New findings about noise near the airport may pave the way for Polo Park development

Winnipeg Richardson International Airport

The landscape around Polo Park and along Portage Avenue could change as the findings of new reports may help pave the way for new developments including a major project at the Polo Park Mall.

Currently a vicinity plan restricts housing projects close to the airport—including the shopping mall—over noise concerns. But two reports show noise levels from the airport aren’t impacting as many areas as once thought.

“These reports reflect the fact noise contours have changed," said the area's city councillor Scott Gillingham.

The reports commissioned by the province say changes should be made to the vicinity plan because noise from the airport is not impacting as much land as it once was.

It says quieter aircraft and advancements in building materials could allow for residential construction in places now restricted.

“There’s over 5,600 hundred acres of land that had restrictions on it that shouldn’t have,’ said Justin Zarnowski, general counsel for Shindico.

Shindico is the developer behind a massive development plan including apartments on the Polo Park mall property.

The project has been stalled at City Hall and is before the municipal board over objections from the Winnipeg Airport’s Authority

Shindico said the reports could help make its case for changes it said should have been done all along.

‘There’s no evidence to suggest this will have any impact on the 24-hour operation of the airport," said Zarnowski.

Despite concerns a rise in noise complaints could hamper airport operations, the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) said it takes no issue with the reports, and believes changes to the vicinity plan can be made as long as a proper process is followed.

“The goal is to use the best of the science that is available in a way that ensures the protection of the airport and allows maximum development as possible," said Barry Remple, the CEO of the WAA.

Gillingham has been pushing for more housing in St. James. He said he sees this as a step towards that.

“Many people in St. James 55+ want to stay in St. James when they move out of their house and right now there is limited availability," he said.

Gillingham said he is bringing a motion forward on Wednesday at Winnipeg city hall for the city’s administration to come up with changes to the airport vicinity plan based on the two reports.

Shindico said the Polo Park plan is set to be heard at the municipal board in June.