Skip to content

Council approves Hemlock Crescent housing development despite limited parking

The same property was the subject of the same debate six years ago before being approved, though that project was ultimately cancelled.
128 hemlock crescent thompson google street view aug 2009
128 Hemlock Crescent in a Google Street View image from 13 years ago. The property looks essentially the same as it does now, since it has remained vacant and unused in the interim, despite being approved as the site for an affordable housing development in 2016. Council recently approved a variation order to enable a new housing development at the site to proceed despite limited parking and a smaller-than-regulation front yard setback.

A proposed affordable housing development along Cree Road faced limited parking as a barrier, just as it did six years ago, but this time some of the people involved in the decision and the project were singing a different tune.

Ma-Mow-We-Take Friendship Centre is hoping to build a 12-unit affordable housing development on the old Thompson Day Care property at 128 Hemlock Crescent, which has sat vacant for nearly 20 years. In order to do so based on its current plans, it required a zoning variation to reduce the front yard setback from 15 feet to 3’2” and to reduce the minimum number of parking stalls from 16 to seven, though originally the site design had only three parking spots.

During a public hearing and debate of a resolution at council’s Aug. 22 meeting, the yard setback didn’t seem to be an issue to anyone, while the parking issue was, though project supporters contended it was a red herring.

Six years ago, council approved a proposed Manitoba Housing development on the same property with only six adjacent parking stalls and an overflow parking agreement with the Lutheran-United Church across the street. 

Though Coun. Duncan Wong, opposed in practice though not in principle, and Coun. Kathy Valentino, completely in support, were on the same sides as they were in 2016, Mayor Colleen Smook had a different view this time around than six years ago as a councillor.

Smook voted against the variation in 2016 but supported it this time, along with every member of council who was present apart from Wong.

“We’ve got to work harder and get more affordable housing in Thompson,” she said.

Penny Byer, who was a councillor the last time there was a proposed development at the site and voted against it, supports it now in her role with the Thompson Seniors Community Resource Council.

Ron Matechuk, who was on council in 2016, spoke during the public hearing on the proposed variation, in opposition, consistent with his position six years ago.

“It’s not a good idea,” he said, noting that he is a resident of the area and familiar with the property.

His voice of opposition was the lone one heard during the hearing, with written or spoken support from companies including Vale and A&B Builders, along with organizations like the Northern Manitoba Sector Council, Men Are Part of the Solution and the YWCA, the latter two noting that they have very few tenants with vehicles in their housing.

Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre executive director Dee Chaboyer said 95 per cent of the funding needed for the multi-million-dollar development to proceed is already in place and that parking spots should not be a priority.

“The parking, I think, is a non-issue in this housing project,” agreed YWCA executive director Kim Hickes.

Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre owns the adjacent lot at 122 Hemlock Crescent and says only one of the 10 parking sports at that site is regularly used and that an agreement will be put in place to allow residents of the affordable housing complex to use the other nine.

Members of the public took Wong to task for having suggested during a July 25 meeting that the project was better suited for Eastwood. Wong said that was due to available property and space, not ethnic background, noting that he himself had been subjected to racial abuse and slurs when he immigrated to Canada.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks