‘A long time coming’: Potential deal in place to see The Forks refurbish Alexander Docks

A new plan is flowing to put the wind in the sails again at Winnipeg’s Alexander Docks.

The site was closed in 2015 for safety reasons as the structure is in disrepair.

A new report at city hall is recommending the city lease the site to The Forks for $1 a year, for 99 years. The area includes the docks, surrounding green space and a gravel parking lot.

In turn, The Forks would manage the site, do a feasibility study, consultations, and fundraise to refurbish the docks for public use.

Clare MacKay, the chief communications officer for The Forks, said this is part of a strategy to connect eight area neighbourhoods via the waterfront.

“This long-term lease will allow us to help create great public spaces for downtown,” said MacKay.

City property committee chair, Coun. Sherri Rollins, says she’ll easily vote yes for the lease deal.

“A long time coming, this has been ten years of a derelict piece of property that has so much more potential,” said Rollins.

But in order for this to proceed, it needs two-thirds of city council’s support because it is park land and the lease is for more than five years.

Part of the consultation process on the redevelopment promises to include the Indigenous community.

The entrance to the docks includes a memorial to Tina Fontaine. The 15-year-old’s body was found wrapped in a duvet and was recovered from the river at the docks in 2014.

“With respect to the Tina Fontaine memorial, that is something that will always be part of these plans,” said MacKay.

Not everyone is on board with the plan. The report says the Winnipeg Parking Authority opposes the lease. It wants the site retained to address a lack of parking in the area.

The city notes the lot on site is not in use now anyway.

“I’m sorry to disappoint all these public servants of the Winnipeg Parking Authority, but converting parking lots is actually a priority for me,” said Rollins.

The report says the fundraising goal for the project is $2.2 million, and there is already $600,000 available from a downtown pandemic recovery fund.

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