Manitoba

City councillor wants Winnipeg to create a planning commission

The city's property and development committee wants to explore the feasibility of creating a Winnipeg planning commission.

Kevin Klein wants to dissolve council's planning committee in favour of new, appointed board

Coun. Kevin Klein wants Winnipeg to create a planning commission to make future decisions about development in the city. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The city's property and development committee wants to explore the feasibility of creating a Winnipeg planning commission.

A motion introduced Monday by Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood) asks the civil service to look at establishing an approving authority that would make decisions on all matters currently decided by the planning and development, heritage and downtown development committee. 

"Property development is one of the most important and often contentious issues for our city. Something this vital to our future shouldn't be vulnerable to politics," Klein said.

"I think looking at a planning commission of experts is a necessity in our growing city — we're growing to a million," he said Monday.

Currently a committee of four councillors, including Klein, decide matters relating to planning and development in Winnipeg in consultation with experts at public works and other City of Winnipeg departments. 

Klein believes city councillors like himself do not have the expertise to make these decisions.

A planning commission made up of developers, landscape designers, representatives of homeowners and others would be better equipped to make these decisions, Klein said.

All members of the commission would be approved by council on an annual basis, he said. 

Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge) was the sole member of the planning and development committee who didn't support the motion.

She is concerned the commission would duplicate work already being done and add another layer of bureaucracy. 

"That's how you put a moratorium on development," Rollins said. "Our committee is actually doing really good work."

Coun. Brian Mayes, chair of the property and development committee, supported the motion with hopes it might help reduce the number of hours spent approving contentious projects. However, he believes councillors should have final say if any appeal is lodged.

"Who wins elections should matter," he said.

Other Canadian cities, including Calgary, already have planning commissions, Klein said. 

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Winnipeg. Before moving to Manitoba in 2015, she worked as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

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