Wellington Crescent condo project moves forward
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/01/2022 (502 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Neighbourhood opponents have lost another round in their bid to stop the redevelopment of a Wellington Crescent property.
The standing policy committee on property and development, heritage and downtown development overturned last week’s City Centre community committee’s rejection of a rezoning application for 514 Wellington Cres. with all four members of the committee voting in favour of the rezoning.
The ruling at the end of an eight-hour committee meeting on Monday allows the four-storey eight-unit condo development to proceed to the executive policy committee (EPC), which rarely overturns decisions from standing policy committees. It will then go to the full city council.
Developer Jeff Thompson, is now one step closer to being able to redevelop the lot on the northwest corner of Wellington Crescent and Kingsway Avenue, something he has been trying to do for about five years.
In 2020 the former heritage mansion on the site was demolished, again after staunch opposition claimed that the developer was not being entirely honest in his representations to city officials about his intentions.
Although opposition presentations to agenda matters are not allowed at EPC and city council meetings, Christine Skene a leader of the opposition to the development and a nearby resident, said this setback does not mean they will be silenced.
“If necessary we will picket,” she said. “We will stay in their sights so that they know this is not just a rollover.”
Among other things, the group is active in supporting an application for the Crescentwood neighbourhood to gain Heritage Conservation District status, a designation that might have had the power to limit the size and density of the currently contested development, to be called The Residences at 514 Wellington Crescent.
While there were several lengthy presentations in opposition to the development at the community committee meeting last week that dealt with the matter for several hours, the standing policy committee heard only that there were 17 letters of opposition and 10 in support.
Richard Leipsic, another neighbourhood resident in opposition to the development, produced a 21-page submission detailing why the proposed development was unsuitable for the mature neighbourhood.
“You can’t help but become a little cynical as a citizen,” he said. “There were hours and hours and reams of submissions associated with the reasons it was inappropriate. It looks to me like those citizens walk away with a sense it really is a process to which they really don’t have a part to play.”
Skene and others said the way this matter has played out calls into question the city’s governance structure.
The EPC is to table the final report on the City of Winnipeg Governance Review later this week. Skene, who has read the review, said, “When you go through it in every submission everyone says the city does not take into account input from citizens.”
Janice Lukes, the city councillor representing the Waverley West ward and a member of the Property and Development, Heritage and Downtown Development committee, said she watched a recording of the community committee hearing and was cognizant of the community opposition.
She said that it’s councillors’ job to wear two hats — one for the neighbourhood that elected them and the other for the entire city.
“Sometimes it is difficult,” she said. “You want to be responsive to them (the neighbourhood)… but you have to make decisions for the city at the standing committee level, not for my constituents.”
She said that she has come to learn that real estate developers have many different ways of doing business.
“Not everyone is in love with the style of developers but the guy has done nothing wrong, legally,” she said. “You have to go with the facts.”
The proposed luxury condo project will have eight units of about 3,000 square feet each, with 17 underground parking spaces.
City administration who spoke in support of the project noted the preservation of the existing stone and wrought-iron fence around the property and the retention of a certified arborist to ensure the preservation of dozens of mature trees on the lot.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.