Investigations by the City of Winnipeg are underway to determine if the Parker Lands developers followed the scope of their permit following the cutting down on the last of the remaining trees at a site earlier in the month of October.
Andrew Marquess a developer and his company Gem Equities intend to build 1740 housing units on a triangle of land. This part is bordered to the South by the next leg of the Southwest Transitway to the South, to the north by the CNR Rivers main line and to the west by the Winnipeg Humane Society property. Gem Equities has been clearing land since last year in spite of objections by protestors concerned about the loss of Aspen forest. In August this year, the city halted the plans citing non-compliance by the developers with the city zoning rules.
Rae Bridgman, an area resident expressed his surprise to see a bulldozer ripping out trees. The local resident said that he didn’t know if there was any authorisation for the cutting of the trees and he thought the trees were to remain standing until more public hearings were conducted.
Parker Lands developers took the city to court over its decision not to grant the developer’s formal plan to proceed to a public hearing. A judge ordered in September for the hearings to take place this coming month. Developer Marquess of Gem Equities said it does not matter since they didn’t need a permit to remove the trees, be there public hearings or not.
Speaking to CBC News Saturday, Marquess said that they had a confirmation from the city that they didn’t need a permit to cut down the trees. The developer further added that the trees were removed in accordance with the guidance offered by outside planning consultants.
They are actually working with these specialists to give them a peer review of the site plans. Marquess added that the green space recommended by the tree consultants is what contributed to the move. This space will comprise play structures, seating areas, benches and space where people can gather. According to Marquess, the green space that stretches from the west side to the east side was actually the central part of the entire development.
Marquess said the walking trails within a bunch of aspen trees was a concept that meant a limited use of the green space by residents. No environmental or heritage importance exists to these trees according to the developer and they have done extensive environmental reviews on the flora. Tree consultants have categorised the type of trees, their ages and other surveys, and at around the start of October, the work went ahead since the contractors were available.
The city spokesperson in an email said the city is reviewing the work done on the site to ascertain whether the developer adhered to the scope of the current permit and/or an additional permit was needed. After the Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Candace Grammond sided with Gem Equities who disagreed, there will be a public hearing on November 13 by the city centre community as ordered by the city centre.