Monday, 20 May 2013
Stop it with the 'burbs, Province!
|Ridgewood South Precinct Area|
Image Source: Ridgewood South Precinct Plan
Meanwhile the City's in the stages of approving yet another suburban development: Ridgewood South. The City Council's Committee on Property and Development has unanimously approved this nonsense plan without debate.This development hasn't inspired protests like the PST hike or opposition on City Council, but it should.
Our increasingly rundown inner-city roads have inspired complaints and demands for something to be done. City Hall demands more money from the Province, critics of City Hall demand less administrative fat, and the odd guy/gal out calls for raising property taxes again. But if we're serious about long-term spending solutions than halting suburban and extraurban development is essential.
As a draft of the Ridgewood South Precinct Plan notes
As previously outlined, Ridgewood South has been identified as a New Community in OurWinnipeg. New Communities, such as Ridgewood South are large land areas identified for future urban development that are not currently serviced by a full range of municipal services. [My emphasis added]
City Hall seems well enough aware that this new suburb will cost us money. Yet they continue to support the fiscal drag of suburban sprawl, subsidizing these costly to municipally supply communities with services and further thinning out our road budgets. We simply don't have the tax base to keep playing this game.
|Here's Wyatt! He's terrorizing the inner-city &|
hard-working poor Winnipeggers by axing city services.
Picture not actually of Russ Wyatt,
evident from guy looking too reasonable.
Image Source: Initially from film
The Shining, obtained by this blogger
What does the number two guy at City Hall think amidst all this? Well, Deputy Mayor Russ Wyatt is proposing deep cuts to the central city. Cuts that will disproportionately hurt hard-working poor Winnipeggers.
These nasty cuts include:
- Closing the Arlington Bridge.
- Halting the construction of rapid transit projects
- Cutting snow clearing.
- Ending support for housing, community, & criss workers.
- Eliminating grants to Winnipeg museums.
- Ending support for the Aboriginal Youth Strategy.
- Ending grants to Economic Development Winnipeg.
In this context, in which Wyatt thinks it's okay to hurt hard-working poor rapid transit riders, aboriginal youth, and those afflicted by crisis, we're seriously considering extending our infrastructure to a new outer suburb? This is madness.
What half-baked rationalizations our councillors coming up with? Well, let's take a look.
"These new subdivisions that are coming up are filling up quite quickly, and I mean, if it’s not in the city of Winnipeg, it's in the bedroom communities beyond," said Browaty.
("Committee OKs plan for new Winnipeg neighbourhood". CBC (May 7, 2013))
Those are exactly the type of bright ideas that went behind the Waverley West project. The sad thing is that providing so many facilities on the edge of the city only encourages fringe-outer suburban and extraurban development by cutting the distance between city services and extraurban communities.
Freep columnist Bartley Kives has some other perspectives, from the City Hall establishment, on why the development of yet another outer suburb makes sense:
So the task at hand for the city is to balance off the demand for more development with the need to create more density, which is simply more people living in any given portion of the city. And that means doing what may sound unthinkable to hard-core urbanists: Winnipeg is opening up vast new tracts of land under the premise developers understand these new suburbs must be denser than the city's existing suburbs.
("Growing pains: The debate over Winnipeg residential development". Bartley Kives (May 11, 2013). Winnipeg Free Press)
|Oh boy, Ridgewood South.|
Imagine the fortune it'll cost to run roads through
Image Source: Winnipeg Free Press
|City Council has trouble with existing road repairs.|
Now it wants to build more roads!!
Image Source: ChrisD
For the greater good of our city and our province this has to stop.
To perserve our roads in the central city, we have to focus on inner-city and inner suburban development and redevelopment. We need supports for cooperative housing, rental development, and mixed-use facilities rather than more roads to more outer fringe suburbs.
|If the City's unwilling to deal with sprawl,|
the Province must.
Image Source: Government of Manitoba
The Province has many policy tools they could use to stop this nonsense. For one, they could impose a binding urban growth boundary around the southwest of Winnipeg. No undeveloped lands outside of the boundary are to be developed until existing inner-city, inner suburb, and outer suburb neighbourhoods reach sufficient density.
To prevent flight to the exurbs, the Province could also restrict the development of newer exurban communities and impose growth boundaries around existing exurbs.
Alternatively, a more permissive approach could be taking by simply taxing those in newer outer suburbs and exurbs in a way that aligns the social cost of servicing them with their tax rates.
Either way, the Province needs to change course in regard to outer suburbs. The concerned citizens of Winnipeg need to petition the Province and City about this matter. The sustainability of our city depends on it.
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