January 21, 2020

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Kapyong a unique opportunity to innovate

Toronto development inspires a compelling vision for the future of former barracks

This article was published 23/4/2018 (638 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After 14 years, an agreement in principle has been reached between the federal government and Treaty 1 First Nations, regarding the future of Kapyong Barracks.

The abandoned 160-acre site, about three times the size of The Forks, will be divided into two parcels; one-third will be developed by Canada Lands, a federal Crown corporation, and the rest will be held in common by seven First Nations that intend to develop it as a joint urban reserve.

With issues of ownership soon behind us, we can begin to dream as a community about what the site could be, the possibilities for Winnipeg, Canada and all Indigenous people, limited only by our imagination.

SUPPLIED</p><p>The vision for Sidewalk Toronto is a traffic-reduced area with high walkability and high-density residential.</p>

SUPPLIED

The vision for Sidewalk Toronto is a traffic-reduced area with high walkability and high-density residential.

Imagine a place that is a crown jewel of Winnipeg — a dynamic urban reserve that stands as a lasting monument to reconciliation, a source of pride for Canada, a source of prosperity and symbol of hope for Indigenous people, and a catalyst for establishing a new relationship between First Nations and the modern Canadian city.

With 91 per cent of all new growth in metropolitan areas happening in car-dependent suburban development, the future prosperity of Canada’s cities will depend largely on how we build new suburbs. The sprawling, low-density growth patterns of the past have led to an economically and environmentally unsustainable urban form. Because of urban sprawl, civic infrastructure is crumbling, public services are being reduced and taxes are rising.

The people-centred Quayside development plan predicts a 14 per cent lower cost of living relative to surrounding areas, achieved through reduced housing, transportation and utility costs.

Imagine if Canada Lands and First Nations worked together to make Kapyong a model for a new kind of suburb — a prototype for future urban growth, in Winnipeg and across Canada. Kapyong is an opportunity to rethink how we build suburbs in the 21st century, and to fundamentally redefine what suburban life can be.

A precedent for this type of innovative planning is currently being undertaken by Toronto Sidewalk, a partnership between governments and Sidewalk Labs, an urban-development offshoot of Google. The partnership is currently engaged in public consultation and collaboration to design a new district called Quayside, on the city’s formerly industrial waterfront.

The vision is to combine the most forward-thinking urban design principles with emerging technologies, to establish a hub of urban innovation that achieves new levels of connectivity, sustainability, affordability, mobility and economic opportunity. Each of these goals should be shared by a progressive Kapyong plan.

The early planning vision for Quayside is a people-centred, higher-density, mixed-use urban design, envisioning a dizzying array of new ideas that will be tested and implemented as the community evolves. A series of quality-of-life metrics such as carbon emissions, walkability, job growth and cost of living has been established, with integrated data-collection systems used to measure the real-world success of each new idea and inspire further innovation.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files</p><p>Redevelopment of the former Kapyong Barracks as Winnipeg’s first large-scale urban reserve presents a unique opportunity for a creative prototype neighbourhood.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files

Redevelopment of the former Kapyong Barracks as Winnipeg’s first large-scale urban reserve presents a unique opportunity for a creative prototype neighbourhood.

The plan predicts a 14 per cent lower cost of living, compared with surrounding areas, achieved through reduced housing, transportation and utility costs. Modular construction and off-site prefabrication of building components will be applied at a large scale to drive down construction costs, reduce construction times and lower rental rates.

All buildings will incorporate high levels of energy efficiency, using a multi-source district heating system called a thermal grid, which will incorporate geothermal, heat capture from sewer lines and a targeted 10 per cent on-site power generation, reducing per capita greenhouse-gas emissions by 75 per cent.

Instead of burying public services under roads, buildings will be connected by a unique system of accessible utility channels that will allow easy maintenance and provision for new technologies as they emerge. The channels will provide conduits for electricity, telecom, sewer, water, heating and robotic systems for garbage and recycling collection, and possibly even freight delivery to individual buildings.

With a goal of less than 20 per cent personal-car ownership, conventional vehicles will be restricted within the neighbourhood beyond a perimeter transition zone, but the plan will be designed to make seamless connections to surrounding communities to enhance the sharing of services and amenities. Streetcars will connect the area to other city neighbourhoods, along with car co-ops and ride-hailing services.

Mobility within the neighbourhood will focus on pedestrians and cyclists. Mixed-use commercial, educational, cultural and recreational buildings will be embedded into the community plan along central streets, with walkable access from higher-density residential areas. Buildings will incorporate digitally controlled retractable canopies, and a heated pavement system will use excess building energy to melt snow on bike and pedestrian pathways. A network of app-controlled, autonomous "taxi-bots" is envisioned in the future to provide point-to-point transportation.

SUPPLIED</p><p>The Sidewalk Toronto area as it looks today.</p>

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The Sidewalk Toronto area as it looks today.

Retail development will be incorporated into open, flexible loft-style buildings, introducing a "next-gen-bazaar" concept of low rent, easily removable stalls to encourage retail innovation and provide a diversity of amenities for the community.

Toronto’s Quayside neighbourhood is working to redefine urban life in Canadian cities, and the Kapyong development in Winnipeg has similar opportunity to be as innovative, in a suburban context. If, in the end, Kapyong becomes a traditional residential subdivision, or a big-box development with half of the land devoted to parking cars, it will be a significant opportunity lost.

Imagine if, in 10 years, we could say Kapyong has become a visionary new development inspired by traditional Indigenous values and ingenuity. An innovative, modern neighbourhood that leverages technology to enhance human interaction and economic opportunity, treading lightly on the land, working in harmony with the environment and promoting a sense of community through healthy, walkable lifestyles.

Imagine if we could say Winnipeg’s first large-scale urban reserve became a creative prototype neighbourhood that redefined suburban living in a modern Canadian city.

 

Brent Bellamy is senior design architect for Number Ten Architectural Group.

Brent Bellamy

Brent Bellamy
Columnist

Brent Bellamy is senior design architect for Number Ten Architectural Group.

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