Update: Progressive Winnipeg has a post on this topic as well: “Hoodwinked” or “Steeked”?
While I’ve never believed that all suburban expansion is avoidable in our current social climate, it’s clear to me that Waverley West is not a new urbanist development, or an example of “smart growth”. And as more and more of the NDP government’s promises (geothermal, inner city revenues, etc) fall apart, it’s starting to look like Mr. Doer and his team never had any intention of creating anything more than a big land deal that’s good for the provincial government and bad for the city.
Meanwhile, Garth Steek continues on his campaign to sell Waverley West to the media and the public with a comment in the Free Press:
Your article ‘Hood-winked? by Bartley Kives and Mary Agnes Welch (Feb. 15) warrants response. The headline infers that there has been misrepresentation surrounding the Waverley West subdivision. This is clearly not the case.
Although initial discussion of Waverley West commenced six years ago, the first houses did not begin construction until one year ago after tens of millions of dollars had been spent completing the necessary infrastructure.
Your photo at the top of the page is misleading, suggesting the subdivision is a single home. Why did you not photograph Millbank or Bridgeland? They are fully developed and showcase many exceptional homes.
Clearly, the public appreciates Waverley West as more building permits were taken in this subdivision than any other area in Winnipeg between November 2008 and February 2009.
Although geothermal installation is not easily realized in Waverley West, there is a very viable alternative, namely electric heat, which leaves no carbon footprint and is far less expensive. This hardly constitutes a broken promise.
(This comment about electric heat leaving no carbon footprint is misleading. We are all led to believe that Manitoba Hydro has 100% renewable energy, but a coal plant and some natural gas plants show that not all of our electricity comes from a renewable source. Now if the province were sticking up some solar panels, I might be a little more impressed.)
Your article notes “Homes are listed for $313,000 to $503,000 with huge lots.” This is not correct. In fact, the standard lots in Waverley West are considerably smaller than traditional neighbourhoods to ensure heightened density. The amenity lots on the lake are indeed larger and the prices of these homes are reflective of the larger lot sizes.
Flyovers were not incorporated because of their enormous cost but their absence in no way precludes homeowners from walking in what is a well-planned neighbourhood.
(It’s true that homeowners can still choose to run across the Kenaston Expressway. See? And yes, I know that “expressway” is a bit of an exaggeration. Hyperbole sells.)
Traffic calming measures such as roundabouts coupled with sidewalks, extensive walking trails, natural park areas and inland waterways make Waverley West an exceptional place to live. Architects Smith Carter were responsible for these items.
It is ironic that your writers did not take the time to contact any of the builders or homeowners who have invested millions of dollars in this subdivision and who believe strongly in it.
Tenants for a new town centre have yet to arrive because new businesses require a certain occupancy threshold. It is unrealistic to expect businesses at this early stage of development.
(As Rob at Rise and Sprawl pointed out, much business will come to the “town centre” from places like La Salle and Oak Bluff, so it’s best that they get the Kenaston Expressway finished first. Build it and they will come.)
Waverley West is not a “car-bound subdivision” any more than other areas of the city. Winnipeg realizes many months of cold weather and regardless of how well-planned a subdivision will be, car transportation will be essential.
(Any subdivision that is sliced open by a Neighbourhood Anihilation Road (NAR) like Kenaston is car-bound. If I lived in Millbank or Bridgeland and wanted a loaf of bread, how would I purchase it? See above for tips on crossing Kenaston.)
With reference to expenses, the City of Winnipeg acknowledges that servicing a new subdivision such as Waverley West is less than half of what they are for inner-city areas. This includes emergency services, garbage pickup and snow removal.
(First of all, I’d like to see a reference to the City of Winnipeg’s acknowledgement of this “fact”. And apparently the new definition of services is that servicing is only based on operating costs, as opposed to the huge capital costs required to create the new infrastructure.)
It is well-known by the city, province and private sector that this development will more than pay for itself, as substantiated by two independent studies.
(If we use Mr. Steek’s narrow view of balance sheets, we can still see that the projections that Waverley West will hopefully see a modest “profit” don’t include all development and servicing expenses, and makes unsubstantiated assumptions that the city will not have to make any alterations or additions to its plan over the next 80 years. Because as we all know, nothing ever comes up over eight decades.)
With 6,500 new residents coming to this province annually, the demand for new housing is obvious, particularly in the southwest quadrant that had virtually no building lots left.
Critics of Waverley West advocated that everyone should “move downtown,” even though the city agreed there were at most 200 infill lots, many of them incapable of accommodating a new home. The MHRC lands (Bridgwater Forest) and Ladco lands (South Pointe) are essential for the future growth and prosperity of the City of Winnipeg.
(While I’m not expecting everyone to “move downtown”, I do find it odd that Mr. Steek is only aware of one type of “home”, which is, of course, the single family house.)
It is easy to suggest the public has been ‘Hood-winked one year into a new subdivision, while ignoring the public’s support and the commitment of the building and development community.
Homeowners will come to Waverley West because of its location and the housing choices offered.
(Edit: Homeowners will come to Waverley West because it’s one of the only options available due to many sprawl incentives for developers and little incentive for higher density and/or inner-city development.)
The early success of the subdivision underscores the strength of our economy and citizens commitment to Winnipeg.
I hope that all potential homeowners reading this article will attend the Spring Parade of Homes March 7 to 22 and make the decision about Waverley West based on firsthand experience.
I don’t think anyone is hoping for the failure of Waverley West à la Rush Limbaugh. We just want our provincial government to make decisions based on the interests of its citizens, and we don’t like the nagging feeling that Waverley West could be an elaborate shell game where the suburb of the future (if that’s not an oxymoron) is swapped out with the same old subdivisions. We were promised something more, and I’m worried that we’re not getting it.