City council has taken the first step toward the approval of Winnipeg's largest new residential suburb since Waverley West.
Council voted 13-3 in favour of the first reading of a Precinct Plan for Ridgewood South, a 325-hectare triangle of land on the south side of Charleswood, bounded mostly by Wilkes Avenue, Ridgewood Avenue, Rannock Avenue and the Perimeter Highway.
The move allows public hearings into the development to begin on June 25, at city council's St. James-Assiniboia community committee. Couns. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge), Ross Eadie (Mynarski) and Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) voted in opposition.
The plan calls for a mix of residential homes and multi-family housing in a layout that's more dense than most existing suburbs.
For decades, this large chunk of Charleswood -- roughly a quarter the size of Waverley West -- has resisted development due to the logistical complexity of extending roads, sewers and water mains into a patchwork of land with at least 30 property owners.
The largest owner is Winnipeg property developer Qualico, which holds roughly 60 per cent of the land. The firm is leading the effort to open up the area to help relieve a shortage of greenfields suitable to build single-family homes. Somewhere between 5,500 and 8,700 people are expected to move into Ridgewood South over the next 15 years.
The precinct plan calls for the land to be developed in 11 phases, starting in the west, where four large chunks can be serviced relatively easily by extending the city's sewer system.
But other pieces pose massive drainage challenges, not to mention community concerns about transportation headaches and preserving natural areas. The biggest question mark involves who will pay for new regional roads, such as the southern extension of the William R. Clement Parkway, which currently dead-ends at Grant Avenue.
Before the vote, Charleswood resident Harold Schuster urged council not to allow the plan to proceed at all because he does not believe more development is needed at the city's fringes. He was applauded by other residents in the council chamber.