December 8, 2019

Winnipeg
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Visual Briefing

Visualizing Winnipeg's residential growth

Winnipeg's established neighbourhoods include more than nine million square feet of vacant residential land, according to a Free Press analysis of the city's tax roll data.

While downtown has seen modest population increases over the last decade, the vast swaths of unused residential land in city-centre neighbourhoods stands in stark contrast to new builds pushing up against the city's outer boundaries.

Like prairie floodwaters, residential sprawl has few natural constraints in Winnipeg, and the city -- along with nearly every other mid-size city in Canada -- is grappling with ways to incentivize and regulate infill.

Residential builds, last 20 years

Vacant lots

Detail

McPhillips St.

Main St.

CP RAIL YARDS

Empress St.

Portage Ave.

THE

FORKS

POLO

PARK

St. Mary’s Rd.

Pembina Hwy

Osborne St.

Corydon Ave.

Grant Ave.

Vacant lots

Residential builds, last 20 years

Detail

McPhillips St.

Main St.

Redwood Ave.

CP RAIL YARDS

Empress St.

Notre Dame Ave.

THE

FORKS

Portage Ave.

Assiniboine River

POLO

PARK

Red River

Assiniboine River

Pembina Hwy

Red River

Corydon Ave.

Grant Ave.

Residential builds, last 20 years

Vacant lots

Detail

Main St.

McPhillips St.

Redwood Ave.

CP RAIL YARDS

Empress St.

Notre Dame Ave.

Red River

 

Portage Ave.

THE

FORKS

Assiniboine River

POLO

PARK

Portage Ave.

Red River

St. Mary’s Rd.

Assiniboine River

Pembina Hwy

Corydon Ave.

Osborne St.

Red River

Corydon Ave.

Grant Ave.

Grant Ave.

 Note: Downtown data not available

 

The City of Winnipeg has vowed to rewrite its infill rules, which people who have supported and opposed specific infill development projects have complained are too vague.

"There’s no defined process that is unilaterally able to be relied on by the public and the development community," Tim Comack, Ventura's vice president of development told the Free Press last year.

390 Beaverbrook St. in River Heights is an infill development.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

390 Beaverbrook St. in River Heights is an infill development.

The city is considering restricting how much land a new home can cover in an effort to curb "skinny" homes.

"People don't like two houses going in where one was before, but they really don't like a wall 35-feet high near the property line and running very nearly to the back," Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of the cit's property and development committee, said earlier this year.

The average square footage of an infill single-family home -- which make up the vast majority of infill types -- is 1,201, with average lot size at 3,685 sq-ft.

Overall, the size of single-family homes, infill or otherwise, has been increasing over time.

 

Home size

One dot is one single-family home

4,000 sq. ft.

3,000

2,000

Trendline

1,000

0

1900

1920

1940

1960

1980

2000

Home size

One dot is one single-family home

4,000 sq. ft.

3,000

2,000

Trendline

1,000

0

1900

1920

1940

1960

1980

2000

Home size

One dot is one single-family home

4,000 sq. ft.

3,000

2,000

Trendline

1,000

0

1900

1920

1940

1960

1980

2000

Based on the number of homes built in established neighbourhoods in the last 20 years, the most infill activity has taken place in King Edward, William Whyte, Chalmers and Sir John Franklin neighbourhoods.

Despite its rate of infill development, the William Whyte neighbourhood still has the highest number of vacant lots in the city.

 

Neighbourhoods with the most infill

Built in the last 20 years

Vacant lot

King Edward

St. Matthews Ave.

Century St.

Amherst St.

Ness Ave.

Route 90

Portage Ave.

William Whyte

Arlington St.

Redwood Ave.

Burrows Ave.

Main St.

Selkirk Ave.

Chalmers

This strip of land that flanks Chalmers Park and Elmwood High School is designated as vacant residential.

Munroe Ave.

Henderson Hwy.

Redwood Ave.

Stadacona St.

Gateway Rd.

Sir John Franklin

This narrow 62-unit single-storey condo development was built atop a former rail line.

Academy Rd.

Route 90

Kingsway

Grosvenor Ave.

Corydon Ave.

Neighbourhoods with the most infill

King Edward

St. Matthews Ave.

Century St.

Amherst St.

Ness Ave.

Route 90

Portage Ave.

William Whyte

Arlington St.

Redwood Ave.

Burrows Ave.

Main St.

Selkirk Ave.

Chalmers

This strip of land that flanks Chalmers Park and Elmwood High School is designated as vacant residential.

Munroe Ave.

Henderson Hwy.

Redwood Ave.

Stadacona St.

Gateway Rd.

Sir John Franklin

This narrow 62-unit single-storey condo development was built atop a former rail line.

Academy Rd.

Route 90

Kingsway

Grosvenor Ave.

Corydon Ave.

Neighbourhoods with the most infill

Built in the last 20 years

Vacant lot

William Whyte

King Edward

St. Matthews Ave.

Arlington St.

Redwood Ave.

Century St.

Amherst St.

Burrows Ave.

Ness Ave.

Main St.

Selkirk Ave.

Route 90

Portage Ave.

Sir John Franklin

Chalmers

This strip of land that flanks Chalmers Park and Elmwood High School is designated as vacant residential.

This narrow 62-unit single-storey condo development was built atop a former rail line.

Munroe Ave.

Henderson Hwy.

Redwood Ave.

Academy Rd.

Route 90

Kingsway

Stadacona St.

Gateway Rd.

Grosvenor Ave.

Corydon Ave.

Critics of some infill projects have complained the development doesn't match the character of a street or neighbourhood -- for example,  when older single-family homes are replaced by higher-density duplexes, condos or apartments.

In the last 20 years, more than 50,000 single-family homes have been built in established neighbourhoods, compared to 474 condos and row houses.

 

Types of residential infill built in the last 20 years

0

2,000

4,000

Single-family

Multi-family conversion

Duplex and side-by-side

Row houses and condos

Types of residential infill built in the last 20 years

0

20,000

40,000

Single-family

Multi-family conversion

Duplex and side-by -side

Row houses and condos

Types of residential infill built in the last 20 years

0

10,000

20,000

30,000

40,000

50,000

Single-family

Multi-family conversion

Duplex and side-by-side

Row houses and condos

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Armstrong's Point in Winnipeg on Monday, April 1, 2019.  Heritage designation for the neighbourhood was unanimously approved by the committee. For Also Santin story.

Winnipeg Free Press 2019.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Armstrong's Point in Winnipeg on Monday, April 1, 2019. Heritage designation for the neighbourhood was unanimously approved by the committee. For Also Santin story. Winnipeg Free Press 2019.

 

Some Winnipeggers are taking matter into their own hands to make sure infill is to their liking.

Residents of Armstrong Point, an established neighbourhood with a cluster of some of the city's oldest homes, are pushing to have their entire neighbourhood designated as a heritage neighbourhood, which would require any tear-down or new build to be subject to a heritage review process, making new infill more difficult.

How old are the city's existing homes? There are still thousands of turn-of-the-century and post-war residential buildings in the city.

 

Residential builds over time

Great Depression

WWII

Energy crisis

4,000

2,000

0

1880

1900

1920

1940

1960

1980

2000

Residential builds over time

Great Depression

WWII

Energy crisis

4,000

2,000

0

1880

1900

1920

1940

1960

1980

2000

Residential builds over time

Great Depression

WWII

Energy crisis

Amalgamation

4,000

2,000

0

1880

1900

1920

1940

1960

1980

2000

Watch Winnipeg grow: From settlement to city, watch 149 years of growth in Winnipeg in 11 seconds. One dot is one property on the city's current tax roll.

Notes and methodology: All data based on City of Winnipeg tax assessment rolls.

We define an established neighbourhood as one with median build year before 1950.

We define recent residential infill as any residential property developed in the last 20 years in those established neighbourhoods.

Data on build year is not available for most downtown properties.

Vacant lots include residential lots designated for both single-family homes and multi-family dwellings.

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