A desirable parcel of city land in southwest Winnipeg is about to go on sale -- but not necessarily to the highest bidder.
In early 2013, council agreed to sell a city snow dump located west of Kenaston Boulevard in order to cash in on the rising value of commercial property along the major artery between McGillivray Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway.
Technically, the 5.2-hectare site is considered a city road. Before the land can be sold, council must officially close Snow Dump Road and declare the land surplus.
When a report recommending these moves came before council's Assiniboia community committee this week, councillors stipulated the sale of the land must consider how it will be used, as opposed to simply selling the property to the highest bidder.
"All tenders should be considered; firstly by how they will address the policy and planning objectives for the area and secondly by the price they are prepared to pay," read an amendment proposed by Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, the area councillor.
The amendment also designates the former snow dump as "employment lands," which means preference will be given to buyers interested in industrial development over commercial or residential development.
Commercial development along the southern stretch of Kenaston Boulevard has intensified in the past decade, changing the face of what used to be a mostly industrial strip.
By insisting the land remain industrial, Assiniboia community committee attempted to ensure the land will generate more property-tax revenue than a commercial operation.
The sale of this land, however, was incorporated into the 2013 operating budget, as part of a plan to raise $6.9 million through the sale of four city properties.
The committee also reduced the size of the snow-dump parcel by increasing the size of a road that will allow access to neighbouring industrial properties.
Couns. Havixbeck and Grant Nordman (St. Charles) voted for the changes, while St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding opposed them.
Havixbeck and Fielding declined to comment, noting they are not permitted to speak about the issue because there will be a public hearing.
Minutes from the meeting show two neighbouring property owners opposed the closure and sale. One is Lafarge Canada, a concrete supplier on McGillivray Boulevard, south of the snow dump.
The other is Terracon Development, a land developer that owns a business park north of the snow dump.
Pending the approval of council, the city's plan is to create a new southwest Winnipeg snow dump on land that is not as valuable.
"This is a prime piece of real estate," Havixbeck said last fall, referring to the Kenaston snow dump. "It makes sense to put it somewhere else."
The city closed the Kenaston snow dump in January, when it reached capacity. The city has three other snow dumps, all located in lower-traffic areas.
Thanks to its accessibility, the Kenaston dump has served as a backdrop for oddball photos, as the heap of snow can appear to be a rare Prairie mountain late in the winter. It sometimes doesn't melt well into the summer.