Manitoba

Asper, Point Douglas residents meet to discuss stadium proposal

Winnipeg businessman David Asper and representatives of the Point Douglas Residents' Committee met behind closed doors Sunday to discuss the possibility of building a football stadium in the inner-city community.

Winnipeg businessman David Asper and representatives of the Point Douglas Residents' Committee met behind closed doors Sunday to discuss the possibility of building a football stadium in the inner-city community.

Committee head Sel Burrows said he was shocked to find out that Point Douglas was a possible site for a new stadium. 

"We were quite upset that we hadn't been consulted," he said, adding that the group wants to make sure any plans for a stadium have a positive impact on the community, Burrows said.

Word of the new proposal hit the streets over the weekend and within hours, Asper asked to meet with the group, Burrows said.

Both sides were coy about whether progress was made during the 90-minute meeting. Burrows said it's too early to say if the group will support the project.

"Whatever goes forward, we'll be consulted and we'll be part of the discussions and our opinions will be respected," said Burrows. "You can't ask for much more than that."

Asper described it as an engaging and positive exchange.

"Our proposal, whether it's at this location or another location, has always contemplated very active and intensive community engagement," he said.

"We've made very clear all along that our intension will be to be a very good neighbour wherever we locate."

Point Douglas is one of three possible locations for a new stadium; the area around the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the existing site in the Polo Park area have also been floated.

Asper has been working for 18 months to iron out a public-private partnership with all three levels of government on a stadium deal.

Both the provincial and federal governments have expressed keen interest in the Point Douglas location, saying it contains a strong community development approach.  

Expand Louise Bridge: councillor

The Louise Bridge spans the Red River in north-central Winnipeg. (CBC)
Meanwhile, a Winnipeg city councillor said plans for a new football stadium in Point Douglas only highlight the need for a twinned Louise Bridge over the Red River in north-central Winnipeg.

North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty is calling on the three levels of government to replace the existing two-lane Louise Bridge with a new four-lane structure.

"By dealing with the Louise Bridge now, as the new stadium is being constructed in that area, you have the benefit of making sure that we'll have … a new four-lane structure for the Louise Bridge and for the stadium area, and you also have the benefit of mitigating some of the traffic concerns that we're going to see with the Disraeli closure," he said.

The city plans to spend between $125 million and $160 million, depending on the design, to upgrade the 40-year-old Disraeli Freeway, about a kilometre away from the Louise Bridge.  Construction is slated to start in late 2009 and will take roughly 1½ years to complete, with the freeway closed for 16 months.

Browaty estimated it would cost $60 million to build a new, four-lane Louise Bridge, compared with $22 million to rehabilitate the existing two-lane bridge.

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