Some residents of Waverley Heights fear a new Transit-oriented development could block their views, snarl traffic and create parking woes.
Proponents of the project say it’s an ideal fit for the south Winnipeg area’s transportation infrastructure.
The proposal aims to create two apartment buildings (one four-story, one 10-storey) at a vacant property on the northeast corner of Markham and Gull Lake roads, which is adjacent to the southwest rapid transit line.
However, a group of Waverley Heights residents is accusing the city of ignoring its long list of issues with the project.
"They’re seeking a profit and are not concerned how it affects the existing community," said Audrey VanderSpek.
VanderSpek said residents expect the plan could lower property values for surrounding homes and entirely obstruct some views. She said a plan to create fewer parking stalls than housing units could also lead apartment residents to rely heavily on street spots.
Adding more traffic to the area could also spark new safety concerns, VanderSpek said Thursday.
"This is about a block away from a school, so there’s lots of kids walking back and forth... If you increase the traffic on there, that’s just going to create a… safety hazard."
If the residents can’t stop the development to leave room for future green space, she said they hope to convince the city to ensure both buildings are capped at a maximum of four storeys.
However, the project’s proponents describe it as a great opportunity to make use of the city’s $605-million rapid transit line, which would generate taxes that help pay for the infrastructure.
"It’s the ideal location for a rapid transit development, being less than a minute or so walk (from) proposed buildings to the Markham Transit station," said Chris Gibson, a planner with Richard and Wintrup.
Gibson said it’s not a surprise to see a strong reaction to a large project that would change the landscape of a neighbourhood.
He added traffic impacts should, however, be "minimal," based on studies so far.
Coun. Janice Lukes, who represents the area, is calling for amendments that would reduce the tallest building to eight storeys and require an additional traffic study. Lukes (Waverley West) said she hopes to find a compromise that supports the development and acknowledges community feedback.
"I completely understand the residents’ frustration. What’s happening is we’ve got single-family homes that are mere metres from a rapid transit corridor… If the transit corridor wasn’t there, none of this would be happening," she said.
Lukes added the project does follow every policy requirement the city has for rapid transit development and would provide a significant financial benefit.
She expects the close access to the rapid transit line should help reduce traffic volumes throughout the area, which she said has been the case with other similar projects.
"The essence of rapid transit is to not use your vehicle as much because the buses are running every three to four minutes," said Lukes.
Council is expected to cast a final vote on the proposal Sept. 29.
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.