Manitoba

City planners to council: Don't even bother considering Parker lands plan

The latest proposal to develop the Parker lands has run afoul of City of Winnipeg planners, who have taken the unusual step of urging city council not to even bother considering the plan.

Public service says latest Parker proposal wrong for area, lacks detail — and doesn't protect forest

An artist's conception of Gem Equities' proposal for Fulton Grove, the development planned for the Parker lands. City planners are urging council not to bother considering it. (Gem Equities)

The latest proposal to develop the Parker lands has run afoul of City of Winnipeg planners, who have taken the unusual step of urging city council not to even bother considering the plan.

Developer Andrew Marquess and his company Gem Equities want to develop a 47-acre (19-hectare) chunk of Fort Garry's Parker neighbourhood into a mixed-use development called Fulton Grove, with apartments, townhouses and homes rising between the CNR Rivers railway and the second phase of the Southwest Transitway.

Marquess and his lawyers have complained the city has held back the plan and are attempting to use the courts to compel council to hold a public hearing.

In a report to council's property committee, Winnipeg chief planner Braden Smith advises councillors not to consider the proposal on the basis it lacks detail, is unsuitable for the area and does not guarantee the protection of remaining forest on the Parker lands.

"The plan is missing a significant amount of important content and policies," Smith writes in the report, explaining it's customary for developers to work with city staff on a plan of this size and scale.

"The public service is not prepared to undertake the large amount of work required to develop the content and policies missing from the plan at this stage in the process. The amount of new content culminating from such work would result in an unreasonable number of changes to the plan for council to consider."

The planners say Gem has proposed the wrong form of density for the area and the plan doesn't possess enough detail to make it possible to evaluate, could allow industrial development and high-density residential towers to coexist, and does not effectively protect a clearly defined portion of the remaining forest area as presented at the public open-house events.

Caught 'off guard': Marquess

Marquess said the report took him by surprise, as it was published while he is still trying to compel the city to hold a public hearing.

"This kind of catches me completely off guard," Marquess said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

"I have never heard from the planners there's an issue with the secondary plan," he said. "I don't know why they'd bring it forward to council and say it's full of holes without giving me a chance."

City council planning chair John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry), who is also the area councillor, was unavailable to comment due to a family emergency.

He will be replaced at Tuesday's committee by Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry), who said she's never seen a case where a developer went to court to try to force a public hearing on a development plan.

Jenna Vandal, who camped on Gem Equities land last summer as part of a protest against the removal of aspen trees on the site, said she's not surprised to hear planners say the developer's latest plan does not ensure the protection of all of the remaining forest.

"I'm just hoping city council will do something about this, because I don't want to do a job again I'm not paid to do," she said in a telephone interview.

The city has been asked for further comment.

Planners pan Parker lands plan 1:33

About the Author

Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.