Thursday, August 30, 2007

Save us, government parking lot!

The Forks North Portage Partnership, the great white hope that would save Market Square from the City's own deriliction and ineptitude, has bowed out of the plan to save the (facade of) the Ryan Block by converting it into a parkade. This is something the property owner, Bedford Investments boss Ken Reiss talked about doing for years, but given the lack of return on investment from fixing his self-imposed pigeon's nest (and his obvious wish to demolish it all anyway), it becomes a government agency's job.

But what happens when the undertaking is too small a financial priority for the government? Can we really sustain Winnipeg's heritage buildings by governments coming up with eleventh-hour development schemes anyway?

No one questions the City of Winnipeg's newfound love of heritage buildings, but this doesn't change the fact that they could have very easily prevented the Ryan Block from facing demolition in the first place. Coun. Russ Wyatt talks a good game when he says "If we only save the heritage buildings that are convenient, that's easy to do... It would be an absolute shame if we lost the King Building, but until the City's Planning Property and Development department starts enforcing their own by-laws, Mr. Wyatt can look forward to many more decades of buildings being destroyed.

It wouldn't have taken much for PP&D to enforce their own rules upon Mr. Reiss, and after all, that's what they're paid for. Instead, they have for years allowed him to purposely neglect his building, until the City has to come along with along with $5-M "win-win" plan to keep it from falling onto Bannatyne avenue. Now that that fell through this week, Mr. Wyatt hopes, city council will begin peddling the parkade scheme to other levels of government. A true "made-in-Winnipeg" solution: spend millions of dollars and months of wrangling to fix the problem that could have easily prevented with an afternoon of work and an ounce of cajones.

The City shouldn't have to be in the business of developing buildings, but it must always be in the business of ensuring that buildings are around to be developed. No matter how appreciative of the Exchange District our city becomes, it doesn't change the fact that our by-laws don't do anything to keep its buildings standing.

Free Press story.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home