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This article was published 4/4/2019 (534 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A city homeowner says he's being hounded by a city building inspector to widen a doorway even though his house may be demolished when the Arlington Street Bridge is replaced.
Serge Boucher said he can't figure out why the city is going after something as minor as increasing the width of a doorway in the finished basement of a house that has been targeted for possible expropriation.
"It's weird," said Boucher, a pensioner who is blind and uses a wheelchair.
"When I bought the house nine years ago, it was a new house," said Boucher. There was no talk of expropriating property in the area to make way for a new bridge, which will replace the one built in 1912 over the CP Rail yards.
The price of Boucher's new house was right and the location -- at the corner of Flora Avenue and Arlington Street -- was good, too, he said.
"My wife works at Health Sciences Centre -- it was close and affordable." He and his wife of 15 years, Makhady Boucher-Camara, moved into their new home two days before Christmas in 2009.
Everything was fine until they realized the contractor, who built the house and applied for a permit to finish the basement, built the door to the laundry room too narrow to get appliances through. Boucher complained and the contractor widened the door but, once the appliances were moved into the laundry room, narrowed the doorway again.
Two months ago, a city building inspector showed up out of the blue and told them they to widen the doorway, improve the basement stair railing and improve eavestroughing. Boucher said all the work was done except for widening the doorway in the basement. The inspector wasn't satisfied, he said.
"He came back and said everything had to be completed by the end of the month," Boucher said Thursday. He said he's never had trouble with the city before. He's puzzled why he's being pursued now -- nearly a decade after the work permit for the basement was issued -- and especially after being told by the city his property is targeted to make way for the new wider and longer Arlington Street Bridge.
A City of Winnipeg spokesman said the planning, property and development department has made "a concerted effort in recent years to address 'aged permits', which are open permits that have sat for years without final inspection."
The new bridge, which was initially estimated to cost $330 million, is slated for completion in 2023.
The plan is to accommodate more traffic, making it wider and longer with a gradual incline that's easier for cyclists and pedestrians to cross.
The new bridge would meet modern accessibility standards, provide new and improved active transportation options and better accommodate traffic, including commuters, buses and other large vehicles.
Winnipeg’s population is forecast to grow by approximately 200,000 people over the next 25 years. A better bridge for Arlington will make it easier for more people to get around.
Source: City of Winnipeg public works
"The City wants to ensure compliance with building codes in order to meet standards for safety and accessibility, among other things," spokesman Kalen Qually said in an email. He did not say why the city is bothering with an "aged permit" involving a home that has a good chance of being demolished.
Plans and funding for the new bridge and the affected properties have not finalized or approved by council, the city spokesman said.
Boucher said he and his wife were among the bridge-area property owners invited by the city to a 2016 open house and a 2017 forum. The most recent update he's received is that expropriation plans will be unveiled March, 2020.
Councillor Vivian Santos (Point Douglas) said a Class 3 estimate, which is based on a completed preliminary design and is the basis for budget authorization, is expected to be presented to council before summer.
"I believe it will be up in the air after that," said Santos.
"We have a couple of other unfunded capital projects," she said, pointing to the twinning of Kenaston Boulevard and the Chief Peguis Trail expansion that council is also considering. "We've got to sit down and figure out what the priority is."
"Of course, I'm going to be championing the Arlington bridge," she said.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
Updated on Friday, April 5, 2019 at 7:52 AM CDT: Corrects cutline
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