Manitoba

Allow highrise towers near rapid transit, planners say

​Winnipeg planners want to make it easier for developers to build high-rise residential towers near bus rapid transit stations.

Proposed change would allow 20-storey residential towers near rapid-transit stations in all areas of city

In downtown Winnipeg, there are no limits to the height of towers such as SkyCity, a proposed Fortress Real Developments project. A zoning change would increase the maximum height of residential towers outside downtown, provided they're near bus rapid transit stations. (Fortress Real Developments)

​Winnipeg planners want to make it easier for developers to build high-rise residential towers near bus rapid transit stations.

A proposed change to the city's zoning rules would allow developers to build 20-storey residential towers near BRT stations outside downtown without going through public hearings, says a report that comes before council's property committee on Monday.

Under current rules, the maximum height for a residential tower outside downtown is 15 storeys, though developers can go through public hearings to obtain approval for taller buildings. There are no height limits for building in the downtown zoning area, except for plots of land that are too small.

The proposed change would also reduce the parking requirements for developments near BRT stations and allow more density in areas deemed to be "transit-oriented development zones" amd be covered by a detailed plan for the area.

​Winnipeg planners want to make it easier for developers to build high-rise residential towers near bus rapid transit stations. 1:15

The changes are being made in order to stimulate the growth of apartments and condos near BRT stations, starting with Osborne Station, planners say in their report. 

Tall buildings may not be suitable for areas near all BRT stations, they added, noting the plan will determine what decides what constitutes a "transit-oriented development zone."

Mayor Brian Bowman said while he has not been briefed on this report, he is a strong supporter of transit-oriented development, which can reduce the reliance on personal vehicles and generate new property taxes that indirectly fund rapid-transit lines.

"It's absolutely something we want to see more of," Bowman said Thursday at city hall.

Bowman said the Graham Avenue transit mall is one of the factors that led Artis Real Estate Investment Trust to decide to build a new residential tower at Winnipeg Square.

Bowman has promised to build six rapid-transit corridors by 2030. Winnipeg is on track to complete one, the Southwest Transitway, by 2020.

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.