Winnipeg, Manitoba has selected a local developer to fill the city's top planning job, with some left wondering what direction the city's growth will take under the new director.
"The City of Winnipeg is poised to place a developer in charge of its planners and property managers, reaching outside the civil service to fill one of its most sensitive positions, the Free Press has learned.
Phil Sheegl, best known as the developer behind Sky Waterfront Condominiums, is expected to be named the new director of the planning, property and development department next week."
"Running PPD is considered a delicate job because the director must stickhandle around the competing interests of city planners, private property developers and politicians. Small fortunes in real estate can be won or lost, depending on property department decisions.
Glen Laubenstein, Winnipeg's new chief administrative officer, did not respond to interview requests regarding the new PPD director. Neither did Mayor Sam Katz, who is friendly with Sheegl but played no formal role in his selection.
Outside the city, the decision to place a developer in charge of PPD has raised eyebrows.
"I think it would be vastly preferable to have a planner in that position," said Chris Leo, a University of Winnipeg politics professor who's long been critical of city planning and urban sprawl. "I doubt having a developer providing direction will improve things." "