North Kildonan residents are banding together against a proposed shopping centre.
Resident Cathy Cox, along with MLA Bonnie Mitchelson (River East) and approximately 20 neighbourhood residents got together on Nov. 9 to paper the neighbourhood with 2,500 brochures explaining their stance against the SmartCentres project. The proposal is to build a Walmart-anchored shopping centre on land at the southwest corner of PTH 59 and the Perimeter Highway. Though the land is within the boundaries of the Perimeter Highway, it is technically part of the RM of East St. Paul.
"We needed to raise awareness, because a lot of residents didn’t even know about this whole proposal," Cox said.
The project’s rezoning application was originally supposed to appear before the Selkirk and District Planning Area Board in September, but the Vaughan, Ont.-based SmartCentres withdrew the application. They’ve made changes to the application — proposing construction of an access road near the site that would reduce reliance on local roads, but Browaty said it’s still not good enough.
"They want to make that a truck route so that deliveries don’t have to go down Headmaster (Row), but I went down and looked at it. I don’t see how a turning semitrailer from, basically, Headmaster onto that access road — I just don’t see it happening," Browaty said.
The new proposal will be heard by the board at its Nov. 20 meeting.
Cox is concerned about access to the mall, as the main access is proposed to come from Knowles Avenue, which is a two-lane residential street.
Cox has lived in the neighbourhood for 45 years and she fears the extra traffic on residential streets will be a safety issue for children, especially with Emerson and Sun Valley schools and the Gateway Recreation Centre nearby.
"I’ve got grandchildren who will be going to Gateway Community Club, so there could be a real issue with access to the community centre," she said. "Children’s safety is first and foremost."
Browaty sent out a news release on Nov. 14 saying that if the proposal is not withdrawn, he plans to introduce a motion at the Nov. 19 East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee meeting to prevent extending Gateway Road to the Perimeter Highway while physically barricading Raleigh Street at Glenway Avenue.
Browaty had used a similar tactic when SmartCentres initially applied to the board.
"We want to make it clear to SmartCentres that we’re very serious that we’re not going to sacrifice local streets in North Kildonan for this development," he said. "I think there are a lot of people in North Kildonan that would like to see commercial development, but we’re not willing to sacrifice the safety of local streets."
Browaty feels the shopping centre is doable with access from the Perimeter Highway or PTH 59.
SmartCentres representatives did not respond to an interview request.