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City councillor helps reimagine Winnipeg

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Think outside the box and imagine what Winnipeg could be.

That’s what Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) along with a group of local architects and designers did the evening of Sept. 25. They dared to dream at an event entitled Re-Imagining Winnipeg, which was an opportunity to express some unusual ideas, forget zoning regulations and limitations and imagine potential opportunities for development in Winnipeg.

Over the years there have been a number of off-the-wall ideas for new urban projects aimed at improving our city in one way or another. Some of the recent examples include the East Exchange and City Crossing competitions.

Today, Winnipeg is at a turning point in its redevelopment. Its population is expected to grow in the next 10 years by some 300,000 inhabitants. How do we accommodate these added numbers without the city growing outward?

The goal of Re-Imagining Winnipeg was to look for innovative solutions to urban development problems. Keeping the city’s sustainable development principles in mind, as well as eliminating the adverse effects of urban sprawl, proposed ideas focussed on high-density, elevated (instead of horizontal) design and mixed use development. Solutions ranged from condos being built over an abandoned rail bridge to a telecommunications tower at Portage and Main soaring many storeys into the air.

According to Browaty, the mature neighbourhood of North Kildonan is already seeing many impacts of development, largely due to an older stock of buildings and a lack of availability, especially in multi-family housing choices.

There are a number of planned developments and construction projects underway that will enhance the quality of life for area residents and provide more choices and opportunities.

These projects include the redevelopment of the Safeway strip mall on Henderson Highway at Chief Peguis Trail and the Palliser redevelopment site.

Development creates opportunities that allow progress to strengthen the neighbourhood, offer people more things to do, makes the community safer, creates an attractive community for potential homeowners and raises property values.

We need to start a conversation now about the validity of the ideas presented at the event, to raise issues that are not apparent and start considering proposals that address the problem.

However silly the ideas generated from the brainstorming session may seem, they are aimed at improving our city in one way or another.

Charlene Kroll is a community correspondent for North Kildonan. She can be contacted at krollcharlene@gmail.com.

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