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Just a few short years ago, Bridgwater Forest was but a mere idea. Now, the innovative neighbourhood in the coveted Waverley West area offers some of the most sought-after homes in the city.
“Certainly the development is proceeding faster than we anticipated, and we’re happy people have been so attracted to this new development,” says Dwayne Rewniak, director of land development at Manitoba Housing.
Manitoba Housing conceived the development after years of careful and advanced planning. The early 2000s brought the first discussions about the development, following the recognition that there would be a shortage of land in southwest Winnipeg.
“In 2003, we brought in some major players in the building and development industries to talk about the area and how they would like for it to be developed,” says Rewniak. Also taken into consideration were consultations with the City of Winnipeg and feedback from the general public, gathered from public hearings and open houses.
And all of the consultations and planning paid off—in 2006, the City of Winnipeg approved the Waverley West Area Structure plan for four neighbourhoods, the first of which was Bridgwater Forest, and a town centre. “We’re developing Bridgwater Forest on 370 acres of our 1330-acre land parcel in Waverley West,” says Rewniak. “Waverley West is divided between Manitoba Housing and Ladco Company Limited, and we’re each doing our own thing as separate developers.” To quell concerns about urban sprawl, Manitoba Housing is re-investing its share of the funds raised from the development of Waverley West into inner-city revitalization, an important element in the province’s overall housing strategy.
It was decided the first neighbourhood would be named in honour of Arthur Bridgwater, who served as chief of the Fort Garry Police Department from 1945 to 1974. Upon completion, Bridgwater Forest will contain 1,000 single-family houses and 500 multi-family homes. Construction on the homes began in 2008 and is moving quickly, with 17 designated builders, who are all members of the MB Homebuilder Association that met specific criteria, constructing homes in the neighbourhood.
In fact, in terms of building permit data, Bridgwater Forest is the fastest-growing residential development in Winnipeg. One hundred and fifty building permits were taken out in 2009—more than any new development—and 154 have already been taken out this year.
The first two phases of Bridgwater Forest’s six-phase development, which contain more than 700 lots between them, are almost completely sold out, with 95 per cent and over 80 per cent of the lots sold, respectively. “And 17 new show homes in phase two are opening in time for the Parade of Homes,” says Rewniak. The first two phases already have roads and infrastructure in place, while phases three and four are currently going through that process.
Within the next year, residents should also start to notice the beginning of infrastructure work on the town centre, one of Waverley West’s most distinctive features, which is located just west of Bridgwater Forest. “We’re very excited about receiving approval to develop the town centre,” says Rewniak. “It really
“It feels like an established community rather than a new development.”
forms the heart of our four neighbourhoods.”
The easily accessible town centre will include a mix of retail, residential and office space, adds Rewniak. “What you’ll get to see is retail on the main floor and residential designed above. We’re pretty excited about the whole mixed-use development.”
And it seems as though others are excited about the development as well. Several hundred families already call Bridgwater Forest home, with many more on the way. “I think the reason Bridgwater Forest is so popular is because the amenities are in the neighbourhood up-front as opposed to after the fact,” says Rewniak. “It feels like an established community rather than a new development.”