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Planners lose on subdivision

City panel OK's big new project on Jefferson

Mayor Sam Katz and his executive committee overrode recommendations from the planning department and gave the go-ahead Wednesday for a massive new residential subdivision in the city's northwest corner.

During a three-hour-plus hearing, the senior committee listened to the recommendations and arguments from its planning staff and counter-positions from Terracon Development Ltd., which is planning to build a 593-unit subdivision on a 30-hectare site at the southwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and King Edward Street, to be known as Castlebury Meadows.

While city planners and Terracon agreed on most issues surrounding the subdivision, Terracon was concerned the planner's recommendations for the outstanding points would halt the project.

"I think the committee heard our side of the argument," Michael Falk, Terracon's development manager, said after the committee meeting. "Certainly, public works and the city administration had some valid points and we reached a balance."

The sticking points in the project included the planning department's recommendations that Terracon be solely responsible for upgrades to existing roadways, credit for unusable green space as parkland, the construction of a noise-attenuation barrier along the path of a proposed Chief Peguis Trail extension and widening a roadway through the heart of the project to accommodate Winnipeg Transit vehicles.

Falk said the conditions the city planners required would be cost-prohibitive, forcing Terracon to increase the price of homes from $300,000 to more than $600,000, making the project economically unfeasible.

After a break, the committee unanimously approved the project, with a series of amendments put forward by Coun. Russ Wyatt.

The package of rezoning amendments must get approval by city council, which is expected at its meeting later this month.

Falk said he expected construction would start by March next year.

The subdivision would include 226 single-family homes, 168 duplex units and 199 apartment units.

Falk said city staff knew nothing about the requirements for properly building a noise-attenuation barrier, adding building it now, before the expressway extension is built, would be a waste of money.

"We know the right way to do it," Falk said.

He also criticized the planning department's requirement that Terracon build at least one road through its project wide enough to accommodate Transit buses.

"I don't want to put (a bus route) through the middle of the development," he said.

On the cost of road upgrades, Falk said his company should only be required to pay 50 per cent of any needed improvements to roadways fronting its property.

City staff said it's estimated the new subdivision would result in the number of vehicles using existing roads increasing to more than 7,000 daily from 1,000, adding since Terracon was responsible for that increase, the company should cover the entire cost.

The Terracon project was also criticized by another development firm, which said Terracon's population figures were too low and its proposed playing field for the site inadequate.

David Palubeski, whose Lombard North firm built the nearby Waterford Green subdivision, said Terracon was projecting a subdivision population of about 1,200 to 1,400 residents, but Lombard's experience shows the more realistic figure would be more than 2,000 residents.

Palubeski said the playing field Terracon was proposing was too small for the number of people who would be living in Castlebury Meadows, adding those residents would rely on adjacent sport fields.

City parks officials said they conceded Terracon's playing field was too small. They said Terracon claimed it couldn't build a larger field based on the subdivision's configuration.

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 3, 2013 B1

Committee dismisses recommendations in approving new subdivision

Mayor Sam Katz and his executive committee this morning dismissed recommendations from the planning department and gave the go-ahead for a massive new residential subdivision in the city’s northwest corner.

During a three-hour-plus hearing, the senior committee listened to the recommendations and arguments from its planning staff and counter-positions from Terracon Developments, which is planning to build a 593-unit subdivision on a 74-acre site at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and King Edward Street, to be known as Castlebury Meadows.

While city planners and Terracon agreed on most issues surrounding the subdivision, Terracon was concerned that the planner’s recommendations for the outstanding concerns would halt the project.

"I think the committee heard our side of the argument," Michael Falk, Terracon’s development manager, said following the committee meeting. "Certainly public works and the city administration had some valid points and we reached a balance."

The sticking points in the project were the recommendations that: Terracon be solely responsible for upgrades to existing roadways; credit for non-usable green space as park land; the construction of a noise attenuation barrier along the path of a proposed Chief Peguis Trail extension; and widening a roadway through the heart of the project to accommodate transit vehicles.

Falk said the conditions required by city planners would be cost prohibitive, forcing Terracon to increase the price of homes from $300,000 to over $600,000, making the project economically unfeasible.

Following a break, the committee unanimously approved the project with a series of amendments put forward by Coun. Russ Wyatt.

Terracon’s head office is in Wyatt’s Transcona ward.

Falk said he expected construction would start by March.

The subdivision would include 226 single family homes, 168 duplex units, and 199 apartment units.

Falk said that city staff knew nothing about the requirements for properly building a noise attenuation barrier and said building it now, before the expressway was constructed, would be a complete waste of money.

"We know the right way to do it," Falk said.

Falk was also critical of planning’s requirement that Terracon build at least one road through its project wide enough to accommodate Transit buses.

"I don’t want to put (a bus route) through the middle of the development," Falk said.

On the cost of the road upgrades, Falk said his company should only be required to pay 50 per cent of any needed upgrades for roadways fronting on its property.

City staff said it’s estimated that project would result in the number of vehicles using existing roads would increase from 1,000 to over 7,000 daily, adding that since Terracon was responsible for that increase, the company should cover the entire costs.

The Terracon project was also criticized by another development firm, which said Terracon’s population figures were too low and its proposed playing field for the site inadequate.

David Palubeski, whose firm Lombard North built the nearby Waterford Green subdivision, said Terracon was projecting a subdivision population of about 1,200-1,400 residents but in its experience the more realistic figure would be more than 2,000 residents.

Palubeski said the playing field Terracon was proposing was too small for the number of people who would be living in Castlebury Meadows, adding those residents would then rely on adjacent sport fields.

City parks officials said they conceded Terracon’s playing field was too small, but added that Terracon claimed it couldn’t build a larger field based on the configuration of its subdivision.

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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CentrePort gets needed land

Province transfers 302 hectares for rail facility and industrial park

A rail overpass goes up off Inkster Boulevard earlier this year.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVESEnlarge Image

A rail overpass goes up off Inkster Boulevard earlier this year. Photo Store

The ground is literally in place for CentrePort Canada to proceed with the development of a common-use rail facility.

The province has transferred 302 hectares of land to CentrePort for it to develop a rail facility as well as an adjacent industrial park that would be designed specifically to service rail-intensive businesses.

The rail facility that all three of the main railroads will have access to is still at the conceptual stage, but Diane Gray, CEO of CentrePort Canada, said functional designs have been shared with all three of the Class 1 railroads involved -- CP, CN and BNSF (Burlington Northern Sante Fe).

"We are actually very optimistic right now," she said. "Things are moving quite well."

The province had acquired the land from Canadian Pacific for about $6.5 million. The largest piece of the parcel is just south of Canadian Pacific Railroad's main line and west of CentrePort Canada Way, the new expressway that is nearing completion.

CentrePort will pay the province for the land over time by deriving revenue from the operation of the rail facility as well as through the sale and development of the land.

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said since CentrePort's stated intention is to operate an inland port that offers tri-modal facilities -- road, air and rail-cargo -- moving development of the rail facility forward is crucial for the inland port.

"This is a multi-modal operation. Rail is key," Ashton said. "This allows CentrePort to move to the next step."

Gray said from the beginning it was understood the critical piece of infrastructure that would really differentiate CentrePort from other developments was the construction of a common-use rail facility.

But even before the rail facility gets any kind of go-ahead, there will have to be an anchor tenant in place.

Gray said CentrePort is currently having simultaneous discussions with the railroads as well as potential tenants for the rail-intensive industrial park.

And while she said she hopes the development is two to three years away, it will depend on the schedule and commitment of potential new tenants.

"This is not a 'build it and they will come' concept," she said. "That time line will be tied to securing business for the facility."

There is a lot riding on the success of the rail facility.

To some extent, the new, $212 million highway that is nearing completion and the rail facility will each feed traffic to the other.

But there are a lot of balls still in the air.

A model for the common-use facility that will be acceptable to the railroads is still being developed.

Gray reiterated the fact CentrePort is not itself a land developer or a business operator.

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2013 B2