Waverley Heights residents have lost an attempt to block a transit-oriented development that some deemed "wildly inappropriate" for the south Winnipeg neighbourhood.
More than 80 residents registered with the city to appeal a previous Assiniboia community committee vote in favour of a variance for the project, which would add two apartment buildings (one four-storey, one 10-storey) at a vacant property on the northeast corner of Markham and Gull Lake roads.
The residents fear it would completely obscure some views, eliminate privacy in their yards, snarl traffic and create parking chaos.
While the Assiniboia committee already called to reduce the larger structure to eight storeys, which the appeal committee upheld, resident Vera Willson said she was shocked to hear even that reduced height would be considered.
"It is absolutely far too large, totally out of scale with the surrounding suburban area… (It) would allow for the construction of buildings that will adversely affect all local residents, in terms of greatly increased traffic," Willson told council’s appeals committee Thursday.
She was one of 18 of the project’s opponents who signed up to ask the committee to quash the development.
John Sullivan expressed similar concerns, deeming the project a poor fit with the character of the neighbourhood.
"I believe this plan is still wildly inappropriate to the entire area and it would have disastrous impacts on nearby residents," he said.
Audrey VanderSpek said she spoke with real estate agents about the impact of the proposal and believes it would lead area property values to drop by 25 per cent.
However, a city report called for approval of the development, which municipal planners expect would make good use of the adjacent $605-million southwest rapid transit line.
Michelle Richard, a partner and planning consultant with the Richard and Wintrup development firm, told the committee the size of the project is directly related to its proximity to rapid transit.
"This site… did need to take into consideration the characteristics of development that would encourage the success of that corridor," said Richard.
In contrast to residents’ concerns, she said the development is also expected to raise the value of neighbouring properties.
Studies have indicated the construction would maintain acceptable levels of sunlight and traffic, a City of Winnipeg planner said.
Late Thursday afternoon, Couns. Cindy Gilroy and Vivian Santos voted against the appeal and allowed the development to move forward.
"It is important, I think, that we have apartment buildings in existing neighbourhoods… I also believe, (with) how close it is to the rapid transit corridor, Pembina Highway and all the amenities that are around there, it really is conducive for an apartment building to (be placed) there," said Gilroy.
She noted the plans will require additional city clearances before the project can be built. Gilroy expects some of the residents’ concerns could still be addressed through that process, including those related to traffic flow.
Couns. Janice Lukes and Kevin Klein also sit on the appeals committee but weren’t allowed to participate in the hearing because they took part in the original Assiniboia committee vote.
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.