Coun. Jeff Browaty is prepared to take drastic measures to keep a big-box development from creating "unacceptable" traffic problems in his ward.
SmartCentres, based out of Vaughan, Ont., had its 37-acre retail hub at the southwest corner of Highway 59 and the Perimeter Highway receive first reading at the Selkirk and District Planning and Area Board on July 17. A public hearing on the matter will take place in September at the earliest.
SmartCentres plans for the development to begin next spring and for a grand opening of its first phase to take place in March 2015.
Though the development is inside the Perimeter Highway, the land is technically part of the Rural Municipality of East St. Paul. However, Browaty said the bulk of traffic, including truck traffic for the development, will travel along Headmaster Row, a two-lane residential street in his ward.
"The truck traffic would be unprecedented for a two-lane residential street," he said. "There are lots of driveways on the street, people backing directly onto Headmaster. It’s in no way acceptable for the volume and type of traffic a big-box centre would create."
Browaty said the city of Winnipeg would incur extra costs associated with the development. Specifically, it would need to repair Headmaster sooner and more often with the increase of truck traffic.
He doesn’t think the site is workable without creating access to the Perimeter and to Highway 59, but notes that since the development is close to the cloverleaf overpass, the provincial government is not keen to allow access and egress on those roads.
"My understanding is the province is not amenable to making those connections, so I don’t think the site is suitable," he said.
However, if SmartCentres was able to figure out a way to access those routes, Browaty would be open to the development. If it proceeds without access, though, he will make moves to close Raleigh Street’s access to the Perimeter to effectively kill the development.
"I don’t think this development is feasible without some access other than Glenway, Foxgrove," he said. "I think (closing Raleigh) would make the development impossible."
Browaty said a Raleigh closure would be a "last resort".
Browaty added he would rather see either single family homes or small multi-family units occupy the space instead.
East St. Paul mayor Lawrence Morris said he could not comment on the development.
"It’s before the board now for a public hearing, so I can’t comment," Morris said. "After the hearing, I may have something to say."
A SmartCentres representative could not be reached before press time.