Building a future, preserving the past


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/10/2019 (1311 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In growing cities, there is typically a tension between the need to preserve our heritage and to create new diversity of housing options for a diverse population.

There is also a tremendous need to densify our city if we are to combat the very real and growing issue of climate change, and address our structural fiscal challenges, and rejuvenate our mature neighbourhoods. Urban development goes hand in hand with both environmentalism and fiscal responsibility. The City of Winnipeg Climate Change Action Plan mentions the word density 70 times. We can accomplish the new residential densities that come with infill and densification while preserving our heritage. In fact, the former is essential to the latter with some buildings.

I wish to highlight how heritage preservation in St Boniface aligns with this goal. Recently the home at 700 St. Jean Baptiste was acquired by the City of Winnipeg in a tax sale. It is to be placed on the market which could potentially prompt redevelopment in a form which would not protect the heritage value of the structure. The building, otherwise known as Maison Beliveau (Dumoulin Apartments 1906) is listed on the City of Winnipeg’s Commemorative List of Historical Resources, but may not be fully protected there.

Supplied photo The historic value of 700 St. Jean Baptiste is to be evaluated before it is sold by the City.

At Riel Community Committee, I moved a motion:

“Therefore be it resolved that the Winnipeg Public Service be directed not to proceed with the sale of the City-owned property located at 700 St. Jean Baptiste Street until such time as the Director has made a determination regarding whether or not this resource should be nominated on the List of Historical Resources under By-law 55/2014, [and consult the community].”

The property and development committee accepted my request to evaluate the historic value of this building before it is sold. If successful; the historic components of the building can be protected from demolition and removal. The best protection is the one granted by the City because the permit system controls what can be modified in a historic building. Thank you to the delegations that came forward including the Old St. Boniface Residents’ Association, Heritage St. Boniface, Heritage Winnipeg, Walter Kleinschmit, Tom Scott and David Dandeneau. We are waiting for an update in 120 days of public service.

We can have the infill development that is essential to having a sustainable city while maintaining our history and built environment. An example of this can be found in the 210 Masson project which preserves historic elements of the École Normale, while creating 60 new residential units that will support the growth of Provencher as a community main street. Financed by the private sector this new development enjoyed unanimous community support for new housing that preserves St. Boniface history.

Development issues can be divisive and intense. They are so, because they are important. This important work continues.

Matt Allard

Matt Allard
St. Boniface ward report

Matt Allard is the city councillor for St. Boniface.

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