Forks land eyed for park, retail and housing development

A draft plan is being developed for a long-empty and valuable piece of land at The Forks in downtown Winnipeg.
Parcel 4 is just a gravel patch of parking space at the moment. (Google Street View)

A draft plan is being developed for a long-empty and valuable piece of land at The Forks in downtown Winnipeg.

Parcel 4, as it is legally known, is a gravel patch located across from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Jim August, CEO with The Forks North Portage Partnership, said he is in the early stages of a plan.

"We're kind of looking at a 60-40 split between public space and then what we call commercial residential. And we'll be looking at a few buildings, the density yet needs to be finalized," he said.

The plan also calls for a pair of parking garages, located close to the rail line, to accommodate 700 cars. As well, there would be a pedestrian plaza linking the Forks with Winnipeg's famous Portage and Main intersection.

But August stresses it is still in the early stages. Prior to anything ever being developed there, the proposal would still need to go through all of the requisite committees and city council.

He hopes to have a report going to city hall before this fall's civic election.

Two years ago, Parcel 4 was in the news headlines after nearly being sold to a private company to develop a waterpark. However, controversy over the plan ultimately prompted the company to yank its proposal.

Canalta Hotels, along with water park designer Waterfun Products, had proposed to build the 50,000-square-foot complex.

Some councillors were upset with the lack of details being provided by Canalta, even though the city was being asked to vote for the project and hand over a $7 million subsidy.

Then the architect of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights weighed in. In a letter sent to Winnipeg city councillors, Antoine Predock said a water park "risks trivializing" the area and turning it into a theme park.

There were also questions about what role Mayor Sam Katz should play in the politics of the deal, due to conflict-of-interest concerns.

The land eyed by Canalta is located near Shaw Park, the home of the Goldeyes baseball team. Katz owns the Goldeyes.


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