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Ground broken on infill project near U of Manitoba expected be home to 20,000 people

A new infill project near the University of Manitoba will eventually be home to 20,000 people, developers say — effectively making it one of the biggest communities in the province.

Ground was broken Wednesday on the Southwood Circle development, located at the site of the former Southwood Golf and Country Club, just west of the Red River and adjacent to the University of Manitoba’s south Winnipeg campus.

“It’s one of the city’s largest infill projects,” said Janice Lukes, the city councillor for Waverley West, at Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony. “We looked in our records — we can’t find another infill project that is this big,” in either population and or land area, she said.

Construction on the new neighbourhood development is expected to begin next year.

The site will also host a new building for the National Centre For Truth And Reconciliation, in addition to creating “Manitoba’s first complete campus community,” said a news release from UM Properties — a separate entity from the university, with its own board of directors, that will manage the leasing of parcels of land in Southwood Circle.

When it’s completed, the 20,000 residents of the development, combined with the U of M’s community and the nearby Smart Park development, will have a combined daily population of around 60,000 people — larger than any city in Manitoba except Winnipeg.

An illustration on display at a Wednesday groundbreaking ceremony for Southwood Circle shows how the land will be divided. (Gavin Axelrod/CBC)
An illustration on display at a Wednesday groundbreaking ceremony for Southwood Circle shows how the land will be divided. (Gavin Axelrod/CBC)

The project has been in the works since the U of M bought the Southwood Golf and Country Club in January 2008, officially taking possession of the roughly 50-hectare (120-acre) property in 2011.

Southwood Circle itself is a roughly 45-hectare site, with more than 30 hectares of developable land, according to UM Properties’ news release.

The project also has an emphasis on sustainability, with goals of protecting the 5,000 trees currently on the property, using existing city infrastructure and only needing 2.5 kilometres of new roads built, the release said.

The new residential, commercial and institutional spaces in Southwood Circle represent more than $5 billion in private investment, the release added.

There are also plans for Sifton Road — which runs off University Crescent, at the north end of the U of M campus —  to become a hub for shopping and dining.

“We will not only have people living here, but we will have services here,” said Michael Benarroch, president and vice-chancellor of the U of M, including access to existing U of M facilities like fitness centres.

“We’ll have grocery stores, we’ll have cafés, we’ll have other services that people want to use, so that within 15 minutes of where they live, they will have all those amenities.”

Benarroch added there are already existing bus routes providing service to the area, including rapid transit service connecting the campus with Winnipeg’s downtown.

Southwood Circle will also have biking trails and walking paths along the Red River, said Benarroch.

An artist's conception of what Phase 1 of Southwood Circle will look like. The first phase of construction is estimated to take 10 years to complete. (Gavin Axelrod/CBC)
An artist’s conception of what Phase 1 of Southwood Circle will look like. The first phase of construction is estimated to take 10 years to complete. (Gavin Axelrod/CBC)

The new development will help connect the university’s community to the rest of Winnipeg, he said.

“I think we’re hearing a lot about need for affordable housing and different kinds of housing, and so I think this will help fill that need there,” he said.

The area will appeal to U of M students, faculty and staff, he said.

“More and more people want to live within walkable communities, within communities that are very close to their places of work so that they can reduce their own footprints.”

New home for NCTR

The new home for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Southwood Circle will be an educational resource for people from coast to coast, said executive director Stephanie Scott.

It will house the centre’s more than 23 million records regarding residential schools across the U.S. and Canada, including 7,000 survivor statements, she said.

Stephanie Scott said the new National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation building will be an educational resource for people across Canada. (Gary Solilak/CBC)
Stephanie Scott said the new National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation building will be an educational resource for people across Canada. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Scott also said the federal government has committed $60 million to build the new centre and roughly a hectare of space at Southwood Circle is dedicated to it.

“We are looking to house potentially 50 to 70 staff members, cultural space, research space where survivors can come and learn the history, find their records,” said Scott.

She added education is important not only for Indigenous people, but for everyone who visits the centre.

“I think that when Canadians have an opportunity to come and learn and see those records, there’s no no way that anyone can deny the truth of what happened.”

The first phase of Southwood Circle’s construction is estimated to take 10 years to complete, while the entire infill project is estimated to take around 20 to 30 years to complete.

Ground was broken on a massive new development near the University of Manitoba on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. Southwood Circle will be a city within a city, developers say, and is expected to be home to 20,000 people. Residents will have all their amenities within walking distance once it’s all complete, according to the developers.

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