The massive infill housing development planned for the Lord Roberts community’s collective back yard has received no shortage of media attention, and it has been fair, if lacking in some areas.
That’s according to South Osborne Residents’ Group board member Bev Pike. A longtime resident of the community, she feels that city hall’s unwillingness to respond to the concerns of residents has been under-reported.
"It feels like we’re just a giant itch," Pike said. "In three years we have only been able to meet with our city councillor once," and letters sent to the Winnipeg Police regarding signage have gone unanswered.
Pike has a theory as to why the residents’ concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
"The demographics of the neighbourhood make us easy to ignore," she says. A community with a lot of renters, Lord Roberts has a poorer and more transient population than other communities within its ward boundaries.
That’s not to say it is in decay, although the developers’ rhetoric might make it seem so. They tout the proposed development for what it can do to ‘revitalize’ the community yet, in many ways, Lord Roberts is already one of the most vibrant areas of the city.
Developers have also said the development can be a solution to urban sprawl.
"I lack the scholarship to come up with a solution for that," Pike admitted.
She also says the board of the residents’ group consists of people with varying points of view on urban sprawl, but that all agree public consultation has been badly lacking in the decision-making process.
Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising. The seeming dysfunction at city hall has left many Winnipeggers feeling alienated and suspicious of the way big decisions are made. The fire hall debacle, and the quick dismissal of the city’s former CAO, has damaged the fragile reputation of the civic power structure.
Elected officials’ and city departments’ refusal to respond to the concerns of the people they are supposed to represent is not helping.
Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.