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This article was published 26/5/2015 (729 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A civic committee has overruled the city's planning department and OK'd a temporary gravel parking lot at Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park in downtown Winnipeg.
Councillors on the downtown development committee Monday set a two-year limit for the parking lot, which the Friends of Upper Fort Garry says is needed to generate funds to complete the park.
"We wanted this temporary permit... and I'm really happy," said Jerry Gray, chairman of the board of the non-profit group overseeing the project.
Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park is situated on a three-acre parcel of land on the west side of Main Street, between Assiniboine Avenue and Broadway.
Gray said he expects the parking lot, which will accommodate 60 to 70 vehicles, will generate about $200,000 to $300,000 in revenue during the next two years.
The Friends opened a parking lot two years ago without permission from city hall and it was quickly shut down by civic officials. The planning department later rejected an application for a parking lot on the site on the grounds it didn't conform with city policies for downtown.
An administrative report said the city's official planning document, Our Winnipeg, discourages the establishment of new surface parking lots downtown, and any new surface parking is supposed to support a mixed-use development.
About 20 per cent of downtown consists of surface parking lots.
Planning officials said the Friends were given a five-year time frame to complete the park when the land was sold to them in 2009, but they are now one year behind schedule and it appears the park won't be completed for several more years.
Gray told the committee the park will be open to the public in June, but it won't break ground on an interpretative centre and underground parking lot for two years.
Gray said the Friends has raised $13 million to date but it needs another $15 million to complete the park site.
City councillors -- committee chairman Brian Mayes, John Orlikow, Jeff Browaty and Jenny Gerbasi -- voted unanimously to allow the parking lot but there were reservations expressed.
Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) was reluctant to support the appeal, saying there is no guarantee the group won't try to extend the temporary situation beyond two years. Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) said he considered the project a charity in need of the city's assistance.
The appeal placed Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg and an opponent of downtown surface parking lots, in a difficult situation. Tugwell is also on the Friends board and supported the appeal.
The park "is benefiting and beautifying the downtown. It will benefit all of Winnipeg, all of Manitoba," she said.
Tugwell said not finishing the park is not an option.
"To me, this is a fair compromise," she said.