A city committee has again rejected the Parker lands development proposal in a split vote.
Council’s property and development committee cast a 2-1 vote Thursday to reject the proposal that has triggered heated debates and legal action over the past few years.
Coun. Brian Mayes, the committee’s chairperson, cast the sole vote in favour of the plan, noting the city has wanted to entice development along a bus rapid transit corridor for more than a decade.
"If we’ve identified this spot as somewhere where we want development… I think it is incumbent on us to get moving with that development," said Mayes (St. Vital).
Only three of the committee’s four members voted on the proposal. Coun. Janice Lukes instead opted to leave the meeting after voicing a concern the city’s process may not have followed a judge’s order on how it should consider the plan.
"I’m not confident we’re in compliance with the judge’s order," said Lukes (Waverley West).
City staff recommended the proposal rejection, which would require a final council vote. A staff report deems the hotly debated housing development proposal "inadequate," claiming it lacks detail, could create conflict between industry and residences and didn’t meet land-use criteria, among other issues.
Councillors Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) and Matt Allard (St. Boniface) voted to follow that advice, with Allard arguing "this plan is not ready yet."
A city report notes developer Gem Equities and municipal officials have been discussing plans for the site since at least 2014.
The proposal has been the subject of multiple legal challenges, in part because of the developer’s belief the city has deliberately delayed the project.
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 a judge had ordered council to follow. The city was ordered to consider the proposal again, as a result.
Prior to Thursday evening’s decision, the developer’s lawyer said a rejection could lead his client to seek a provincial appeal of the decision.
The province recently introduced, but has not yet approved, legislation that would see Manitoba’s municipal board hear appeals on Winnipeg land-use decisions.
"Obviously, it hasn’t made it through the legislature yet… But when that happens, I think there will be a lot of developers, including our client, who will want to avail themselves of that appeal procedure," said Dave Hill.
Hill said his client will also "have to consider if we go back to court."
The lawyer also refuted criticism of the proposal, stating the project would support Transit-oriented development goals, increase residential density and generate new tax dollars.
Had the proposal made it out of the committee and been approved by council, the development would add houses, apartments and townhouses to the area surrounded by the CNR Rivers railway and the Southwest Rapid Transit corridor.
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.
Updated on Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 7:43 PM CDT: Updates lead.