Local residents will have to wait to find out whether a proposed shopping mall project will proceed in East St. Paul.
At the Selkirk and District Planning and Area Board meeting on Nov. 20, the board held a public hearing in regard to a proposal by Vaughan, Ont.-based SmartCentres.
The company hopes to build a 200,000-square-foot mall on a parcel of land to the southwest of Highway 59 and Provincial Trunk Highway 101 (the Perimeter Highway).
The land is currently zoned as residential, and needs to be rezoned for commercial use before development proceeds. The public hearing and board decision are the first of several steps that need to be completed before development proceeds.
Residents jammed the main meeting room, and spilled out into the lobby and entrance of the Selkirk Civic Centre. Some expressed displeasure at not being able to hear the proceedings from the lobby, and some left after registering their position on the project for the record.
After hearing from developers and area residents for approximately two hours, board chairman Bruce Henley, also the mayor of West St. Paul, said the board would not make a decision that night. He added the board will reconvene at a later date to discuss the plan, likely in January, and the board will take as long as it needs to make a decision.
The mall would be located within the Perimeter Highway’s boundaries, but outside the City of Winnipeg’s boundaries. Developers have proposed creating access to the mall by connecting Knowles Avenue with Headmaster Row with a new road to be built east of Cindy Klassen Way, as Headmaster connects to Lagimodiere Boulevard and Knowles does not. There are single-family homes along the existing section of De Vries traffic would use to access the mall.
However, Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) noted Headmaster Row and other City of Winnipeg streets are all expected to see increased traffic if the mall proceeds. Browaty said during the meeting he feels the community is open to more shopping options, which resulted in some members of the crowd voicing disagreement, but he feels the plan as presented is unworkable.
In order to halt the development, Browaty introduced a motion at the East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee meeting on Nov. 19 to direct the Property, Planning & Development Department "to proceed with an application to close the right-of-way on Raleigh Street at the point of the City of Winnipeg and R.M. of East St. Paul boundary".
The motion also instructs the Public Works department to hold off on creating the physical barricade until receiving further instructions from the East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee.
Some area residents, especially those residing in the RM of East St. Paul, spoke in favour of the plan, citing the convenience of the location as a major factor. Some residents of North Kildonan near the site, though, said they’re satisfied with nearby big-box options at Regent Avenue West and Lagimodiere Boulevard, and at McPhillips Street and Leila Avenue, while also citing increased traffic, pollution, and noise as concerns.
Conservative MLA Bonnie Mitchelson (River East) and River East Transcona School Division board chair Peter Kotyk also spoke out against the project.