Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Forks North Portage still eyeing Parcel 4

Wants to include it in plans despite city decision

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The Forks North Portage Partnership still hopes to include a controversial city-owned property in its redevelopment plans for The Forks in spite of a city council decision Wednesday not to sell it the land.

"It doesn't change our process at all," Clare MacKay, FNP's vice-president of marketing and communications, said Thursday. "It doesn't matter to us if the city owns that land or if it sells the land to us. We just think it makes sense to include it as part of the overall (redevelopment) package."

A motion by Coun. Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) to sell the city's Parcel Four property to FNP for $6 million was defeated by a vote of 13 to 1 after some councillors complained proper procedures were not being followed.

The city property is adjacent to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and was previously slated to be developed as a water park, hotel and parkade.

But that deal fell through last May after councillors were bombarded with negative feedback from constituents who felt it was the wrong kind of development for the site.

MacKay said FNP is still trying to determine the best way to redevelop the surface parking lots it owns immediately south of the city land, which is currently being used as a surface parking lot.

She said city officials are also taking part in those discussions, and it will be several months before they have any concepts to present to the public. And it likely will be at least two years before any construction work could begin.

MacKay noted the CMHR isn't scheduled to open until sometime in 2014, and FNP will want to wait until after that before it begins redeveloping its property.

She said the redevelopment of the north end of The Forks site is a long-term project that will likely take 10 to 20 years to complete.

"This will complete the development of The Forks site, so we want to make sure we get it right."

She stressed public open-house events will be held before development plans are finalized.

"We're always interested in what the public thinks about what we're proposing."

Elements under consideration include a large, above-ground parkade to replace the surface parking stalls that would be lost; some street-level retail space with residential units above; and a one-kilometre-long, European-style promenade featuring green space, sitting areas and possibly water fountains.

"We're not ruling anything out," MacKay said. Even if the city opts to do something else with Parcel Four, MacKay said FNP will still proceed with the redevelopment of its land.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2012 B5

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