A 55-plus residential complex proposed for Charleswood would provide seniors an ideal option to "age in place" in their home community, supporters say.
But some neighbours fear the development would dwarf surrounding buildings and vastly increase traffic.
The proposed three-building complex, which would include two five-storey and one seven-storey structure, would create a 275 housing units at 363-365 Oakdale Dr., just west of the William Clement Parkway. It would have 412 parking stalls and 42 bicycle spots.
"There’s a great need for 55-plus apartment units in Charleswood to allow residents to age in place in the Charleswood community… There’s also a critical need for a new home for the Charleswood 55-Plus Active Living Centre," Susan Russell, president of the McGowan Russell Group, told the Assiniboia Community Committee Wednesday.
The development would include a 4,100-square-foot space for the Active Living Centre, with a fitness room, workspace, crafts room, multi-purpose room and outdoor patio.
Russell said the site is ideally suited to the complex, with mature trees that would create a park-like setting, and a short walk to shopping and transit.
Each of the five-storey buildings is one floor shorter than the developer originally proposed, a change meant to reflect community concerns, she said.
Sherry Mooney, president of the Charleswood 55-Plus Active Living Centre, said the project would provide her group with a low-cost rental space and help address a major need for seniors housing in the Charleswood.
"We need an additional 450 units by 2025 to merely keep pace with the need," said Mooney.
She described the proposal as an example for other communities.
A few Charleswood seniors were among more than 120 Winnipeggers who registered to support the project.
Joletta Brown said it is important to let seniors remain in their communities as they age, which can help prevent isolation.
"It is vital to keep our social networks strong as we age. When it’s time to find alternate accommodation and nothing is available in our community, tremendous loss is experienced all around," said Brown.
By contrast, 37 area residents registered to oppose the plan Wednesday, largely over its size and potential effect on traffic.
"It is jamming a very big development into a residential street and a location that does not have access to the major arterial roads. You have to come down a quiet residential street to access this site," said Mike McEwen, a well-known curler who lives in the area.
McEwen said the increase in traffic would be dangerous for children who walk to a nearby school. Residents fear construction would put many old oak trees in the area at risk, he said.
The proposal would require the removal of 130 of 477 trees at the site, though the developer also plans to add 122 new ones, a city report said.
Other neighbours echoed the concern that increased traffic would exceed what the local street can safely handle.
"We have so many kids walking down the street to get to… school at an intersection that is already dangerous. And now you’re going to quadruple the traffic," Shauna Streich told the Free Press during a break in the hearing.
Russell said the developer’s traffic study found the complex would add "very few" vehicle trips during rush-hour periods.
The Assiniboia committee voted unanimously on Wednesday evening to approve the subdivision and rezoning application for the project, with councillors Janice Lukes, Scott Gillingham and Kevin Klein all in favour.
"This is not a decision that has been reached lightly… but I believe, at the end of the day, this is the right step forward for our city and what we’re going to need down the road," said Klein.
The application would require full council approval and the project itself would require additional city hall clearances.
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.