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This article was published 29/1/2012 (3358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Should Winnipeg extend its boundaries to the Perimeter Highway and annex parts of neighbouring municipalities?
A new report explores the pros and cons of several avenues Winnipeg could take to accommodate future population growth, including annexing portions of neighbouring municipalities, signing piecemeal service-sharing agreements and full-scale regional planning.
An administrative review, released Friday, said Winnipeg's population is expected to grow by 174,000 people over the next 20 years and population within the capital region outside the city is expected to increase by 36,000 residents. The report said Winnipeg's population will expand rapidly, and the city could eventually reach a point at which it runs out of land to develop.
Jino Distasio, director of the University of Winnipeg's Institute of Urban Studies, said it's likely been more than 50 years since Winnipeg has felt the pressure of rapid growth. Distasio said other Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montreal have faced similar situations, and there are multiple ways to address the problem.
"I think we may, in fact, see a combination (of options) where in the capital region we start to see more agreements between municipalities," Distasio said. "Maybe there's opportunities to share."
Currently, five municipalities have land within the Perimeter Highway, including West St. Paul, East St. Paul, Springfield, Macdonald, and Rosser. Another 10 surrounding municipalities make up the capital region, which is home to about 65 per cent of the province's total population.
Last year, Couns. Russ Wyatt (Transcona) and Ross Eadie (Mynarski) suggested Winnipeg ask the province if the city can expand its boundary to the Perimeter. The city administration was asked to investigate the issue, and its report will be reviewed by council's executive policy committee at a meeting Wednesday.
The report said annexation is one way to solve the current problem, in which residents of bedroom communities use city roads and facilities but do not pay property tax. It would also give Winnipeg a say in how nearby municipalities grow, as the city also has no say in what kind of developments occur on its periphery.
Last fall, East St. Paul approved more than 300 large lots on land adjacent to North Kildonan.
There are drawbacks, however, and the report said boundary realignment has to be approved by the province and has historically been contentious. One of the best local examples occurred in 1972, when Winnipeg and 12 surrounding municipalities amalgamated to form a unified city.
Another option is service-sharing, which Winnipeg is currently discussing with West St. Paul and the RM of Rosser. The report said these agreements have not been used much in the past, but there is a strong business case to eliminate overlapping services.
There is no development plan to guide growth in the capital region, while other parts of Canada have a governance structure to co-ordinate these types of plans, including the region of Waterloo, which includes three cities and four rural townships.
The report said if Winnipeg continues to build out at the current rate -- as it has in Waverley West, Sage Creek and North Transcona -- the entire land supply could be exhausted in 20 years.
However, it said the city could extend that period if it focuses on increasing density.
Distasio said Winnipeg needs to first figure out how best to grow within its current boundaries and maximize the space it has.
He said infill projects such as the Fort Rouge Yards are a good way to increase density in the city. He said Winnipeg needs to get creative and move away from the kind of anti-condo or anti-development thinking that sometimes kills good projects.
"Sometimes a condo project elicits such anger," he said. "We shouldn't have the same debate, because you can't continue to build in the same way."
What could happen
A new report said Winnipeg needs to plan for major growth over the next 20 years. Here are the options on the table:
WHAT IT MEANS: Winnipeg takes control over land previously controlled by another municipality. Once land is annexed, the city is on the hook for services such as road maintenance, emergency services and taxation.
PRO: City has greater control over planning and service provision of the annexed lands. Would increase city's tax base.
CON: Could negatively affect trust and relationships between municipalities and the City of Winnipeg.
2) SERVICE-SHARING WITH NO CONDITIONS
WHAT IT MEANS: Winnipeg signs agreements with other municipalities to provide services such as water and sewer, emergency services or garbage collection.
PRO: City will benefit financially from these negotiations and they are less complicated to negotiate.
CON: Does not address long-term planning.
3) SERVICE-SHARING WITH TAX-SHARING PROVISION AND PLANNING
WHAT IT MEANS: Winnipeg signs agreements with other municipalities to provide services such as water and sewer, emergency services or garbage collection. They also include provisions to collect tax and have a say in development.
PRO: Winnipeg can get revenue and have a stake in planning within one municipality, which is easier to do than co-ordinating a regional plan.
CON: These agreements are more difficult and time-consuming to negotiate.
4) REGIONAL PLANNING
WHAT IT MEANS: A regional plan or regional governance structure to provide a co-ordinated way to plan for growth in the capital region.
PRO: The entire capital region can be planned in a comprehensive way.
CON: This is time-consuming and complicated. It also requires a lot of collaboration with other stakeholders, including the province.
--Source: City of Winnipeg municipal boundary realignment report