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Councillors push for city to explore forest purchase

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/5/2019 (369 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The City of Winnipeg may soon be eyeing a $3.6-million, 62-acre plot of land that snakes along the east bank of the Seine River in south St. Vital, in hopes of saving a significant section of forest on the property as a municipal park.

At least, that's if Couns. Markus Chambers (St. Norbert-Seine River) and Brian Mayes (St. Vital) get their way.

"I’ve been working on this issue for several years now. It’s been talked about for years as a great opportunity to preserve a forest. I always thought it would be a great legacy if we could get that land and salvage it," Mayes said.

Two private lots for sale south of the Perimeter Highway, with forested areas and land bordering on the Seine River.


Two private lots for sale south of the Perimeter Highway, with forested areas and land bordering on the Seine River.

"It’s something my sons could enjoy one day, if we could just keep the forest part from being cut down and demolished. It’s a section of land that you don’t find everywhere."

At Monday’s meeting of the property and development, heritage and downtown development committee, city councillors will vote on whether the public service should investigate the possibility of purchasing the privately-owned property at 36 and 88 Sumka Rd.

A motion was put forth by Chambers at the May 6 meeting of the Riel community committee. While the property has been up for sale for a number of years, it is the first time a formal motion has been tabled to look into buying it.

Graeme Bruce / Winnipeg Free Press / OpenStreetMap

Graeme Bruce / Winnipeg Free Press / OpenStreetMap

Mayes, who chairs both committees, said he’s cautiously optimistic a deal can be struck that works for all parties. He said he hopes to one day walk a trail built through the forest.

"It would be a shame to lose it, because you’re not going to be able to recreate 20 acres of forest. I don’t want this to get mowed down on my watch. I’d love to be the guy involved in helping save it. I would be very proud if we could put together a deal," Mayes said.

"Even if we don’t get a trail through there for 20 years, let’s make sure we can keep the forest, then think it through after that. It would certainly be a great asset for the southeast part of the city. It would be historic."

While the city has inquired — although not made an offer — on the forested section of the land in the past, the owners have long been set on selling all 62 acres as a parcel, Mayes said.

The property, which is a functioning farm, is currently listed by the real estate company Cushman & Wakefield. There is a 2,150-square-foot house and various commercial buildings on the land.

If the committee votes in favour of having the public service formally inquire about buying the land, a report back will be provided to the councillors within 120 days.

Trails on the Seine River, just north of the Perimeter Highway.


Trails on the Seine River, just north of the Perimeter Highway.

"I got to cut the ribbon opening the whole trail system on the west side of the Seine. My predecessors at city hall had the vision that, as that area developed, they held back land to create a trail system," Mayes said.

"It took 20 or 30 years, but I was the one who got to cut the ribbon, even though I didn’t really have anything to do with it. Now, here’s my chance to pay this forward so that maybe somebody else gets to cut a ribbon 20 years from now on that pathway."

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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