Plan to redevelop U of M-owned golf course into urban community gets green light

A plan to transform a former golf course owned by the University of Manitoba into a complete urban community has cleared its first hurdles.

The university’s board of governors approved a development plan for Southwood Circle on Jan. 31.

The proposal would see the former Southwood Golf and Country Club, which was bought by the university in 2008, transformed into a multi-family urban environment with 11,000 residential units, retail spaces, services and 21 acres of parklands.

“It’s a very exciting project,” said Rejeanne Dupuis, U of M’s director of campus planning. “It will be sustainable. It will support the university community. It will bring revenue to the university, and really be a model of Indigenous planning and design, something we can be very proud of.”

(Source: UM Properties)

The 112-acre site, which sits adjacent to U of M, is being developed in three phases by UM Properties – a separate development entity established by the university to focus on the Southwood project.

According to the plan, third-party developers will put up about 90 per cent of the money needed to create the $5 billion community.

“The first phase is about 12 acres of land on which will go about 2,000 residential units and up to 100,000 square feet of retail and services. So that would be a marketplace, bars, restaurants, stuff like that,” said Greg Rogers, CEO of UM Properties, noting it will also include a new building to house the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

(Source: UM Properties)

Indigenous design principles are also a key focus in the landscape plans, with a push to preserve and highlight century-old vegetation.

“The park, for example, will be a network that facilitates the continued movement of wildlife through the community, and that includes in this network, meeting places, social places, things that are traditional in Indigenous culture that will create intersections between people who live here, their various interests and create a stronger bond between people, the community and Mother Earth,” Rogers explained.

Another major focus of the plan is to prioritize ‘humans over cars,’ making major amenities walkable within five minutes.

University of Manitoba Students’ Union president Jaron Rykiss believes this is the direction campus should be moving towards.

‘There’s definitely a commuter campus ideology that we would love to see converted into a school where there’s a community that’s vibrant on campus. Whether that comes from the Southwood development, or just comes naturally over the next 40 or so years, we’re just excited to see a step in the right direction on this,” Rykiss said.

The design has already received city approval. Developers intend to start marketing initial lots in March, with building construction beginning next year.

However, the full development could take decades to fully establish.

“If we get this first phase right with high density, significant amenities, great buildings, great landscape and park infrastructure, then I would anticipate the balance of the community going far faster,” Rogers said.

(Source: UM Properties)

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