Sunday 20 April 2008

The future of Winnipeg: cookie-cutter condos

The Free Press apparently got the scoop that the new Director of the planning, property and development department at the City of Winnipeg will be ... a developer, not a planner. At first glance this appears to be a case of putting a fox in charge of the hen house. But wait just a sec ... this guy is best known as the developer behind Sky Waterfront Condominiums in down town Winnipeg. So maybe it's not that bad. You know, a downtown friendly developer instead of one of those urban-sprawl promoting developers.

Just to be sure, though, I decided to do a little Googling. Who is this guy, really? Well, for starters David at Waverly West tells us that he's an internet pharmacy mogul. With respect to real estate, my internet searches didn't turn up much when I looked for "Phil Sheegl" or "Winnix Properties", but Sunstone properties, the name under which Sky Waterfront is developed, is associated with a number of other condo developments, including:

Where else do these condos show up? On the Qualico web site.

So what it appears we have here is a guy who made a fortune selling drugs to seniors in Phoenix and is investing his money in cheap condos, by partnering with Winnipeg's biggest urban sprawl culprit. Beautiful.


Anonymous said...

These places are built cheap....paper thin walls, you can hear your neighbor walking in the suite above you..etc.

Graham said...

That's unfortunate. The waterfront condos are at least acceptable, if only for their location.

But those Island Lakes condos just make no sense. Not to me like that in a suburb with poor access to the bus service only means all of those condo owners will have vehicles.

Funny how, developers will build something like that in a suburb, but not downtown.

And what are the city planners doing, while the developers take their jobs?

Unapologetic Ex-Winnipegger said...

I actually put my resume in for this position a few months before I left Winnipeg.

I think done properly, someone from the development community could add a fresh look at the department. The key is to balance the interests of ALL stakeholders - i.e. the city's residents, the activists and the developers themselves. Ideally speaking, everyone should come away from the process feeling like they got a fair shake even if they didn't get their way.

David Watson said...

I am not sure if I want to post it but look at Sheegl's lawsuits on the Justice website. He and Remax were suing each other in years past and now he is selling for them again?
And what about the Phoenix connection? When Sam goes down to visit Baillie Burke and the kids where does he stay and who pays the tab? Does he hang with his old bud Phil? Is the WFP going to let this one go without any sort of due diligence just like they did with the CAO?

cherenkov said...

anon: I knew a guy working on a condo off Kenaston (not one of the ones mentioned in my post) ... He said the vertical walls were several inches out of plum in some areas. Just slapped together.

Graham: I would at least like to see more community-style development, instead of carbon-copy condos scattered everywhere. Let's get creative.

u ex-w: You should give Sam a follow-up call. Maybe it's not too late! Tell him you have cherenkov's full support.

david: I'm afraid to look. I'll let you turn over the rocks. :-)

mp3: blog spam? really?

Graham said...

Cherenkov, that blog spam is a bot. I recieved an identical comment on my blog word for word, but of course under a different name and spamming for a different blog. You can delete it if you sign in and stuff.

Unapologetic Ex-Winnipegger said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence Cherenkov - maybe if you were with the City's HR department, I could have stayed in Winnipeg! ;)

Anonymous said...

"everyone should come away from the process feeling like they got a fair shake even if they didn't get their way."

Isn't this almost the same as"if everyone is equally unhappy, we made the right decision?"

Where is vision and purpose with a bent to action?

Unapologetic Ex-Winnipegger said...

No it's not the same thing Uncle Bob. I am not suggesting some sort of Laurier-esque compromise machine.

My point was that it is the Director's job to ensure fair and objective rules of engagement for the development process. These would be naturally subject to periodic review to ensure their ongoing relevance.

It seems one of the major contentions of both activists and developers is that the other party managed to hijack the process. You remove the feelings of unfair play, you manage to lessen the sense of resentment when the outcome is not decided in your favour.

Using the Friends of UFG as an example, I can't help but think the developer felt a bit railroaded. They go to the pains (and let's not forget expense - drawings and renderings aren't cheap) of negotiating a development only to have certain scribes jump in at the 11th hour. Where was the planning to ensure that the UFG site was ALWAYS meant to be recognized as important to Winnipeg's heritage? Why was the developer led along for so long before having the deal called into question at the last minute? On the flip side, there are conversely many valid concerns raised about zoning changes that were granted to developers that don't fit in with surrounding developments.

This is not meant to be a knock against the City itself - we have always had an outstanding working relationship with them. It must be difficult, however, for City employees to go to the pain of making recommendations and/or approvals only then to have them usurped by politics and lobbying by BOTH developers and activists.

Anonymous said...

ex winni

I can appreciate your sense of fair process and I am not trying to argue that.

I am saying that many of our processes have become world's unto themselves and the people plying them have lost their sense of purpose.

Let me offer one question I might ask myself to evaluate a process or perhaps the personnel driving the process.

" On Balance,is this person, group, process.... more interested in compliance than constructive engagement"

Unapologetic Ex-Winnipegger said...

That may well be but the fact still remains that these parties (developers and activists) still continue to play the game. As such, there will always be a need to ensure that the rules of engagement dictate objective outcomes and that political gamesmanship alone doesn't win the day.

I don't think compliance and constructive engagement are necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, building codes are necessary to ensure the safety of citizens. Many of the items pertaining to same should therefore be non-negotiable during the development process but continue to change as building methodologies continue to evolve. A good leader sees where an industry is heading and helps the organization servicing same to respond to the needs of all stakeholders involved.

In that sense, some of our agencies have failed us - look at Olywest as well as UFG. If Winnipeg doesn't want the business, don't lead everyone along. Environmental issues should have been dealt with objectively and not based on whatever the polling data showed for the issue. The CEC should be free of political meddling - I would hate to think something as important as our environment is subjugated to the whim of political vagaries.

Anonymous said...

Excellent work Cheren, keep it up. Same for D.Watson's incredible fact finding mission posted on Waverley West.

Only when the rot is exposed can any rebuilding be accomplished.

I am impressed.

cherenkov said...

Thanks anon. But if you're new here, don't expect all of my posts to be insightful commentary on important issues. Most likely my next post will be about girls tattooing their lower backs or something equally trivial.

David Watson said...

I would like to thank Cherenkov for his defence of me on New Winnipeg. Alex has not yet given me a password yet so I cannot defend myself from my critics. This makes me feel quite helpless. "Argument ad hominem" is more than a theoretical concept when you are the man being attacked. As you said, I am indeed throwing sphagetti against the wall. I think some of that sphagetti is sticking to Phil Sheegl and the Mayor.
My name is on my blog. I stand behind it, my shot gun attempts to find the truth and all. Finding out the truth is a messy process.
I am glad that the Peanut provides a safe harbour for Ex-Winni, Uncle Bob and for readers of all stripes. Tolerance is what makes WInnipeg a great place to live.

cherenkov said...

No problem, David, and thanks for the comments. Keep up the battle!

Anonymous said...

:don't expect all of my posts to be insightful commentary on important issues"

I don't expect anything, but the fact you hate banners is good enough for me.

Perhaps, you and your fellow bloggers should consider a local paper, I think this City needs the perspective you guys offer.

cherenkov said...

I agree that the people in this burg need exposure to a broader perspective on the issues. I think it was Jim over at Pissing In The Tent who was going to start up a newsletter & invite other bloggers to contribute. That would be cool.

Anonymous said...

How about publishing a paper. With a run of 20000.

I did an 8 sided one / Sun size and the costs weren't so bad that advertising couldn't cover it easily.Maybe even generate a profit.

Anonymous said...

Cheren, you notice Watsons new piece....thats it, lets start a paper, you guys write, I'll get it published, distributed including advertising so you can get paid.

Lets go man, there's just too much to uncover to let the breakfast crowds continue to be dumbed down by local papers.

David Watson said...

Uncle Bob is the media entrepreneur. What say you, sirrah?

Anonymous said...

David, you mention Phil working for RE/MAX and then a lawsuit and then working for RE/MAX again. RE/MAX is actually a number of companies. The RE/MAX in the lawsuit is owned by Maxer Ltd. or Stan Newman. The RE/MAX office he currently is affiliated with is owned by another company...confusing, I know.

cherenkov said...

Unlike David, I'm what you might call a lazy researcher. Between home renos, and work, and sports I don't spend a lot of time on alternative investigative journalism (yet I still spend too much time at the computer for my wife's liking.) That said, I would certainly be interested in collaborating on a paper.

Regarding this particular issue, I am still very skeptical of how Phil will perform in the role given his dubious background, but if there was ever somebody who needed to prove themselves it's him, given the stirr his hiring has caused. Maybe he needs to be given a chance to listen to the development community and show that he's up to the task. Remember referee Andy Van Hellemand? He always went out of his way to prove that he wasn't a homer by giving the Jets extra penalties.

I am really interested to find out if this guy is prepared to cut his ties with the winnipeg condo market & sprawl promoters. There's always a risk of envelopes being passed under the table at lunches with his old associates. But this guy will be under scrutiny, so he'd better be careful.

Anonymous said...

Cheren, there are enough bloggers to fill a paper.

So what say ye, take the first step and see what comes of it.

email me

I'll dig up the cost of what I paid for the paper I published and contact the layout artist who did the work, she's good, plus she has the software thats required for the printing presses.

Anonymous said...

Ok folks

I do have an alternative media outlet including the in house means to produce it and distribute it.

I can certainly see both potential and pitfalls

I also might have an alternative process which could be even stronger.

For those that do not have it my email is

If you leave me a number I will call back in person

Some of you know me but for others I think a meeting might be useful

Anonymous said...

Used to work for Phil @ his internet pharmacy. He was smart enough to jump OFF the bandwagon before it went down the tubes. I think there was not much press about it because that business can sometimes be one day gone the next. Its the nature of an internet pharmacy.

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