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Mayor raps fine on builder

Says developer owns park in question

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Mayor Sam Katz

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Mayor Sam Katz is questioning the decision of a civic committee to impose a $70,000 penalty on a developer who already forfeited a $100,000 deposit.

Katz said all developers have to follow the rules, but added some councillors weren't aware developer Andrew Marquess owns the park where a portion of a condominium building was constructed. "It's unfortunate that not a lot of the facts are out there," Katz told reporters Wednesday, the day after the controversial developer was disciplined by a civic committee. "I believe if the committee had known that these lands were always owned by the developer... they probably would not have even come up with" the penalty.

Marquess is doing a massive condominium infill project in northwest Winnipeg west of McPhillips Street and north of Mountain Avenue. He bought a 12-building apartment complex, which he renovated and then constructed seven more multi-family units and is converting the entire site into 340 condominium units.

As part of the development project, the city agreed to sell Marquess a small children's park that was in the middle of the original apartment complex.

As part of the deal, Marquess agreed to rezone a portion of the property to parkland.

However, two of the new buildings he constructed were partially built on the land he had designated for a park.

The city issued a stop-work order in May on the construction of those two buildings. The two sides were negotiating a settlement and this week the property and development committee endorsed an administrative report that saw Marquess forfeit a $100,000 deposit he put down in case he didn't build the park.

The committee also slapped him with a $70,000 penalty -- it was originally set at $250,000 but scaled back -- for the loss of parkland.

Marquess said he wouldn't fight the penalty or the forfeiture but pointed out he was still building the park but only changing its layout, from a rectangle to a T-shape.

While an administrative report stated Marquess had constructed the two buildings without a permit on land zoned as a park, Barry Thorgrimson, director of planning, property and development, said Marquess had permits but the building designs were larger than approved and encroached on the parkland.

Thorgrimson said the permits weren't the issue; it was Marquess' decision to alter the design and location without getting approval from the city first.

Thorgrimson said the penalty imposed by the committee on Marquess sends a message to the development community they cannot stray from agreements with city hall.

But, Katz said, even though Marquess agreed to pay the penalty, he doubted the city could have forced him to do so.

"There is really a different opinion whether the city has the opportunity, if it went to court, if we could do what we were talking about doing," Katz said.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 13, 2014 A5

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