Sunday, February 15, 2009

Get used to disappointment

After all that. Six years of pent-up demand in a corner of the city that was going to run out of residential lots two years ago, and only 75 houses are being built?

Even David Witty, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, has dropped toeing the line for the U of M's real estate interests (and selling out his discipline), and now expresses disappointment in what Waverley West is becoming.

Meanwhile, elected officials at City Hall once again prove their collective ability to look at things with foresight:

"The feeder main to carry water in will cost $11 million. The main sewer pipe will cost $4.6 million. The tab for community centres, policing and fire protection is $39 million. And along with the $60-million Kenaston extension, there are plans to widen Waverley Street, extend Bison Drive and improve other components of southwest Winnipeg's transportation network at a cost of more than $300 million, not including the $327 million southwest bus corridor former mayor Murray hoped would service the new suburb.

The capital costs of the suburb are undeniably higher than the $119 million projected in 2004, when the city and province conducted a pair of cost-benefit analyses that came up with widely different earning projections: the city predicted $74 million over 60 years, while the province envisioned $228 million over 23 years. [*]"

(You mean, it's not going to magically appear for free? Why would the developers of Waverley West lie to the City via some cooked-up ND Lea study? I thought they were simply pushing the City to ammend Plan Winnipeg and allow Waverley West to be nice. What happened?)

"We look to government to be innovative at times." said St. Norbert Councillor Justin Swandel.

Get used to disappointment indeed.

The failure of Waverley West is not that it will (well, duh...) not end up being a cutting edge model of new urbanism, but that it will not slow residential development outside City limits. People that wish to live outside City boundaries will continue to do so. It was not that a "tight" market pushed them out of the city in recent years, it was that a healthy seller's market offered much to choose from. Waverley West will not eliminate City property taxes, lower crime rates, or make lot sizes bigger--the primary reasons why people who choose to move out to the bedroom communities of surrounding R.M.s do so.

What Waverley West will do, however, is bring commercial amenities (such as its pathetically-dubbed "town centre") closer and closer to the R.M.s where people are moving to (Oak Bluff, La Salle, et c.), making it more desirable for builders to develop, and buyers to live there. And so it goes, with the City losing residents and the property taxes needed to pay its increasing stack of bills.

The people who don't mind living in the City (and its pre-Unicity suburbs) will be held to paying higher taxes for this, while watching municipal services in their own neighborhood decline. Not only sidewalks, transit, sewers and parks, but quality of life: Waverley West's apologists imagined "a walkable neighborhood where a bus stop is never more than 400 metres away and cafes, libraries, shops and recreation centres are around the corner. [*]"

Sounds like what any neighborhood in central Winnipeg was--before being bludgeoned by ghettoization not only from a City government sleeping on the job, but from a Provincial government on the make.


Blogger nick said...

And to think I *almost* came back to study CITY planning not even 5km from this... Toronto's a much better place to be studying amongst urban positives than back there, it seems.

11:46 PM  
Blogger The Rise and Sprawl said...

Yeah but I bet you'd come back if you could walk under a "fly-over" (I think they were called "above-grade expressways" in the old days) to browse shops and drink coffee in a funky town centre...

11:54 PM  
Blogger nick said...

Of course... I'd cross as many lanes of expressway by foot as I needed to to visit a tanning salon, Tim Horton's drive-thru and Hakim Optical in the "town centre".

11:59 PM  
Blogger The Rise and Sprawl said...

Come on. Hold your sarcastic remarks until AFTER the high-density seniors condominium complexes are built.

12:06 AM  
Blogger nick said...

High-density... we're talkin' three stories right? Gotta pack the oldies in good and tight.

12:16 AM  
Blogger The Rise and Sprawl said...

Yes. The plan will originally call for six stories, but the NIMBY's will bring it down to three.

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very old news. Wasn't this ranted against adnauseum years ago.

Seeing the UofM have an opinion on the matter for me is laughable. The very entity that should be against this type of development is the same one that embraces it.

"This is not suburban development. This is urban development, but in a new way." said Witty

( Dean of Architecture, oyvey )

And this guy actually collects a paycheck.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the ndp has to go, but what is there to replace them with? the political field in this province in embarrassingly shallow.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The party is pretty weak, but the Manitoba Liberals had a strong urban message last election. They were the only party talking about sprawl, transit and smart planning in the city and other places like Brandon.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only message required to address the ongoing stagnation and urban misadventurism (at the behest of bloated and benighted bureaucracies) that is our blessed metropolis is this: SECESSION.

That's right. We need a half dozen or more breakaway political movements to UNDO Unicity. We need a River Heights First Party; a Wolseley First Party; A St. Vital First Party. And so on.

These fledgling movements need to selfishly make the case for why they would all be better off as independent municipalities as they were once upon a time. Back when aerospace industries came to St James for the low taxes, and Italians settled in Ft Rouge, and the Greater Winnipeg Area was growing.

If you love "Winnipeg" it is time to support -- and insist upon -- breaking it up.

Then, and only then, will the fate of Waverly West be a concern only for those who live there.

2:00 AM  
Anonymous TRU said...

Dean Witty no longer has to toe the line (check your spelling) because it's already a done deal. Now that the shilling is over he's pulling a 180° in order to salvage some academic respectability.

Not gonna work Prof. Witty! We can all see what a sellout, flip-flopping douche you really are.

3:37 AM  
Blogger The Rise and Sprawl said...

Duly noted, TRU.

The FoA can now go back to teaching students that sprawl is bad for cities that are growing as slowly as Winnipeg is, regardless of whether or not they are "done right."

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I may chime in:

Scrutinize our faith in government to do the right thing. And never trust a developer (specifically in this case - Ladco). Together they can't even make good on their bad schemes. Agreed, we've seen numerous occasions where many of those people in positions of influence (that society often relies upon to maintain 'the public good') leave their scruples and training at home (ie. Witty). But like most developers, the real agenda wasn't about doing the 'right thing’; it was about making more dinero and paying necessary lip service to ensure the catastrophe. The general public doesn't seem to be concerned - the lots will sell and we'll have another urban displacement occur. The rest of us all look on - gazing into the bright lights while these plans transpire before us. Simultaneously they were prophesied about when it all appeared to be obvious. Dumbfounded, no one will listen to a critique of pure reason.

What happened to the grand sustainable community proposed (notwithstanding it being a poor scheme to start)? Geo-thermal what? Neighbourhoods which raise the bar? Ultimately these terms boil down to a few fixtures and appliances with water-saving or energy star ratings and a tankless water heater in the furnace room. Ladco has redefined the bill of expectations sold to the masses and opted for the status quo society has been long desensitized and accustomed to. Bring on six shades of acrylic stucco and meaningless ornament molded from dimensional lumber. Now the developer can reminisce on how laughably they executed duping politicians and company into making their business more profitable...all the way from their comfy chaise-lounge on a far-off beach in Boracay.

Our lamentations here only seem to be occupying our own cathartic enterprises, while the world moves on...


9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah! Toronto makes the best suburban town centres!

4:58 PM  
Blogger nick said...

What's your point, Anon 4:58?

Yeah, it's a crappy suburban development. Just like those that exist surrounding the urban meccas of San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Montreal. Luckily, because I live downtown, I've got absolutely no reason to get anywhere near it.

3:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether you were intending to or not, you were comparing downtown Toronto with the future Waverly West town centre, which is problematic. The two were built in vastly different times, in vastly different contexts, for vastly different people. Of course downtown Toronto is going to be more urban.

I brought up Scarborough Town Centre because that's the real comparison - a hub of retail activity in the suburbs. Granted, perhaps the 'Borough comparison is crude.

If we're criticizing what we assume will be crappy urban design in the Waverly West town centre, I ask what SHOULD be the model? Cornell (and I put that out there in all seriousness)?

7:59 PM  
Blogger nick said...

I understand your point, but I was comparing the overall state of urbanity in Winnipeg with that of Toronto, and how I feel I am able to more fully immerse myself in a real urbanity here than at the U of M, a stone's throw from WW. And, more specifically, I was lamenting the complete watering down of what Waverly West was going to be when it was announced in 2002/3 and what it's turning in to.

7:01 PM  

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