City-region form and municipal property tax dependency, enhancing the prospects for more sustainable development of the Manitoba Capital Region

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Owiafe, Patrice Kwame
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This study examines the likely impacts of the City of Winnipeg's dependency on property tax revenue and its consequences for the land use and development configurations of the Manitoba Capital Region. Urban form is a key strategic factor influencing sustainability in urban regions. It normally affects patterns of private transport, which in turn affects fuel consumption and emissions. The viability and patronage of public transport facilities are also affected by urban form. It may also affect rates of conversion of rural land to urban uses and the loss of natural habitats for flora and fauna. Sprawl development is characteristic of many of the municipalities in the Manitoba Capital Region and the current population shift from the City of Winnipeg to its surrounding bedroom communities is likely to exacerbate this pattern of land use in the city-region, because rural residential lots are usually larger than those in the previously developed areas. Since tax policies have the capacity to influence development, it is likely that the current disparity in growth between the city of Winnipeg, where taxes are much higher, and its surrounding municipalities is partially due to the tax differentials between them. Sustainable development depends, among other things, on the extent to which municipalities are able to retain businesses and residents, and attract others from elsewhere. In the area of taxation, tax-reduction, tax base sharing, the user-pay principle, and high levels of efficiency in service provision are four options that can be means to ensuring that property taxpayers are not unduly burdened. Good governance that promotes region-wide cooperation is also important to ensure development coordination and overall sustainability of the city-region.