Manitoba

Developer planned for thousands of housing units on Parker Land

The City of Winnipeg is trying to expropriate land it once swapped to a local developer. At hearing on Thursday, it was learned that developer Andrew Marquess planned for thousands of housing units on the land.

Expropriation hearing also points to sloppy legal work

The expropriation hearing for a section of the Parker Lands was told that developer Andrew Marquess had planned for 50 to 55 apartment units per acre on the 59-acre property.

The City of Winnipeg wants to expropriate approximately 20 of 59 acres it had swapped to Marquess and his company, Gem Equities, in 2009. The city needs the land for a massive retention pond as part of the Cockburn-Calrossie sewer project.

On Thursday, the expropriation hearing heard of a memo prepared by a consultant on the project, suggesting that Marquess had big plans for the property.

If the city is successful in expropriating the 20 acres it needs, that may cut 1,000 to 1,100 apartment units from the development Marquess wants to build on the property.

The land does, however, have serious drainage issues that would have to be corrected before anything was built.

City did land swap but didn't register Hydro on title

The lawyer for Marquess and Gem Equities grilled the lead consulting engineer for the Cockburn-Calrossie combined sewer outflow project. Some of what was disclosed would suggest sloppy legal work on the part of the city.

Mark Newman combed through dozens of pages of the project's documents during the expropriation hearing on Thursday.

Newman revealed at the hearing that the city sold Gem the land without registering an easement for Hydro lines and equipment on the property.

Cockburn-Calrossie project engineer Ray Offman said at the hearing that he was told Manitoba Hydro would claim "prescriptive rights" for not being recognized in the title transfer.

Offman also said he had heard Hydro "had expressed unhappiness" that the city hadn't registered the easement.

City lawyer Denise Pambrun confirmed the property has been transferred without an easement for Hydro.

Hydro has power lines and large transmission towers on the property that was swapped to Gem.

The hearing also heard there were several options for the Cockburn-Calrossie sewage project. One was to build two separate retention ponds — one on land on Taylor Avenue and a second on the Parker Lands.

A memo in October 2012 prepared by a consultant suggests the city wanted a review of locating the pond exclusively on the Parker Lands and asked it remain a confidential document.

There are two days left scheduled for the expropriation hearings.

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