Manitoba

Clock is ticking on Kapyong houses: land agency

More than 100 houses sitting empty at Winnipeg's former Kapyong Barracks won't make it through another winter, according to a federal agency waiting to acquire the property.

More than 100 houses sitting empty at Winnipeg's former Kapyong Barracks won't make it through another winter, according to a federal agency waiting to acquire the property.

The houses line Kenaston Boulevard near Tuxedo Avenue, part of the 90 hectares of military property that was vacated when soldiers and their families moved to Canadian Forces Base Shilo, near Brandon, in 2004.

'It's just disgraceful that they've been allowed to sit empty all this time.'—Right to Housing Coalition

For four years, the military has paid to keep the heat and electricity on in the buildings, until they are turned over to the Canada Lands Co., an arms-length Crown corporation that would arrange for the land's sale.

Canada Lands vice-president Gordon McIvor expects it could be another year before the property is available for redevelopment — but the houses may not last that long, he said.

"Every winter that goes by, the more danger you are in of losing the housing stock," he said.

"Winter will create mould and leaks and cracks and everything else that happens when houses go through prolonged periods of non-use," he said, adding that he fears the houses will have to be torn down if they sit vacant another winter.

"This country's got a very severe climate, and Winnipeg obviously has got a particularly harsh winter, as we all know," he said. "It does have an impact on how many of those houses you're able to save."

The notion that the homes could be lost sickens Clark Brownlee, spokesman for the Right to Housing Coalition, which wants the houses made available for rent to low-income families while their future is decided.

The Kapyong Barracks were built on a 90-hectare parcel of land which is now nestled between Tuxedo and River Heights, two affluent Winnipeg neighbourhoods. ((Google Maps))

At least one Kapyong house has already been demolished because it was no longer in liveable condition, he said.

"It makes me very frustrated," he said. "It's just disgraceful that they've been allowed to sit empty all this time."

Brownlee worries a new legal challenge by First Nations on the southern portion of Kapyong land could further delay the transfer of the houses.

Seven Treaty No. 1 bands have asked a federal court to overturn Ottawa's decision to hand the property over to the Canada Lands Co. They argue the land should be going to First Nations who have pending treaty land-entitlement settlements.

The bands' lawyer has said it could take a year for the case to be heard by the courts.

Some development ideas proposed for the land include an infill neighbourhood — either at market value or affordable housing units — an urban reserve, a military museum or using some of the land to widen Kenaston Boulevard.

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