Looking ahead to 2015

In conversation with southwest Winnipeg’s city councillors


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/01/2015 (2998 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

At the start of the New Year, we spoke to southwest Winnipeg’s city councillors to find out what projects they are excited about and the work they hope to accomplish.

This week we feature our conversations with Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry) and Coun. Janice Lukes (St. Norbert).

Check The Sou’wester next week to hear from Coun. Orlikow (River Heights – Fort Garry) and Coun. Morantz (Charleswood – Tuxedo).

Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry

Q: Councillor Gerbasi, what are some of the big ticket items for Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry in 2015?

A: One thing that is going on that is kind of exciting for this coming year is that we are going to see a big change in Crescent Drive Park. There is almost a million dollars in funding that has been cobbled together to build a new building in there, which is going to make it a four-season facility in the park.

For the people who live in Fort Garry this is important, but it’s considered a regional park so it’s for a broader area than Fort Garry. As soon as we’re ready, we’re planning a public meeting to get input in from people in the community and we are also looking at a canoe dock for the park.

Q: Is (it) coming in the new year?

A: The money is in place and the tender has gone out, so they are hiring the firm to design the changes, and we want to get that firm in place and then go out to the public and get input on the design ideas.

That meeting, I don’t have a date for it, will likely be in the new year.

Q: Is there anything else coming down the pipe that you’re excited about?

A: Just at the end of the year council passed the Corydon-Osborne Area Plan which is something that has been in the works for many years.

I am kind of excited about it because what it means is if anybody wants to come and develop anything in the Corydon area, they will have a better idea of what is appropriate, what level of density is appropriate, and also we’ll have design guidelines so we can make sure that new development fits in and compliments the existing character of the neighbourhood.

Q: Do you have anything in the plans for affordable housing close to the Osborne and Corydon Villages?

A: The city adopted an implementation plan for an affordable housing strategy for the whole city, not just my area. It’s still in the works but the first program that was rolled out was in the downtown with the tax credit program for building on surface parking lots downtown.

I am hoping that we will see some kind of tax increment financing program that encourages more affordable and higher density development in areas like that. But that’s something that hasn’t gone through political channels yet.

St. Norbert

Q: Councillor Lukes, is there anything you are excited for in 2015?

A: I am doing a series called “community conversations.” The first one is going to be on the housing rental situation in south Winnipeg. The other conversations that I am going to be hosting open houses, or conversations, on will be (rapid) transit phase two, the budget, tax dollars and city services, the Brady Landfill, and on parks and community recreation facilities.

So I am doing a series, I hope to do it every month and a half, it’s kind of an open house relevant to a topic on building stronger, sustainable and healthy communities.

Q: What is the issue with rental houses in south Winnipeg and how do you hope to resolve it?

A: When I was campaigning and door-knocking, I saw and heard a lot about this issue. Students are looking for accommodation in south Winnipeg around the university. South Winnipeg… has the highest occupancy and very low vacancy availability; so the university is growing and more and more international students are coming in and rural and cross country students are coming in, and they are challenged in finding a decent rate of accommodation.

Many of the homeowners who live in the community are first-time homeowners and bought their home in the ’60s when it was a new development but now they are moving and downsizing, and these houses are becoming available and landlords are seeing the opportunity to buy the homes and support student housing demand.

It’s creating a bit of a challenge for the students — they’re not as safe — there are some safety concerns about the number of students in houses. Residents have some concerns because the property is maintained in a different manner than a private single dwelling homeowner would.

I am asking the city to study best practises. I am bringing a motion forward at the next Riel community committee meeting to study best practises at other… university towns.

The first ‘community conversation’ meeting is Sat., Jan. 31 at The Pinnacle Club at Investors Group Field, 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Q: Are school facilities in Waverley West on your radar?

A: Oh it’s on my radar, but that’s really provincial issue. I am going to be working with the residents of Bridgwater Forest area in regards to a school that was supposed to go in there, but now it’s not. The province will not be putting the school in and we’re looking at working with the city and the land developer on what will happen with that green space where the school was to go.

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