Residents in Transcona are disheartened by a decision that will allow for a new seniors' centre to be built on Widlake Street.
The East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee voted at its April 22 meeting to approve a rezoning brought forth by Richard Wintrup and Associates to allow for a new seniors’ centre at 500 Widlake St. The two-acre site currently hosts a 26-unit, one-storey building that the developers hope to eventually upgrade at a later time. The committee also approved a variance on the property including requiring only 103 parking spaces instead of 147 for a residence that size and with only five visitor spaces instead of 10, as well as smaller yard dimensions than normally required.
The pitch for the new centre was to create a seven-storey, 72-unit building, but the committee opted to limit the building height to 45 feet, which would likely maximize the building at four storeys.
Still, Widlake residents directly across the street from the site fear a multitude of issues will arise from the building’s arrival, including parking and traffic problems for the residential street. As well, residents expressed concern over how close the building would be to the former landfill site at what is now Victoria Jason Park and the methane gas that might be released, though the property technically falls outside of the City of Winnipeg’s Landfill Control Zone, according to the planner’s report. Additionally, local residents feel the new building may cause further drainage issues on the street.
Twenty-nine people registered in opposition to the development at April’s meeting, while seven registered in support. The opposition group looked to the neighbourhood to drum up more support for an appeal, though only the variance on the existing building can be heard as part of the appeal process, which will be heard by the city’s appeals committee on June 26 at 9 a.m. Those in opposition submitted their appeal prior to the June 3 deadline. The rezoning, meanwhile, was approved by council on May 27.
Still, residents plan to appeal the variance based on what they feel the smaller yards will do to the space.
"I feel they’re trying to fill up the space as much as they can and there won’t be much green space left for the residents," Brelade Street resident Sharon McLaughlin said. "They talk about having amenities for the residents, and I don’t think there’s going to be anything left there for them."
"It really is the wrong spot. There’s no room. It had to be something little — it just has to," Cranbrook Bay resident Ruby Kenning added.
As well, the City of Winnipeg has informally used part of the undeveloped property, which is adjacent to Victoria Jason Park, for a mini-soccer pitch, which would be lost as the new centre is built. Fifty-year Widlake Street resident Bill Duynisveld expressed concern over the disappearance of soccer pitches at other local clubs, and pondered where young local enthusiasts will play.
Wintrup said he and the developers have consulted with Widlake Street residents throughout the process, and plan to continue to take their concerns into consideration while creating a development that blends with the community. He also was undeterred by the decision to maintain the height limit.
"We respect the decision made by the committee," he said. "We want a project that’s a win for us, a win for the residents, and a win for the City of Winnipeg."
McLaughlin, who lives further away from the development but feels she will be affected, said she was disappointed she wasn’t contacted directly by the developers, only finding out about the changes through a newspaper notice.