With the housing crisis worsening nationwide, the Canadian federal government’s initiative to inject $192 million into Winnipeg’s accelerated infill housing program is crucial to address its homeless problem. However, before cutting a hefty cheque, former Mayoral Candidate Don Woodstock believes it is essential to scrutinize the city’s management of ongoing issues, particularly concerning the Parker Lands development.
The city of Winnipeg is currently mired in a complex legal quagmire with Gem Equities, a developer engaged in a protracted ten-year court battle. This legal strife revolves around the company’s pursuit of the right to construct a 1,900-unit multifamily home project adjacent to a transitway, constituting a noteworthy $600 million investment. Despite receiving five favourable rulings from the Court of King’s Bench, the development faces ongoing bureaucratic and legal obstacles, keeping it uncertain.
In response to Winnipeg’s intentional slowdown of housing development at a Councillor’s request, Gem Equities has been awarded $5 million in judgment. Notably, this judgment is currently under appeal by the city, incurring additional costs that ultimately burden Winnipeg taxpayers. The decision’s legal obstacles and financial consequences highlight the severe and intricate nature of the city’s predicament as it endeavours to address the dispute and propel the development project forward.
In contrast, Shindico, an adjacent developer, developed a multifamily development without such obstacles. During construction, the provincial government reported an environmental violation, adding complexity and raising questions about selective enforcement.
Scott Gillingham, the Finance Chair under the previous administration and now the Mayor of Winnipeg, is facing scrutiny for what many citizens call inaction over the past decade. Can a city plagued by a decade-long legal battle effectively utilize what is essentially a blank cheque to address the housing crisis?
“I Hope without the funds, the city would have the capacity to make sound decisions and, with any new federal monies, work to make decisions that are accountable to the people of Winnipeg.” Said Andrew Marquess of Gem Equities
Woodstock, a vocal advocate on various fronts, raises pertinent questions about the city’s credibility in a letter sent to Prime Minister Trudeau, questioning the integrity of Winnipeg’s leadership. His concerns pivot on the glaring contradiction between the city’s public announcements promoting infill housing and the ongoing legal quagmire stalling the Parker Lands project.
Woodstock’s call for caution resonates strongly: can the federal government trust the city’s commitment to the accelerated infill housing program when a significant project remains mired in litigation? He asserts that the millions earmarked for housing initiatives could be compromised by the city’s historical “incompetence, negligence,” and obstructionist practices.
“Prime Minister, I humbly ask that you withhold all monies of this $192M until the current administration puts in place the leadership that will demonstrate ‘unbiased’ actions towards development & developers. When are we going to start holding our elected officials accountable?” Said Don Woodstock
Strict federal oversight is paramount to ensure that the allocated funds are utilized judiciously and ethically, prioritizing the best interests of Winnipeg’s citizens.
Caution should prevail until the Parker Lands development achieves ‘shovel-ready’ status and resolves its litigation obligations. The housing crisis demands swift and effective action, but prudence dictates that funds flow only when trust and accountability are firmly established within Winnipeg’s city governance.
- Winnipeg faces a prolonged legal battle over a 1,900-unit multi-family home project adjacent to a transitway.
- The project, a substantial $600 million investment, is entangled in bureaucratic and legal challenges despite five favourable rulings from the Court of King’s Bench.
- The city was found guilty of intentionally slowing down the project, resulting in a $5 million judgment.
- The judgment is currently under appeal, incurring additional costs for Winnipeg taxpayers.
- The overall situation underscores the complexity and seriousness of Winnipeg’s efforts to resolve the dispute and advance the development project.