Will new inland port rid Rosser of its green space?

The rural municipality of Rosser is laying out the welcome mat for CentrePort. It held open houses this week as it begins the process of re-zoning the land to allow development of the inland port.

Green space could be snapped up by industrial development, RM staff say

The city of Winnipeg and CentrePort say Little Mountain Park will be preserved, but an advisor to the RM of Rosser says the land may eventually become far more valuable for industrial development instead. (CBC)

The rural municipality of Rosser is laying out the welcome mat for CentrePort, an inland transportation hub slated to be built in the area.

The RM held open houses this week as it begins the process of re-zoning the land to allow development of the inland port.

Bob Brown, the RM's advisor on CentrePort issues, said more people turned up than were expected, including some people concerned about the future of Little Mountain Park, a green space in the area.

Centreport and the city have both said the green space will be preserved, along with Little Mountain Sportsplex and a privately-owned golf course.

But Brown said as CentrePort is developed over the next few decades, the land will likely become more valuable for its commercial and industrial potential.

"If CentrePort is successful, that's the type of use that will predominate in the area," he said. "You're not going to see other typical urban uses probably, including golf courses or recreation areas or dog parks ... because that's not what inland ports are all about."

Brown said it's the market that will eventually decide what CentrePort, a 20,000 acre transportation hub, will look like.

"Nobody is going to be forced to vacate, be it a residence or a dog park. But if CentrePort is successful, the market will eventually probably encourage people to leave because their lands will have more value for development purposes than what they are for current uses, and people will take that option and sell off probably."

He said use of the park may even die off as development progresses.

"You're not necessarily going to be driving ... through an industrial area to get to a spot to walk your dog," he said.

There may even come a day when a golf course in the CentrePort footprint, The Players Course, disappears.

Brown said it's an option any land owner can consider, such as when the city recently mulled selling off John Blumberg golf course in the RM of Headingley.

"If ... they are surrounded by viable commercial industrial type activities, and they're in this to make money, then probably at some point they'll say, 'We can make more money selling this off than we can from green fees.'"

Winnipegger Lloyd Johnson attended some of the RM's sessions this week and came away very disappointed.

He said he and others who are worried about Little Mountain Park wanted to have their say but that didn't happen.

"Basically they were not too interested in what we had to say at all," he said.

He said he did talk with officials with the RM of Rosser but that didn't go very far either.

"I got the distinct impression that their hands were tied as well, like the province is going to do what the province is going to do, and there's not a damn thing anybody can do about it," he said.

Johnson said he and others will keep lobbying to assure the park's future.

But he admits it is probably inevitable the park will eventually disappear as CentrePort grows.

"I think it's terrible. I think it's a crime against everybody," he said. "This is a historic area. It should be preserved. It's green space that the city loves to tear up. Anything green they want to plow under, and it'd be just a crime to see this disappear. It's part of the fabric of the city of Winnipeg. We have to protect it."