A century ago, toward the end of the transcontinental railway boom, heavy industry dominated every aspect of life in Winnipeg. Today, this city is still struggling to redefine itself as a post-industrial community where most working people do not toil with their hands. But the detritus of the industrial era still dominates the landscape.
A couple of years ago, when city hall tried to overhaul Winnipeg's long-term planning framework, the policy geeks placed a particular emphasis on reclaiming some of that industrial land.
The planners wound up designating 11 unused or under-used chunks of land as "major redevelopment sites" in the hopes they would become new residential neighbourhoods. The areas in question total 500 hectares -- much of it former industrial land.
Already, five of these sites are slated for redevelopment as plans are moving through city hall. But some of the sites pose serious problems, owing to environmental contamination, a patchwork of land ownership and -- in the case of Kapyong Barracks -- a lengthy legal dispute.
Here's what's happening with all 11 of Winnipeg's major redevelopment sites -- or as the case may be, not happening at all:
Fort Rouge Yards
Winnipeg developer Gem Equities plans to create a medium-density residential neighbourhood on the former CN railyards stretching along the Southwest Transitway. The city and province are relying on new tax revenue from new homes and apartment buildings here to help pay back $90 million worth of transitway-building loans. The city has guaranteed $10 million in loans for the transit-friendly development. Television handyman Mike Holmes has lent his name to 400 townhomes within the development.
Grant Park Pavilions
Shindico Realty, another Winnipeg developer, intends to convert 18 hectares of land south of Taylor Avenue into a mixed-use neighbourhood with one big-box retailer, several smaller stores, residential apartments, office space, a seniors care home and possibly a hotel. Council's property committee has approved the area's master plan.
The departure of the Canadian military has left 100 hectares of extremely valuable land in Tuxedo in limbo as the federal government resists efforts by First Nations to claim the property as part of the treaty land-entitlement process. This protracted dispute has deprived the city and province of new tax revenue and has delayed the widening of Kenaston Boulevard. It also leaves an eyesore in Tuxedo. The next court date is expected in November, said Jeff Rath, a Calgary lawyer who represents Treaty 1 First Nations.
Old Southwood Golf Course
The University of Manitoba launched an international design competition to create a transit-friendly, medium-density mixed-use neighbourhood on the edge of its Fort Garry campus. The new neighbourhood should allow more students and faculty to live close to the university -- and Winnipeg Transit easier access to Investors Group Field, the new football stadium located at the southern edge of the old golf course.
A 24-hectare chunk of land off Springfield Road in North Kildonan is slated for redevelopment into a medium- to high-density residential neighbourhood surrounding a commercial town centre that will be built to a "scale that is supportive of a pedestrian-oriented environment," according to the area master plan. Council's property committee has signed off on the plan, which calls for townhouses and multi-storey buildings.
Park City Plaza
This 16-hectare triangle of city-owned land in Transcona used to be the home of a public works yard. Now, 1,100 residential units and a new Transcona library are planned for a mixed-use development within the triangle, bounded by Ravelston Avenue west, Plessis Road and the Central Manitoba Railway Pine Falls rail line. Environmental remediation of the site will cost $8 million, mostly to clean up salt residue.
In 2009, Gem Equities obtained unserviced, partly forested land in Fort Garry from the city in a land swap for a section of the Fort Rouge Yards. The land sits immediately south of Grant Park Pavilions and will be home to the next phase of the Southwest Transitway, assuming the city and province agree to build the busway extension. There are no immediate plans for development.
The Canad Inns hotel chain acquired what used to be known as the Canada Packers site in St. Boniface in the hopes of building a new football stadium and convention centre on the site. The redevelopment of the former industrial site will have to address the close proximity of residential homes and industrial properties.
South Point Douglas
The most curious redevelopment site on the city list is one of Winnipeg's oldest neighbourhoods, currently home to a mix of residential homes, old warehouses and industrial operations. The city has eyes on a Red River-focused redevelopment that would extend the Waterfront Drive-style development to the north and east. But this may not be possible to plan on a large scale, as there are dozens of small land owners in the neighbourhood.
Sugar Beet Lands
Fifty hectares of Fort Garry land, north of Bishop Grandin Boulevard, are primed for mixed-use development that could also tie into the second phase of the Southwest Transitway. There is only one major land owner, Hopewell Development, which eases the process.
Fifty hectares of former industrial land is primed for redevelopment west of Kenaston Boulevard, between the IKEA-led development and Kenaston Common big-box development.