The residential land conversion process in Winnipeg

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Bloxom, William Richard
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Suburban residential development today remains a process little understood in spite of the many recommendations for improving its efficiency and altering its product. The central focus of this research is a detailed examination of the suburban land conversion process in Winnipeg, those involved in the process, their activities, their product, and the cumulated costs involved in providing that product. The purpose of the research is not to applaud nor condemn any particular participant or portion of the process but rather to illustrate the roles and effects of those participants in any one segment of the process. 0nly once a clear understanding of the present residential development process is attained can rational public policies be formulated to effectively deal with any shortcomings in that process. The methodology employed is largely one of description, and analyses have been based on these descriptions rather than on detailed statistical testing. The various sub-processes of land conversion have been detailed in terms of the their participant interactions, their time requirements, and their effect on final cost of serviced lots and single-detached houses. The emphasis has mainly been on the behavioural attitudes of the major actors, why they act in the way they do, and the consequences of such activities. While the original intent of the research was to clarify the nature of the residential development process, it became apparent that clarification was nowhere near synonymous with simplification. Suburban land development in the modern context is anything but simple; rather, the overriding conclusion is that the process cannot be satisfactorily explained in a superficial manner. The "scapegoat" of contemporary urban writings, be he the administrator, politician, planner, developer, or builder, simply does not exist. The real dilemma of residential land development today is one of increasing governmental involvement (usually through controls), excessively high servicing standards, high consumer expectations, rising environmental awareness (often embodied in anti-development and anti-growth attitudes), and a private entrepreneurial system with its requirements of profitability and continued economic viability and its advantages of operational efficiency. Few political bodies today seem prepared to deal with urban growth problems in the manner with which they should be dealt. Attempts to positively affect urban development often are little more than ill-conceived programs operating in the absence of a policy framework.