Manitoba

Councillors rewrite Sterling Lyon Parkway plan to avoid residential properties

City council's public works committee​ has rewritten a plan to extend Sterling Lyon Parkway in order to minimize the potential for expropriating properties south of Wilkes Avenue.

Public works committee votes unanimously to scrap route preferred by city staff, consultant

Loudoun Road resident David Ames watches council's public works committee before a vote to rewrite a plan to extend Sterling Lyon Parkway. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

City council's public works committee​ has rewritten a plan to extend Sterling Lyon Parkway in order to minimize the potential for expropriating properties south of Wilkes Avenue.

Public works committee voted unanimously on Tuesday in favour of a motion to ensure Sterling Lyon Parkway is extended west along the Wilkes Avenue corridor when it connects to a future southern extension of the William Clement Parkway.

Coun. Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge) pushed for this alignment over a Sterling Lyon Parkway extension that would have run several hundred metres to the south, across Loudoun Road and Liberty Street.
CBC's Caroline Barghout explains the reason for the inner ring road and looks at the proposals before council on the southwest section. 1:37

That alignment, favoured by public works officials and consulting firm WSP, would have resulted in the full or partial expropriation of dozens of properties, including at least 10 homes, the committee was told.

"This in my view was a ridiculous attempt to extend Sterling Lyon parkway through a residential area. It never should have happened," Morantz said, referring to the semi-rural Wilkes South neighbourhood, which is home to a mix of farms, horse pastures, woods and residential properties.

Consulting firm WSP studied three potential alignments for the Sterling Lyon Parkway extension before settling on a fourth, said Winnipeg chief administrative officer Doug McNeil.

He said city officials erred in assuming this alignment was a variation of a route the public had already seen, as opposed to a new alignment. He also said WSP should not have applied to the province for an environmental licence before the city sought feedback on the route.

That led to the province posting a notice that wound up alarming residents, McNeil said.

"Our children will be forced to play by a freeway, breathing in copious amount of pollution," Loudoun Road resident Ryan Anhalt told the committee, adding he has not slept well since he learned his home could be expropriated.

South Wilkes residents sit in the west chamber in the council gallery before public works committee voted on a motion to rewrite a plan to extend Sterling Lyon Parkway. (Trevor Brine/CBC)
Wilkes South residents formed a community organization to oppose the potential expropriation. They also hired Pitblado lawyer Darla Rettie to represent their interests, and asked former Charleswood-Tuxedo councillor Paula Havixbeck to lobby on their behalf at city hall.

The motion to pursue the Wilkes Avenue alignment still faces approval in November from council's executive policy committee and council as a whole.

Change draws fire 

The change drew criticism from Morantz's predecessor as public works chair, South Winnipeg-St. Norbert Coun. Lukes, who said councillors should not play the role of transportation planners or engineers.

Lukes said Morantz ignored city processes and should have waited for the public works department to produce a formal route about the Sterling Lyon Parkway extension and then vote on that plan when it proceeded.

That's the process the city followed when the public service recommended a $566-million Marion Street widening that angered St. Boniface residents and was rejected by council.

The same firm prepared that plan. McNeil said he is now considering firing WSP from the Sterling Lyon project.

He repeated his assertion he has no idea how much the change to the Sterling Lyon extension will cost the city, despite confirming WSP provided the city with an estimate.
City council's public works committee​ has rewritten a plan to extend Sterling Lyon Parkway in order to minimize the potential for expropriating properties south of Wilkes Avenue. 2:18

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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.