The Forks held open house Wednesday night to see what the public thinks of new plans to convert Parcel 4, a gravel patch across from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, into condos and greenspace

Earlier this month, a city committee unanimously approved a plan to turn the two parking lots into a pedestrian plaza, green space and several mixed-use residential units that would have businesses along the ground floor.

Parcel 4

This parking lot is one of two known as Parcel 4 at The Forks. The gravel lots are the subject of a new development plan that includes parks, shopping and housing. (Louis-Philippe Leblanc/CBC)

A portion of the land would also be earmarked for a cultural centre. 

Now, officials are going back to the public to see what they think.

Reaction among dozens of visitors was mainly positive. Paul Jordan, The Forks North Portage incoming CEO, said officials were mainly answering questions about exactly where the two lots were.

Nicolas Audette lives in St. Boniface and bikes through The Forks daily. He said he stops by about once a week and is thrilled The Forks has abandoned plans to put a water park on the site.

"I look forward to having a place where I can just stop by in the afternoon and maybe grab an ice cream and sit in the park or throw a frisbee around," said Audette, adding the new restaurants that are planned in the mixed-use housing are a big draw as well.

For Jordan, the concept is an important part of a 20-year process of developing The Forks. 

Most importantly, he said, the plans will better connect The Forks with the rest of downtown. 

"It's always been a struggle and a challenge for the Forks to break out," said Jordan. "You can see what the [Esplanade Riel] has done for St. Boniface and The Forks and you can see what Assiniboine Bikeway has done as it connects to The Forks, so those are the things that really excite me and will really turn this whole thing on."

The plan calls for fewer parking spots. 

Two parkades totalling about 700 spots are in the works, a few hundred less than there are now.

Visitor Barbara Pallace Churchill checked out the proposal Wednesday night and said she doesn't think less parking is a problem.

"Winnipeggers are pretty spoiled for parking, and I think we expect parking to be plentiful, close and free," she said."I don't know if that's a reasonable expectation for a bigger, downtown city."

This is the second time The Forks has consulted the public about plans to develop the area.

And another public consultation is scheduled for Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at The Forks Market centre court.

After the consultations are complete, plans will be fine-tuned with more detailed designs and rules for developers. All of that will go back to city council for a vote this fall. 

Forks officials said it could take seven years before the plan is fully realized.