University of Manitoba
With over 25,000 students and nearly 2,500 staff, the University of Manitoba draws the equivalent of a large town to south Winnipeg every day. Because of a lack of integration with surrounding communities, the University exists largely in isolation. The University has addressed this in its plan to redevelop the former Southwood golf course and in continued campus expansion. These plans offer opportunities to develop a walkable community with diverse residential, retail, restaurant and entertainment components. The introduction of more residential units on campus will provide a long-term solution to the major issue of illegal rooming houses in neighbouring communities. As the U of M continues to move forward with its redevelopment plans, it is important that the City of Winnipeg continues to tackle the problem as well.
Among the steps the city must take are:
- Continue working with residents to find further solutions. As stated in the Councillors Report to the Community on Illegal Rooming Houses “The active involvement of residents in Fort Richmond and University Heights is proving to be the single most important factor in making positive progress on the illegal rooming house issue.” This reinforces the idea that community involvement is necessary in identifying solutions to a problem.
- Develop and enforce bylaws aimed at illegal rooming houses. These bylaws are important not only to ensure safe living conditions and the upkeep of properties, but also to ensure landlords and tenants are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
- Encourage and facilitate the construction of medium to high density developments along Pembina Highway. Increasing the supply of residential units near the U of M campus will remove pressure from adjacent neighbourhoods and will provide additional options for renters. This also follows guidelines established by the city to promote densification along major routes already serviced by transit and with access to other services.
Outside of the rooming house issue, there are several other ideas worth investigating. Such as:
- Work to determine the feasibility of constructing a pedestrian bridge between St. Vital and the University campus. Aside from making the campus more accessible, it also offers the possibility of reducing traffic on Bishop Grandin and the South Perimeter by encouraging staff and students in St. Vital to walk or bike instead of driving. This connection is identified as a “missing active transportation link” in both the Winnipeg 2011 Transportation Master Plan and the University’s Visionary (re)Growth plan.
- Consult with staff and students to identify further transit improvements. The South West BRT corridor provides an efficient link between downtown and the U of M, but many other areas lack convenient connections to campus. The city must make continued efforts to determine what improvements to transit are necessary to make these routes more appealing to commuters.