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City hall rejects developer's plan for Parker lands

Parker Lands developer Andrew Marquess of Gem Equities speaks at a city community committee meeting at city hall Tuesday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Parker Lands developer Andrew Marquess of Gem Equities speaks at a city community committee meeting at city hall Tuesday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/11/2018 (570 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Developer Andrew Marquess struck out at city hall again but he said he’s not giving up on his Parker Lands redevelopment project.

Councillors on the city centre community committee Tuesday night unanimously agreed with an administrative recommendation to reject Marquess’ secondary plan for the 133-acre Parker Lands site, saying it wasn’t ready for council’s consideration.

But Marquess said he’ll continue to press councillors as the committee’s recommendation winds its way through the city hall.

Committee approves Uptown Lanes plan

A plan to redevelop the former Academy Uptown Lanes building into a mixed residential, office and retail use was approved at city hall Tuesday night.

Councillors on the city centre community committee endorsed a rezoning for the 394 Academy Road property, along with package of amendments dealing with parking provisions.

A plan to redevelop the former Academy Uptown Lanes building into a mixed residential, office and retail use was approved at city hall Tuesday night.

Councillors on the city centre community committee endorsed a rezoning for the 394 Academy Road property, along with package of amendments dealing with parking provisions.

The project involves maintaining the exterior of the heritage building, built in 1931, but gutting the interior to accommodate 23 residential units on the third floor, with four office units on the second floor and two ground-floor retail units.

The city’s planning department supports the project.

The project was opposed by five area residents, who felt the developer was creating too many rental units which would alter the character of the neighbourhood.

An administrative report states the committee’s decision on the plans is final but appeals to the decision can be made to council's appeal committee.

"My hope is that council will overturn what happened here today," Marquess told reporters.

Marquess had come to city hall hoping the three councillors (Cindy Gilroy, John Orlikow, Sherri Rollins) on the city centre committee would have endorsed the secondary plan for the Parker Lands and a rezoning that would have allowed Marquess to develop his Fulton Grove project – a 1,900-unit residential development on the 47 acres of land he owns within the Parker property.

The secondary plan is required to be drawn up by a developer for a large tract of vacant land before any individual developments can take place.

The committee later also rejected a rezoning application for the Fulton Grove project, agreeing with the administration's objections, which included that fewer residential units would be best for the site and rezoning shouldn't be considered until there is an approved secondary plan.

Coun. John Orlikow said he couldn’t support the rezoning as it had been presented.

"I can see the light... but I don’t believe we’re there yet," Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) said at the end of the 6½-hour long meeting, which wrapped up just before 11:30 pm.

But Marquess said from his perspective, the gulf between his team and city hall appears very wide.

"If we are so close… we should have been able to sit down in a room and work through all these issues," Marquess said following the end of the meeting. "It seems to me we are a long way apart.

"Marquess said governments have invested almost three-quarters of a billion dollars in infrastructure along the BRT corridor and the land he wants to develop yet he’s meeting resistance from city hall to develop the property.

The Parker Lands are located west of Pembina Highway and south of the CN Rivers rail line. Marquess’ Fulton Grove project is on the northwestern most portion of the site.

The proposals only made it onto to the committee’s agenda Tuesday after Marquess had gone to court earlier this year to force the planning department to put the plans before councillors.

City officials have maintained since the summer that Marquess’ plan for the overall Parker Lands wasn’t ready and shouldn’t be considered.

But Justice Candace Grammond ruled in September that city officials had failed to adequately explain the city’s delay in dealing with Marquess’ applications and ordered the proposals to before the community committee.

Grammond said that while she could hold both Marquess and civic officials responsible for the delay in dealing with the applications, she added that city hall changed the rules on how it would deal with secondary plans and questioned "the fairness" in its dealings with Marquess.

City officials had not substantially altered their opposition to the secondary plan, which a report said was riddled with typos and grammatical errors; proposed density that was too high for the area; and was too vague, and missing important content and policies.

Senior city planner James Platt said the planning department is willing to work with Marquess and his team to get the plan ready for council’s consideration.

Coun. Orlikow, whose River Heights-Fort Garry ward surrounds the Parker Lands, proposed the committee support the administration recommendation, which was approved unanimously.

The proposal goes next to council’s property and development committee.

But Marquess said the administration’s concerns were exaggerated and his team of experts, which included Jennifer Keesmaat, the former chief planner for the City of Toronto, said the plan complied fully with the city’s development policies.

Marquess said the committee’s refusal to consider the secondary plan effectively removed the design of the project out of his hands and gave it to the city planners.

"The administration has said they essentially have to take over control of the content and the timing of the plan, which goes against the rights of an individual to make an application to be heard at a tribunal," Marquess said.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 11:41 PM CST: Removes reference to press time.

11:58 PM: Updates story to final version

November 14, 2018 at 7:07 AM: Corrects typo

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