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This article was published 19/9/2018 (397 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg real estate developer Andrew Marquess has won a legal fight with city hall.
A Court of Queen's Bench judge has ordered the City of Winnipeg to direct its city centre community committee to hold a hearing on the proposed rezoning for Marquess' Fulton Grove project in the Parker lands and his secondary plan for the area's development.
"The judge ordered the city to do what we asked," lawyer Dave Hill told the Free Press on Wednesday. "The judge says we have a right to be heard."
The city planning department had advised council Marquess' secondary application for the entire 133-acre Parker lands site fails to comply with civic policies, and recommended against holding any public hearings until the developer had revised the applications to address its concerns.
The Parker lands is an area located west of Pembina Highway and south of the CN Rivers rail line. The Fulton Grove project is on the northern most portion of the site.
City officials have also refused to consider plans for the Fulton Grove residential development, which consists of 1,900 resident units on 47 acres in a mix of single-family homes, duplexes and four-plexes and apartment towers ranging in height from four to 10 stories.
Hill said the judge — in a written ruling released Wednesday afternoon — concluded Marquess' proposals must be heard by city hall, starting first at the community committee level.
A spokeswoman said the City of Winnipeg would not comment, explaining officials had only just received a copy of the judge’s ruling and members of its legal team were reviewing the document.
Justice Candace Grammond stated in her ruling city officials had failed to adequately explain the delay in dealing with Marquess’ applications.
"Both sides have expended significant time and resources to the land over a period of almost five years, with no tangible progress have been achieved," Grammond wrote. "It is time that the substance of the applications are addressed."
Grammond said while she could hold both Marquess and civic officials responsible for the delay, she added city hall changed the rules on how it would deal with secondary plans and questioned "the fairness" in its dealings with Marquess.
While Marquess has argued publicly that civic officials were motivated by a desire to lower the value of his property in order to save costs on a pending expropriation of some of that land, Grammond said there was "no specific evidence as to the city’s intentions," and "I am not prepared to conclude that it acted in bad faith."
Grammond ordered city officials to ensure all "required material" is provided to the councillors on the community committee for the Nov. 13 hearing. Winnipeg's civic election is Oct. 24.
The ongoing drama over the Parker lands redevelopment dates to 2009, when Marquess obtained 59 acres in a controversial land-swap deal with the city. His company, Gem Equities, later acquired another 14 acres of nearby land from CN Railway.
The city expropriated 24.5 acres of the parcel — most of it (16.5 acres) to accommodate a giant storm-retention pond, four acres to accommodate the relocation of Manitoba Hydro transmission lines for a transit corridor, and another four acres needed for the construction of the corridor itself.
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.
Updated on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 7:01 PM CDT: Adds photo
12:55 AM: Updates headline