A lobby to keep Winnipeg green space intact won over council’s most powerful committee Wednesday.
The executive policy committee voted unanimously to have OurWinnipeg 2045 and Complete Communities 2.0 call to prohibit development on major city-owned green spaces. The change would still require full council approval.
Specifically, the amendment states development should not be allowed on city-owned major open space or any other land that’s zoned, designated or used as a park.
"Winnipeggers love their green space. They want to… conserve it for recreation and have (the amount) keep pace with a growing population… That green space, open space, parks should be protected," Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge- East Fort Garry) told the Free Press, after successfully calling for the change.
The decision comes after several Winnipeggers lobbied for a complete ban on the redevelopment of major public parks and open spaces, such as forests, parks and golf courses.
One green space advocate said Wednesday’s change should greatly reduce the risk housing and other priorities could put green space at risk, as long as council gives final approval to the altered documents.
"It would really be turning the page… and allowing us to move forward with hope that we will have a greener and better city in our future," said Michele Kading, executive director of Save Our Seine, which works to preserve the Seine River and surrounding natural areas.
Rollins’ amendment also calls for the city to pursue a master green space plan, a biodiversity policy and a natural corridor protection plan (that includes riverbanks).
Kading said she’s hopeful the effort will set additional goals and targets that must be considered when developers ask council to divert from planning document guidelines.
"Then (competing demands) will be in better balance. We won’t always be thinking of sacrificing green space for housing or commercial or industrial development," she said.
Kading said preserving these areas is critical to quality of life for Winnipeggers.
Complete Communities, a citywide secondary plan, includes a goal to retain major open spaces but also initially laid out possible rules that would allow development on them.
If the changes are finalized, future councils could still vote to approve individual developments but would have to knowingly part from the city’s official planning goals to do so.
Mayor Brian Bowman said this change should be effective in preserving open spaces, since the two documents are slated to guide city development for the next 25 years.
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.