Zoning Alignment

Thank you to those of you have shared your thoughts on this project at the open house last May, through a survey, and/or through the blog here at speakupwinnipeg.com.

By way of background, the City of Winnipeg is making changes to its downtown and city-wide zoning to better reflect the vision of OurWinnipeg and the Complete Communities Direction Strategy. This project is involves text amendments, or small adjustments, to zoning regulations, rather than a comprehensive review. There will be no zoning map changes.

Next step for Winnipeg Zoning By-Law

On January 29, 2014, City Council directed the public service to prepare amendments to the Winnipeg Zoning By-Law in accordance with the recommendations detailed in the report considered on January 29, 2014.

The Public Hearing for the by-law amendments will be held on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 9:00 AM in the Council building. Please feel free to come out. If you wish, you may speak to the matter by registering with the Clerk at the Hearing. Click here and scroll to item 1 to see the report and proposed amendments.

Downtown Winnipeg Zoning By-Law

On May 27, 2014, after more than a year of work by the public service, stakeholders, and members of the public, City Council adopted the amendments to the Downtown Zoning By-Law.  Click here and scroll to item 1 under Report of the Standing Policy Committee on Downtown Development, Heritage and Riverbank Management, to see the Council minutes and report.

Together, these two reports cover a broad set of small zoning adjustments aimed at improving alignment between zoning regulations and OurWinnipeg and the Complete Communities Direction Strategy.

Please keep visiting this page for information and updates. Thank you for your interest and participation!


30 Responses to Zoning Alignment

  1. Mike P Falk says:

    a) The above are somewhat vague and don’t necessarily describe what actual goals of civic development are being sought. The black and white image at the top is great, but not nearly enough.

    Specify what neighbourhoods, what areas, what are the new standards.

    b) NO MORE STRIP MALLS (especially in urban neighbourhoods like Corydon, West End or St. Boniface.)

    c) Each neighbourhood should have housing density goals. And there should be a complimentary goal for the entire city.

    If you want to get aggressive: No fringe suburban development should be allowed unless density goals within the city are met.

    Density goals should be almost twice the current density.

    d) Finally, I want to offer this:

    Value small. Value a city that offers many many small, creative, interesting moments. Plan for a dense downtown, but allow for the natural chaos that makes cities interesting. The little chaos that has stores off of alleys, tiny pubs or bars in weird places, small stores and buildings rammed up against each other and seemingly climbing over each other. Its the activity that happens in the “secondary” spaces that makes a city interesting.

    Best of luck!

    • andrew says:

      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comments. The above lists are intended to be general for now to foster discussion. The links to City policy (the Compete Communities Direction Strategy) will be incorproated here as well as at the Open House on May 15, as well as more detail and images. The feedback you have offered will be recorded and taken into account. Thanks for speaking up!

    • andrew says:

      I’d like to add that the scope of this zoning review is limited: it involves text amendments, or small adjustments, to zoning regulations, rather than a comprehensive review. However, if there are aspects of your feedback that are not within this scope, we will be keeping them on hand as information for relevant future planning initiatives – so thanks again for speaking up!

  2. Lawrence says:

    These are great. Require the same strategies for suburban development (if it is allowed at all) as are called for in existing neighbourhoods. If these priorities are desirable for the existing urban fabric, they should be desirables for the suburbs too.

  3. Monica Giesbrecht says:

    Hi Andrew:

    It is unfortunate your event is on May 15h. A lot of Winnipeg’s planners, landscape architects, urban designers, developers, suppliers, architects, and associated city building professionals who would have come to contribute to the session will be at ‘connections cafe’ an annual networking event between the design and building industry that night. Have you given thought to having a second date?

    • andrew says:

      Hi Monica,
      We believe that we may have booked the space and ads for our open house before the date for connections café was finalized. Either way, we hope that some of those attending connections café can find some time to pop in to the open house and share their feedback. We selected 3:00 – 7:00 in order to try to accommodate different work schedules and other events. If that doesn’t work, we hope that some can find the time to provide feedback by using the survey that will be provided thorugh this webpage starting this Wednesday. Hope to hear from some of your group!

  4. Chris Wilcott says:

    Hi Winnipeg,

    I live in Edmonton now but I still love Winnipeg. I’m one of the young people who moved away in search of greener pastures.

    Since you’re revisiting the bylaw, I’d like to offer my thoughts.

    I think that the current parking requirements, city wide, are seriously excessive. It’s almost like the requirement is double what is actually needed – the current minimums should be the maximums. Giving up too much space to surface parking makes things farther apart which makes walking less attractive and driving more attractive…and more expensive. In reality, parking should really depend on three variables: density, mix of land uses, as well as access to, and frequency of, public transit.

    Removing barriers to residential development above commercial areas is an excellent initiative. Winnipeg’s older pedestrian-oriented commercial strips would benefit greatly from a lot of added residential density. Who wouldn’t want to rent a flat (buy a condo) above a shop? This would increase the market-population for an area’s businesses and would also be of benefit to public transit in terms of ridership. I would also like to suggest instituting a build-to line in certain areas to prevent the further spread of strip-malls in the historic urban part of the city as Mike Falk stated. I would also advocate for frontage limits to ensure a fine-grain of businesses continues to exist in the older areas. Large format commercial in the inner-city can be built on the second story of a building in the future.

    In terms of pedestrian connectivity in new suburban developments, I suggest instituting a fused-grid policy. This policy would provide for a convenient pedestrian grid to encourage walking within a suburban road regime. I would also suggest that arterial and collector roads are aligned into such a way that buses can be routed in a straight-ish manner. It’s very frustrating to be on a bus in the suburbs that takes a circuitous route to it’s final destination – it takes way longer and makes transit even less attractive to those who have the option to drive.

    For Downtown, I’d like to see more multi-story parkades with retail at street level and fewer surface parking lots. I’m totally against the further demolition of the urban fabric to create more surface parking. I would also strongly advocate for greater protection for any building constructed before World War II. Those buildings are such an opportunity for the City and they need more support. The historic buildings give Winnipeg its character, without them, Winnipeg is like any other place in western North America. If Winnipeg’s historic buildings were restored and reused, they would be an excellent selling feature to the hipster/creative class that cities around the world are competing for. You know, Richard Florida’s bit.

    Finally, I think Winnipeg should look to ban Temporary Signs for commercial purposes. Those stupid signs can really make a city look like crap and Winnipeg doesn’t have too many – protect yourselves while you still can…

    I kind of got all ranty and I apologize for that but I think SpeakUp Winnipeg is great! Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts.



    • andrew says:

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comments. Some of them relate well to this project (which involves small adjustments to zoning). Those that fall outside the scope will also be kept on hand as information for relevant future planning initiatives. Thanks for speaking up!

  5. Hazel Borys says:

    Glad to see the City taking steps to implement the Complete Communities Direction Strategy articulated in OurWinnipeg. During this process, the most important item to capture — from my perspective — is neighbourhood character. What does and does not belong within each older neighbourhood in order to stay in character or what is required to be added in the newer neighbourhoods to become complete. Items on your list are a great start for moving in this direction.

    Once what’s in or out of character can be articulated across the rural-to-urban spectrum of Winnipeg, it’s much easier to enable it within the zoning bylaw. No stripmalls or snout houses anywhere is probably not an achievable goal for the 20-year planning horizon, so then it’s key to establish an A-Grid where streets are more bikeable and walkable, and a B-Grid, which is more autocentric and service-oriented. The more nodal connections we have throughout the A-Grid across the City, the more walkable and bikable we become.

    Good luck, and keep up the good work!

  6. Matthew Fitzgerald says:

    Thanks for this opportunity to comment on proposed changes.

    Andrew, is it possible to see that actual text amendments to each by-law in advance of the open house?

    • andrew says:

      Hi Matt,
      The details are being further refined. We intend to post them here around the time of the open house, so in addition to the option of providing feedback at the open house, you can also check back here on the 15th and offer comments through this blog, or email us your thoughts.

  7. Mike Balshaw says:

    There is an urgent need to allow for so-called “Granny Suites” i.e. pre-engineered or pre-fab or mobile home units up to maybe 800 sq. ft.. or to20%? of the undeveloped land space on any suburban lot subject to approved temporary sewer, water and hydro tie-ins to an existing residence on the same lot.

    • andrew says:

      Hi Mike,
      Winnipeg City Council recently adopted text amendments to the Winnipeg Zoning By-Law regarding Secondary Suites, or so-called ‘Granny Suites’. You can find information on this here. Thanks.

  8. Nick Pavel says:

    By 2050 three quarters of the world population will live in large cities. In the face of political, social, economic, and technological challenges, architects and urban planners have to find new ways to work.

    As the discussion on the future of built environment continues in every major Canadian city and as a top priority for all developed countries, it’s the provocative, flexible solutions (adopted in Vancouver) that will provide the blueprint for tomorrow’s urban spaces. But can we (Winnipeg) adapt fast enough to answer and provide development at a competitive pace? Or we may have to remain complaisant to the “pioneer life-style” calling it “character”?

    There’s reason why people talk to their cars, some say because they were used talking with their horses, before cars were invented. However, as much as we love horses, as a conventional source of transportation, the horse became obsolete, so the barns inside the city-limits.

    It is not only necessary to evolve, but is also fun and interesting to become more attractive to visitors and tourists. To enjoy living by becoming self-sustainable, self-sufficient and allocate more time and energy towards functionality, efficiency and innovation consistent with 21st. century. To allow our children and future generations to be prosperous, driven by creativity and responsible manners.

    Density goals within the city-limits must be reviewed with present subjectivity and the infrastructure capacity used efficiently.

    We can’t keep on building hospitals, fire stations and police facilities designed for urban capacity and use, while located in areas with rural density and rural occupancy, yet inside city-limits.

    The livability brand of a major city should be contemplated from a competitive stand-point. If Vancouver is “unaffordable”, would that be because is desirable? One should never ignore the fact that Vancouver is the only North American city in the top ten list of most livable cities in the world. (World’s#6)

    Bern Germany, World’s number one city for livability, is not anywhere near an ocean and has a cold climate, however well ahead of Vancouver. This is what, a city like Bern Germany, should inspire our architects and urban planners to move our city’s development strategy.

    • Nick Pavel says:

      Bern, Switzerland- world’s most livable city, coefficient to all development studies.
      Germany – world’s most sustainable developed nation

  9. Calvin Polet says:

    I like what I’m seeing in the proposed changes, especially the reductions in minimum parking and the emphasis on tying into pedestrian connectivity. How new developments get built currently with no connection to the pedestrian grid really baffles me.
    The one proposed change that concerns me is the increased landscaping. In an effort to have a more beautiful and livable city it seems that with respect to landscaping, the goal is sought through simply increasing the amount of plantings required. This is in some cases, making the amount of plantings very high for new developments. The thing that concerns me is that there does not seem to be sufficient consideration given to the long-term prospects of the landscaping. Good landscaping should change and grow over time as the plants grow, however, if they are installed poorly or not given the proper infrastructure, the plantings will fail and the landscaping will detract from the property and neighbourhood in a few short years. Rather than increasing the amounts of plants required, I’d rather see tighter specs for the installation such as mandated soil or root ball depth for new plantings or irrigation requirements. Properly installed landscaping should look better three years after it’s planted, not worse.
    Thanks for soliciting the feedback and good luck with the process.

    • Nick Pavel says:

      Calvin, salt is the number one reason why plants, other than lawn and some trees, won’t survive within 15 feet from urban streets. Some perennials may present some choice, but will develop at an anemic growth.

      Winnipeg has a cold climate and salt on streets is indispensable. Seasonal plants within 15 feet from street, is a solution addressing your concern.

      Outside the subject intended by Andrew, but nevertheless an interesting matter to me. Thank you for speaking out.

  10. Ted says:

    Can you explain a little further what “Increasing support for urban agriculture by limiting other land uses on agricultural lands” entails?

    • andrew says:

      Hi Ted,
      The Complete Communities Direction Strategy identifies the need to support the continuance of agricultural uses on agriculture land. One of the reasons for this is that most agricultural land does not contain water and sewer services. The zoning proposal involves removing the ability to build some uses that don’t fit with the intent of agricultural lands, and limiting the size of expansions to some uses on these lands. This would just apply to future development. Hope that helps. There will be more detail at the open house and on this webpage starting Wednesday.

  11. Kevin Miller says:

    Almost all of the proposed changes appear to be very positive.
    Almost all of the 17 responses prior to mine appear to be very positive.

  12. Jason says:

    The only way to evaluate a text review is to see a side-by-side of the old version next to a draft of the new version. There are too many gaps in this summary and too many implications, loopholes or other problems that may be unforseen for the public unless the draft changes are able to be seen.

    Similarly, the word “small” is misleading. There is nothing small about having new rules about how tall building may be made next to existing homes or park areas. The new apartment complexes on Assiniboine are examples that may turn river land/bank/walks into tunnels.

    There is nothing “small” about a text revision that limits downtown parking. When supply is limited, price goes up. Depending on one’s point of view – car-centric or bus/active transport (AT) centric – this $ increase may or may not be beneficial. For AT, parking costs are the the easiest forgone expense or saving to calculate and remember when a person does a cost/benefit for AT alternatives.

    There is nothing “small” about the construction opportunities that will be made available by making more land available for development, which is an implication of these changes. Yet there is not requirement for interim land use or designted detour routes, created by the site crews, when construction season is in full swing.

    It is useless to require bike parking when the routes to the location are terrifying for cyclists. Road fear is the #1 impediment to cycling in the downtown, especially given the prevalence of fatalities in the downtown area over the years. Yet there are no changes in these rules about about such routes, lanes or access ease and safety to buildings.

    Finally, there are no changes here to save or preserve river property. With each river development, we become even farther behind Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton that recognied decades ago the beauty and opportunity given to their cities. Zoning rules, especially in the dowtown, should designate significant set backs from the river before development is permitted.

    • andrew says:

      Hi Jason,
      Thanks for your comments. We appreciate that it is difficult to know what the changes mean unless there are side by side comparions. At this time, we are at the stage of introducing the proposed changes in a general way. This week (starting Wednesday), we will be providing more details on the proposed changes, both on this webpage and at an open house which will be in the Forks Atrium Wednesday from 3:00-7:00 pm. As part of those further details, we plan to include what current zoning regualtions are. There are some issues, such as cycling safety, that fall outside the scope of this project, however we will be keeping all of your suggestions organized for use in relevant future planning initiatives. Thanks for speaking up!

  13. Phil Geisel says:

    It’s hard to believe that the City of Winnipeg will take our concerns seriously. The Lindsay Silos is one example where zoning regulations were ignored at the request of business. Most development proceeds to enable developers to get what they want, and the city benefits from the increased tax base. Input that I have given to Our Winnipeg has been belittled or trivialized. The odour problems in District 6 , at both the Brady Road Landfill and the Wilkes Ave sewage pumping station are good examples of this. It seemed like I was being told about “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

  14. Tom says:

    It is difficult to offer specific comments on the proposed changes without more details. It seems as though the proposed changes are moving in the right direction. Re: cycling: the greater the density of the population downtown, the more cycling there will be. The more cycling there is, the safer cycling is (studies in Europe have shown), encouraging even more people to cycle. It is virtuous win-win circle. Bike parking is great; lighting is great; but the most important things for cycling are density and separated bike paths that actually connect into downtown. Re: car parking. Free street parking is an enormous subsidy to businesses and car drivers. It is very, very costly. And it tends to discourage cycling and public transit.

  15. […] The general zoning changes can be found at this link: http://speakupwinnipeg.com/zoning-alignment/  […]

  16. The Analyst says:

    Halt new suburban developments (like Ridgewood South) until existing urban density hits significant levels. We can’t afford the fiscal drag of supplying new neighbourhoods with roads, pipes, etc with our current tax base – it only aggravates the infrastructure deficit. Develop urban housing stock & try to assist the development of new cooperative housing. Get serious about BRT.

    • andrew says:

      Hi there,
      Thank you for commenting. This project does not deal with housing programs, or the city’s growth strategy – other than proposing some steps to encourage infill development. We will, however, keep all of your feedback on hand for future planning discussions. Thank you!

  17. Judy Herscovitch says:

    Whatever you do, keep in mind that there are many people who require handicap parking spots. Do not make life more difficult by limiting accessible parking.

  18. […] For more information on the proposed changes, and to leave your own comments, you can follow this link to the Zoning Alignment page on SpeakUpWinnipeg.com […]