Westgate school expansion dispute goes to court
Armstrong's Point residents want the City of Winnipeg's decision quashed
A group of Winnipeg residents took the city to court on Friday, in an ongoing battle over Westgate Mennonite Collegiate's expansion plans.
The Armstrong's Point Residents' Association argues that the city violated its own zoning rules by allowing the Christian private school to expand by 4,700 square feet.
Thomas McLeod, the association's chairman, says residents consulted several lawyers who don't live in Armstrong's Point to see if their concerns had merit.
"They were all consistent: yes, the city has violated its own rules, and yes, in doing so they've set a dangerous precedent," McLeod told CBC News.
Lawyers for the association and the city presented their arguments before the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench on Friday.
Westgate Mennonite Collegiate's expansion would involve replacing an old section of the building, putting a new atrium at the front, expanding to the back and adding an elevator for accessibility.
However, the residents' association says the streets around the school are too narrow to handle the increased traffic the expanded facility could bring.
Residents also argue that the school has expanded at least twice before and is stretching the boundaries of the city's zoning bylaw.
"As a neighbourhood, we felt [like] this is very bizarre. And then a month later, you hear about fire halls being built on land that the city doesn't own, and you start to go, 'Oh, OK, there is something wrong at city hall,'" McLeod said.
McLeod was referring to a controversial land swap involving the city and local developer Shindico, in which several former fire halls were exchanged for property on Taylor Avenue — land the city doesn't own — on which a new fire hall was built.
The Armstrong's Point Residents' Association unsuccessfully fought the school's expansion plans as they moved through the city's various committees.
In June 2012, the group lost its final bid to the city's appeals committee.