Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rumours spark Corydon panic

Expropriating homes not in cards: city

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A long-awaited planning framework for the Corydon-Osborne area faces an extra round of revisions after residents were told some residential homes could be replaced with parking on either side of Corydon Avenue.

Proposed height restrictions for new buildings on Corydon Avenue also irked the business community.

Since 2011, the city has struggled to create a planning framework for the mixed-use area informally known as Corydon Village, which encompasses parts of the McMillan, Earl Grey and River-Osborne neighbourhoods.

The initial planning process was halted in 2012 over concerns about a bias in favour of residents over developers. The following year, the city hired Fort Erie, Ont., planning consultant Peter J. Smith & Co. to revive the plan.

A preview of the final draft, unveiled at a public meeting late last week, appears to be acceptable to both developers and residents -- with a couple of notable exceptions.

Residents are up in arms with a pair of illustrations in the preview that suggests back lanes on either side of Corydon Avenue -- south of McMillan Avenue and north of Jessie Avenue -- could be widened to make room for motor-vehicle parking.

The illustrations suggest some residential property could be replaced with diagonal parking for vehicles. As a result, emails erroneously suggesting the city is preparing to expropriate land circulated among residents over the weekend.

City officials were quick to quash those concerns, noting this is merely an idea presented by the external consultant -- something that would happen only if land became available.

"It's an idea that seems to be going over like a lead balloon," said Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, insisting the city has no interest in buying up private property and converting it into public parking.

Gerbasi said residents were upset because the consultant presented the idea as a fait accompli. Nothing is set in stone, countered Braden Smith, the city's chief planner.

"The consultant made it seem like this is the end of the road for public consultation, but that is not the case," Smith said. "The consultant will be tweaking the plan accordingly."

The Corydon Avenue Business Improvement Zone, meanwhile, was concerned with height restrictions proposed for new buildings on Corydon Avenue. Restricting new mid-rise buildings to four storeys -- as opposed to six or more -- would made it financially difficult for developers to replace low-rise buildings with taller structures, said Katia von Stackelberg, executive director of the Corydon BIZ.

Corydon Avenue has taller structures and would not be harmed by medium-rise residential buildings, she said.

Smith agreed, noting the height restrictions need not be capped precisely as the preview suggests.

The sneak peek at the Corydon-Osborne Area Plan also calls for more highrise development along Pembina Highway, more green space, additional bike lanes and potentially a parkade near Confusion Corner.

Smith said the external consultant has been asked to incorporate feedback from residents and developers into a final draft due in April.

The plan would then face council approval.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 5, 2014 B2

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Updated on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 11:58 AM CST: Adds link and workbook.

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