Manitoba

Controversial Parker Lands development inches closer to fate after marathon meeting

A Queen's Bench judge ordered the City of Winnipeg to hear the Parker Lands development proposal and councillors on the property and planning committee got more than an earful.

City planners, developer spar over details of project as meeting runs past midnight

Vote on fate of the controversial development now goes to city's executive policy committee. (Gem Equities)

A Queen's Bench judge ordered the City of Winnipeg to hear the Parker Lands development proposal and councillors on the property and planning committee got more than an earful.

Hours and hours of it, in fact.

In a marathon meeting that ran more than nine hours, bleeding into Tuesday morning, Andrew Marquess of Gem Equities and his development team laid out plans for Fulton Grove — 47 acres along the southwest transitway.

Councillors struggled at times to follow along as city staff agreed with parts of the development but ultimately couldn't completely recommend supporting the entire plan.

"I hope we all learn [and] we never do this again," said Coun. Vivian Santos at one point in the evening. "Both sides make really good points."

There were disagreements between the developer and city planners over the density of the project, how close it was to nearby amenities such as grocery stores, how much park space was in it and even if there were or weren't sidewalks in the plan.

The two sides also disagreed over the value of having a pedestrian bridge over nearby rail lines that would have linked the development to commercial amenities on Taylor Avenue.

Gem Equities owner Andrew Marquess told councillors there was information he couldn't provide to them about the process he'd gone through to develop the land. (CBC)

The committee ultimately split one vote 2-2 on the area's secondary plan and a motion by Coun. Janice Lukes passed 2-1 on the subdivision and zoning of the property.

Lukes' motion increased the amount of park space required for the development from eight to 10 per cent and quashed a requirement for back lanes.

Marquess had previously won several court battles in the protracted push for the development, resulting in the city being held in contempt and forced to hold Monday's review of the plan.

Marquess wants to build 1,920 units of housing — a mixture of  mostly multi-family apartment and condo units along with some duplexes, triplexes and single-family homes.

City planners were recommending approximately 1,600 units as appropriate for the size of the site.

With the city and provincial governments having spent approximately $650 million to build the rapid transit corridor and Waverley overpass nearby, Marquess and his team argued the Parker Lands site was the optimum place for this type of project.

"This is a fantastic site. This is a site that if you were in another major city people would trip over themselves to have the opportunity to develop," Marquess responded when asked why he continued on, despite years of apparent opposition from the city's public service.

Klein walks out on vote

As the evening wore on, Coun. Kevin Klein grew increasingly concerned with the possibility he and his colleagues weren't being given all the information they needed to make a decision on the project.

Klein was assured by city staff he had all the information but Marquess told councillors they did not.

"I don't believe you do, but [I] respectfully decline to go further," Marquess said. 

Klein was told by the city clerk he could not abstain on the vote for the subdivision and zoning of the property, so he walked out.

"For several years now, this has been going back and forth in the courts and when I hear there is information that's not being shared, I'm concerned about that," Klein said.

Both issues now move to the city's executive policy committee and ultimately to council for a vote.

Controversial Parker Lands development inches closer to fate

1 year ago
2:11
A Queen's Bench judge ordered the City of Winnipeg to hear the Parker Lands development proposal and councillors on the property and planning committee got more than an earful. 2:11

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