Winnipeg mayor says leaders in nearby areas must be included in approving 30-year development plan

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says councils in nearby communities must be more involved in a forthcoming plan that will guide development in the area for the next three decades.

“The motion being published today seeks to give all of these councils a voice on Plan 2050, a plan that could significantly shape the way all municipalities in the capital region grow for many decades,” Bowman said.

On Thursday, the city published a motion from Bowman to the city’s executive policy committee that proposes to formally call on the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region to publicly release a draft of Plan 2050, a 30-year plan that will guide land use and servicing in the area once it’s completed and approved.

Bowman’s motion, which will be brought before EPC on Jan. 20, would also see the city ask for municipal councils from nearby communities to be involved in the approval process of the plan, once it’s ready to be reviewed.

“For Plan 2050 to truly have legitimacy, it needs the support of the 18 democratically elected councils that make up the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region board,” Bowman said in a news release Thursday.

“That’s why the motion being published today seeks to give all 18 councils a voice on Plan 2050, a plan that could significantly shape the way all these municipalities grow into the future.”

The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region was created by the province in 2006, to guide planning, development and servicing in Winnipeg and 17 surrounding communities forming the capital region. Its board is made up of two Winnipeg city councillors — Coun. Scott Gillingham and Coun. John Orlikow — plus the mayors and reeves of the other areas.

Colleen Sklar, executive director of the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, said Thursday the organization is committed to releasing a draft version of the plan as soon as one is ready, which she hopes will be by the end of February.

“We don’t have a draft done yet — that’s still with our with our expert consultants. It’s still in the development stage,” Sklar said.

The organization has said from the start its process will be to finalize the draft before sending it out to its board members, along with municipal councils and chief administrative officers, as well as posting it on its website for stakeholders and the public.

“Once the plan is available, we’re going to be thrilled to share it with everybody,” Sklar said.

Planning must be inclusive: West St. Paul Mayor

Currently, Manitoba law doesn’t require all 18 councils in the capital region to sign off on Plan 2050 before it’s approved, Bowman said Thursday. He wants to see that changed, and said leaders of some municipalities have already come forward with concerns.

“With the dramatic changes proposed by the Province of Manitoba in Bill 37, Plan 2050 will have significant impact on all businesses, citizens and property owners living within the Winnipeg Metro Region boundaries,” said Mayor Cheryl Christian of West St. Paul in the release Thursday.

Bill 37 requires the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region to write a 30-year land use and servicing plan and created a new a Capital Planning Region within the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region.

“The creation of a comprehensive plan for our region must be an open and inclusive process,” Christian said in the release.

A spokesperson for Manitoba Municipal Relations Minister Derek Johnson said in an email the new Capital Planning Region formed under Bill 37 must be endorsed by the region’s councils, so the regions can make their voices heard through that mechanism.

“This will give that board a mandate from those councils, and that board will be required to review and sign off on plans before submission to the minister for consideration. This would achieve the consensus that some within the WMR are seeking.

‘Important opportunity’

Sklar said the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region has done extensive consultation with the area’s leaders and stakeholders, as well as experts from other levels of government and non-governmental organizations.

But she said changing the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region’s mandate to require approval from all 18 communities before approving Plan 2050 might not be feasible or beneficial to the public.

“The communities are experts in their own areas of operation. They’re not necessarily experts on what the guy next door is doing,” she said. 

Sklar said overall, the process for Plan 2050 has been one of the most transparent she’s worked on, and consultation has been robust.

“[This is] a really important opportunity that we have to build collaboration amongst municipalities and really make sure our children have a place that they want to live and not leave in the future if they have jobs and places to live,” she said.

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