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This article was published 13/11/2020 (263 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A developer is looking at building on a parcel of land in Oak Bluff after being turned down from the same space years ago because of local opposition.
Forthright Ventures, a developer that builds residential projects, is considering applying to rezone land that’s bordered by Oak Bluff’s community centre and Highways 2 and 3. Some Oak Bluff West residents received a letter, dated Nov. 6, inviting them to introductory meetings via Zoom to discuss the land’s future.
Forthright Ventures was originally part of a plan to build 28 two-bedroom townhouses and 73 three-bedroom townhouses in the space. The Rural Municipality of Macdonald’s council denied builders from moving forward at a meeting in December of 2017. This followed a meeting in November of 2017 where Oak Bluff residents congregated and expressed their concerns about the project — there were 29 opposition notices received that night.
Now, some locals are heated that development talks are restarting.
"It’s kind of like, we thought this was done. Why is it coming up again?" said Shannon Russell, who’s lived in Oak Bluff West for six years.
Russell spoke against the townhouses during the November 2017 meeting.
"I have no issue with other options for housing in this community," she said. "I have a major issue with the location."
Russell said it’s hard enough for Oak Bluff West residents to exit the community when driving to the city or the Perimeter Highway. A nearby traffic light causes a bottleneck of vehicles flowing past when the light turns green, while a nearby roundabout causes confusion about who’s turning to drive by Oak Bluff West. There are a lot of cars, and many people do 70 or 80 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, Russell said.
"It actually shocks me that there aren’t more accidents at this intersection, but there are so many close calls," she said. "The worst possible scenario is to add something in that creates more traffic at this uncontrolled location."
Homes on the proposed land will be separated and segregated from the rest of the community, Russell said. Oak Bluff’s school, parks, and neighbourhoods are on the other side of Highway 3 — kids living in the proposed development would end up walking across the highway to reach everything, Russell said.
"That is insanely dangerous, in my opinion," she said.
Regardless of residents’ opinions, something will be built on the land, said Donovan Toews, a project manager with Landmark Planning & Design. The company will lead the engagement and planning process this time around; they weren’t involved in the last attempt to build.
"The RM has planned that this land would include development, so something will go here, and the plan is suggesting it should be of mixed usage," Toews said.
There isn’t a set design, but the final product will probably be a mix of commercial and residential, he said.
There will be a series of meetings for residents and stakeholders in the coming months, Toews said.
"I’m sympathetic that a year ago they did participate and may not want to participate again, but we’ll offer that invitation because for us it’s the lesser of two evils," he said. "Either we could proceed without talking to people, or we could engage."
Landmark Planning & Design has looked at the concerns brought up in 2017, and the company wants to address residents’ worries, Toews said.
"The kind of feedback that’s helpful is usually related to issues and concerns, things that we can do something about," he said. "If we hear generally, ‘Just go away,’ obviously that’s not helpful."
Coun. Deidre Keddie (Ward 6) said there’s not much to say about the project yet because developers are just beginning to talk with the community.
The Headliner community journalist
Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Gabby is a cub reporter fresh from Red River College’s creative communications program. She majored in journalism and spent the summer of 2020 as an intern at the Winnipeg Free Press. Gabby also has a B.A. in communications from the University of Winnipeg. She reported for newspapers in the Interlake, including the Selkirk Record, in 2019, and received the Eric and Jack Wells Excellence in Journalism award in 2020. When she’s not chasing stories, you can find Gabby listening to podcasts, attempting yoga or petting somebody’s dog Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org