Manitoba

Parker developer skips council committee, places faith in courts

The developer of the Parker lands is placing more faith in the courts than city council to ensure a plan to build out the Fort Garry neighbourhood sees the light of day.

Andrew Marquess calls city planner's report "filled with exaggerations and inaccuracies"

Developer Andrew Marquess intends to build 1,740 housing units on Parker-neighbourhood land he obtained from the City of Winnipeg in a 2009 land swap. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

The developer of the Parker lands is placing more faith in the courts than city council to ensure a plan to build in the Fort Garry neighbourhood sees the light of day.

Gem Equities and its owner Andrew Marquess skipped a Tuesday council property committee meeting where city planners will advise councillors not to allow the firm's plan to proceed to the public hearing phase.

The report, published last week, contends the plan lacks detail, is unsuitable for the area and does not guarantee the protection of remaining forest on the Parker lands.

This surprised Marquess, who is in the midst of trying to use the courts to force the city to hold that public hearing.

In a statement issued early Tuesday, his firm said it won't appear before councillors out of respect for the legal process and accused city hall of secrecy, poor communication and failing to consult the developer.

The report "is filled with exaggerations and inaccuracies and casts aspersions on the well-respected multi-disciplinary team of professionals from across Canada working on this project," Gem Equities contends in its statement.

Gem and the city are scheduled to be in court next on Sept. 10.

A Gem Equities artist conception of its proposal for Fulton Grove, the development planned for the Parker lands. (Gem Equities)

Gem want to develop a 47-acre (19-hectare) chunk of the 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.

The development of the land is of strategic importance to the city, as it straddles the next phase of the Southwest Transitway. 

The city and Gem are also in conflict over the value of land the city has expropriated to make room for a retention pond. Marquess has surmised the city may be trying to delay development  of the Parker lands to prevent the value from rising before the land dispute winds up before the provincial Land Value Appraisal Commission, which settles expropriation disputes.

Property committee voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon not to proceed with a public hearing at this time.