Friday, January 2, 2009

The Forks

The sections of the Forks considered for development Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Welcome to 2009!

The Forks North Portage Partnership has announced what their thoughts are on the remaining section of land south of Canwest Park. At the moment the land is a 6 acre parking lot.

There will be a public consultation but the The Forks CEO is angling for mixed use which includes housing. This has been rejected several times before in part because people seem to sense that as soon as people live at The Forks that they will have a "not in my backyard" attitude to things like fireworks.

There are a few smart things that The Forks people are considering:

A central piece of the development will be a European-style promenade, a one-kilometre public walkway featuring fountains and sitting areas that will stretch from Pioneer Avenue to The Forks Market.

The impetus for looking at the site alongside the rail line is the development of the Human Rights Museum. In the long term, it will mean the end of over 400 parking spots for The Forks.

Like or not, the main way for Winnipeggers to get to The Forks is by driving. The Human Rights Museum as well as The Forks needs parking.

The last major development at The Forks occurred in 1999 with the building of the Inn at the Forks. I was dubious about it because the pictures of the hotel looked awful. I was also concerned that the hotel blocked direct access to the concert bowl and that hotel patrons would complain about concerts and fireworks.

I was relieved about how attractive the hotel turned out to be. My fears about complaints about noise from hotel patrons was unfounded. I still have questions about the flow of pedestrian traffic but they're minor.

The construction of the skateboard park in 2007 was brilliant. It immediately became an attraction in both summer and winter. I don't know if it would have been possible if people lived nearby. The fear might have been about kids congregating in the area.

There have been so many missed when it comes to apartment building in the city. I will look at The Forks proposal on mixed use but it seems to me that the focus for housing should be just off the site rather than on it.

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