Winnipeg’s mayor is questioning the decision of a civic committee to impose a $70,000 penalty on a developer who already forfeited a $100,000 deposit.
Sam Katz said all developers have to follow the rules but added that some councillors weren’t aware that developer Andrew Marquess owns the park where a portion of a condominium building was constructed.
"It’s unfortunate that not a lot of the facts are out there," Katz told reporters following the executive policy committee meeting this morning.
"I believe if the committee had known that these lands were always owned by the developer…. They probably would not have even come up with" the penalty, Katz said.
Marquess is doing a massive condominium infill project in northwest Winnipeg – he bought a 12-building apartment complex which he renovated and then constructed seven more multi-family units and is converting the entire site into 340 condominium units.
As part of the development project, the city agreed to sell to Marquess a small tot park that was in the middle of the original apartment complex.
As part of the deal, Marquess agreed to rezone a portion of the property to parkland.
However, two of the new buildings he constructed were built partially on the land he had designated for a park.
The city issued a stop-work order in May on the construction of those two buildings.
The two sides were negotiating a settlement and this week, the property and development committee endorsed an administrative report that saw Marquess forfeit a $100,000 deposit he put down in case he didn’t build the park.
The committee also slapped him with a $70,000 penalty – it was originally set at $250,000 but scaled back – for the loss of parkland.
Marquess said he wouldn’t fight the penalty or the forfeiture but pointed out he was still building the park – but only changing its layout, from a rectangle-shape to a T-shape.
While an administrative report stated that Marquess had constructed the two buildings without a permit on land zoned as a park, Barry Thorgrimson, director property and planning, said Marquess had permits but the building designs were larger than approved and encroached on the park land.
Thorgrimson said the permits weren’t the issue – it was Marquess’ decision to alter the design and location without getting approval from the city first.
Thorgrimson said the penalty imposed by the committee on Marquess sends a message to the development community that they cannot stray from agreements with city hall.
But Katz said, even though Marquess agreed to pay the penalty, he doubted the city could have forced him to do so.
"There is really a different opinion whether the city has the opportunity, if it went to court, if we could do what we were talking about doing," Katz said, adding he wasn’t involved in the Marquess matter.