Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City panel scraps snow-dump site's sale conditions

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A senior administrator has accused some councillors of imposing conditions on the sale of the Kenaston snow dump that would favour an adjacent property owner.

Barry Thorgrimson, director of property and planning, said the conditions placed on the property by the local community committee would restrict the future use of the land and restrict the number of interested bidders.

"This is basically telling the adjoining property owner, 'You're the guy that gets to apply for this one,' " Thorgrimson told the property and development committee.

Council agreed in 2013 to close the 5.2-hectare Kenaston snow dump and sell it. However, it remained in use until earlier this year.

At a recent Assiniboia community committee meeting, Couns. Paula Havixbeck and Grant Nordman proposed conditions on the sale of the property that would promote the site as employment lands -- office space or manufacturing -- and doubled space set aside for a right-of-way to 60 metres from 30 metres.

When the issue came to the property and development committee Tuesday morning, Thorgrimson said doubling the right-of-way would reduce the amount of land for sale, reducing its value.

He also opposed identifying the property as employment lands, adding that would discourage buyers or developers.

"I certainly wouldn't want to be marketing this property that way," Thorgrimson said. "We would be looking at getting the highest and best use and we would be entertaining opportunities."

The adjacent property owners include Lafarge Canada, south of the dump, and Terracon Development, a land developer that owns a business park north of the dump.

The committee was told the land is designated as employment lands but the city also recognizes the area is in transition and there could be a variety of uses for the property.

Havixbeck denied she was trying to favour any potential bidder.

"That's really unfortunate that the administration would offer such an opinion," Havixbeck said, adding she believes there are several buyers interested in the site.

Havixbeck said she's concerned the property would be sold quickly and cheaply for retail space, adding she believes retail in the area has reached its limits and the city can get more value if it is sold for other uses.

Havixbeck said she believes the best use of the property is for office space or residential development and potential buyers should know that.

"I see a lot of retail and a lot of vacancies in retail -- I don't want more retail in the area," Havixbeck said. "As the area councillor, I think I know the area the best.

"I want the best value for the city going forward."

The committee opted to take the administration's recommendation and removed the conditions the community committee imposed on the sale.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2014 0

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