Columbus Housing Co-Op Suffering From Neglect
Co-op At Risk Of Collapsing into the Red River
November 23rd, 2016 - 5:38pm
Erosion behind Columbus Housing Co-op threatening its collapse into Red River
By Daniel Blaikie, M.P. Elmwood-Transcona
November 23, 2016
Winnipeg, MB – A local housing co-operative at 404 Desalaberry Avenue (near the Louise Bridge) is losing its fight against riverbank erosion. Located on an outside bend of the Red River, this six storey senior’s complex is home to dozens of Winnipeg seniors who are now being forced to consider the need to move if the city continues to neglect this site.
An engineering report, commissioned in 2011 by the Columbus Housing Co-Op, details the riverbank’s erosion over time and recommends solutions. Prepared by Trek Geotechnical, the report states that the “foundation system is not capable of completely isolating the building from such movements” (p.19) and that the threat posed by riverbank movements means the “possibility that the integrity of the structure will be impacted at some point during its design life”.
Six years after the report was prepared, the leading eroded edge of the riverbank has moved increasingly closer to the building. The past year alone, brought about notable differences in erosion levels, damaging a walkway and rendering some outdoor facilities unusable.
Residents understandably feel a great sense of urgency regarding the need for swift action to safeguard their homes.
About the lack of city response
The land on which the Columbus housing Co-Op is built belongs to the City of Winnipeg. However, the site remains very low on the list of priorities for riverbank stabilization since City policy prioritizes the protection of public access lands owned by the city (ex: parks, greenways).
As it is, the budget for riverbank stabilization is too small to meet the city’s own list of priorities.
Some of the proposals for replacing the Louise Bridge have included riverbank work that would help stabilize the bank around the Columbus Housing Co-op, since it is so near. If the city cannot find money to stabilize the riverbank and save these seniors’ homes, reprioritizing the Louise Bridge project would be a way to save the housing and deliver an important infrastructure improvement for the City of Winnipeg.
“The Waverley Underpass may be important for commuters in the South End, but nobody’s home is riding on that project,” said Blaikie. “The Louise Bridge project also addresses significant traffic issues in Winnipeg, and also has the potential to save the homes of dozens of Elmwood seniors from falling into the Red River. To me, that’s a no-brainer when it comes to prioritizing projects.”
Daniel Blaikie, M.P. for Elmwood-Transcona, wrote Mayor Bowman twice with an invitation to visit the grounds with Tom Ellis, a resident and former president of the housing co-op, but the Mayor has not been in touch to schedule a visit or discuss the issue further.
“It’s unconscionable to think that the City of Winnipeg would stand by and watch housing for seniors fall into the river,” Daniel Blaikie, said. “The seniors in this building don’t have the money to do the stabilization work themselves, so somebody has to step in to help them save their homes.”
Daniel Blaikie and Tom Ellis invite all who are interested in this issue to come by Columbus Housing Co-op and see for themselves the extent of the damage, as well as the need for swift action. They will be available for interviews on Friday, November 25.
To book an interview, please contact:
Carole O’Brien, Constituency Assistant (outreach)