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Committee approves plan for suburb

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The planning framework for the largest residential neighbourhood in Winnipeg since Waverley West has cleared another hurdle at city hall -- against the wishes of the area councillor.

City council's Assiniboia community committee voted 2-1 early Tuesday morning to approve a precinct plan for Ridgewood South, a document that will serve as a blueprint for the development of a 325-hectare triangle of land in Charleswood.

A mix of grassland, forest and wetland, the precinct is bounded by the Perimeter Highway to the west, Wilkes Avenue to the south and Rannock and Ridgewood avenues to the north. It has resisted development for decades due to the logistical complexity of extending roads, sewers and water mains into a patchwork of land with more than 30 owners.

Over the past 21/2 years, consulting firm Landmark Planning and Design has worked on a precinct plan on behalf of the largest land owner in Ridgewood South, Qualico, which holds roughly 60 per cent of the land. The resulting 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.

At about 2:15 a.m. Tuesday, after a marathon second session of a two-stage public hearing, two out of three members of the Assiniboia committee -- Couns. Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) and Grant Nordman (St. Charles) -- approved the plan.

Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck voted in opposition, citing concerns about the way natural habitat was assessed and what she described as details missing from the plan. "It's 90 per cent complete, and it's a very good plan," said Havixbeck. "But I have questions about whether council policy was followed and whether people's property rights were respected."

On Monday evening, toward the beginning of the Ridgewood South hearing, Havixbeck grilled city staff and Landmark principal Donovan Toews about the way land in the precinct was assessed in terms of the quality of the natural habitat and the species that may be present. Havixbeck drew attention to the fact the city conducted an initial assessment and gave the results to the private consultant.

Toews said he did not understand the concern. He said he was pleased the plan was approved and many initial opponents in Charleswood have come around to supporting the precinct plan, which calls for the preservation of 10 per cent of the highest-quality natural features in Ridgewood South.

Before any development can proceed, landowners must present the city with subdivision plans. Even if those subdivisions are approved, Toews said he does not expect any shovels in the ground before next spring.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2013 B2

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