A City Within A City – Manitoba’s Second Largest Urban Centre
WINNIPEG, MB, Sept. 20, 2023 /CNW/ – The largest and most sustainable infill development in Winnipeg’s history will break ground today, marking the beginning of the city’s newest and most innovative neighbourhood. Southwood Circle will be a complete community, home to more than 20,000 people once it’s finished, and promises to be one of the most exciting new neighbourhoods in the country. The University of Manitoba (UM) campus, Smart Park and Southwood Circle will have a combined daily population of residents, students, staff and faculty of over 60,000 people when complete, effectively making it the second largest city in the province.
“In many ways, Southwood Circle will be a model community, based on what we know makes healthy, vibrant neighbourhoods. That means it’s walkable, it’s diverse, it promotes active living, and it’s sustainable,” said Greg Rogers, CEO of UM Properties. “This community has been planned with careful attention to Indigenous design principles that embrace the need to live in harmony with nature and with one another.”
The groundbreaking will take place near where the Southwood Golf and Country Club clubhouse used to stand. Today, that spot is in Phase 1 of Southwood Circle, a neighbourhood that has been 15 years in the making since the University of Manitoba purchased the former golf course. Rogers will be joined by Bob Silver, Chair of UM Properties, Michael Benarroch, President of the University of Manitoba, and Winnipeg City Councillor and Deputy Mayor Janice Lukes, to celebrate the groundbreaking alongside invited guests.
Transforming the UM Campus
“Southwood Circle is part of a transformation of the 110-year-old Fort Garry campus from a daytime commuter destination to a complete community,” said Michael Benarroch, President of the University of Manitoba. “This community answers the call for sustainable housing options. It will be a unique urban experience, distinct within Winnipeg. It will be rich in amenities. It will integrate the university with the surrounding community.”
The University also expects to benefit financially from its ownership of UM Properties, which will manage the leasing of parcels of land throughout Southwood Circle in the years to come.
Research and Knowledge Transfer
Benarroch said he expects researchers from many university faculties will be excited for the opportunity to study the new community as it grows. Southwood Circle will create a Living Lab Research Consortium to which all of its developers will belong. Each developer will participate in data gathering, sharing and researching in various aspects of community development, from environmental and sociological impact to engineering and architectural design. This will give faculty and student researchers the opportunity to collaborate with developers and each other on interdisciplinary research projects. Research results shared within and beyond the consortium members will help other communities achieve higher levels of sustainability and wellness.
“We have this unique opportunity to continuously improve energy, water and waste efficiency, and generate higher levels of overall wellness through applied science. We cannot solve the problems of the world on these 80 acres but we can find new and better ways that can be shared and applied elsewhere to make an ever greater contribution to housing and environmental challenges.” said Rogers. “We want this neighbourhood to be a place of wellness, happiness and community. And we want it to be a place of healing too with respect to relationships with Indigenous peoples.”
Preserving the Trees
The Southwood Circle design team, including Anishinaabe architect Ryan Gorie, was tasked with designing a community that embraced nature and preserved the 5,000 trees presently located on the property, some as old as 300 years. The team created a park network of existing forest for trails and to serve as wildlife corridors. The park network totals over 21 acres, twice the municipal requirement, and includes over nine acres of waterfront park. Under the Southwood Circle forest management plan, two trees will be planted for every tree that is removed. An on-site tree nursery is planned to supply new trees.
National Centre For Truth And Reconciliation (NCTR)
The future National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will be located on Southwood lands granted to the NCTR by the University of Manitoba.
“One of our most important goals for Southwood Circle is for it to be a symbol of reconciliation in action,” said Bob Silver, Chair of UM Properties. “We’re immensely honoured that the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will be part the Southwood Circle community. And our planners have done an amazing job of giving it a place of prominence for residents and visitors. It will be one more reason to make Southwood Circle a destination of national and international importance.”
Silver added that he is proud of the work Southwood Circle has done consulting with the NCTR and local Indigenous nations and organizations, including many Elders. The name Southwood Circle arose through consultation with the Elders’ circle who suggested the name include a reference to the circle of life.
“As we aspire for this community to be among the most sustainable ever built in Canada, it’s worth pausing to recognize that Indigenous peoples have embodied this way of living for centuries on this very spot. We are honoured that the local Indigenous nations have welcomed us in the development of the project on their traditional territories,” said Silver.
$5 Billion Investment
UM Properties has divided the land into parcels that it will lease to third party developers who will be responsible for building the development in accordance with UM Properties design guidelines. The first call for proposals went out in summer 2023 and construction on the first buildings is expected to begin in 2024. All told, the neighbourhood is expected to be home to more than 12 million square feet of new residential, commercial and institutional space representing more than $5 billion in private investment in today’s dollars.
“This is an exciting day for the City of Winnipeg, because we are heralding a brand-new infill neighbourhood designed for people from all walks of life. This will help us house thousands of people in a bright, welcoming, sustainable environment,” said Lukes. “But we’re also happy that this neighbourhood will be built at a very low cost for taxpayers today and in the future.”
Southwood Circle will use existing city infrastructure, including sewer and water pipes, roads and transit services. Lukes said it’s remarkable that Winnipeg will be able to welcome 20,000 more people but only have to build 2.5 kilometers of new road. The new residents will only be a short walk away from the University of Manitoba campus, which features fitness facilities, stadiums, a theatre and much more.
Focus On Community Wellness
At Southwood Circle it will be easy to get around and accomplish your daily travels on foot, by bike or by transit. The community will feature about 10 kilometers of new active transportation pathways and the entire neighbourhood will be just steps from the rapid transit station at the University of Manitoba, which makes a downtown commute quick and easy.
“A walkable community is interactive, healthy and inexpensive. Walking and biking is healthier than driving a car. Eliminating a car saves the average household thousands of dollars per year that they can put to better use. Fewer cars will be one of the biggest impacts our community can have on carbon reduction. Our residents are happier and so is mother nature,” said Rogers.
Once completed, Southwood Circle will be one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in the city, boasting a range of housing options from affordable rentals to luxury condominiums.
“The most vibrant and desirable cities in the world have been built this way,” said Rogers. “We are aiming to replicate this with a variety of housing types, from premium to affordable, condo, rental and life lease, all serving a wide and diverse range of cultures, demographics and economic means.”
About Southwood Circle
Southwood Circle will grow and transform the University of Manitoba campus into a world-leading “UniverCity” where 60,000 people will live, work, study or play. It will be Manitoba’s first complete campus community and the largest residential mixed-use infill project ever embarked on in this city.
About UM Properties
UM Properties is a limited partnership whose units are controlled by a University of Manitoba trust. UM Properties GP Inc. is the general partner and the independent land development company guiding the creation of Southwood Circle into a complete mixed-use community.
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SOURCE UM Properties
For further information: Nancy Orris-Snidal, Norrisemail@example.com, 431-990-1295; Brigit Harvey, Brigit@uphouseinc.com, 204-782-1610