Forks hopes to buy Parcel 4 from Winnipeg sooner rather than later

The Forks wants to purchase the downtown surface-parking lot known ​as Parcel 4 from the city this year as a prelude to the development of the Railside land.

Downtown surface lot needed to replace parking on Railside, where development may proceed this year

A 2014 conceptual drawing of future development of the Railside and Parcel 4 lands at The Forks. The Railside proposal no longer involves towers, while the Parcel 4 development remains a decade away or more. (Rail Side and Parcel Four Planning Initiative)

The Forks wants to purchase the downtown surface-parking lot known ​as Parcel 4 from the city this year as a prelude to the development of the Railside land.

The Forks Renewal Corporation is planning to build mixed-use development on the 5.9-acre parcel of land known as Railside, which sits between the CN Rail highline and Israel Asper Way.

The Forks plans to build about 20 buildings of no more than six storeys in height on the Railside land, which is owned by The Forks. A mix of housing, shops and public spaces is planned for the site, which currently serves as surface parking.

On Tuesday, Forks CEO Paul Jordan told city council's executive policy committee (EPC) that the impending loss of this parking creates the need for the non-profit corporation to purchase the 5.7-acre Parcel 4 from the city.

The Forks intends to develop Parcel 4 after the Railside development is complete, something expected within the next two decades. In the short term, surface parking controlled by The Forks would move on to Parcel 4, where the parking is operated by the Winnipeg Parking Authority.

City council has already approved the eventual sale of Parcel 4 to The Forks. Before it can proceed, the city must appraise the value of the land and conduct an archeological survey.

Jordan said Parcel 4 may be the richest archeological site at The Forks, which has been a gathering place for 6,000 years.

Jordan also told EPC Parcel 4 is heavily contaminated by diesel fuel dumped at the site during railway operations in the 1930s.

The city voted to hand control of Parcel 4 to The Forks after a 2012 plan to build a hotel and water park at that site fell apart amid widespread opposition. That aborted plan was assailed in a 2014 audit of city real-estate transactions.