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Mature communities — opportunities to maximize use of existing infrastructure, increase housing choices and develop infill houses
Mar 16, 2012

 

Over the past few months, we have written 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, new communities and employment lands are planned to accommodate our city’s growing population. 
We hope these articles have helped readers to learn more about our city’s new plan — OurWinnipeg. This article on “mature communities” is the last one in this series.
What are mature communities?
Mature communities consist of Winnipeg’s earliest neighbourhoods and first suburbs, which were mostly developed prior to the 1950s. Key features of these areas are:
• A grid road network with back lanes and sidewalks; older housing developed in low to moderate densities; and a finer mix of land uses along many of the commercial streets. In many cases, these neighbourhoods are well serviced by public transit and infrastructure.
Mature communities represent some of the most “complete” existing communities in Winnipeg. They present some of the best opportunities to maximize the use of existing infrastructure, increase housing choice, and to accommodate infill development, which is new construction on smaller vacant or available parcels of land. 
How will Winnipeg’s mature communities change? 
In the future, particular opportunities in mature communities will be strengthening public transit and active transportation, conserving aging buildings, and increasing housing choice while maintaining existing neighbourhood character. Through the Complete Communities Direction Strategy, the city will support these opportunities in several ways, including through the rehabilitation of existing housing, encouraging mixed-use development on commercial streets, encouraging the sustainable reuse of existing buildings and other historic elements, and upgrading and maintaining infrastructure in aging residential areas where required.
For new construction in mature communities, the focus will primarily be on infill development. Infill development can support existing neighbourhood patterns in mature communities by “filling the gaps” that exist thorough vacant lots or underutilized land. Developers can often tie into existing infrastructure such as roads and underground pipes, rather than building these new. 
The city will facilitate infill development through a number of means, including supporting the splitting of lots into two or more parcels when it is sensitive to the context, and reducing barriers to the building of additional dwelling units on lots, where appropriate.
What tools will help realize the vision for mature communities?
The Complete Communities Direction Strategy acts as the “playbook,” guiding development in all parts of the city, including mature communities. Several other tools are also being created or have 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. 
Existing regulations will be reviewed and updated to ensure consistency with the Complete Communities Direction Strategy. City departments will work together to ensure that  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/ourwinnipeginaction to see an example of a recent innovative project in a mature community. OurWinnipeg in Action is a new online  interactive map tool that helps you learn about the urban structure and innovative projects taking place in different parts of it.
(Prepared by the Urban Planning Division of the city’s Planning, Property and Development Department.)