Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Corydon 'draft' plan is just that

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Coun. Russ Wyatt on Tuesday got the city's property committee to declare a consultation process for a Corydon Avenue neighbourhood plan a failed exercise. The committee wants the process scrapped and started anew, perhaps funded, as Coun. Wyatt added, by willing Corydon Avenue businesses.

It's a bad idea. It would waste considerable public funds spent on lengthy consultations city planning staff had with residents and businesses, including meetings of the community advisory committee.

It is a shame the process has come to this. The Corydon Avenue Business Improvement Zone sought the property committee's help when the first chapters of a draft report convinced its members their concerns had been ignored.

The planning report is still in early development stages and an open house is planned to review the complete draft. Advisory committee members, however, were given early copies and felt the issue of new parking was not addressed. They feel proposed restrictions to development will hurt, not help, Corydon's future.

Parking was seen as a concern by residents and the businesses, especially at night when the restaurants, bars and lounges fill up. Some are dismayed by the growth of surface parking fronting businesses and would prefer parkades were incorporated that conform to the streetscape. Instead, Corydon Avenue BIZ members said, the draft would restrict the height of new construction on Corydon's south side, where high rises already exist. Such a restriction could prevent the incorporation of public parkades in future developments.

Further, BIZ president Craig Kitching said he was dismayed to see the draft plan would require proposals for new bars on Corydon to meet municipal reviews in addition to those now required by the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.

Documents on the city's website show the community made clear in the consultations it wants to retain the neighbourhood's character: a mix of houses, high- and low-rise apartment blocks, the eclectic collection of businesses where families and single urbanites can buy furniture, treat the toddler to ice cream, buy hardware or stop for a drink. Corydon's diversity of people and commodities, the patio restaurants and lounges and the street events, attracts Winnipeggers and that mix should be preserved.

Business owners are right, to an extent. A hard rule that seeks to let the sun shine on the north side may nip in the bud the ideas that can ease parking strain but demand flexibility. Development rules should not limit the potential for multi-unit residences nearer the new rapid transit route.

The process should not be restarted from scratch. It should not, as Coun. Wyatt seems to suggest, be independent from city hall, or funded by a vested interest. It must reflect the broad community interest and respect how Winnipeggers wish to manage neighbourhood revitalization.

Mayor Sam Katz says he's going to take a hard look at what's happened in the Corydon planning process. City council itself should do that. It should ensure a draft planning report is just that, subject to revisions to ensure careful management of development in a gem neighbourhood. It must not be choked in red tape and restrictions, must be flexible for the best of ideas and allow compromise where it suits the needs of well identified and pressing issues.

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2012 A10

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