October 25, 2020

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Parker Lands squabble returns to court

Legal filing pursues fines against city, final council vote on development plan

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Gem Equities owner Andrew Marquess (left) could consider an appeal to the Manitoba Municipal Board, if Winnipeg city council rejects the Parker Lands development project.</p></p>


Gem Equities owner Andrew Marquess (left) could consider an appeal to the Manitoba Municipal Board, if Winnipeg city council rejects the Parker Lands development project.

The developer for the Parker Lands will ask a judge to fine the City of Winnipeg and order it to hold a final vote on the site’s hotly debated development proposal.

In a new court document, the developer’s legal team notes it will ask Justice Candace Grammond to fine the city $68,600 for contempt of court.

"There has to be a consequence to their failure to comply with a court order," said Dave Hill, the lawyer representing Gem Equities owner Andrew Marquess.

The new legal challenge also calls for the civic government to pay the developer’s legal costs for previous challenges linked to the proposal. That would see the city pay out roughly another $103,000.

Hill said that includes some previous court costs the city was ordered to cover but has not yet paid.

In August 2019, the city was found in contempt of a court order because it considered the development proposal through a bylaw process, instead of the policy-based one the judge had ordered council to follow.

"We have never had the hearing that Mme. Justice Grammond ordered them to have," said Hill.

The developers ask that city council be required to hold a final vote on the development at its Sept. 30 meeting. That could take place the following month, if more public notice is required.

If the city doesn’t comply with that hearing request, the developer calls for the government to be fined an additional $200 per day until it does.

In May, city council postponed its final vote on the development, opting to first seek clarity on the judge’s order that details how it should be considered.

If approved, the Parker Lands proposal would add houses, apartments and townhouses to the area surrounded by the CNR Rivers railway and the Southwest Rapid Transitway.

City staff has recommended the plan’s rejection, alleging it lacks detail, doesn’t meet land-use criteria and could create conflict between industry and residences.

By contrast, Gem Equities argues its proposal would create an ideal transit-oriented development — something the city has sought for more than a decade.

If council casts a final vote to reject the proposal, Hill said Marquess could also consider an appeal to the Manitoba Municipal Board. The province has introduced, but not yet passed, legislation that would see that board hear some Winnipeg development appeals.

"There is going to be that new legislation with the province, so that may be open to Mr. Marquess, if the city denies all of his efforts," said Hill.

Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), council’s former property and development chairman, said he would like to see a final decision on the development, which he voted to support in May.

"The delay is now in the years, so we need to resolve this one way or the other," said Mayes.

Developer Gem Equities and municipal officials have been discussing plans for the site since at least 2014.

Mayes said development is needed alongside the rapid transit route.

"We are trying to densify our rapid transit corridors. This would seem to me an opportunity to do that," he said.

Coun. Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre), council’s current property and development chairwoman, declined an interview request.

City spokesman Kalen Qually said city staff is now reviewing the legal document.

A judge is scheduled to hear the motion on Sept. 9.


Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga




Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

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.

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Updated on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 6:55 AM CDT: Adds photo

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