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Transparency should be part of process
The Charleswood Masons are proposing to build a 65-unit life lease development on a less than two acres of forest currently owned by the Charleswood United Church.
Currently zoned for single family residential, the property is surrounded on three sides by single-family homes, including my home on Dieppe Road.
A church newsletter indicates that the congregation voted to sell land to the masons in October 2011. Neighbours became aware of plans in early March.
In late March, after we had started contacting our councillor, Paula Havixbeck, we received a flyer inviting us to an April 4 information meeting at the church. We were unsure what kind of forum we would have to address our concerns.
The meeting had no formal presentation or moderated Q and A sessions. Poster boards provided information about the church, the Masons, seniors, the city’s guidelines for infill development, and a site map with a yellow square indicating the area of development. There was nothing we didn’t already know.
Survey responses were collected. Questions were jargon-filled and vague. Only two were specific to the development. The survey design was contrary to best practices.
Havixbeck left shortly after arriving and being confronted by a local resident. The confrontation was indicative of the emotions that are running high due to the way this process has unfolded so far.
City of Winnipeg guidelines suggest infill projects should be complimentary to the existing neighbourhood.
Neighbours have serious concerns that a four-storey development without access from a main artery or collector street — a no-no according to civic guidelines — will enclave single-family homes. It’s difficult to find a multi-family structure that exceeds two stories in Charleswood.
Most developments face main arteries and have direct access to them. It is concerning the route into the proposed development, for both residents and first response vehicles, will apparently be straight down Dieppe Road past Dieppe School.
That those pushing the project won’t have details to share until everything is in place proves the point of those who are frustrated — there is no concerted effort to engage.
Many believe development of the site should adhere to existing zoning. Charleswood has been earmarked for major development via Ridgewood South. There are many potential options to responsibly build multi-family developments that are not contrary to their surrounding area.
We want a transparent process where community input is enthusiastically solicited and valued; where factual information is shared and from which people can make their own informed decisions on the merits of the project and the appropriateness of the proposed location.
We don’t feel we have been involved in such a process.
Joel Masniuk is a Charleswood-based writer.
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