Projects Report, 2021

2021 continued to be a demanding year, with the continuation of COVID and its impact on our families, health, education, businesses and economy. Coupled with extreme weather fluctuations and forest fires, the Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canadian economic recovery was further challenged.

This did impact some of the BIZ’s projects and programs causing some delays, but largely the BIZ forged ahead. The Board continued to meet, though primarily using Zoom.

Holiday Lights: Our lights went up in mid November 2020 and were removed in February 2021. During installation some repairs to the lights and mounting hardware were necessary. With Manitoba Hydro upgrading some hydro poles, we did lose some of our electrical receptacles which needed to be replaced.

Hanging Baskets: Our baskets went up late this summer due to a delay in production and late delivery of our BobCat (manufactured in North Dakota, and similar to all vehicle production shortage of labour and computer chips delayed delivery of the unit). We received a Community Initiative Grant from the Lord Selkirk West Kildonan Community Committee, of $10,000.00. The BIZ used matching funds to purchase a smaller BobCat UV 34 unit to assist us with watering the hanging baskets, street maintenance and graffiti removal. Purchasing the bobcat was more cost effective than the $10,000.00 annual rental. With the extreme heat spikes this summer, at times our Urban Green Team students would have to water twice per day, especially Monday and Friday when there was a 2 day period of absence of watering, though on long weekends our team would come in on Saturday to do a watering.

Dual Stream Garbage & Recycling bins: This project was one of our greatest challenges. Though the City picks up the garbage portion of the dual bins and the aggregate garbage bins, the recycling portion is the responsibility of the BIZ and the dual bin recycling portion was not being utilized primarily for recycling, thus in recycling terms “spoiling the load”. Though several times the team did collect and bring back to home base all the recycling, when going through the bulk of it, it mostly consisted of general garbage, clothing, small furniture, spoiled food, and items with or of bodily waste and fluids, including used needles. Though Streetlinks provided training for safe needle disposal for our team and proper safety equipment for such was provided, the BIZ decided to treat all recycling as garbage due to safety concerns. The BIZ is committed to continue to recycle and is hoping in the future that this will be more successful.

Transit Shack Maintenance: The BIZ applied for a City of Winnipeg Operating Grant to assist us with cleaning and maintaining the shacks and stops in our Zone. Though we did not receive the grant, Transit did an excellent job of keeping on top of the maintenance and the shacks that needed the most attention, at times cleaning them several times per week. This is an ongoing challenge in our zone.

Graffiti Partnership (Removal): This program received an overhaul consisting of a new release form allowing businesses to sign up indefinitely and a new reporting platform (exclusively digital). The Urban Green Team visited with all businesses to encourage them to sign up for either a 2 year period or a life time period and the new cloud platform of reporting, though a bit of a learning curve, does allow for more accurate data for long term tracking of trends and costs. The City of Winnipeg provided the BIZ with graffiti removal equipment and products for the smaller tags that our UGT could remove, and also assisted our BIZ with some of the larger painting projects required for some of the very large tags.

Urban Green Team (UGT): In total the BIZ had 3 students over the summer. Our summer staff was Jaiden, Benjamin and Michael. It was challenging providing, supervising and implementing all COVID regulations and training. Our UGT was given office and bathroom space exclusively for their use and PPE funding was offset from the Manitoba 4 Youth UGT grant. We did receive significantly more in 2021 than 2020 for UGT funding, however a small amount went unutilized due to shortage of labour (students looking for work elsewhere) and extreme weather conditions and air quality concerns. Due to the extreme heat spikes, the UGT started work earlier and quit earlier and with all the forest fires and poor air quality, it was necessary to limit outdoor activities. The BIZ expresses our appreciation to these young gentlemen, who had numerous challenges in their working environment. In addition to the challenges expressed, there were several instances of assault that occurred, from minor verbal harassment to barring the way of the BobCat, jumping into the unit, or hurling objects at the team. The BIZ continues to pay $15.00 per hour for our summer students, well above the minimum wage.

ARV: The BIZ updated our May 2021Annual Rental Value data over the summer and again in September 2021 when the latest data was available. Though there were some businesses that closed, this was balanced by some new owners taking over existing businesses, expansions of existing businesses into adjacent vacant buildings, and the report of some new businesses absent from the City of Winnipeg ARV role. The BIZ continues to monitor and report to the City.

City of Winnipeg Capital Grants: The BIZ applied for this grant in 2019 and in 2020 was the recipient of an aggregate amount of $100,000.00 to assist us in our streetscape goals. In 2021 we received an additional $50,000.00. We continue to work with S+M+M, a landscape architect, to cement the broader plan, but COVID delays have resulted in implementation being slower than expected. However this project is moving forward and we are looking forward to some significant improvements in 2022.

Active Transportation: The BIZ participated in several on line consultations regarding AT. We have also received a grant of $10,000.00 to replace missing racks, install new racks and repair damaged racks. An additional 10 racks (first phase) have been ordered and will be delivered and stored in 2021 for installation in later spring 2022.

Storefront Enhancement Grants: Though this provincial program is administered through North End Community Renewal Corporation, the BIZ continues to have two representatives on the steering committee and the BIZ Administrator continues to monitor the program and advocate for the BIZ members. This program is in the last year of guaranteed funding and at this time it is unclear if this project will continue in 2022 and if so, how it will be structured.

City of Winnipeg Governance Review / BIZ’s Funding Civic Salaries: An independent company was hired to consult and audit the City of Winnipeg Governance process, the first such audit since 1997. The BIZ participated in a consultation specifically geared to how the City of Winnipeg supports the BIZ’s and their role in providing oversight. One of the key issues the BIZ advocated for in 2021 was not to provide or support any funding, of the BIZ’s contributing towards City of Winnipeg staff costs in assisting the BIZ’s. The BIZ appeared before the EPC, in addition to hiring legal representation, to speak against funding any City of Winnipeg positions. Other BIZs similarly spoke out resulting in an overturn of the City’s original position that the BIZ’s fund City support positions. Appreciation to John Prystanski who assisted the North End BIZ, and with NEB background research and assistance, agreed to significantly reduce his compensation.

Going forward, the North End BIZ continues to be committed to supporting a healthy and vibrant business community and moving our projects forward. I would like to express my gratitude to the North End BIZ Board of Directors for their continued support and assistance.

Astrid Lichti

North End BIZ, Administrator

November 7, 2021