Residents petition to keep new stadium away from neighbourhood

A group of concerned Fort Richmond residents have begun a campaign to keep the new Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium away from their neighbourhood.

The residents, who live just south of the University of Manitoba campus, have been collecting signatures for a petition by going door to door and as well as on their website.

“We don’t think the infrastructure can hold it and can handle it,” explained Jeff Fidyk, one of the organizers of the campaign.

The residents are primarily concerned with the increased amount of traffic that will be coming into Fort Richmond for the games and security issues that they feel are likely to arise, such as trespassing and vandalism.

“Our roads are already crumbling under the local traffic. We’d hate to see what’s going to happen when you’ve got 9,000 or 13,000 cars that are trying to converge on the stadium itself,” said Ken Turner, a Fort Richmond resident.

Turner predicts that residential streets in the neighbourhood will be clogged with the parked cars of attendees not wanting to pay for parking at the stadium.

Residents are also worried that rowdy Bomber fans may cause problems for people living in the quiet residential neighbourhood.

“Even if there’s only 100 out 33,000, that’s 100 [ . . . ] drunk, disorderly people that we don’t have right now,” said Fidyk.

Steve West, spokesperson for the City of Winnipeg, stated that all concerns are being taken very seriously and the city is working together with Creswin Properties, the company developing the land for the new stadium, to find positive solutions.

So far, Creswin has developed the Good Neighbour Plan to address the community’s concerns that were voiced at the April 21, 2010 open house regarding traffic, parking, noise and light.

They will also be collaborating with the appropriate city departments on the production of two traffic management reports, a traffic impact analysis and an integrated transportation plan for the coordination of transit operations, traffic management and multi-modal transportation to and from the stadium.

In addition, an accessibility audit will be performed to determine the condition of routes of travel, from extraneous parking areas to the new stadium

“We believe careful planning and efforts to build strong community relationships will ensure that the new stadium and multi-sport complex has a positive influence on the neighbourhood and our city,” said West.

However, residents feel there was a lack of consultation between themselves, Creswin and the City of Winnipeg during the initial planning stages of the stadium.

So far, the residents have gathered close to 500 signatures and have filed to appeal the city’s Board of Adjustment’s decision to approve the stadium’s construction. The council’s appeals committee will hear the issue on June 25.

“Depending on the outcome of the June 25 appeal hearing, if the application were to go forward, the City of Winnipeg would engage with residents of the University Heights and Fort Richmond area in July to mitigate community concerns and to engage residents in that process,” explained West.

Catherine Addison, another organizer of the campaign, said the response from other Fort Richmond residents has been mostly positive.

“Its absolutely amazing the response against this stadium. They believe, just as we do, that this is not the place for this type of a venue.”

The 33,000 seat stadium is scheduled to be open for the 2012 CFL season and will be located at the corner of Chancellor Matheson Road and University Crescent.