Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Many possibilities for Westwood properties

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There have been rumours circulating around the Westwood neighbourhood regarding potential developments. I want to set the record straight on what is going on behind the scenes regarding the future of the Westwood Library and the properties adjacent to it on Allard Avenue.

The 2014 City of Winnipeg Capital Budget has allocated a total of $100,000 to fund the planning and consultation process for the 2017 relocation of the Westwood Library on Allard Avenue. The current 7,000-square-foot library building is close to 50 years old and is nearing the end of its structural life.  

Besides its age, the needs of the Westwood Library have grown beyond what can be provided with its present building foot print. Accessibility, both for handicapped residents and older adults, was not considered in the original building construction. Though altered over the years, accessibility to this facility is still not to the standard we would like.

In order to meet the needs of all St. Charles Ward residents, both north and south of Portage Avenue, the City of Winnipeg is looking to relocate the library into a roughly 13,000-square-foot facility that is more central to the ward. This facility would be more accessible to pedestrians and transit users while including improved parking.

All of this opens the question: What will happen to the existing library and adjacent properties on Allard Avenue? Upon the completion of the new Public Safety Building (former downtown Canada Post Building), the Winnipeg Police Service Training Academy will be relocating, a move that will leave Allard School empty.

Kinsmen Allard Arena, though currently operational, is also near the end of its usable lifespan.

It will ultimately need serious upgrades or replacement sometime within the next decade.
 
The entire footprint of land covered by these three facilities bundled together is approximately 10 acres. This land could, at some point in the future, be redeveloped into a new recreation and leisure facility that could include a relocated Kirkfield Westwood Community Centre (KWCC)/Keith Bodley complex.

Another option would be a tax-generating residential development of up to 100 new homes that would be compatible with the existing neighbourhood. It’s a difficult decision: a sport multiplex (ice hockey, indoor soccer, basketball/volleyball gymnasium, fitness centre) versus a new upscale tax-generating infill housing development.

The future of the 10-acre site is not written in stone. Many decisions will have to be made over the coming years, decisions that will include input from the St. James Assiniboia School Division, the current tenants of the Kinsmen Allard Arena, KWCC/Keith Bodley Arena and the community at large, before any redevelopment can take place.  

We expect this process of consultation, planning and project completion could take up to 10 years to complete.

To keep our neighbourhood moving ahead, we have to start somewhere. By starting the process now, in examining the replacement for the existing Westwood Library, we have taken the first step in protecting the neighbourhood we have all grown to love while also ensuring its continued draw for new families.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via phone at 204-986-5920 or email gnordman@winnipeg.ca

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