Residential back taxes and revitalization: a study of Winnipeg's Spence neighbourhood
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The City of Winnipeg considers the Spence neighbourhood a Major Rehabilitation Area. Socio-economic conditions have deteriorated and the number of boarded-up and abandoned homes has increased. Community groups are calling for revitalization as the conditions escalate toward irreversible decay. Unfortunately, there are numerous barriers to urban revitalization; one obstacle for the redevelopment of homes in this area is the City of Winnipeg’s stringent tax policy. Many of the abandoned units have back taxes owing and are left vacant for up to five years before the city claims title to the property. If a private homeowner is in tax arrears and wants to give or sell the home for a nominal amount to a non-profit group, the city stresses that back taxes still have to be paid. Once the five-year tax sale process is completed, homes are easy to acquire from the city. The purpose of this investigation is to illustrate how detrimental a five-year waiting period can be for the already neglected housing stock and the perception of the neighbourhood, as well as its role in accelerating urban decay.
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