December 12, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Approval was given this afternoon for a new neighbourhood in south Charleswood that will eventually be home to 9,000 people.
But the approval came only after councillors engaged in an hour-long debate over the merits and costs of suburban development.
The debate centered on the civic issue of growth: Is growth costly and unwanted suburban sprawl; or, is growth a vital, viable component of a vibrant community.
Coun. Scott Fielding dismissed concerns that new suburban neighbourhoods are a financial drain, adding that if the city doesn’t provide for growth within its boundaries, people will move to neighbouring ring communities.
"You’re not evil for living in the suburbs," Fielding (St. James- Brooklands) said.
The other side of the argument was captured by Mynarski councillor Ross Eadie, who said the city has allowed developers to develop new neighbourhoods without paying for the associated costs.
Eadie said suburban sprawl brings costly infrastructure projects -- which should be paid for by developers but are being subsidized through property taxes by existing homeowners
"Developers need to understand we have a real problem here," Eadie said. "They’re not picking up enough of the pie."
Ridgewood South is a triangular parcel of land bordered by the Perimeter Highway to the west, the CNR Rivers mainline to the south, the Harte Trail/Ridgewood Avenue to the north.
The development will eventually have a total of 3,400 living units with a population of 7,000 to 9,000 residents.
The precinct plan was approved in a 11-5 vote, with councillors Eadie, Jenny Gerbasi, Paula Havixbeck, John Orlikow and Harvey Smith voting against it.
Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) said the neighbourhood is premature, adding the city shouldn’t allow it until the necessary road ways are in place to support it.
Even pro-development councillor Russ Wyatt (Transcona) acknowledged that the city’s fees for developing new neighbourhoods is the lowest in the country.
However, Wyatt said growth on the city’s edges is necessary.
"There is no such thing as a perfect plan," Wyatt said.
The project wasn’t supported by the area councillor, Paula Havixbeck – but not because she saw the development as urban sprawl.
Havixbeck (Charleswood) said there remains strong concerns in the community that not enough of the area’s sensitive environmental lands are being protected.