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Thanks to everyone who came out and contributed to June's interviews and to July's collaborative planning meetings. We appreciate your insights.
CentrePort Canada Zoning and Design Standards

As you know, the Rural Municipality of Rosser, supported by the Province of Manitoba and with the cooperation of the City of Winnipeg, has hired a team of planning consultants to prepare a zoning framework and design standards to guide development of the first phases of CentrePort Canada.

 

Workshop Report Ready for Your Review

 

We have put together a design workshop report that summarizes many of your insights, which will guide the team as they write the zoning bylaw draft. You may download the report at www.rmofrosser.com/centreport under CentrePort Zoning Bylaw Background Analysis in the Resources section.

 

As usual, let us know if you see anything that needs doesn't reflect what you heard during the public planning meetings. And look for more information from us this autumn, when we'll be asking for your input and edits to the draft bylaw itself.

Please feel free to share this email with other parties who may have an interest.

Check in at the project website, rmofrosser.com/centreport, for additional information and ongoing updates.
Best regards, 
Bob Brown
CentrePort Project Coordinator
Rural Municipality of Rosser

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/expropriation-a-bumpy-road-217343321.html

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Expropriation a bumpy road

Would-be purchase prices rejected for CentrePort route

More than one-third of the owners of properties expropriated to make room for CentrePort Canada Way have balked at the purchase price -- setting the stage for the highway's property-acquisition budget to exceed the provincial target.

Since 2010, the province has expropriated 261 hectares of land in northwest Winnipeg and the RM of Rosser to make room for a $212-million highway to serve CentrePort, an industrial development taking shape near Richardson International Airport.

The new road, which remains under construction, runs from Inkster Boulevard and across Sturgeon Road before connecting to the Perimeter Highway.

The province expropriated a total of 31 parcels of land to make room for the highway and proceeded to attempt to negotiate purchase prices with the former property owners, according to the provincial Crown Lands and Property Agency.

Those negotiations have resulted in only two settlements to date, while 16 others have yet to be negotiated and may wind up in a contested hearing before the provincial Land Value Appraisal Commission.

'They're using non-payment to negotiate: "Take my offer or you won't get paid for years." It's what someone would do in private practice, but governments should be held to a higher standard.'

 

-- Rocky Neufeld, a land appraiser who represents some of the property owners

 

Another 13 properties are already heading into contested hearings, which were supposed to begin in May but have been pushed back to September.

"It may be that in and of itself says something about whether or not people feel they're being offered a reasonable amount for their properties," said Antoine Hacault, a Manitoba lawyer who deals with expropriations and represents some of the property owners.

Crown Lands has set aside $7.1 million to compensate the owners of all 31 properties and has already spent $5.4 million on preliminary payments, according to the province.

Rocky Neufeld, a land appraiser who represents some of the property owners, said he doubts the remaining $1.7 million will be able to cover the negotiated or contested settlement of the 29 other parcels of expropriated land.

"It's a tremendous shortfall someone has left them with," said Neufeld, surmising the cash-strapped province will be forced to find the money somewhere else.

But Crown Lands maintains it's offered a fair price for the expropriated land.

"We've done a thorough investigation of the properties. Our appraiser has done his work. We're comfortable in the numbers," said Ken Dzogan, the agency's former land-acquisition officer, earlier this year.

The CentrePort Canada Way property acquisition amounts to one of the largest sets of involuntary expropriations Crown Lands has ever made, added Dzogan.

His agency prefers to settle expropriations through negotiation, he said. "We recognize this is an expropriation. No one came to us and said, 'Please buy my land.'

"The owner didn't come to us with an offer to sell, so they ought to receive every vehicle they're entitled to. At the same time, we're keenly aware we're paying taxpayers' dollars."

In theory, property owners are entitled to compensation for the cost of hiring lawyers, land appraisers and planners to assist their side of the fight. Neufeld said in this instance the province has not covered those fees for his clients, who are left with mounting costs while the contested-hearing process crawls toward resolution.

"It could be years before these cases are ever brought forward," said Neufeld, claiming this is a deliberate provincial tactic. "They're using non-payment to negotiate: 'Take my offer or you won't get paid for years.' It's what someone would do in private practice, but governments should be held to a higher standard.

"Legal counsel, the owners and appraisers want these things brought forward in an expedient fashion."

In a statement, the province said compensation issues are complex and it's attempting to work out fair settlements as quickly as possible.

Hacault, the expropriation lawyer, said the province must balance the needs of taxpayers with those of the property owners.

"From my perspective, people should be entitled to the reimbursement of their reasonable expenses on an ongoing basis," he said.

Property owners who reject provincial purchase offers have two years to appeal to the Land Value Appraisal Commission. The province is obliged to pay whatever amount the commission determines must be paid.

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 29, 2013 B1

Rezoning of farmland to make way for CentrePort

Revamping the zoning regime in the RM of Rosser to allow for CentrePort development is now underway and will likely see about 445 hectares of land changed from largely agricultural to industrial use.

An open house and public-design review was held this week as part of the process that will allow for industrial development within the CentrePort lands that fall within the RM of Rosser.

The area designated for the first zoning update -- north and south of Inkster Boulevard and west of Brookside Boulevard -- is the most developed to date and the area where there is the most demand from developers.

Bob Brown, CentrePort project co-ordinator for the RM of Rosser, said he was pleased with the results of two meetings held this week each with about 70 to 80 people in attendance.

'The city says it is protected. I don't know what else to say. The land-use plan is to protect that green space. CentrePort has (8,093 hectares). It does not need Little Mountain Park's (65 hectares)'

"We were looking to accomplish two things -- a draft amendment to the current Rosser zoning bylaw to more reflect the CentrePort vision and we wanted to get some recommendations on design standards that could apply in the first instance in the targeted area."

The design standards would not apply to the buildings in the industrial parks north and south of Inkster that have already gone up, but they might eventually become standardized through the CentrePort footprint.

Although there have been concerns expressed that existing green space -- including Little Mountain Park and the Players Golf Course -- would somehow be compromised in the process, officials from the RM of Rosser and CentrePort stressed that would not be the case and they would remain green space.

Brown said Rosser's zoning bylaws have been in place for about 25 years -- most of the land is zoned agriculture or limited agriculture or highway commercial -- and are not suitable for the development that is occurring and contemplated for CentrePort.

"CentrePort is meant to be an industrial development so it's not profound to say we're looking at different categories of industrial zoning," Brown said.

The exercise in establishing a new zoning protocol in the RM of Rosser is part of a larger process to make the whole CentrePort area into a seamless development plan for both the lands in the RM of Rosser and the CentrePort lands that are part of the City of Winnipeg.

"Part of the CentrePort intent is to have planning provisions in place that allow streamlined and efficient administration of the process that's not encumbered by a lot of red tape," Brown said. "We're striving for zoning that is well-defined but easily spelled out and something you could work with without an overabundance of complications in applying it."

When it comes to the green space such as the City of Winnipeg-owned 65-hectare Little Mountain Park, north of the Players Golf Course, there are no plans to rezone that.

Brown said if at some point the City of Winnipeg or the owners of the Players Golf Course decide they want to sell the land, it would have to go to a public hearing process.

People who use the dog park that's within Little Mountain Park have expressed concern that somehow industrial development will encroach on those lands.

But an official from CentrePort said, "The city says it is protected. I don't know what else to say. The land-use plan is to protect that green space. CentrePort has (8,093 hectares). It does not need Little Mountain Park's (65 hectares). It's just not needed."

Brown said the plan is to come back with a draft review of the recommended new zoning bylaws in September for further public consultations with the final product finished in October.

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2013 A8