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'We are not here for tree preservation': Development company appealing latest decision with Lemay Forest

Lemay Forest
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A new fight is gearing up at city hall over Lemay Forest.

The owner of the property wants to demolish a house it owns on Lemay Avenue to gain access to the land for a future development, as there are no roads in or out of the forest.

However, the city said no, prompting an appeal. This comes as many in the community are petitioning to buy the forest and preserve it.

"That just makes the land completely null and void," said John Wintrup, a planner that represents Tochal Developments.

Tochal is planning an assisted living facility with 5,000 beds and 5,000 parking spots. Removing the house – which they want to do without a building permit – would allow them to do prep work on the land.

"We are not here for tree preservation, we are not here for public parks. We are going to do something with those lands."

City planners panned that move, saying the demolition application is premature, as it's not clear how long the lot would be vacant because the larger development plans have not been approved.

"Vacant lots are often a characteristic of 'urban blight' due to their potential to become 'eye sores' over time," the Planning, Property and Development department said in a statement to CTV News.

All of this come after an unsuccessful attempt by city councillors, the Manitoba Metis Federation, and Green Advocates to put an offer together to buy the land from Tochal to preserve the forest and stop development.

"It would basically destroy the neighbourhood that we have here," said Ashley Langridge, who is a neighbour to the house in question.

Tochal has appealed the decision denying the demolition.

"In the back of my mind I'm always thinking, 'Yes this is a chance or opportunity to frustrate our process' so that they can preserve trees and create a park here, by sterilizing our lands and driving down the value of it," said Wintrup.

The appeal hearing over the demolition is set for April 30 at the Riel Committee meeting.

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