Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
What do you do with 326 acres of undeveloped land? The City of Selkirk has some big ideas.
Last summer, the growing burg purchased the large plot, which is within its urban limits, for about $3.2 million. Its potential seemed endless, said Tim Feduniw, the city's director of sustainable economic development.
"Right now, it’s a blank canvas," he said about the plot, to be known as the West End. A new conceptual plan shows the plot could include high-density housing (more than 5,000 units in a mixed-use village), 90 acres of park and greenspace, and 200,000 square feet of retail outlets.
Feduniw called the plan ambitious "because it takes a visionary approach."
The West End — located to the south of the city's retail centre at Manitoba Avenue and the Highway 9 bypass — will play a key role in the next 50 years of Selkirk’s growth. The city, which has a population of about 10,000, believes more than 10,000 new residents could conceivably live, work, and play there.
But to make sure that happens properly, Feduniw said the development has to be economically and environmentally sustainable.
While the specifics may change, Feduniw said the land will be developed in accordance with the city’s climate change adaptation strategy, including potential solar-power usage and the protection of tree canopies and natural growth.
The plan guides development toward enhanced active transportation to reduce "reliance on car ownership by investing in public transit." Neighbourhoods will be organized in a compact, high-density manner to support walkability and pedestrian access.
"The primary objective of the West End in terms of transportation is to create an environment… where residents, visitors and workers have multiple transportation options available to them and do not always need to rely on their cars," the document says.
At the centre of the plan is a "mixed-use village" which will include multi-unit residential complexes, mid-rise apartments between four and eight storeys, and live-work units. Single-family detached homes won’t be permitted. Roads will have sidewalks on both sides of the street, something often not found in suburban developments.
The proposed regional park will use native vegetation in all naturalized areas, and development will be curbed to ensure limited threats to ecological integrity, the plan says. It will also be connected to the broader development through active transportation trails and pathways.
Feduniw said water conservation will be key, and said there have been preliminary discussions with the Manitoba Paddling Association about establishing a professional paddling facility as part of the regional park.
He said the city hopes the new development will be integrated with existing residential and commercial areas as a "complementary addition to the community."
Feduniw said community consultation and market evaluation have just started. "What’s next is making sure we’re identifying the right markets, talking to the right people, and positioning ourselves for success," he said.
He also said the city will monitor trends to ensure the plan stays up to date.
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.
The Winnipeg Free Press invites you to share your opinion on this story in a letter to the editor. A selection of letters to the editor are published daily.
Letters must include the writer’s full name, address, and a daytime phone number. Letters are edited for length and clarity.