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This article was published 25/5/2015 (815 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A civic committee overruled its planning department and allowed a temporary gravel parking lot at the Upper Fort Garry provincial park in downtown Winnipeg.
Councillors on the downtown development committee Monday morning set a two-year limit for the parking lot, which the Friends of Upper Fort Garry said is needed to generate cash-flow to bring the park to completion.
"We wanted this temporary permit... and I’m really happy," Jerry Gray, chairman of the board of the non-profit group that’s overseeing the park project.
Upper Fort Garry provincial park is situated, on the site of the original Upper Fort Garry, a three-acre parcel of land on the west side of Main Street, between Assiniboine Avenue and Broadway.
Gray said he expects the parking lot, which will accommodate 60-70 vehicles, will generate about $200,000 to $300,000 in revenue over the next two years.
Gray told the committee the park will be open to the public in June but it won’t break ground on an interpretative centre and underground parking lot for two years.
Gray said the Friends have raised $13 million to date but they need another $15 million to complete the park site.
Councillors – Chairman Brian Mayes, John Orlikow, Jeff Browaty and Jenny Gerbasi – voted unanimously to allow the parking lot.
Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) was reluctant to support the appeal, adding there is no guarantee the group won’t try to extend the temporary situation beyond two years.
Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) said he considered the project a charity in need of the city’s assistance.
The appeal placed Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg and an opponent of downtown surface parking lots in a difficult situation: Tugwell is also on the Friends board and supported the appeal.
The park "is benefiting and beautifying the downtown. It will benefit all of Winnipeg, all of Manitoba," Tugwell said.
Tugwell said not finishing the park is not an option, adding the parking lot is needed to generate revenue to ensure the project is completed.
"To me, this is a fair compromise," Tugwell said.
The fort was constructed by the Hudson Bay Company in 1835, served as the centre for trade and is considered the birth of the province.
Louis Riel established a provisional government inside the fort’s walls during the winter of 1869-1870, which led to the formal establishment of Manitoba as a province.
The fort was demolished piecemeal over time, and all that remains is the fort’s gate.
City hall owned much of the property, including a surface parking lot, but the land was declared surplus in 2006 and tentatively sold to a developer for a highrise. But intense lobbying by the Friends of Upper Fort Garry, with support from the provincial government, pressured the city to sell the property to the Friends. The province later bought out a gas station at the corner of Broadway and Main and gave the property to the Friends to complete the park site and a formal declaration of the land as a provincial park was done in 2009.
Gray said the park will be open to the public in June.
Work is ongoing on the construction of a heritage wall, at the west end of the park, which will tell the history of the site. That is expected to be completed in November.
The heritage wall will form one of the exterior walls of the interpretive centre – a 30,000 square-foot facility that will be built in phases beginning in 2017.