By Peter Squire
Residential infill continues to be a hot button issue in Winnipeg with heritage conservation districts (HCD) thrown into the mix. The Heritage Conservation Districts By-Law came into force in September 2018, and Armstrong Point received official HCD status this year.
Simply nominating an HCD freezes all infill applications and creates considerable uncertainty respecting future development including discussions around and determination of what the boundaries should be for a designated conservation district. But how long will the designation process take, and are there any exceptions to removing a home that has clearly outlived its usefulness in its present state of disrepair? This raises many unanswered questions.
Winnipeg has some of the oldest housing stock in the country, so does that mean simply because the older housing is in an older neighbourhood it warrants consideration for being nominated as an HCD, even if it was unsuccessful in achieving that designation? Are our city planners going to become pre-occupied with nominating more HCDs — like Crescentwood — therefore putting less resources and time into planning for future residential growth in our city? Will Winnipeg eventually be blanketed with so many HCDs, or at least HCD nominations, that investment in neighbourhoods will be non-existent? Are there strong enough criteria in place within this new heritage By-Law to make it abundantly clear that heritage is about very special architectural and historically significant housing, rather than just older housing. We also have to be mindful of the economics of keeping heritage buildings intact. Who is going to pay for their ongoing maintenance?
Renewal of our older housing stock and/or replacement thereof has been a key achievement of Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP), a non-profit housing initiative originally set up by Winnipeg-
REALTORS® in the late 1990s. It is currently doing 5 new infill houses in the William Whyte neighbourhood of Winnipeg. Will HOP be able to continue its renewal efforts if HCDs take hold in our city?
Celebrating the past is admirable, but we also need to plan and build for a future where Winnipeg can grow to a city of one million people.
Recently, the Glenwood Neighbourhood Association came before the City of Winnipeg’s Standing Committee on Property and Development to seek an HCD for its neighbourhood, but were unsuccessful when a split vote was rendered. Who will be next?
It is becoming patently obvious that not only do we need to tighten up the new HCD By-Law, but further develop the infill design guidelines that were originally envisaged back in 2017 when initial public consultations were held with organizations such as WinnipegREALTORS®. Progress has been slow, and funding to do a proper public consultation with the necessary background work by our city planners has not been forthcoming. Having said that, the City is engaging Winnipeggers once again by welcoming their input on design guidelines and intensification criteria starting next week. This is your chance to participate and make your views known.
Following is the Residential Infill Project Update as per the City’s public notification:
“What should infill development look like, and where it should go? We want to hear from you.
“Building on the priorities identified in the Residential Infill Strategy’s Implementation Action Plan, the City of Winnipeg is seeking public input on residential infill design guidelines and intensification criteria to help ensure that new development in Mature Communities is compatible in form, scale, and design, and to help determine when and where density changes should occur on residential streets.
“The overall objective of this project is to advance a vision for residential infill development within our mature communities that helps address the demand for new housing while enhancing existing neighbourhood quality, character, and livability.
“We’re hosting a series of public open houses to discuss design guidelines and intensification criteria as part of the Residential Infill Strategy. Feedback may be provided at the open house events, or through an online survey open until October 10.”
Public open houses
Open house, come and go
Refreshments will be provided
Tuesday, September 24
Time: 5 - 8 p.m.
Location: Linwood School
(266 Linwood Street)
Wednesday, September 25
Time: 5 - 8 p.m.
Location: Bronx Park Community Centre
(720 Henderson Hwy)
Thursday, September 26
Time: 5 - 8 p.m.
Location: Edmund Partridge School
(1874 Main Street)
Tuesday, October 1
Time: 5 - 8p.m.
Location: Notre Dame Recreation Centre
(271 Ave. de la Cathédrale)
Thursday, October 3
Time: 5 - 8 p.m.
Location: Crescentwood Community Centre (1170 Corydon Avenue)
For more information on the Residential Infill Strategy, please visit winnipeg.ca/infillstrategy
Peter Squire is WinnipegREALTORS® Vice-President, External Relations & Market Intelligence.