PRESS RELEASE: Proposed Shaftesbury Apartments crucial to Winnipeg’s city building goals

The proposed apartments for 490 Shaftesbury Boulevard are a step in the right direction for Winnipeg. This type of infill project contributes to a diversity of home choices in Winnipeg, options for folks to adjust their housing in-community at different stages of life, facilitates a more compact urban form that leverages existing infrastructure while generating tax revenue for City services, and helps meet our climate goals. 

The proposal includes three apartment buildings of six, five, and four storeys with amenities such as bicycling parking (including 9 secured bike parking stalls below grade), green roofs, trees planted by the builder around the site, and the construction of a sidewalk connecting the building to the active transportation path on Shaftesbury Boulevard, (p. 1, 28-29, 37, 49).

The Shaftesbury Boulevard site is a strategic location for new homes in terms of public transit and active transportation. Grant Avenue, a few blocks from the project location, is intended to be a frequent transit route under the Transit Master Plan adopted by City Council last year. As well, the proposed multi-family homes are near the Shaftesbury Boulevard pedestrian & cyclist multi-use path, which extends through Assiniboine Park and over an active transportation bridge to the north side of the Assiniboine River. This makes the multi-family homes an option for people who want to drive less.

Building more multi-family, property-tax generating homes near existing infrastructure helps Winnipeg with its financial sustainability. Multi-family infill, however, also helps with climate sustainability, mitigation, and adaptation. The green roof design dampens the urban heat island effect. Winnipeg’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory notes that multi-family residential builds tend to be more energy efficient than single family structures and that 42 per cent of homes will have to be multi-unit residential if we’re on a low carbon path (p. 60, 107). As well, the inventory identifies that infill must amount to 50 per cent of new builds if the city is to be on a low carbon path (p. 73). The proposed multi-family homes on Shaftesbury Boulevard help meet these targets.

Any proposal for new homes is bound to get a lot of discussion and diverging perspectives. Some of the rhetoric in response to the proposed multi-family apartments, however, is concerning. Statements such as “no apartment blocks” and “single family houses only” reveal an attachment, by some, to rigidly exclusionary zoning. Winnipeg, like cities such as Edmonton, Minneapolis, and Portland, needs to move past exclusionary zoning and accommodate the need for a variety of housing options and types for people at all stages of life across the city.

Image Credit: Sketch of 490 Shaftesbury Blvd buildings from a report by the Urban Planning Division of the City of Winnipeg.

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