POLITICS

Winnipeg Jets' owner angered by city's stickhandling of development project

02/05/2015 10:28 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT
WINNIPEG - The owner of the Winnipeg Jets has dropped the gloves with Winnipeg's mayor over his company's proposal to build a $400 million complex in the city's downtown.

Mark Chipman, chairman of True North Sports and Entertainment, is refuting Brian Bowman's claim that he hasn't been able to gather enough information about True North Square, which would be located near MTS Centre, the Jets' home.

Chipman told a Wednesday news conference that his plans are on hold because the deal to build on two vacant lots has been misrepresented by Bowman and city council as secretive and improper.

He says the mayor saw a promotional video of the project late last year, and that a copy of the option agreement for the project has already been sent to city hall.

Bowman acknowledges he saw the video, but says he was not made aware of council's financial stake in the development through CentreVenture, the city's downtown-development agency.

The project calls for housing, retail, hotel and office space, as well as a public square.

"When you propose to develop real estate in this community that has any public involvement, you're presumed to be doing something untoward. We can't and won't operate in that kind of environment," Chipman angrily told reporters.

Bowman says he saw the video after a Jets game he attended with Kevin Chief, Manitoba's minister responsible for the City of Winnipeg, but thought it focused on just one of the two lots associated with the square.

"As we started hearing more information about the lot, we started digging up more information so that we could make sure council was fully apprised. We still don't feel we have all the details," he said.

Bowman is in Toronto this week, attending the big-city mayors' conference. (CJOB)