Saturday, August 8, 2009

Parker Avenue

A Google map close-up of the Parker Avenue lands

In July, a land swap took place between Gem Equities and the city's transit department. The area has been undeveloped all these years and has acted a shortcut for many between Waverley Street and Pembina Highway. Gem promptly indicated they were going build townhouses on the site.

As one can see from the picture, there is a combination of woods and scrub land in the selected area. It has never been designated as park land for the city although many people use it for walking trails.

There was some controversy a few years ago when the Winnipeg Humane Society located to Hurst alongside the 22 acres around Parker. Now, some workers there are complaining about further development. It is hard to hear people advocate for closing the door once they themselves are in place.

The Not in my Backyard (NIMBY) protests are sounding all over the city for almost any type of change.

The lands around Parker Avenue could have easily gone industrial rather than residential. That probably would have drawn even more criticism. The plain truth is that the area was never designated as park land and there has never been plan to make it a park.

The city has recently completed the Sterling Lyon Parkway from Route 90/Kenaston to Waverley Street. It makes sense to connect Waverley to Pembina Highway via an extension of that road.

Some have complained the lands should remain as is, a forest or scrub land but this doesn't help the neighbourhood if traffic continues to rise along Parker as the city grows. To simply make it local access only bottlenecks traffic even for those who wish to preserve their little sanctuary.

I don't know the full environmental impact in the Parker Avenue woods. A study should be done to see what it will entail. I do know that we if protect every space within the city that we will continue to sprawl, we won't have transportation corridors for rapid transit or traffic and it will cost everyone in the city.

Ideally, an extension of Sterling Lyon would have bikepaths, sidewalks and greenery. It would connect Pembina and Waverley and put off the need immediately for an underpass for Waverley. It would allow for easy and controlled access north and south of the road.

If Gem does decide to build townhouses, it should be done with the same principle of sidewalks, bikepaths and greenery.

The NIMBY principle of rejecting any type of change in a neighbourhood is becoming exasperating.

I think that the project should be watched closely but it could be a very good thing for the city as a whole.

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