Always Leave Em Wanting More

2008 ends with a teaser from the Free Press:

Winnipeg Free Press
Source: Winnipeg Free Press

“Imagine waking up every morning and having your choice of rivers outside your front door on which to take your daily paddle or cross-country ski. That dream could become a reality if Jim August is able to find public support for a residential development at The Forks.” (Note from Don Street: I already do that. My apartment window can be seen in your photo!)

This August plan for more housing in the downtown is excellent news for development of the core. More people, more density, means better public transportation, better safety, more shops & services in the area, and more people walking the sidewalks of the city center. In my six months here at the Don Street Blog, I’ve written a lot about density, the need for downtown housing, better transportation, and other downtown issues – see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I’ve also written a lot recently about the new riding of Logan and the dominance of high-rises and apartments in the new downtown constituency. (I’ll be having my final look at Logan soon – looking at the actual vote totals and whether the NDP really do dominate the area)
I’ll repeat myself: more housing in mixed-use, dense, urban form would certainly be welcome and is exactly what the city needs in order to have real downtown revitalization. Good on you, Forks!
But, this end-of-year story is just a teaser. Like all good TV shows, it leaves you with a cliff-hanger! How exciting! What will happen next? I guess we’ll just have to tune in in 2009 for the gory details!
And a Happy New Year to the five regular readers. Akemashite omedetto gozaimasu!

22 responses to “Always Leave Em Wanting More

  1. How does this translate to what was agreed to when the Forks was first considered.

    Something tells me it wasn’t apartment buildings. I know, make a plan, then completely ignore it. Its ironic don’t you think.

  2. That’s a good question, Sigh. What was originally the plan?

    I’m guessing those surface lots were not the original design.

  3. @Sigh:

    “. . . The Forks shall be developed as a ‘Meeting Place,’ a special and distinct, all-season gathering and recreational place at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, through a mixed-use approach including recreational, historical and cultural, residential, and institutional and supportive commercial uses.”

  4. This could be good if it’s done right. That whole parking lot area is certainly underutilized.

    bonne nouvelle année

  5. I’m, guessing parking was a major consideration. Us auto owning suburbanites drop alot of money at the forks when we go. We need to park our horses somewhere

  6. Donald i suspect you have to go further then Dec 31 2008 to see their Mission statement.

    But the article does represent a certain requirement to consult with the public on doing this. I think Natives will come for their pound of flesh.

    The question I see, should it be allowed…which means, its is not allowed at this time. Therefore i have to assume, the intent was NOT to have residential dwelling on the site.

    This issue along with Assiniboine Park condo’s has had alot of detractors, this will be interesting.

  7. If there are apartments, they need to be at least mid-rise. They can’t pussy out of the cost of building a larger apartment building…low density at the forks would be a big mistake, methinks.

  8. Oh, btw, email me. I need to ask you something…unfortunately I did not save any of those many election emails.

  9. here’s some decent reading into history of the Federal property. by : Christopher Leo and Mike Pyl

    But this paragraph is something that we should all keep in mind

    Management of The Forks went head to head in April 2000 with the city council in efforts to convince them that housing at the Forks would be the beginning of a revitalization of the entire downtown area, but several councillors remained opposed to the housing proposal (O’Brien, 2000).

    After a public consultation in spring of 2002, The Forks management finally relented and announced that housing would no longer be considered for the area. (Santin, 2002b).

    Scroll down to The Forks component for the full read.

  10. Thanks for the link, Sigh. I’ll read that right away.

  11. I was one of the original submitters for The Forks. The fear was that housing would result in the same problems as were seen at Toronto’s Harbourfront. Those problems were the NIMBY attitude of those that moved in. They didn’t want anymore festivals or public attractions coming after they called the place home.

    The thought was to ensure that development proceeded carefully and with the thought of ensuring the highest level of ownership of the citizens of the city.

    I was initially concerned about the hotel going up. The first pictures of it looked horrible and the place it was located seemed to block the flow of traffic to the concert bowl. My fear was that hotel residents would complain about concerts and fireworks. I am pleased that those things weren’t borne out and the hotel looked at lot more attractive once built.

    I really like the idea of a hostel built in the area. I have no problems with a parkade either as long as it done well out of the way.

    Apartments should be built just off site on routes leading to The Forks. We have plenty of space for them in out downtown and into St. B.

  12. Hi John,

    Its good to get that perspective. The NIMBY groups are certainly a danger and I appreciate the reasons why apartments were once unwanted at the site.

    However, have things not changed? Do we not have many events at the Forks throughout the year that perspective apartment dwellers would know about before moving to the site? If you try to hold many large concerts and other public events in a neighborhood that never had any such events before, people would be naturally upset. But, if you put housing at a location where such events normally occur, would you not have a built-in assumption that if you don’t want the noise, don’t live there?

    Agreed, btw, on the hostel.

  13. DS,

    The people who moved into Harbourfront knew of the attractions when they moved in. It was why they moved in. However, their attitude changed and like a lot of people, they wanted the door shut to anymore events once they called the place home.

    I think the best plan is to create spokes that move out from The Forks that include apartments.

  14. I see your point, John. I suppose that the other side of the rivers and the downtown proper are better locations for housing than the Forks site in that case. That, or we would need to limit the size of the housing and/or make Forks-specific housing only apartments and not Harbourfront-esque condos.

  15. Harbourfront isn’t wasn’t a Federal park.

    I see no condominiums at Ontario Place.

    Look at the definiton of the Forks and go from there. there is ample evidence that people don’t , didn’t want residences setup at the Forks.

    As Chris Leo’s paper suggests, we’ve done this before and at some point in time, the issue ought to be dead.

  16. True, Sigh. There appears to be a lot of public opposition to residences there. It seems like there isn’t a single location in Winnipeg where a new apartment can be built, despite a major shortage.

  17. Sigh, The Forks wasn’t a national park when it began either. It was industrial land purchased from CN. Harbourview was expropriated port land acquired in 1972. It became a Crown corporation.

    The Feds were interested in making the 10 acres of land a cultural base. The pressures for housing began to assert themselves in the 1990s. The problems of having large scale public events where people had their homes appeared soon after.

    The building continues along the waterfront in Toronto.

    There are only a few spots left in The Forks area. They should be used for cultural and unique commercial businesses.

    One of the things that benefits The Forks is that people to not associate it with downtown. The fear of downtown that some Winnipeggers have doesn’t seem to include The Forks.

    If a residential component is to be sought in proximity to the Forks, it should start on streets close by. We have seen that a street like Riverside Drive can suddenly be residential given the right circumstances.

    Time to start targetting the open lots along Main Street and begin connecting them to the Forks.

  18. Harbourfront – Never designated as a National Historic Site

    Besides, the condo’s /apartments are North of Queens Quay and not on the 10 acre plot the Feds occupy.( south of Queens Quay )

    Prior to the 1972 federal election, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau announced the Harbourfront project, which would expropriate the industrial port lands from York Street west to Bathurst Street, south of Queen’s Quay and convert them to a cultural and residential district for Toronto, similar to the Granville Island district in Vancouver. The federal government has converted the industrial area to an area mixed with art galleries, performance spaces, boating areas and parks.

    Forks – not much info so I’ll fall back on Leo’s paper – The Forks is a National Historic Site.

    The only similarity is that they were both born from Trudeaus’s vision

    “In 1972, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced the Byways and Special Places Program to commemorate historic communication routes and adapt them for recreational use

    As you can see, even though they feed at the same trough, both are very different animals.

    But again, read Leo’s / Pyl paper, he’s done a good piece of work there. I can’t find any more info on the Forks from other sources, ( incl. wiki )

    I’m not necessarily against res downtown. I just don’t like the idea that people can “own” a property in National Parks or Parks who’s purpose was never to have residential.

    How the media makes a big deal of this proposal while ignoring that the same proposals were bandied about 20 years ago, and ignoring the fact that residential was officially ixnayed by the Forks, weary’s me.

    Someone should archive this bit of History so it would be easier to see what the vision was.

  19. Sigh, only a portion of the The Forks was designated a national historic site and park. It wasn’t the whole site.

    I don’t believe housing should be included on the old rail yards.

    I have read Chris Leo’s articles. I was also there in the 1980s when original submissions were being presented for the site.

    As for Harbourfront, I know where condos eventually ended up. I am just saying that the proximity helped make them viable but once they were up, people had second thoughts on the amount of public events being held at Harbourview.

    I would not want that to happen at The Forks.

    Imagine a petition from the new homeowners to remove the fireworks.

  20. Aren’t there enough places around to build apartments? The strategy of “downtown” has Waterfront Drive, the Forks, Higgins, north Main, Red River campus expansion, downtown is just too spread out and these piecemeal attempts reduce the focus needed to develop the area properly and completely.

  21. True, Chris. There are loads of locations to build housing around the city center – South Point Douglas, North St. Boniface, West of the Exchange, the Exchange itself, and the parking lots of the city center. Those areas could all support far larger populations which would help to build a better core.

  22. After my little tour, the West of the Exchange could certainly be first, filling in an area close to both public transportation and to strong retail…

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