Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Civic border wars

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Coun. Jeff Browaty's threat to blockade streets to ensure they won't be used in a proposed new shopping centre in neighbouring East St. Paul is premature, but it reflects once again the problems that can emerge in the absence of a regional planning process.

Coun. Browaty (North Kildonan) is not opposed to the development, which would include a Walmart, because it would largely be used by residents in his area of the city.

His major concern is that the proposed development at the corner of Lagimodiere Boulevard and the Perimeter Highway could depend on the use of residential streets in his ward, which he rightly says is unacceptable.

The province is opposed to allowing access from the high-speed highways because it could pose a safety hazard. It's unknown if service roads could reduce the danger, but it's something that could be considered as the lengthy process unfolds.

Mr. Browaty's problem is that neither he nor the city have any say on the process unfolding in East St. Paul, an independent municipality that writes its own development rules.

His threat to block the extension of streets in his ward into the development may have been useful as a shot across the bow of the developer, but it ignores the fact the city will have lots of clout once the developer submits a development plan.

If it is necessary to expand some streets in his ward and build new ones, which would have to be done at the developer's expense, then civic approval would be necessary.

East St. Paul might be able to approve the development, but it has no control on decisions made on the other side of its border. The city could easily stymie any plan that required work within its borders.

Despite that glaring possibility, East St. Paul is proceeding with public hearings to amend its development.

If that succeeds, it will then have to change the zoning, which would also require a hearing. Then a site plan would have to be approved, involving another lengthy process.

Any resolutions could be appealed and ultimately the province has the authority to amend or reject any development.

It's premature to jump to conclusions, however, because the developer has yet to submit a detailed plan, including traffic studies and proposals for street additions and expansions.

It may well be that the company's traffic engineers have a plan that would satisfy all the concerned parties, but there's no avoiding the fact a new power centre will generate more traffic and activity.

It's pointless to criticize anything until the full plan is unveiled and all the options are on the table.

The city could even end up with a tax benefit if East St. Paul agrees to share the new property taxes.

The Capital Region is working on a master transportation plan, but land development is still an ad hoc arrangement.

But as the development on the border between North Kildonan and East St. Paul illustrates, a more formal regional process is needed to avoid unnecessary conflicts, including a councillor's threat to raise the barricades to protect his constituents from what they fear would lead to a change in their quality of life.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2013 A16

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