The Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association (DMSMCA) has selected Jesse Gair as their new executive director. The association has a nine-year history working in the neighbourhoods, which Gair hopes to continue.
Daniel McIntyre is a West End neighbourhood north of Ellice Ave. St. Matthews is just south of Daniel McIntyre, on the other side of Ellice Ave.
“I come in here open to learn and to see and be guided by the community, based on what their needs and desires are,” Gair says.
He notes that the DMSMCA recently finished a five-year community plan, as it is mandated to do as a Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation (NRC). NRCs are groups representing local interests in designated communities of the Neighbourhoods Alive program, a provincial initiative to encourage revitalization.
Community consultations identify affordable housing, youth and senior programs and safety as key priorities, Gair says. He adds that these have been consistent priorities over the years.
Gair succeeds Kemlin Nembhard as executive director. Nembhard served in that role since the establishment of the association in March 2008.
David Foltz, who has been a Daniel McIntyre resident for 15 years, says he’s had positive experiences with the past executive director and the DMSMCA.
“They did a lot for the community,” he says. Foltz says he has found workshops on home repair and help from DMSMCA staff connecting to government programs for homeowners especially helpful. An example he notes was a program that offset some of the cost of installing sump pumps. This program was eliminated by the provincial Conservative government in 2016.
Foltz notices a change in the Daniel McIntyre neighbourhood. He says when he first bought his home, house prices were very low. There was a house a few lots away from his that was in disrepair, partly due to hard partying in the residence.
“I’ve seen lots and lots of families moved in since we bought our house, and prices have gone up,” Foltz says.
Christian Cassidy, a local history blogger who also serves as the community housing and grants co-ordintor for DMSMCA, agrees that the area is changing.
“When I started doing this job as a housing co-ordinator five years ago, there were a lot of empty lots and a lot of boarded up houses,” he says.
Cassidy says, based on walking through the Daniel McIntyre and St. Matthews neighbourhoods and viewing data compiled for the DMSMCA’s 2013-17 Housing Plan, that most of the vacant lots are now developed and past boarded-up homes have been repaired or replaced.
The Housing Plan notes that average sale prices for houses in MLS area 5A and area 5C, which roughly correspondent with Daniel McIntyre and St. Matthews, rose 290 per cent and 225 per cent, respectively. This is well above the overall Winnipeg rise of 156 per cent.
Cassidy notes that rising property values can lead to rent increases, which challenge low income residents.
The 2013-17 Housing Plan states, as a goal, to ensure the neighbourhoods remain financially accessible to all households. As the plan expires this year, Cassidy says the DMSMCA will be devising a new five-year Housing Plan.