Deadline looms for arts centre

Gas Station Arts Centre redevelopment in need of city funding

A redevelopment project for the Gas Station Arts Centre (GSAC) at the corner of Osborne and River is asking the city for financial support in order keep the project alive. 

The development has secured a $2-million housing grant from the provincial government but it expires in July. To meet the province’s funding deadlines and for the project to progress, the GSAC is asking for tax increment financing (TIF) that they say would generate approximately $3-million for the Osborne Village project over the next 15 years. 

A TIF is a public financing tool meant to kickstart projects that benefit the public interest or the community, and would not be pursued without public investment, according to the province of Manitoba. 

Stephanie Meilleur, executive director of the Osborne Village BIZ, says the organization supports the fundraising efforts. 

“It’ll bring a whole new energy for the village. We’re on the cusp of rebranding and this would fit in very well,” she says. “It’s a great redevelopment and we’d love to see it happen.” 

The $30-million nine-floor, mixed-use development would contain commercial properties, an outdoor plaza, a new theatre, rehearsal space and an arts centre. Eighty-two housing units will be built in the complex, with more than 30 per cent designated as affordable housing units. Twenty-four suites will be subsidized specifically for artists through the Performing Arts Lodge, a housing and support organization for people who make their living in the arts. 

The project would also would triple the commercial frontage on Osborne. 

City Councillor Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) calls the project a great fit for Osborne Village with huge support. 

“We rezoned a property – there was no opposition to it, which is unusual for something of this magnitude,” she says. 

“It’s a unique housing development, there’s a lack of affordable housing in the community and this is unique housing for arts community and for other individuals for whom it’s difficult to provide housing.” 

“It’s an excellent thing that committees have a lot of support for.” 

The project will include co-op housing units and 10 suites developed specifically for deaf-blind tenants, in the first development of its kind in the province. 

Bonnie Heath, the executive director of the Resource Centre for Manitobans who are Deaf-Blind, is excited for the project’s possibilities. 

“Deaf-Blind folks want to be part of a community – they are independent and self sufficient and need only communication supports,” Heath says. 

Despite the support, the project’s funding is not yet approved. 

“(The GSAC) has applied to the city and we’re waiting for analysis. We’re determining what support the city can provide and it’s still being reviewed,” Gerbasi says.

Published in Volume 70, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 24, 2016)

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