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Cop shop up for sale, residents worried
Community wants consultation, city accepting offers
Concerned residents are calling for community consultation after the city announced the potential sale and demolition of the former police station in St. Boniface.
The 21,525-sq. ft. building at 227 Provencher Blvd. was put up for sale at the start of June for $470,000.
The city wants the site used for multi-family development and the deadline to buy the property is Fri., July 13, according to Joedi Pruden, senior negotiator with the city.
One area resident and community organizer said news of the sale came as a complete surprise, noting the city’s request for expressions of interest last year "came to nothing."
Walter Kleinschmit, president of the Old St. Boniface Residents’ Association, said the community needs to play a part in deciding the future of the historic building.
"We want a chance to talk to the community in a more formal manner. We want to expand our ideas, then distill them and submit them for consideration," he said.
Kleinschmit said he understands the city’s desire to recoup taxes, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of "an important building to the area’s identity, which has been at the centre of St. Boniface since 1962."
"There are so many empty lots in St. Boniface. Why demolish something like this and then risk not rebuilding?" he said.
"Any aspect of development will invariably effect the public space. We won’t be able to have concerts here if 30 or 40 people are trying to sleep."
Kleinschmit said a possible compromise would be to maintain the shell of the building and develop from the inside — although he recognizes this would be "very difficult to do, as it was designed for a specific use."
He said he hopes to speak with area councillor Dan Vandal about the possibility of extending the sale deadline at an upcoming Riel community committee meeting.
Vandal said he looks forward to consulting with the community in the coming weeks and stressed that "no decision is close to being made."
"After the deadline is over, we will assess proposals and determine the next steps. I am definitely open to considering other proposals which reuse the site, but there has been nothing forthcoming to date," he said, noting the building would be "very difficult" to retrofit.
"In fact, the city held an expression of interest to reuse the building in 2009-2010, including two open houses. No one from the community or private sector came forward, so the City of Winnipeg is attempting the demo option to redevelop the site."
Vandal said the key factor is the revitalization of St. Boniface: "We need to promote more density — people living, walking and enjoying the great neighbourhood we have. The site could provide a unique garden apartment or condos on Provencher."
Area resident William Caithness said the station — which was designed by legendary Manitoban architect Etienne Gaboury — is symbolic of pre-Unicity St. Boniface and represents the "rights of the francophone."
"It’s a work of art and the city wants to sell and demolish it," Caithness said.
"I think the people of St. Boniface would want an arts centre — something that services the community. If we don’t say anything, we’ll lose it."
Caithness said he understands the need for more housing in the area, but stressed single-family units would be more appropriate.
"I’m more interested in affordable, single-family housing. We want students to stay in the area, have families and speak the language."
For more information, email the OSBRA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(1 of 12 articles for this week)06/19/2013 1:00 AM 0