The City of Portage la Prairie has approved news terms for the transfer of approximately 26 acres of land from the Province of Manitoba at the former Agassiz Youth Centre site. City Manager Nathan Peto says the agreement is a crucial next step toward re-purposing the land. In the initial agreement the province was to be responsible for property remediation, however, 1.6 million dollars will now be placed in trust for the city to manage the project. Peto says there is plenty to consider when executing the remediation plan. 

"First of all, it's removing the buildings that are there. After you do that it's basically a blank slate for future development for this community. Once you do that, buildings don't just pop up, you need utility servicing, you need to plan out how the drainage works, and you need to think about how that future part of our community will serve the greater intentions of council and growth in the region. So, you start with consideration of what kind of development you'd like to see. You think about the roads, you think about zoning, and you think about an appropriate subdivision that would allocate for that growth."

Peto explains that in addition to providing some staff resources to assist, the province will retain responsibility for two aspects of the remediation process: 

"There's two items the province is going to remediate before the property transfer occurs and that is the fencing; I understand they have plans to re-purpose it which is positive. The second thing is the condensate trench which basically held steam lines that used to lead from the old utility building. At the time they were put in there was potential for asbestos to be around those pipes and there were concerns for the city taking on an environmental risk. In terms of remediation, we don't have the experience to handle that and the province, owning a number of facilities of that age, is very familiar with how to handle that and appropriately quote and manage the project." 

LandThe land indicated in yellow frame

The land parcel is located just beside the new Portage Hospital construction site and city finance chair Joe Masi says this gives it great potential for commercial and residential development:

"In the long-term when we develop this property, we believe it will be very economically beneficial for our community. When the jail closed of course everyone was concerned about that and now we've acquired this, and we think we can make it into a very good development for our city."

Masi says the council is grateful to city administration for their work on the project, and everyone is excited to see things unfold. Administration anticipates presenting plans to council for the development of the parcel in the fall of 2024.