The City of Winnipeg has embarked on a process to sell public green space (golf courses) to developers through an Expression of Interest (E.O.I.) process.
The reasons why the City is considering selling green space are to add density to the City, optimally utilize public spaces and to raise money.
The selling of green space follows a 2010 Golf Operating Audit that found that many of the City’s golf courses were no longer viable and inappropriately recommended that the City should consider selling green space for development due the excessive amount of green space the City has.
The Mayor would not answer repeated questions if he supported the Golf Audit contention that Winnipeg has too much green space which has me worried.
The City of Winnipeg Administration will choose the options it deems viable and present them to Council.
The concern that this process excludes the public was raised at Council during question period. The Mayor indicated that anyone can apply but did not answer concerns that the ROI excluded non-profits and the public.
The selection process is done behind closed doors, does not identify what and how the proposals where chosen, what lands are available, what type of developments may be acceptable, what alternative public uses of the land are available or provide Councillors and the public with any input in the selection process.
The process to date does not require consultation with the public but should. The result of an open and transparent process is positive for the community and developers alike instead of the back room oppositional approach presently used.
Developing green space is unique and that the Winnipeg Charter states that:
"205(2) Despite clause (1)(d), no land owned by the city and used for park or cemetery purposes on the day this Act came into force or acquired after that date by the city for park or cemetery purposes may be disposed of without approval by a vote of 2/3 of all members of council."
The existing also has not followed The City of Winnipeg’s Ecologically Significant Natural Land Policy which would exclude developing on heritage and/or environmentally sensitive areas.
This existing policy outlines a process in which lands are evaluated for heritage and/or environmental significance prior to been offered up for development.
This process was not followed during the Parker Land Swap either and no mention was given to the fact that the Parker lands consist of some of the highest graded heritage lands in Winnipeg.
There was no protection put in place to protect this incredible Aspen forest and wet lands from becoming a parking lot. Why should the public believe that it's heritage lands will be protected this time?
A position taken regarding the lack of public input is that public input will come when, and if, lands need to be disposed of and/or through re-zoning process, both of which are far too late in the process, puts the community in a disadvantage and is very adversarial.
Once green spaces are developed, they are no longer green space. These green spaces belong to the people of Winnipeg and were entrusted to our generation to faithfully manage for the next generation.
An appropriate process includes:
· The City of Winnipeg working with residents and other stakeholders to identity potential green space for repurposing or possible development.
· The type of acceptable activity or development is determined through a public process thereby providing all stakeholders the opportunity to know what is acceptable before time and money is invested on a project the community will not accept.
· Repurposing and/or development opportunities are tendered in an open and transparent tendering process.
I am also concerned that if money is raised that the money will be used inappropriately. For example, I made a motion during last year’s Capital Budget consultations that if green space is sold that the money earned must go to Capital improvement for other green spaces and any infill property taxes go to increasing the operating budget line for parks.
Winnipeg is running out of land therefore we do not have to sale our most valuable land for the sake of development and money. Demand for land is high.
There are many other repurposing possibilities associated these green spaces that will enhance urban living and will result in more people choosing to live in Winnipeg rather than the Capital Region.
The high demand for land means that in-fill projects along Regional Corridors, Downtown living and brownfields become more viable thereby minimizing the need to sale the most precious public lands in the name of in-fill or fast cash.
It is time to work with the public and other stakeholders to create vibrant urban spaces.
OURS is a group of Winnipeg citizens, committed to stopping the sale and development of Winnipeg’s City owned golf courses and green spaces.
For More Information go to:
What's the Matter About Giving You a Say?
Councillor Orlikow's Consulting Motion Passes
Winnipeg Free Press Letter to the Editor - http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/have-your-say-139501273.html?device=mobile
Winnipeg Free Press Article - http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/groups-seek-input-on-city-golf-courses-139145729.html