Manitoba

Residents to confront Katz over land swap

A controversial land deal in Winnipeg's River Heights-Fort Garry ward may have come back to haunt the city's Mayor during his bid for re-election.

A controversial land deal in Winnipeg's River Heights-Fort Garry ward may have come back to haunt the city's mayor during his bid for re-election.

Sam Katz will hold a meeting Friday night with area residents to discuss the Parker land swap that saw the city trade a developer unserviced land in the area for serviced land in another ward.

The city needed the land in order to complete the first phase of the city's rapid transit corridor.

Under the agreement, the city gave Gem Equities about 25 hectares of land in the Parker neighborhood, near Taylor and Waverley, in exchange for four hectares Gem owned along the Fort Rouge railway yards.

The developer's plan is to build about 3,500 townhouses in the Parker area.

Residents say the development will destroy a natural park area that contains mature trees, trails, grasses, a marsh, a willow forest and a nesting hawk.

Although the deal was OK'd in July 2009, no development plan has yet been approved and city officials have said that Gem Equities will have to go through the proper processes before they can move forward with anything.

The land swap deal doesn't give the company a right to build anything without the project first being scrutinized.

Nonetheless, many residents told CBC News this week that they remain angry and plan to let Katz know how they feel. Others believe Katz knows how they fell and that's why he's invited them to the meeting.

"I think it's because he's heard rumblings at the door about how important this is as an election issue. And I think he's trying to sugarcoat it," said resident Cal Dueck.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Centro Caboto Centre, Galleria Room, 1055 Wilkes Ave.

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