Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gravel lot won't do at Forks

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There is no piece of property in Winnipeg with higher expectations than The Forks, Manitoba's No. 1 tourist destination. Unfortunately, there is no broad consensus on precisely what should arise on the vacant lands on the east side of the CN highline, including the infamous Parcel 4.

A public consultation conducted earlier this year discovered the obvious: Most people want something meaningful to happen there, but they don't necessarily agree on what it should be.

The rail-side land south of York Avenue is already slated for mixed-used development, including commercial, retail and residential, which seems to satisfy most people.

Parcel 4, however, the gravel lot that was used for parking at Goldeyes games, is more problematic, particularly since it sits directly opposite the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, opening next year.

The Forks has benefitted from slow and deliberate development over the past 25 years, but even that hasn't pleased everyone, including those who opposed a parking garage and the hotel.

Slow and steady, then, is no guarantee of success, but it's a reasonable approach in planning the future of Parcel 4, the most visible empty land at The Forks.

It can't remain vacant forever, however, which is why The Forks should consider at least a temporary measure that would be ready by next summer.

It could be turned into a pond with water plants and fish, surrounded by landscaping, on a temporary basis, and used as a skating rink in the winter.

A low-intensity use would mean it could still be converted into something more elaborate, once an idea for the best and highest use of the land emerges.

But it should not languish another season as an unsightly parking lot on one of the most valuable pieces of property in the city.

The community and the museum deserve better.

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 25, 2013 A8

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