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City-border expansion eyed for CentrePort water supply

May annex part of RM of Rosser

The City of Winnipeg is once again prepared to expand its borders in order to extend water pipes into the CentrePort development.

Since 2008, the city and province have wrestled with a jurisdictional headache surrounding the extension of services to CentrePort, an industrial development that straddles the border of Winnipeg and the RM of Rosser. A tentative deal was struck in 2011 for the two levels of government to share the $17-million cost of extending water and sewer pipes into Rosser.

But a legal challenge from a pair of northwestern Ontario Ojibwa communities effectively turned off the tap last year. Two bands situated on Shoal Lake, the source of Winnipeg's drinking water, argued the city had no right to sell water to neighbouring municipalities.

Ottawa and Ontario granted Winnipeg permission to draw water from Indian Bay on Shoal Lake in 1913. The International Joint Commission, a Canada-U.S. body that governs cross-border water disputes, followed suit in 1914.

In December, the commission told the city the sale of water to neighbouring municipalities was inconsistent with the 1914 agreement. The commission added teeth to that opinion with a ruling on April 18, effectively warning Winnipeg not to proceed with the plan.

"Our preliminary assessment is that the city would be in non-compliance with the IJC order should it transfer water beyond the City of Winnipeg's municipal limits," the IJC's Canada and U.S. secretaries wrote in a joint letter, adding they have brought the issue to the attention of Ottawa and Washington.

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz called the preliminary assessment "extremely disappointing" but stated it may take four years to obtain a permanent assessment from the commission.

"The other option is to go where we were prepared to go four years ago," said the mayor, referring to a 2009 plan to annex the portion of the CentrePort development that lies within the RM of Rosser.

"I've always said, three conditions are necessary for CentrePort to succeed. It has to have a single authority, under a single jurisdiction (and be) private-sector-driven," Katz said. "If everyone would be following the advice that was put forward, we wouldn't be having this discussion today."

In 2009, Rosser rejected the idea of annexation, despite an offer of compensation from the City of Winnipeg. Reeve Frances Smee could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

CentrePort declined to comment on the prospect of annexation and is reviewing the IJC decision, spokeswoman Riva Harrison said in a statement.

Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux said in a statement it is not clear annexation will resolve the issue.

"We are exploring all options for servicing CentrePort," he said, raising the idea of using groundwater to service 405 hectares of industrial land.

The lingering dispute has complicated efforts to develop the industrial park. While some businesses at CentrePort have dug wells to ensure they can fight fires, other companies have held off venturing into the area without a servicing deal.

In early 2012, Winnipeg chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl said he wasn't concerned the servicing of the development would be threatened by the legal challenge, initially launched by Iskatewizaagegan First Nation and later joined by Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation.

The city effectively argued water has already been sold to neighbouring municipalities, as some portions of what is now Winnipeg were separate suburbs before the Unicity amalgamation of 1972.

The IJC, however, noted that arrangement was made under the Greater Winnipeg Water District, whose responsibilities have been subsumed by the City of Winnipeg.

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 1, 2013 B2

 

NEWS WINNIPEG

Parker Lands fight not over: Wetlands group

3

Coalition ready to stop rapid transit route


BY  ,WINNIPEG SUN

FIRST POSTED: SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 2013 05:23 PM CDT | UPDATED: SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 2013 10:26 PM CDT

Parker LandsThe Manitoba Hydro right of way, a proposed site for rapid transit, is seen in Winnipeg, Man. Tuesday Feb. 26, 2013. (BRIAN DONOGH/WINNIPEG SUN)

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Despite city council’s approval of a rapid transit route through the Parker Lands, the leader of the group interested in protecting the area’s wetlands says their fight is not over, but just beginning.

Cal Dueck, a co-chair of Parker Wetlands Conservation, said rather than being discouraged by council’s 11-5 vote approving the dogleg route for the second phase of Winnipeg’s rapid transit development, he is instead more optimistic they’ll eventually be able to halt the plan.

At a Winnipeg Transit Riders Association meeting on Saturday it was suggested the Parker wetlands would have development regardless of whether it is transit or another company.

Dueck slammed that assessment.

“That’s just the most powerfully irrational argument I’ve ever heard,” Dueck said.

Winnipeg Transit planner Bjorn Radstrom declined to speak specifically to the topic of the impact on the wetlands.

“It’s something that’s going to have to be looked at during the functional design,” he said.

Dueck said he is more optimistic now.

“This is not the end as some city councillors want it to be,” he said. “I think both the federal and provincial governments will be somewhat leery about investing in it ... We’ve had so much feedback from people wanting to help and so many people saying this is the wrong choice, this is the wrong thing to do, it will be a disaster.

“... We’ve already been talking to the provincial and federal governments and we will continue to do that. We will make sure that our voice is heard.”

Dueck says his concerns go further than just the environmental aspect.

“My own chief concern is the wetlands, but also as a citizen of Winnipeg, I don’t want my children to have to pay for a transit that’s not being used,” he said. “There’s been no study on the environment, there’s been no good study on the economic situation, on ridership, those are all missing,” Dueck said. “If we spend $340 million, we should do it right. It’s the most expensive thing we can do if we get it wrong.”

Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) was one of the councillors to vote against the suggested route last week, saying a functional study should be done for both the Parker Lands route and another proposal to have it run south alongside the CN Letellier Line.

“The majority of the Parker wetlands, most of it’s in private hands and so their fight has just begun,” he said. “When they start moving ahead with the precinct plans for this area, there’s going to be a huge fight because it’s owned by private owners ... Their battle is on into the future and it’s not just the rapid transit, it’s going to have to be when the precinct plans come up there’s going to be a lot of debate to keep those wetlands.”

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Twitter: @larkinswsun

Final report: Stage 2 alignment options by Tessa Vanderhart

 

 

 

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CentrePort blasts city for inaction

Forced to shun major potential clients over services: CEO

Diane Gray, president and CEO of CentrePort Canada at an announcement from the Governments of Canada and Manitoba to provide funding to study and implement intelligent transportation systems. 111220 - Tuesday, December 20, 2011 -  (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

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Diane Gray, president and CEO of CentrePort Canada at an announcement from the Governments of Canada and Manitoba to provide funding to study and implement intelligent transportation systems. 111220 - Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

KEN GIGLIOTTI  /  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  DEC 14 2007  -  no VIDEO OFFERED  071214  - Martin Cash story - Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce ��s Dave Angus  delivers  5th Annual Manitoba Business Leaders Index close cut closecut

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KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / DEC 14 2007 - no VIDEO OFFERED 071214 - Martin Cash story - Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce ��s Dave Angus delivers 5th Annual Manitoba Business Leaders Index close cut closecut

CentrePort Canada is turning away potential large-scale developments because of a lack of sewer and water servicing -- or even a schedule as to when it will be built -- and its angry CEO is demanding action.

In a very forceful speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Friday, Diane Gray said if the city wants to realize its goal to establish an inland port as a differentiator "that will put our city on the map, provide us with a unique calling card and ensure prosperity for the city and the province," then some decisive action is required on municipal servicing.

"We have been turning away -- yes, turning away -- large-scale distributions centres and other significant investors who have been forced to look at other locations because we can't give them a firm timeline on servicing," she said. "Large, anchor-style tenants cannot be built at CentrePort."

Buildings larger than 30,000 square feet require fire-suppression systems not possible without municipal services. Smaller buildings can drill their own wells, dig retention ponds and install diesel pumps and holding tanks.

Although $17 million in municipal and provincial funding has been in place for almost three years to build the sewer and water extension to about 400 hectares on the CentrePort footprint, a legal action by a Shoal Lake-area First Nation has completely stymied the project.

The dispute is over the City of Winnipeg's right to draw water from Shoal Lake, the source of the city's drinking water, and send it to neighbouring municipalities. Some of the CentrePort land is in the Rural Municipality of Rosser.

Gray noted the $212-million highway through CentrePort may be finished this year, yet its ability to leverage more development is dramatically curtailed without municipal services.

She said CentrePort can't even go out and market the land because businesses expect servicing. She said at least one large distribution centre that inquired about developing at CentrePort is going to another western Canadian location.

Gray was not able to guess as to when servicing might be in place.

"It's full-on uncertainty," she said.

When asked to provide an update as to the status of the CentrePort servicing project, a spokeswoman for the city said, "All I can say is that the city is negotiating service-sharing agreements with many municipalities."

But Gray and others believe the situation is becoming critical.

The province has engaged an engineering firm to probe the possibility of a Plan B that might somehow circumvent the municipal water system.

Nammi Poorooshasb, spokesman for Premier Greg Selinger, said, "The province is in the early stages of exploring what, if any, other options there may be. Our focus, however, remains servicing CentrePort with a hookup from the City of Winnipeg, as originally announced by the mayor and the premier."

Gray said the other options might mean a system that would treat groundwater or perhaps a hookup to a water-treatment facility outside of Winnipeg.

While that may seem drastic, Gray and others seem to think it's what the situation demands.

In talking about the issue, Dave Angus, the normally good-humoured president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, was visibly wound up.

"This is not a new issue," he said. "We have been talking about this forever. Let's get on with it... It takes leadership... We have spoken to the mayor about this and there is every excuse in the world."

Chris Lorenc, head of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, a member of the board of directors of CentrePort and a former city councillor, said, "I think it is regrettable and unfortunate that we don't have decisions that would have by now provided the core service to the CentrePort lands. But I am optimistic that the decision to launch tendering of the sewer extension at least, could be imminent."

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 16, 2013 B6