ACTION: March 22 City Appeal Committee

The City’s Appeal Committee meets to decide the fate of many multi-family housing projects this Friday (March 22, 2019).


This Friday, the City of Winnipeg’s Appeal Committee meets. They have a jammed packed agenda, with appeals to many infill housing developments (often against the developments).

The Committee meets in the City Council building at 510 Main Street at 9:00 AM. Councillors Matt Allard, Jeff Browaty, Vivian Santos, and Devi Sharma are listed as members of the Committee on the March 22nd Agenda.

To speak at the Committee, please contact  cityclerks@winnipeg.ca. If you are unable to attend the 9 AM start time meeting (which can often last an entire business day), consider contacting the committee members with messages supportive of infill housing. 

Committee members

The following developments listed in the agenda are particularly notable.

LOT 18 ON COLONY STREET NEAR 200 COLONY (FORT ROUGE – EAST FORT GARRY WARD)

This proposed multifamily development in West Broadway, while just south of a single family house, is on a street with many multi-family buildings. The construction appears to be slated for what’s now a surface parking lot. The developer is seeking variances to reduce the yard space required on all sides. The City’s Public Service is in favour of granting these, except for the request to eliminate the north side yard requirement (which was instead reduced by the City’s Urban Planning Division to a five foot allowance). The development, under the current variances and conditions being considered, would have 25 units, no visitor parking and 9 parking spaces. There is an agreement in principle with Peg City Car Co-op where a car-share program would be provided to alleviate parking concerns. 

Complaints against the project: The appellant claims that this development is incompatible with the area and that the variances requested are not small changes. They also claim that the shallow yard will lead to bad effects on other properties.

Key Points in Support 

  • West Broadway is a downtown adjacent neighbourhood that already contains many mid-rise apartments. A 25 unit multi-family building is a very natural and incremental development for West Broadway. 
     
  • Surface parking lots are a wasteful use of space that are blighting downtown and nearby neighbourhoods. Going forward, Winnipeg needs to be less auto-centric in its use of space. This development is a good start in that direction. 
     
  • West Broadway is a very walkable neighbourhood. Providing housing opportunities that make sense for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users especially makes sense in this neighbourhood, where those type of non-car commuters make up over 60% of the population according to the City’s custom 2011 census results.
     
  • Inefficient land-use, caused by our city’s sprawling and auto-centric development, is costing Winnipeg a lot. The low tax base to infrastructure ratio in much of the city means overstretched budgets that result in declining services and brown water. Getting on track to sustain our services means more land-efficient infill developments like this one. 

378 EDISON AVENUE IN ROSSMERE (NORTH KILDONAN)

This is a lot zoned for duplexes but currently containing a 1 1/2 storey house. The proposal is to demolish the house and construct a two storey building that would consist of five units. Variances the developer requests include to have five parking spaces instead of six and a variance to locate a parking space within 10 feet of a widow in the building.

Complaints against the project: Critics say this project will jeopardise safety through increased traffic. They are also worried that there will not be enough parking. There are further worries about privacy and shade. One resident says they would not have bought a house had they known a multi-family building would one day be built.  Some say there are vacant multi-family buildings in the area and this proves more housing is unnecessary. Also, some criticise supporters of the project from outside Rossmere, claiming they should “stay in their community”. 

Key Points in Support 

  • All Winnipeggers have a stake in efficient land use. Because of inefficient, sprawling and auto-centric land use we have suffered from brown water, overstretched budgets and services as well as the prospect of property tax hikes. 
     
  • Mature neighbourhoods like Rossmere will experience increased demand for multi-family housing as more and more baby boomers retire. We need to be ready for that as well as being ready to accommodate future population growth. 
     
  • Five parking spots for five units is a very reasonable arrangement. As the City of Winnipeg grows, we need to dedicate less and less space for parking and encourage alternative means of transportation. Being near the route 11, this area could accommodate more transit users. 
     
  • People should not expect neighbourhoods to remain frozen in amber. As demographics and housing needs change, so too should the housing stock and nature of development. 
     
  • If there are traffic concerns, there are more refined traffic calming measures to consider aside from preventing the development of new housing for people. 
     
  • If developers have completely misjudged housing demand, this is actually good news for housing affordability. It means local landlords will have to lower rents and reduce their profits to the benefit of people seeking housing. And if critics are right that there will be vacant units, does that not negate their other claim that these developments will increase traffic? 

ACADEMY UPTOWN LANES BUILDING REDEVELOPMENT (RIVER HEIGHTS – FORT GARRY) 

This project in North River Heights aims to redevelop the inside of the Academy Uptown Lanes building, a historic building in the area. The project is seeking a conditional use to build 23 dwelling units (instead of 15), 4 office units on the second floor and 2 retail units on the ground floor. The developer is seeking a variance to have vehicle parking off site (because there is not space around the historic building for car parking) but will have on-site bicycle parking. There is also an agreement-in-principle with Peg City Car Co-op to provide car share services. 

Complaints against the project: A critic of the project is claiming this is too much for the area and incompatible. They say it will contribute to parking problems. Furthermore, because the developer collaborated with a City Planner to come up with a solution for parking challenges the appellant believes this means there’s “collusion”. The appellant believes people won’t sell their homes to live in North River Heights when they retire and that the development will attract a “transient” population. 

Key Points in Support 

  • This redevelopment is a prime example of effectively re-purposing an old builder to new uses. This development preserves the historic outside and generates new housing in a desirable area that is an optimal spot for improved transit service. 
     
  • Various forecasts predict the demand for multi-family housing to increase as baby boomers age. It is reasonable to expect high demand for multi-family housing in areas already desirable, like North River Heights. 
     
  • Winnipeg’s land use has been inefficient, sprawling and auto-centric in the past. This has significant financial and climatic costs. This development, on the other hand, will provide an opportunity to live a lifestyle that is not car dependent. The site is served by transit and is central enough to make cycling viable, with the redevelopment even providing bicycle parking. North River Heights already has comparably fewer drivers than much of Winnipeg, with 23% of residents taking the bus, walking or biking to work according to the City’s custom 2011 census results. This is development could strengthen this trend. 

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