Paragon Turns Project Setbacks Into Community Connection At Winnipeg Infill Development

Find out how sawdust insulation and a street full of dusty cars led to positive community feedback for the Paragon team

St. Boniface is one of the most desirable neighbourhoods for Winnipeg rental properties. It’s  close to downtown and boasts deep Francophone roots and lots of convenient amenities. It also has a strong, well-organized residents association that has a big voice in any prospective developments in the community.

At Paragon Living, we take community consultation seriously and have worked with the St. Boniface Residents Association on numerous projects, including our 513 St. Jean Baptiste development.

Paragon’s St. Jean Baptiste development while under construction in March 2021.

Community Consultation

Like many projects, we started our community consultation by speaking to neighbours to get their feedback and input on the project. We sent out flyers to the surrounding area and also went door-to-door, hand-delivering information and speaking with residents. Additionally, we met with the city councillor for the area as well as city planners.

We were advised there was a shortage of rentals in St. Boniface. A lot of families that were moving to Winnipeg were newcomers that spoke French and wanted to live in a Francophone community. This solidified our plans to do a six-unit building, providing more opportunities for renters to live in the area.

Infill Neighbour Becomes Development Partner

While going through our consultation process, our Paragon team connected with a next door neighbour who also lived in an infill house. He was quite interested in the new project, and we answered all his questions.

This neighbour requested more privacy on his side of the property. So, we adjusted our building plans to include opaque windows on the entire side of the building that faced his yard, preserving that neighbour’s privacy (and the privacy of our future residents) while making sure our suites still had lots of natural light.

We communicated with him throughout the whole build, making sure he was informed of the process and happy with the development. These are the kinds of community connections we like to make with our neighbours to build long-lasting relationships in the neighbourhoods we’re developing in.

Chamois Gift Cards

However, not all builds go perfectly from the day of demolition to the finishing touches. The St. Jean Baptiste project had one hiccup in particular that turned into a positive situation through some quick thinking by the Paragon team.

The house we were replacing was insulated with sawdust, as was common practice decades ago. When we demolished the house, the sawdust went everywhere, including on top of some cars parked outside. The Paragon team quickly got water trucks on site to clean up the mess.

The project manager not only directed our crews to blow all the sawdust off the cars, but also provided Chamois gift certificates to all the car owners that were impacted.

The residents provided great feedback on this situation – we got many letters and phone calls thanking us for caring about the community and taking ownership for the impact of our development. This strengthened our connection with the community and turned an unfortunate situation into a fantastic outcome.

Finishing the St. Jean Baptiste Build

Once demolition was complete (and all the cars got shined up at the Chamois), we finished the new building in 10 months. We communicated with the neighbours throughout the process, asking for their input on design for elements like the fence and landscaping.

The property was fully leased prior to completion, and the residents are a mix of young professionals, teachers and even a Montreal Canadiens alumnus. Creating spaces for a variety  of residents including newcomers, young people and retirees is what makes infill development essential for our neighbourhoods and city.

To view our available rental suites in St. Boniface or other neighbourhoods, check out our Rentals page.

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