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Osborne Village store owner to rebuild after council waives rezoning fee

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The owner of an Osborne Village convenience store will rebuild following a tragic fire, after city council cleared a key financial obstacle in her way.

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The owner of an Osborne Village convenience store will rebuild following a tragic fire, after city council cleared a key financial obstacle in her way.

On Thursday, council cast a final vote to waive a $20,242.67 city bill to rezone the site of E-Mart Groceries at 157 Scott St., a request that had been previously defeated by council’s property and development committee.

During a brief phone interview, building owner Hae-Kyung (Heather) Shin said she’s excited to reopen E-Mart as soon as possible.

Mike Sudoma/Winnipeg Free Press Files

E-Mart Groceries owner Hae-Kyung (Heather) Shin, outside the burned out shell of her Osborne Village convenience store, which she plans to rebuild now that city council has voted to waive a $20,242.67 rezoning fee.

“Oh my goodness, I can express my thanks… Now, I know what to do right away. I’m very excited to move forward to build that new building there,” said Shin.

The mixed-use residence and business suffered extensive damage in a fire that killed Shin’s sister-in-law, 60-year-old Jung Ja Shin, in August 2021.

Douglas Wayne Last was later charged with manslaughter and arson.

Non-conforming zoning rights were also lost when the building burned down, leading the fees to be imposed.

Prior to the vote, Shin told council she could not afford to reopen the family-owned store if the fees were charged.

“(The store) is my only source of income… as time passes, my situation becomes worse and worse,” said Shin, noting the building has been in place at the site for more than 50 years.

Coun. Cindy Gilroy, council’s property and development chairwoman, said the longtime presence of the building warrants the fee exemption.

“I think this is one (matter) that warrants us to take a sober, second thought,” she said.

The council vote only occurred because Coun. Sherri Rollins introduced the waiver a second time at a recent executive policy committee meeting. Rollins did so after it had been rejected in a tied vote (which equates to a loss) at a Sept. 8 property and development committee meeting.

At the property and development meeting, Gilroy joined Coun. Vivian Santos to support the waiver, while councillors Kevin Klein and Janice Lukes voted against it.

Prior to Thursday’s council vote, Lukes said she remains concerned waiving the fees would open the floodgates to many similar requests.

“If we support today’s motion and waive the Scott Street rezoning fees, we in turn are welcoming dozens, probably even hundreds, of others to come to city hall to tell us their story and ask that their fees be waived… Of course, we need compassion in our decision-making process. But where does it begin and where does it end?” she asked.

Since councillors did not ask to be recorded as voting against the waiver, it passed at council without official opposition.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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