The city’s property committee has hit local developer Andrew Marquess with a $170,000 penalty for building without a permit and breaching a city agreement.
Marquess owns several development companies in Manitoba, including B and M Land Company, GEM Equities and numbered company 2404559 Manitoba Ltd.
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The numbered company was given city-owned park space as part of an agreement that it would add greenspace to a nearby condominium development in the Mynarski neighbourhood.
Instead, the company built two apartment buildings without permits.
City staff recommended the company be fined $250,000 but the committee’s chair, Coun. Jeff Browaty, said $170,000 in penalties was enough.
The $170,000 consists of both a penalty and a forfeiture of $100,000 Marques was required to put up until the park was built.
A report prepared by city staff said, "The two buildings erected on the site are on the subject land by 45 feet meaning the community park cannot be built as approved."
The report also said, "As a result of all this, the city will be out a park and the developer will be out $100,000."
Marquess was also required in the agreement with the city to build and maintain a city-inspected playground on the site with city-approved play structures.
On Tuesday, the committee voted the company must forfeit that money for not carrying through with the completion of the community park.
“I mean, it's significant. They are under the obligation to build some public greenspace,” said Browaty. “It will be reconfigured somewhat, but again, it seems like it is at least reasonable.”
Browaty said the city has put in new conditions that should make sure park space is added to the development.
“We did add an additional level of scrutiny because again, they didn’t live up to their plans and obligations,” he said. “Hopefully the additional level of scrutiny will make sure it does happen a second time.”
Marquess said the playground area was always intended for the site, but developers later decided to change the shape of the playground.
"In the final site plan we proposed to change the shape of the playground from a rectangle to a T shape. The administration felt the change from a rectangle to T shape changed the playground. They said they would rather take the cash bond that was in place and use the money in the area,” said Marquess in an email. “We are still moving forward with the T shaped playground as was always intended. The land the playground was to be developed on was and is private land.”
Marquess also said he filed the appropriate building permits with the city.
Marquess companies face suits, court actions
Marquess’s companies have faced numerous lawsuits and court actions in the past. B and M Land Company and Gem Equities own several highrises and apartment complexes across Winnipeg.
In 2009 and 2010, numerous businesses and government agencies filed more than 30 lawsuits and actions in the courts against Marquess’s companies, including claims by creditors for unpaid bills and damages.
In January 2010, McDiarmid Lumber won a $1 million judgment against Marquess.
Numerous complaints have also been made to Manitoba’s Residential Tenancies Branch about Marquess’s companies.
In September 2013, celebrity builder Mike Holmes put his celebrity face and endorsement on a controversial urban condo development in Fort Rouge with Gem Equities. Residents at the time were furious over the plans for the massive in-fill project along the main CN line in the area.