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City to guarantee loans for Fort Rouge Yards plan

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City council has approved a plan to guarantee $10 million in loans to a developer behind Winnipeg's largest infill project.

The vote means Winnipeg will backstop $10 million out of $14.7-million worth of loans to Gem Equities from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Developer Andrew Marquess plans to subdivide the Fort Rouge Yards into six lots with room for 452 townhouses and two medium-rise towers with a total of 448 units.

In a report, city finance officials say there are risks associated with guaranteeing the loan because it could affect Winnipeg's credit rating. If Gem Equities defaults, the city would be on the hook for loan payments and would record it as a liability.

Marquess has been sued more than a dozen times by suppliers who claimed he owed them $1.96 million for everything from hardware to heating-and-cooling equipment.

After courts ordered Marquess to pay $1.59-million worth of settlements, Marquess says his financial troubles are behind him.

Couns. Russ Wyatt (Transcona) and Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) voted against the plan to guarantee the loan to Gem Equities.

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