'All pie in the sky'

SHANNON VANRAES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:16 AM ET

Roma Aguinaldo doesn't want to leave her South Point Douglas home, but fears the decision may not be hers to make.

"It is very scary ... I said 'No way,' " said the mother of four.

Aguinaldo and her husband have lived in their 1930s-era Grace Street bungalow for nearly a quarter-century and are in the process of renovating, but it could all be in vain. David Asper's proposal to transform the neighbourhood calls for her house -- as well as 20 others -- to be torn down to make way for a massive redevelopment.

The plan, put forward by Asper's Creswin Properties, still needs to be accepted by all three levels of government. But if passed, nearly all buildings south of the CPR main line and east of Waterfront Drive would be demolished to make way for a stadium, parking, hotel, waterpark and other commercial ventures.

The redevelopment includes asking the city to acquire all necessary land, either by purchase or expropriation, then give it to Creswin free of charge.

Most of the property in which the 21 homes are located are listed in good condition, but all would be destroyed -- including some historic residences built by early settlers.

Asper was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Residents say the qualities found in the South Point can't be bought.

"It's very nice and quiet, it's almost remote," said Aguinaldo. "No one knows about this area. Well, at least not until now."

The longtime resident added she is concerned any payout the city gives for taking a home won't be enough to cover housing costs in another area of the city.

"You can ask anyone who lives here and they will want to stay," she said.

QUESTION VIABILITY

Some residents questioned the viability of such a large plan, wondering if it could really go ahead.

"It just sounds so ridiculously over the top -- all pie in the sky," said Curtis Street resident Joanne Vanderhorst.

Vanderhorst would like to see redevelopment in the area, but believes a mixed strategy of housing, business and other initiatives would be best.

"It would be nice if it could all be incorporated into a new groovy neighbourhood, but that takes businesses and entrepreneurs," she said.

Vanderhorst, who has lived in Point Douglas for 12 years, also wondered how successful such an attraction would be in drawing people into the area.

"I doubt that people will want to come downtown, to this area," she said.

Other residents are waiting for more information before drawing conclusions.

"I just don't see it happening," said Larry Chihonik, a resident of the neighbourhood for the past 20 years.

However, he said he probably wouldn't hold out on selling his home, if the city makes a fair offer and other neighbours are on board.


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