Neglected landscapes: a transformative future for Winnipeg's infrastructure corridors

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Bomback, Aaron
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This practicum explores how underutilized infrastructure and vacant industrial lands can address the need for reclaimed parks and ecological networks in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The change in social and cultural interpretations of neglected spaces within infrastructure corridors will be explored with applied research. The focus will be along the Manitoba Hydro Transmission corridors, CN Railway lines, and vacant uncultivated agricultural lands along major roadway verges. Unique opportunities for transformative change are also present at the Southwest Bus Rapid Transitway adjacent to major redevelopment sites in the Southwest of Winnipeg. Research methods intend to demonstrate how integrating redevelopment sites and principles of urban ecology with former industrial landscapes within infrastructure corridors can influence a city’s ability to realize the potential of these spaces. Neglected Landscapes can be used as a catalyst for landscape design to form a cohesive parkland strategy and ecological network at a regional scale, creating valuable recreational spaces, addressing the loss of biodiversity due to development, and meeting the need for future urban parks and sites for transformative urban design. Over the last 30 years, Winnipeg’s population and demand for park development have increased while investment and accessibility have been inconsistent across the city—these changing demographics pressure city amenities, services, and the need for park development and land acquisition. Acquiring new parkland in Winnipeg is limited due to the case-by-case basis of land acquisition through development in new communities and the process of reserve dedication for future development. Moreover, insufficient budgets to match the continued outward growth of new communities moving further away from mature neighbourhoods add higher maintenance and operating costs to the rising demand for parkland. By taking advantage of neglected lands under infrastructure corridors and applying new types of synergies between urban ecology and infrastructure, a potential exists to grow these spaces into a more extensive Winnipeg-wide ecological network. This approach can fill in missing links and inform an ecologically optimum land transformation that addresses the increasing demand for green spaces in new communities and mature areas suitable for redevelopment in the future.
Ecological Networking, Industrial and Vacant Lands, Infrastructure Corridors, Land Transformation, Neglected Landscapes