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  • Winnipeg Tribune

Court Rules in Favor of Earls, Stating City Had Caused Years of Delay

Winnipeg, October 28, 2023 - In a landmark decision, Court of King’s Bench Justice Vic Toews ruled on Friday that the City of Winnipeg cannot delay the sale of a downtown property, marking a significant victory for Earls Holdings (Main Street) Ltd. The property, located at 219 Main St., had been a source of contention since its sale to developer OGGI Investments Ltd. in 2012.

Despite a clause in the initial agreement allowing the city to repurchase the land for its original price of $690,000, the court declared the agreement null and void. Justice Toews stated that the city's failure to demonstrate readiness and willingness to claim the property promptly had caused years of delay, hindering the development of the downtown area.

The ruling allows Earls Holdings to proceed with the sale of the property, enabling them to invest in a new restaurant venture within Winnipeg.

The dispute began when Earls Holdings proposed constructing a new restaurant on the site. However, a city committee rejected the proposal, citing recent zoning bylaw changes mandating a minimum of three-storey buildings on Main Street. Despite attempts to sell the property and adjacent lots for $1.2 million, the city refused to remove the buy-back clause, prompting the legal battle that culminated in Friday's ruling.

This case adds to a series of legal setbacks for the city concerning development projects. It serves as a stark reminder of the vital importance of timely and decisive action in shaping the future of downtown Winnipeg.

The decision now places the ball in the court of Mayor Gillingham and the City Council. The question looms large: will they initiate substantial reforms within the Property and Development department, or could they resort to their powers of expropriation?

The City of Winnipeg faced a legal setback regarding the Parker Lands development and is currently in the process of appealing the decision. Additionally, a contractor filed a lawsuit related to work conducted at the St. James Civic Centre.


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