Monday, September 27, 2010

The antidote to sprawl?

Whatever shenanigans went on in the clubhouses of Scottsdale, AZ to bring about the development of the Fort Rouge Yards, are for another time (or another blog entirely). But what Calgary's Lexington Investment Corp. and local B&M Land are planning is Winnipeg's first large-scale new-urbanism development, and a welcome stray from the hollowing-out pattern development in Winnipeg has followed for decades.

Far from the transit-oriented development it is being billed as (if buses attracted development, Graham Avenue would be lined with condos, not parking lots), it is still a good, surprisingly urban infill project that many old neighborhoods like Lord Roberts (the Fort Rouge neighborhood west of South Osborne St. and south of the CNR) have the room for, and will need to build in order to maintain a density that can support local commercial activity, public services, and community institutions.

Surprisingly normal street-oriented urban development. Who knew? Credit

Between 1971 and 2006, the population of the Lord Roberts neighborhood declined by 24%, from 6,555 persons in 1971, to 4,955 in 2006. Lord Robert's declining population is still paying for the same number of roadways, sidewalks, parks, transit and public schools it had in 1971, but with less . When completed circa 2015, the Fort Rouge development will have increased the neighborhood population by 1,800 persons--just higher than the population in 1971. While residents (and former neighbors, from when I rented in a little Cape Cod house on Rathgar Avenue a decade ago; a lonely boy walking to the bus stop with Morrissey tapes in my walkman...) may fear their neighborhood is being overcrowded, it is simply regaining some of the density it had 40 years ago.

Winnipeg's established neighborhoods need about 100 more developments like this.

Postwar sprawl in North America is largely a creature of government, but in Waverley West, one does not to connect any dots to see this, since government itself is a direct player in the game. Waverley West: the NDP's dream suburb where $398,000 will get you into a 1,500 square-foot bungalow (some comparison between Waverley West's average prices vs. other new suburbs would be interesting).


Blogger Kyra said...

good commentary. this development will be good for the area and good for the city.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

"Winnipeg's established neighborhoods need about 100 more developments like this."

If we can't stop the sprawl, can we at least have proper street-oriented development are my thoughts. Of course, we blow past all the things that should be "normal".

This is one of my twitter updates already, but what do you think of this?

It's called BGBX

They are also responsible for Youcube at Waterfront, which I last saw exhibited at Emily Carr for Twenty + Change (

2:27 PM  
Blogger The Rise and Sprawl said...

Sophia, if Winnipeg neighborhoods were filling up and regaining density at a decent pace, I could hardly be bothered by sprawl at the city's edges. Unfortunately, the City has made doing one a whole lot easier than doing the other, and urban infill is harder to do than new suburbs.

Thanks, I will check out that link.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do YOU want highrise apartments in YOUR backyard? While I like the idea of developing the railyards, highrise apartments just aren't condusive to community building, in my view.
I see a developer who doesn't live here, doesn't understand the neighbourhood, and just wants to make money (as can be attested by the fact that the number of rental units in the development seems to keep shrinking, even in a city with an abyssmally low rental rate).
And the population density was because of FAMILIES, not 1800 more adults moving into a neighbourhood, who drive cars (who are we kidding that all these people will ride the bus, even a shiny new one on its own special route?). Which driving route, exactly, are they going to take? Because right now, it takes me almost an hour to get through the bottle neck of Osborne Village during rush hour to get home on the bus...which I can only see as increasing in time with the estimated 240 - 300 rides they are estimating.
Developing the yards? good idea. The plan they currently have well thought out? Not so much.

7:31 AM  

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