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Industrial revolution: Progress report on land city wants to be developed

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The former Kapyong Barracks sits on 100 acres of prime real estate along Kenaston Boulevard in Tuxedo. The federal government and Treaty 1 First Nations remain locked in a legal battle for the land.


The former Kapyong Barracks sits on 100 acres of prime real estate along Kenaston Boulevard in Tuxedo. The federal government and Treaty 1 First Nations remain locked in a legal battle for the land. Photo Store

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.


Kapyong Barracks

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.


Parker lands

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.


Public Markets

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.

Interactive map: Winnipeg’s major development sites

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 17, 2013 A10


Updated on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 6:27 AM CDT: Fixes headline, replaces photo, adds map

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About Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives wants you to know his last name rhymes with Beavis, as in Beavis and Butthead. He aspires to match the wit, grace and intelligence of the 1990s cartoon series.

Bartley joined the Free Press in 1998 as a music critic. He spent the ensuing 7.5 years interviewing the likes of Neil Young and David Bowie and trying to stay out of trouble at the Winnipeg Folk Festival before deciding it was far more exciting to sit through zoning-variance appeals at city hall.

In 2006, Bartley followed Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz from the music business into civic politics. He spent seven years covering city hall from a windowless basement office.

He is now reporter-at-large for the Free Press and also writes an outdoor-recreation column called Offroad for the Outdoors page.

A canoeist, backpacker and food geek, Bartley is fond of conventional and wilderness travel. He is the author of A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province, the only comprehensive travel guidebook for Manitoba – and a Canadian bestseller, to boot. He is also co-author of Stuck In The Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, a collaboration with photographer Bryan Scott and the winner of the 2014 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award.

Bartley’s work has also appeared on CBC Radio and Citytv as well as in publications such as The Guardian, explore magazine and National Geographic Traveler. He sits on the board of PEN Canada, which promotes freedom of expression.

Born in Winnipeg, he has an arts degree from the University of Winnipeg and a master’s degree in journalism from Ottawa’s Carleton University. He is the proud owner of a blender.

On Twitter: @bkives


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