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Battle over Polo Park development clears first hurdle at Winnipeg City Hall

Click to play video: 'Both sides in Polo Park development fight release new info before council hearing' Both sides in Polo Park development fight release new info before council hearing
WATCH: Global's Brittany Greenslade reports on new details in the ongoing fight over a proposed development at Polo Park – Mar 2, 2020

A city committee has voted to move a plan for a potential multi-million dollar development around Polo Park to the next step at City Hall.

Councillors on the Assiniboia Community Committee passed a motion for proposed amendments to the area’s bylaw.

Shindico Development and Cadillac Fairview, the owner of Polo Park Shopping Centre, have for years hoped to build a sprawling commercial and residential series of highrise and low-rise buildings near the mall.

READ MORE: Residential development proposed for Polo Park area

But the Winnipeg Airports Authority argues allowing more residential construction in the area would impact its ability to do business and increase potential noise complaints if it expands.

A lawyer representing one of the developers says this is an encouraging first step.

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“This is great news,” Shindico Realty lawyer Justin Zarnowski said.

“Winnipeg is showing leadership, allowing economic development and saying yes to development in Winnipeg. [We] couldn’t be happier.”
Click to play video: 'Winnipeg developers fighting to revamp Polo Park amid battle with airport' Winnipeg developers fighting to revamp Polo Park amid battle with airport
Winnipeg developers fighting to revamp Polo Park amid battle with airport – Mar 2, 2020

Currently, residential construction is prohibited around the Polo Park mall site by a set of rules under the Airport Vicinity Protection Area Secondary Plan (AVPA). The purpose of the AVPA is to “protect the 24-hour air operations of the airport by limiting residential noise complaints.”

The amendment now goes to the city’s property planning and development committee.

“Now the city is showing urgency and rejecting the notion that we need to wait and that investors will wait for us and that we actually have to be proactive and show leadership.. it’s great news,” added Zarnowski.

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The Winnipeg Airports Authority said they are surprised by the decision.

“When you have a group of experts suggesting to council they need to think this through a little better…for them to jump and do this in this way, I’m surprised by that,” Tyler MacAfee of the WAA said.

“We think it’s important to have a plan and what I heard from council tonight is we’re going to make a decision and then we want to build a plan to justify the decision which defies logic.”

READ MORE: Exclusive renderings show possible apartment development plans around Polo Park

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Read the full report to councillors:

WAA CEO Barry Rempel worries the development could put an end to the 24-hour operations of Richardson International Airport if improperly planned.

The WAA wants to add a third runway to expand the lucrative freight sector sometime in the future, and Rempel said the proposed Polo Park development would see planes fly 300 metres above new residents’ heads.

READ MORE: Winnipeg developers fighting to revamp Polo Park amid battle with airport

Shindico Development president and CEO Sandy Shindleman previously told Global News the plan could see apartment buildings around the perimeter of the mall, parking structures, office spaces and possibly assisted living units for seniors.

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Click to play video: 'Noise rules need to be rewritten before Polo Park development: Winnipeg Airports Authority' Noise rules need to be rewritten before Polo Park development: Winnipeg Airports Authority
Noise rules need to be rewritten before Polo Park development: Winnipeg Airports Authority – Mar 2, 2020

The developers are looking to not just revamp the area, but to re-imagine the possibilities of the 80-acre parcel of land around Polo Park, from the north side of Portage Avenue, along St. Matthews Avenue and St. James Street and the west side of Empress Street.

Exclusive architectural renderings of the proposed development released Monday show several mid-rise apartment buildings and new retail surrounding the site, which would take over about one-third of Polo Park’s current parking lot.

The drawings depict about 10 new mid- and low-rise apartment buildings, some with main-floor retail, and many fenced in for courtyards. A large pedestrian and vehicle path would connect to the mall to St. James Street and Portage Avenue.

The renderings show numerous low- to mid-rise apartment buildings surrounding Polo Park. Shindico/Cadillac Fairview

In their argument to council, developers pointed specifically to a similar project that has already been approved in Richmond, B.C.

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Cadillac Fairview partnered with B.C. developer SHAPE and GBL Architects to undergo the comprehensive mixed-use redevelopment on 27 acres.

READ MORE: Noise rules need to be rewritten before Polo Park development: Winnipeg Airports Authority

The project includes 12 new mid-rise buildings reaching a height no greater than 14 storeys, with retail space located within the lower floors, and residential space within the upper floors.

The site also sits just 1.5 kilometres from the Vancouver International Airport.

Click to play video: 'Shindico Realty’s Sandy Shindleman talks about a proposed development on lands around Polo Park' Shindico Realty’s Sandy Shindleman talks about a proposed development on lands around Polo Park
Shindico Realty’s Sandy Shindleman talks about a proposed development on lands around Polo Park – Feb 27, 2020

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