Parker lands plan comes to council after City of Winnipeg found in contempt of court

A Winnipeg land developer will have his plans for a mixed-use development heard by city councillors Thursday after a judge found the city in contempt for how they’ve handled the multi-million-dollar proposal.

For more than six years, developer Andrew Marquess, owner of Gem Equities, has been trying to get city approval to build Fulton Grove, a 47-acre development along a stretch of the just-completed Southwest Transit Corridor in Fort Garry.

But those plans have been thwarted by city planners who allege, among other things, that the proposal doesn’t meet the zoning regulations set out for developments built near rapid-transit stations.

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Marquess eventually sued the city, and last August a judge found the city in contempt “for failing to process the applicants’ secondary plan … at a public meeting, pursuant to a non-statutory (policy) approach.”

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The property and development committee is set to vote on the secondary plan and a rezoning application for the proposed build Thursday after an appeal by the city to reverse the judge’s decision was denied in March.

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Marquess told Global News that the project would see multi-family housing, including 12-storey rental complexes on land between the second-phase of the southwest transit corridor and the CN tracks to the north of the Parker lands near the Winnipeg Humane Society on Hurst Way.

He says the development could ultimately be worth more than $500 million.

“It’s about density and infill and creating a community where the more density you have, the more amenities that you can support. And it’s been very successful virtually everywhere it’s ever been tried,” he said on Wednesday before Thursday’s meeting.

“My hope is that council will see the vision, the value of the project and what it can do for Winnipeg, the economy, the province and everyone.”

City staff recommend vote against

But city planners again appear to be standing in Marquess’ way.

A city report to the property and development committee recommends councillors reject the proposal and instead ask Gem to come back with an amended plan.

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As well as not meeting zoning requirements, the report said city staff identified more than 200 issues with the plan “some of which are minor in nature, while others are more substantive.”

“The plan requires significant ‘clean up’ and re-organization in order to clearly communicate the vision, objectives and policies against which future development proposals will be evaluated,” reads the report.

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“The Plan is missing important content and policies necessary to clearly communicate the vision, objectives and policies against which future development proposals will be evaluated.”

While councillors look at the plan, a city spokesperson said the city is still considering its legal options following the judge’s latest decision in March, which also ordered the city to pay Marquess’ legal fees.

“The city is still reviewing the court’s decision to determine next steps; regardless of our ongoing review, the committee will be following the process set out in the court decision at tomorrow’s meeting,” the spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday.

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City announces next step on rapid transit for Winnipeg

The development’s master plan and rezoning would still need approval from the mayor’s executive policy council and council as a whole if the property and development committee votes for the plan.

Marquess says the city has delayed and placed unreasonable hurdles in his way to build Fulton Grove and adds the city can expect another date in court if it doesn’t abide by the judge’s orders this time.

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Regardless of how councillors vote Thursday, he says he will keep fighting to get the development built.

“I’m here, I’ll stick through this, and if it’s a rejection we’ll move forward and we’ll reapply again … I’m not going back down,” he said.

“I never give up, I’ll see this through.”

— With files from Richard Cloutier

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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