A proposed 900-acres-plus development in Charleswood is one step closer to becoming reality after being approved by the property and development committee of Winnipeg City Council but area residents continue to wonder about core elements of the plan.
This latest step in the process means the Ridgewood South precinct plan is headed for final approval by City Council. Should it come to pass, the area that is bordered by the Harte Trail, the Perimeter Highway, and Wilkes Avenue will become the largest new residential development since Waverley West was green-lit eight years ago. Developers envision a total of 11 neighbourhoods and upwards of 7,000 to 9,000 people living in the area when it is fully built out.
In talking with residents at least two questions keep emerging — where are all these people coming from and how will the existing infrastructure keep up?
Many people in a concentrated area means the development is going to require innovative transportation solutions and infrastructure planning. Ideally, this should be done well in advance but in all likelihood it will arrive in tandem or one step behind the development.
What should come first? The infrastructure to support the development or the development itself?
Will we see the William Clement Parkway extended to Wilkes Avenue? Will Wilkes be twinned to handle the increased traffic volume? What about new transit options for the area?
Where are all the kids going to go to school? Can the current schools in Charleswood support the addition? For that matter, are new schools going to be a part of the new precinct? What about library services? Is the new Charleswood Library, which was promised two years ago, destined for Ridgewood South?
Will the new neighbourhood require a new firehall to provide adequate fire and emergency services coverage? As it stands there is one firetruck and ambulance based in Charleswood — what happens when you add 900 acres and 7,000 people to an already vast expanse?
What is the impact on the Harte Trail? Will I be walking through someone’s back yard? Will there be a protective buffer?
I will be very surprised if this development is not approved. Although I’m not against it, now that it is almost a reality these are some of the issues that I and others in the area would like to know more about.
David Hultin is a community correspondent for Charleswood.