– – – Investment Provides Improved Opportunities for Education, More Affordable Housing: Premier Selinger
The Manitoba government is investing $11.1 million to support the redevelopment of the old Merchants Hotel into a mixed-use education and housing community, and continue the revitalization of Winnipeg’s North End neighbourhood, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.
“Investing in new training and education opportunities means that more people will have the skills they need to get good jobs and build their life here in Manitoba,” said Premier Selinger. “By redeveloping this old hotel into an innovative educational partnership supported by on-site affordable housing, students in the north end will have a new place to learn and see that a post-secondary education can be part of their future.”
Funding includes $9.1 million for development of 30 new affordable and rent-geared-to-income homes for students attending education programs in the north end and their families, and a $2-million repayable loan to support the construction of education space that will house the Community Educational Development Association’s Pathways to Education high school completion program and the University of Winnipeg’s Urban and Inner-City Studies program.
“Working with a broad range of community partners, UWinnipeg’s Community Renewal Corporation is proving that effective neighbourhood development can be a grassroots enterprise,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, president and vice-chancellor, UWinnipeg. “We are also honoured that our thriving Urban and Inner-City Studies program is part of a rejuvenation that is providing lifelong learning opportunities within the historic north end.”
Merchants Corner Inc., a community-based non-profit that has led the redevelopment, will own and manage the educational space and has also committed to fundraising an additional $1.7 million. The plans include construction of new, affordable housing on a parking lot on the property, demolition of the restaurant attached to the former Merchants Hotel, and redevelopment and expansion of the old hotel site.
“Today, residents of the north end can smile knowing the hard work we have been investing on the ground helps make projects like this possible,” said Michael Champagne, vice-president, the North End Community Renewal Corporation speaking on behalf of Merchants Corner Inc. “The community has said housing, high school and university education are important, and I hope this building will act as a symbol of how the north end is rising. Let’s keep working together to create a brighter future for our young people.”
The redevelopment of Merchants Corner is led by a community-based steering group that included broad stakeholder and resident input. The initiative is guided by the principles of community economic development and respect for Aboriginal culture.
The redevelopment also supports the Government of Manitoba’s Block by Block community safety initiative in the area to improve neighbourhood safety through a collaborative approach to better help people in need. Since the closure of the Merchants Hotel, total violent street crimes has decreased by 27.5 per cent and total property street crimes has decreased by 20.8 per cent in the 21-block surrounding area, the premier noted.
The province recently reached its five-year goal to provide funding commitments to build 1,500 new affordable housing units and establish 1,500 social housing units throughout the province, the premier said. The new units in the Merchants Corner project are the first under the Government of Manitoba’s new commitment to build an additional 1,000 new social and affordable housing units over three years. These investments complement Budget 2014, a plan to create good jobs, grow the economy and protect front-line services for families by focusing on what matters most to Manitoba families, Premier Selinger said.
More information on Manitoba Housing and Community Development’s new three-year plan, part of the long-term strategy Strong Communities – An Action Plan is available at www.gov.mb.ca/housing/.