Manitoba

Who will pay for Bridgwater Forest's flowers? Homeowners, city at odds over landscaping

People in Winnipeg’s Bridgwater Forest development aren’t happy about the state of their community after a deal with the developer to keep up the neighbourhood’s pricey landscaping expired.

'You pay taxes for this type of community,' City Coun. Janice Lukes says

Bridgwater Forest park residents aren't happy with how the area's landscaping is being maintained by the city

5 years ago
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People in Winnipeg's Bridgwater Forest development aren't happy about the state of their community after a deal with the developer to keep up the neighbourhood's pricey landscaping expired. 0:52

People in Winnipeg's Bridgwater Forest development aren't happy about the state of their community after a deal with the developer to keep up the neighbourhood's pricey landscaping expired.

After seven years of living in the area, Kevin Chan said it's become an eyesore.

"It was nice at first, then all of a sudden, no one does anything. The sand is everywhere. The dandelions are horrible," he said. 

South Winnipeg-St. Norbert City Coun. Janice Lukes said the problem is due to an expired contract with the developer, which was the Province of Manitoba.
City Coun. Janice Lukes sits in a Bridgwater Forest park. Residents aren't happy with how the area's landscaping is being maintained by the city. (CBC)

"We've got the beautiful yellow dandelions, which are lovely, and then we've got the beautiful blooming stinkweed. It's very beautiful, and then we'll have the tall thistles that are coming up to our hips very shortly," said Lukes. "You pay for this type of community. You pay taxes for this type of community. It's not maintained, and that's a problem."

The area also has a broken fountain, which Lukes said will be fixed.

She said the province was responsible for maintaining extra features like flower beds on boulevards, forests and other areas until their contract expired three years ago. 

"When [homeowners] bought in, it was maintained by the developer, and then after a period of time, the community maintenance is handed over to the city, and then the city maintains it," said Lukes.

But she said the city is doing "nothing" to maintain it because it's too expensive. She said it could cost millions of dollars. 

What are they spending money on? No one knows- Bridgwater Forest resident Kevin Chan

"If the city has the final say and is approving this design five, seven years ago, weren't people thinking that we'd have to eventually maintain it? It appears not," she said.

Who will pick up the tab for the beautification now, is a mystery.

Lukes said the landscaping "detail" should have been dealt with more thoroughly through the city's planning department when the development was approved, because the cost to the city to maintain it now is too high.

"The city … parks department say they don't have enough resources to maintain them," she said. "I guess that falls back on the councillors. Should we approve more funding to maintain them? I'm saying these folks are paying a very high level of taxes. We should be able to figure out how we can maintain this."

On Thursday, Lukes is hosting a meeting with city parks and maintenance as well as the Province of Manitoba to talk through the problem with residents.
South Winnipeg-St. Norbert City Coun. Janice Lukes says Bridgwater Forest is dealing with a landscaping problem due to an expired contract with the Province of Manitoba. (CBC)

As for Chan, he's sympathetic to the city's position.

"If there's no money in the budget, there's no money in the budget," he said. "What are they spending money on? No one knows."

The meeting will be held at the Waverley Heights Community Centre at 7 p.m. 

City says something will need to be done

Every year when the City looks at maintenance of areas like Bridgwater Forest, the costs are assessed and brought before council, according to manager of Parks and Open Space Dave Domke.

"A decision is made ultimately at council whether or not we receive those funds," he said.

He explained that they had actually scaled back the original vision from the developer for the Waverley West areas but "maybe in hindsight" it wasn't enough.

Domke said he welcomes the conversation around what should be done with the area.

"If it's going to lead to more simplified landscapes, that might be one of the potential outcomes," he said. "Regardless, even a more simplified landscape, we still need to at least be mowing and doing some tree work and those other kind of things on that property."

with files from CBC's Erin Brohman

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