OurWinnipeg 2045 Consultation
In 2017, the City of Winnipeg began an extensive review and update of OurWinnipeg, and the Complete Communities Direction Strategy, titled OurWinnipeg 2045. OurWinnipeg is the City's 25-year development. It provides a vision, goals and policies intended to influence leadership and good governance, priority setting, decisions about how the city grows, and it it also influences how environmentally resilient and healthy the City will be.
The two key documents relating to OurWinnipeg 2045 are:
SOS has provided solicited and unsolicited feedback to the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba on proposed development, planning and polices related to the urban Seine River Greenway.
While there are several points that SOS agrees with in these documents and several areas we disagree with, we have six major concerns:
The importance and value of the environment, natural spaces and river corridors has been greatly understated in the draft planning documents.
For example, the previous iteration, OurWinnipeg 2011, included the phrase “Recognize and preserve Winnipeg's parks, green spaces and riverbanks as green oases in our urban setting”. In OurWinnipeg 2045, the biggest and best natural lands left in the city have been moved into a category called Major Open Space (policy 6.27, OurWinnipeg 2045) in which the word “preserve" does not appear.
Overall, these proposed planning documents are strongly framed toward “development”, population growth, and a “shortage of land” to develop for commercial and industrial uses. There is almost no language relating to the retention and protection of green spaces.
The “Flood Prone Areas and Riverbanks” section does not include the rivers, only riverbanks, and same for Parks and Recreation section. The water of our city's rivers and creeks continue into surrounding municipalities without a plan for continuity of this natural resource.
We are concerned that OurWinnipeg 2045 does not clearly state an intent to retain or protect public and private Major Open Spaces and that the policy statements in Complete Communities (p.118-123) facilitates their conversion for development. According the map shown on p. 120, this would include the following areas along the Seine River Greenway: Bois-des-Esprits, Windsor Park Golf Course, St. Boniface Golf Course, Niakwa Golf Course, Lagimodière-Gaboury Park, and Whittier Park.
We are concerned in particular with the statement on p. 121 under Visioning: Section 1.3: “Redesignating or repurposing areas that are comprised of less than two acres of Major Public Open space may be processed without requiring a Complete Communities 2.0 amendment or necessitating a formal secondary plan process.”
The Seine River is not shown on the only map in OurWinnipeg 2045 (figure 2). The Seine River must be shown so that each category of proposed land use will be seen and understood in relation to the location of the Seine River.
We feel there could be dire consequences to the health of the Seine River Greenway (flora and fauna), to the health of people and our climate, and to property values by development of these areas.
We are also concerned that there has been very limited amount of public input into the
proposed plan and implementation documents and limited time for review.
There have been promises by the City of Winnipeg to finalize a number of critical environmental-related planning documents, including those listed below. Since these have not been completed, these two proposed planning documents do not have an environmental foundation.
These planning documents are designed to be in place for the next 25 years. Our position is that we must represent the interests of the Seine River, its greenway, the flora and fauna represented, the people now and in the future including our children and grandchildren. SOS has asked for the following items to be addressed:
That there be an overarching vision with holistic consideration of the environment incorporated into all planning, land use and capitol asset decisions with a clear understanding as to intersections with greenspace, natural areas, climate change adaption, Indigenous knowledge, equity, water resources, public health, biodiversity, and national and global targets.
We ask for stronger environmental and greenspace protections and policies for the Seine River Greenway areas as well as for all of the City of Winnipeg rather than leaving these open for development.
We request the withdrawal of “Major Open Space” designation as it allows unlimited ad hoc development on the aforementioned prime greenspace areas: Bois-des-Esprits, Windsor Park Golf Course, St. Boniface Golf Course, Niakwa Golf Course, Lagimodière-Gaboury Park, Whittier Park and other greenspace areas.
We ask that the “Major Open Space” section of Complete Communities be moved to “Urban Structure Supports” section where parks and recreation, heritage conservation, and urban forest reside. If the intent is to protect greenspace and natural areas this would be a congruent fit.
We strongly ask that the City of Winnipeg establish a riverway riparian conservation zone to protect surrounding ecosystems. Currently the City of Winnipeg is not aligning even with the Provincial Planning Regulations that require at least a 30-meter buffer for development along riverbanks. A 30-meter buffer is actually a very narrow buffer. Studies have shown that a much wider buffer is required for ecosystem protection.
We strongly ask that the City of Winnipeg consult with the public and critical stakeholders including First Nations organizations, environmental researchers and organizations, climate change researchers, public health organizations and researchers, recreation organizations and researchers, and urban planners. The City must add an opportunity for the public to respond to a second draft of OurWinnipeg 2045 and Complete Communities 2.0. The public was given a few weeks to comment on the first draft that was three years in the making. It is a commonly accepted practice for city documents to have second and even third drafts provided for the public to review.
We strongly endorse that the City of Winnipeg aim to become an exemplar and leader among cities at this unprecedented time in human history by leading in greenspace protections and policies.
We strongly ask the City to work on plans and policies that have been delayed for many years including the start, update or completion of:
1) A Secondary Plan for the Seine River Greenway
2) A Master Plan for Greenspace in the City of Winnipeg
3) A biodiversity plan such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton have
4) Climate Adaption and Resiliency Strategy
5) Urban Forest Strategy
6) Recreation Strategy
7) Tree By-law
8) Species at Risk Recovery Strategy
We recommend the return of golf course lands to the Parks and Recreation and by-law as protected land rather than open for privatized development and long-term leases.
We requested that the Seine River recognized and be shown on the maps in both documents.