Province orders Winnipeg to study BRT impact on Parker Lands

After months of lobbying by opponents of development of the Parker Lands the Manitoba government is demanding the city conduct an environmental impact study.

Opponents of Parker Lands development excited to hear the province is listening to their concerns

Those rallying for the preservation of the Parker Wetlands say the green space is home to rare birds and plants and that the city’s own assessment department has labelled it as an environmentally-sensitive natural heritage area. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

People opposed to the Parker lands being used for the next phase of bus rapid transit are celebrating Friday morning after the province ordered the City of Winnipeg to study the environmental impact of development on the wetland.

The Parker Lands is a strip of land along Parker Avenue between Pembina Highway and Waverley Street.
The southwest rapid transit route will cut through the Parker wetlands and the Beaumont neighbourhood before realigning with Pembina Highway to the University of Manitoba. (CBC)

Cal Dueck of the lobby group Parker Wetlands Conservation has been lobbying the province to force the city to look at what the environmental impact on the wetlands would be if development goes ahead as planned.

On Monday, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship sent an email to the city requiring it to write a report including a "description of the potential effects of the project related to drainage on the structure and function of the wetland.

A description of any other potential effects of the project on the structure and function of the wetland and a drainage management plan that will ensure the project related drainage and construction of the proposed Parker Retention Pond will not impact the wetland."

The email also says the report has to be approved by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship before any construction can start.
Signs have been posted around the Parker wetlands area, urging people to write to the area's councillor, John Orlikow, to save the land from development. Many signs, like this one citing Sitting Bull, have quotes about the importance of preserving nature. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

"It's a small hiccup in some ways for them but if we can keep up the pressure on the government and make sure that this project is done right, not just done by the seat of the pants like so many other projects have been done in Winnipeg," Dueck said.

Critics of the development call the area home to a rare ecosystem that could be destroyed.

Dueck wants to see studies on everything from plants to birds to insects.

Mayor Brian Bowman campaigned on completing bus rapid transit by 2030.

Dueck hopes the mayor will be persuaded to use another route.

"The problem is, this route that's been chosen is not a popular political decision. Most people that you talk to would not want the bus to run through here," Dueck said.

There is no timeline for the city to complete the report.


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