products local. We need to give business a reason to not only consider us, but make us the only option.

– Brock McEwing - Ward 9


I believe Brandon’s economic development department with the assistance of council needs to go all out in attracting new business and industry. This might mean a concession on taxes and infrastructure over a period of time to attract them here.

– Ron Brown - Ward 8


I believe the plan will be discussed in detail for any new members of city council to get a grasp of the idea before moving forward.

– Gordon McRae - Ward 5


I believe the East Brandon Industrial area provides a wealth of opportunity for growth in our community. It is not a small feat though. With a cost to service the plan likely to be north of $70 million dollars, the city needs to carefully approach growth in this area. As a council we need to ensure that the city is moving forward in attracting industry and opportunity to the area and where possible advocate for new opportunities to seek this area out as a good possibility for growth. Because so much of the land would need servicing to be shovel ready, we must be sure that any commitment is firm prior to moving on a project. We also must ensure we are diverse in our offerings in this area. We need to make sure that we continue to advocate for growth that is within our core strengths (agriculture, manufacturing, petroleum etc.) while being sure that the area is not solely dependant on markets that are ever fluctuating. As always, council should take the approach of high level decision advocacy. The City of Brandon has put in place staff that are able to do the work on such a project. As a council we need to be providing the necessary oversight on behalf of residents to ensure that the project keeps moving in a cost effective and transparent manner.

– Shaun Cameron - Ward 4


With the passing of the secondary plan now completed, Council will pay close attention to opportunities that may present itself for the land usage in the Industrial area which will hopefully enable the attraction of more industrial or large businesses to utilize this area.

– Shawn Berry - Ward 7


The council should proceed with the plan with a balanced approach and be ready to invest when a good potential partner comes forward. I can’t commit to a specific goal for progress at this point but would listen to the advice of staff and industry representatives to determine risk vs reward for moving forward on specific phases of the plan during my time on council.

– Karen Peto - Ward 4

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