The City of Brandon has initiated an annexation process for 170 acres of farmland south of Brandon.
Located south of Patricia Avenue and west of Highway 10 in the RM of Cornwallis, the land is part of an urban expansion application submitted by VBJ Developments. The vision is to develop the land into a combination of commercial and residential areas.
"Annexation is a process that’s driven by the elected officials, so … they need to make decisions at all steps of the process," said Ryan Nickel, chief planner with the City of Brandon.
This week’s vote by city council is simply the next step in the process, which as already been in the works for roughly 18 months.
"Just like any planning process the timeline is really determined on how well all parties working together … and if they’re thinking about the topic the same way," Nickel said.
Heather Dalgleish, RM of Cornwallis reeve, says this step will allow the province to take a look at the plans.
"There are significant concerns with the drainage — it’s quite a drainage area," she said. "It’s just taking that next step, to make sure it’s a doable project."
The last time an annexation occurred was in 2011, for the two quarter sections of land in southwest Brandon. This is the Bellafield neighbourhood, and an area south of Brookwood for future expansion.
Work has been happening behind the scenes with the inter-municipal committee made up of representatives from the city and the RM of Cornwallis. VBJ was required to complete a whole host of studies on retail impact, water, wastewater, transportation corridor/road network, geotechnical and land drainage.
"It’s been a positive process … getting the answers to those questions, so we’re making good decisions," Dalgleish said.
A few Brandon city councillors also expressed concern about potential drainage issues.
"I do have a really big worry about the fact it’s a major drainage course in there," said Coun. Jeff Harwood (University). "I’m hoping as the process moves along and the applicant comes up with the proposal for a development, that they really pay attention to this, because … it could cause a huge headache down the road."
Coun. Lonnie Patterson (South Centre) questioned how another major commercial development would impact other parts of the city, such as the Corral Centre and downtown Brandon.
"I’m just worried. If we’re going to make efforts to develop downtown, how is a brand-new commercial entity in the south … going to impact that?" Patterson said.
VBJ Developments vice-president Steve McMillan said these types of questions should be answered once councillors are informed about the studies and plans that have been done over the past 18 months.
"They weren’t part of the process with that committee for the past year and a half so they’re just not aware of all the studies we’ve already done on how we’re going to deal with the drainage and any other standard development issues," McMillan said. "We’ve already done the traffic assessment … drainage assessment, we’ve been working closely with (Manitoba) Conservation, a wetland assessment, and how it could be used within our drainage infrastructure."
McMillan said they plan to work on detailed design, subdivision, zoning, etc. simultaneously in hopes the project can move forward in a timely fashion.
"Looking at it positively, I would hope that spring of 2019 we’re doing something there," he said. "I would hope sooner, but I think two years from now would be a pretty good timeline."
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