Winnipeg city council has rejected a new infill development, in order to preserve space for a future park.
On Thursday evening, council cast a 14-2 final vote to reject the sale of civic property at 409 Mulvey Ave. E., in close proximity to the Red River, instead of selling it to allow a new development.
"Waterfront property is a finite resource and we really need to be looking at comprehensive, good planning, instead of selling off little bits and pieces (of it)," Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) told the Free Press on Friday.
"The waterfront requires a long-term vision. It requires strategic planning."
Albatross Development Ltd. had proposed to buy the vacant land for $1.5 million, and build an 80-unit housing complex, with 25 per cent of the units set to be affordable homes. The project would have included a local craft brewery, ride-share parking stalls and outdoor bike storage.
Lukes described it as an "outstanding pitch" for a development she hopes can be located elsewhere in Winnipeg.
"Twenty per cent of downtown is empty parking lots. There’s many other places to go," she said.
Prior to the vote, Albatross representative Braydin Huynen told council the mixed-use construction could co-exist with surrounding green spaces. He noted a key bike trail next to the site would remain under city ownership.
"We’re not trying to take away park land or greenspace from the city’s public. Our vision is to enhance it," said Huynen.
He noted the project would also add trees and vegetation, since the property currently contains an unused gravel-topped parking lot, despite its park land designation.
On Friday, Huynen stressed he respects council’s decision, but wished the park issue was made clearer in the city’s request for proposal for the land.
"We never have intentions to take away parks and redevelop them. If I had known that would be an issue, it would have been a whole different approach," said Huynen.
Lukes said she’s hopeful the Mulvey Avenue land can now be upgraded to a larger green space under city control.
Couns. Matt Allard (St. Boniface) and Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) voted in favour of the sale Thursday.
"Right now, it’s a gravel surface parking lot. I think this was a good use of that land and could have brought in considerable taxes," said Browaty.
Allard said the sale profits and tax dollars could have generated revenue for further park development.
The Mulvey Avenue property, along with former fire halls at Grosvenor Avenue and Berry Street, was tentatively traded — without council approval — for land at 1780 Taylor Ave., where the city built a fire/paramedic station on land it did not yet own.
The swap was cancelled in 2012, and an audit later found it broke city rules.
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.