Winnipeg's property and development committee has approved a proposed condo development in Osborne Village that a number of people want prevented.

The plan, which requires the demolition of several century-old homes currently used as apartments on Roslyn Road, will now go forward to the city's executive policy committee.

Joan Hodgson, whose condominium unit overlooks that section of Roslyn, says she doesn't like the proposed development. She knows she can't stop progress, but she worries about what will happen if a 78-unit structure is built there.

Traffic congestion is already bad in the area, which is "surrounded by highrises," said Hodgson, who has lived in the area for 13 years.

"It's just saturation point, you know? The number of condominiums that have gone up in the last few years is crazy."

She also has concerns about the people currently living in the buildings slated for demolition. They are older, some have mobility issues, and Hodgson is concerned they'll be unable to afford the new apartments.

Among the properties marked for demolition is the 107-year-old Dennistoun House, which was designated in December 1984 as a municipal historic site. It was de-listed in June 2009 to make way for the condominium.

But the project has been tangled in challenges by those opposed.

Members of the Osborne Village Neighborhood Association, with the support of Heritage Winnipeg, sought a judicial review for an order to quash the de-listing decision made by city council.

Dennistoun House

The 107-year-old Dennistoun House was designated in December 1984 as a municipal historic site, but de-listed in June 2009 to make way for a condominium project. (Manitoba Historical Society)

The association cited the city's Osborne Village plan, which discourages the demolition of historic or architecturally significant buildings or structures and states that "demolition shall be considered as a last resort, and should only be considered when buildings are determined to be structurally unsound beyond repair by an independent structural engineering report."

In July 2010 the judge found that the "requirements of section 7.1.6 of the Osborne Village Plan were not mandatory and that city council acted within its jurisdiction.

The developers have since been working on the development plan.

Opponents of the plan can still file an appeal and the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback.

"There will be a separate appeal process for that, which residents — if they are concerned — [can] apply for it," said Coun. John Orlikow, who chairs the property and development committee.

But not everyone in Osborne Village is opposed to the proposed development. Betty Carol Dejong, who has lived in the neighbourhood for years, said she's all for the project as long as it's tastefully designed.

"The homes that are there, they're old history, and if they're going away I hope they do a jolly good business of making it a fine place — not just anything, but a rather beautiful place," she said.

Councillors will next discuss the project on Oct. 28.


Dennistoun House history

Designed by local architect J. D. Atchison, Dennistoun House was built in 1908 for Robert Maxwell Dennistoun and his family.

A specialist in corporate law, Dennistoun drew up Manitoba's first workman's compensation act. The family lived in the home until 1923.

According to Heritage Winnipeg, Atchinson had already designed a large number of prominent Winnipeg buildings when he was hired by Dennistoun. The home at 166 Roslyn Rd. was constructed in the Tudor style, commonly used for upper-class residences between 1890 and 1940 in North America.

After the Dennistouns moved out, the home was used as a private residence and then as temporary quarters for Richardson Company company executives. Dennistoun was sold again in 1977 and converted into five separate apartment suites.

In 1984, it was designated Grade 3 historic building and put on the conservation list due to its architectural significance and historical interest — both surrounding Atchison and the importance of the surrounding area, which during the early 1900s became the district of stately bankers' homes.

When the home's owner died in 2006, the family heirs decided against keeping it as a rental property. A development team representing the owners applied to the city for the delisting of the house from the historic list.

The City's Historical Buildings Committee argued against it but in June 2009 a city committee disagreed with the HBC and recommended Dennistoun be struck from the conservation list. However, the committee said no demolition permits should be issued before new building permits are secured.

The city's executive policy committee agreed with the standing committee and later, so did city council. As a result, the house was delisted.