Winnipeg city council has approved a $10 million loan guarantee to a private developer.

The support for Gem Equities' massive housing complex came in spite of red flags that had been raised about the history of company owner Andrew Marquess.

In 2010, he was the subject of more than two dozen lawsuits related to trades and services on other development projects. Creditors had also claimed millions of dollars in unpaid bills and damages, according to documents obtained by CBC News.

Most of those have now been settled.

Typically, the city does not provide loan guarantees to private ventures but the request came from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which was willing to provide GEM almost $15 million in grants and loans, but first required a guarantee from the City of Winnipeg.


The footprint for the site is a 16-acre parcel of land bordered by Berwick Field on the south, the rapid transit corridor on the west, Argue Street on the east, and north to just past Berwick Place. ((

Marquess plans to develop a 16-acre parcel of land along the former CN Fort Rouge Yards near the Jubilee Avenue rapid transit corridor.

The project, a 900-unit condo and townhouse development, is worth an estimated $200 million. 

"This represents an exciting and historic opportunity to create a stylish, eco-sensitive in-fill housing development on an unused, industrial site close to the city centre," states the website about the Fort Rouge Rail Yards development.