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This article was published 5/12/2016 (1048 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A local developer is ramping up its campaign to save a proposed Crescentwood condominium project and to get the city to adopt binding guidelines for future infill developments in mature neighbourhoods.
The campaign by Winnipeg’s Ventura Developments Inc. and its supporters includes a full-page newspaper ad in Saturday’s Free Press, two letters to the editor from individual supporters of Ventura’s McMillan House project, a guest column by Ventura vice-president Tim Comack in Monday’s paper, and Comack appearing before a city committee, also on Monday.
Next up is Comack attending Wednesday’s executive policy committee meeting — the next step in Ventura’s appeal process — and city council’s Dec. 14 meeting, where its final appeal is expected to be heard.
A spokesman for the grassroots group that ran the newspaper ad — the Winnipeg Infill Network — said it may also make a submission at next week’s council meeting.
"I would say that it is a possibility," Adam Dooley said in an interview Monday.
Dooley is president of Dooley Communications Inc., a local public relations firm whose clients include Ventura Developments. He said the newly formed network is made up of representatives of the local development and business communities who are upset with the handling of the Ventura project and who want to see some binding guidelines established for future infill projects.
The newspaper ad said Winnipeg needs more infill development, and called on the city to adopt infill guidelines that were drafted in 2011 by the city’s planning department but never enacted by city council.
Comack’s column outlined Ventura’s argument for why its 12-unit McMillan House project at the corner of Harrow Street and McMillan Avenue should not have been rejected last month by the city centre community committee. He noted the city’s urban planning division concluded the project complied with the strategies set out in the long-term development plan, Our Winnipeg, and recommended it be allowed.
He also called on city council to enact the 2011 draft guidelines to eliminate the kind of uncertainty that’s embedded in the existing approval process, which he said allows for a ward councillor to essentially veto a project he or she doesn’t like.
The three-member city centre community committee rejected the Ventura project after ward councillor and committee-member John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) and three area residents argued the condo complex was too big and could lead to a rash of other multi-family developments in the predominantly single-family neighbourhood.
Comack said the story isn’t just about the validity of Ventura’s project, but about the need for the city "to grab the bull by the horns and embrace densification, urbanism, and upward development, as well as the vision of Our Winnipeg."
Dooley agreed some binding guidelines are long overdue.
"I think it’s time that city council move forward and make the rules clear... not just for developers but private individuals who want to develop properties and deserve to know what the rules are."
He said he wasn’t authorized to disclose the names of the network’s members. He said while the handling of the Ventura project is what triggered the group’s formation, its broader goal is to push for the creation of an infill-development strategy that’s in the best interests of the city as a whole.
"It seems to me there is a broad level of support (for more infill development) among the business community and the politicians, yet for some reason it’s still not going forward. And this is what we have to get sorted out," said Dooley.
Updated on Monday, December 5, 2016 at 9:40 PM CST: Fixed headline, edited
December 6, 2016 at 5:54 AM: Adds photos