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Winnipeg’s urban structure — its employment lands are the engine that drives the economy
Jan 13, 2012

 

In past issues, we wrote about several different parts of Winnipeg’s urban structure, which is the city’s new framework for accommodating growth in parts of the city. We wrote about how the downtown will grow and change, and how centres, corridors, major redevelopment sites and new communities are planned to accommodate our city’s growing population. There are two remaining parts of the urban structure we are planning to cover in this series: “mature communities” (older neighbourhoods), and “employment lands,” which is the focus of this article. 
Employment lands are the economic engine of the city. They include a range of industrial and business areas that can be grouped into three main types: 
1. Business park;
2. Institutional campus;
3. Manufacturing. 
Business parks are areas mostly comprised of office development. Institutional campuses are lands that typically include hospitals, biomedical research facilities and/or universities and colleges. Manufacturing can range from warehousing and distribution areas to storage and freight. 
Winnipeg has always had a variety of employment lands. The main difference now, as a result of OurWinnipeg and the Complete Communities Direction Strategy, is how these lands will function. No longer will employment lands have a strictly limited range of land uses. Some, especially business parks and institutional campuses, will transition over time to dynamic aesthetically-pleasing developments with increased live/work options. This means that housing and other amenities may be incorporated into some of these areas in an integrated way. This will support sustainability by presenting new opportunities for infill development, and by connecting to existing neighbourhoods and infrastructure.
Although past policies for these lands encouraged high-quality urban design, public spaces and environmental protection, they purposely kept land uses separate. Because of significant advances in technology, the majority of industrial uses today are much cleaner, quieter and greener than they were in the past, reducing their potential impacts. This presents our city with a strategic opportunity to explore a new approach to these lands, including a new level of mixed-use development. 
Because there are some differences in the industrial intensity of employment lands, not all of them are planned for mixed-use opportunities. Heavy manufacturing districts, for example, will remain mostly restricted to industrial development to minimize their impact on surrounding areas. 
The Complete Communities Direction Strategy acts as the “playbook,” guiding development in all parts of the city, including employment lands. Several other tools are also being created or have already been created to support implementation. For example, the Complete Communities Checklist is a new tool under development that is intended to assist development stakeholders in achieving complete communities. 
The Winnipeg Zoning By-Law will be reviewed and aligned to support the Complete Communities Direction Strategy. City departments will be working together to ensure that their daily work and budgets support the goals of OurWinnipeg, Complete Communities, and the other three Direction Strategies (Sustainable Transportation, Sustainable Water and Waste, and A Sustainable Winnipeg).
Visit speakupwinnipeg.com. And while you’re there, check out OurWinnipeg in Action, a new online, interactive map tool that helps you learn about the urban structure and innovative projects taking place in different parts of our city.
— provided by the city’s Urban Planning Division of the Planning, Property and Development Department.