Winnipeg city council holds off on controversial Polo Park and Parker Lands developments

By | May 29, 2020

Winnipeg city council put two contentious developments on hold Friday, to allow time for a pair of outside bodies to weigh their respective fates.

Council voted to lay over indefinitely a vote on changing the Airport Vicinity Protection Area Secondary Plan — a planning framework that restricts development around the airport in order to limit residential noise complaints.

The change would have paved the way for a massive residential development around the Polo Park mall by Cadillac Fairview and Shindico Realty Inc.

An 11th-hour letter from Transport Canada to the city confirmed the Winnipeg Airports Authority had the blessing of the government of Canada to object to the development and force it to be reviewed by the province of Manitoba’s municipal board.

The letter seemed to contradict a previous public statement by Transport Canada saying the WAA could not speak on behalf of federal government.

Mayor Brian Bowman was cautious about his answers after Friday’s council meeting, saying the matter was still to go in front of a hearing.

“It’s pretty clear that if the federal government intervenes in this way, or weighs in, in this manner, as proscribed in the [City of Winnipeg] charter, then we need to respect that,” Bowman said, adding he supports the development and voted in favour of it earlier in the city’s process.

Municipal Relations Minister Rochelle Squires told reporters earlier in the day a backlog of cases in front of the municipal board has been cleared and the plan could be heard soon.

“I know they are being able to hear things a little bit more quickly and will be able to move through this. I don’t anticipate this taking an extended period of time,” Squires said.

Parker Lands dispute goes back to the bench

Councillors also voted 14-2 to lay over a decision on a residential development at the area called Fulton Grove, on 47 acres known as the Parker lands in Fort Garry, near the recently opened southwest rapid transit line.

Queen’s Bench Justice Candace Grammond ruled last year the city was in contempt of court for not holding a hearing on the development, as ordered following an earlier court proceeding.

The appearance of the plan before the property, planning and development committee last week was supposed to satisfy the August 2019 contempt order.

Committee chair Brian Mayes told councillors there was correspondence “from the parties involved that raised some doubt about whether the process was followed.”

The move delays a decision on the development once again as the city’s legal team seeks clarification from Justice Grammond on whether the city has satisfied the court’s orders.

Mayor Bowman would not criticize the city’s legal team for its advice on this case or others that have left the city on the losing side of a judgment.

“When you are dealing with legal matters, especially legal matters initiated by other parties they are not always easy and there are two sides to legal challenges, lawyers on both sides do their best to represent the interests of their clients,” Bowman said.

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