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Flood of ideas for Southwood golf course land

Design teams share their visions

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It's certainly one of the more novel visions for the University of Manitoba's Southwood golf course land: Let the Red River floodwaters create a series of canals, waterfront parks and floating classrooms.

"We'd bring the river into the city. Use Winnipeg as the floodway -- with the right tools, we could use it to our advantage," said student Ayelet Vazana.

"Use the floodwaters as a resource. Winnipeg as a whole could use the flood in a more useful way," agreed planning partner Brian Dongwod Shin.

Fourth-year students in the environmental design program at the faculty of architecture have formed four teams to plan the future use of the 48 hectares of green space immediately north of the campus, explained Prof. Carley Friesen.

"We've told them to be visionary. We talk about process, not budget so much."

Vazana acknowledged the team has never seen our floodwaters at their worst and is unfamiliar with the 1950 flood's effects on old Fort Garry. But they insist letting the Red River flow unrestricted would have a positive effect.

Water plays a role in all the projects. "We want our project to be a living organism," said Evan Gomes.

"We're hoping the riverbank can be the next great public space," Kevin Eidick said.

They'd have dense residential development amid a living prairie and reuse waste materials wherever possible to build their development.

One problem is creating visibility along Pembina Highway, which is where the oldest trees are concentrated. No way they'll remove those trees, Gomes said.

They'd develop the area into a walkable, European-style neighbourhood well beyond the campus.

"I don't think we can look at the site as an island. Nothing against Shoppers or Giant Tiger," but those big stores would have to move elsewhere, said Eidick.

A third team would build heavy density along the river while using Markham Road to funnel rapid transit to the new stadium and into the existing campus.

The riverbank would see wharves developed to make Southwood a Forks-like destination.

"Our focus was on public space where people would congregate and interact," explained Matt Gray.

The final team would spread a network of streams throughout Southwood, planting cattails and bulrushes to clean the water.

"It would essentially bring people to the river," said Saira Abdulrehman. "Between buildings, it might be a flowing stream."

Her team favoured development small in area but high in density, with no wasted space. Buildings would have roof gardens and include commercial and retail levels.

In winter, "it could have a long ice path throughout. It could be amazing -- you could skate to your destination," said Abdulrehman.

Design competition

THE U of M is holding an international design competition to plan the future of the former Southwood golf course. Plans will include space for 6,000 residents, opening up the riverbank to public use, incorporating rapid transit and extending the campus to Pembina Highway.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 15, 2012 B3

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