Greater public input allows us to ensure future prosperity
Winnipeggers have traditionally had an off and on relationship with the architecture of their city. At the beginning of the last century we built with the optimism of a young metropolis destined to become the Paris of the Prairies. We raised the tallest building in the country and the finest marble and terra-cotta banking halls on the continent stood as a symbol of our promise. Winnipeg was animated with finely manicured parks, bustling sidewalks and busy urban plazas. Its citizens held a deeply rooted connection to their built environment. They had big-city solutions for big-city dreams.
In the decades ending that century, we became indifferent to the built quality of our city. Buildings were no longer constructed with the same permanence. The suburbs exploded, our parks fell into disrepair, the city centre was deserted and urban planning became an exercise in traffic management. We even gave our most famous intersection a makeover with all the charm of a freeway exit ramp.
Strategic thinking needed with Winnipeg seeing growth
Winnipeg's population is nearing 800,000 and is growing by more than 10,000 per year. Property values are rising, construction is happening and the economy is prospering. We have an IKEA, a professional hockey team and a half-dozen new towers rising in our skyline.
New Project will transform suburban kingdom
Looking down from the terraces during the opening of Investors Group Field, many Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans may have wondered, why doesn't the University of Manitoba simply pave that overgrown golf course to the north and let everyone park on it?
The simple answer is the U of M has much greater plans for the former Southwood Golf Course, adjacent to their Fort Garry campus. In 2011, the university took the bold step of acquiring the oldest golf course in Manitoba, the first 18-hole track designed by renowned landscape architect Stanley Thompson. Their vision is to transform the tree-lined fairways into a high-density neighbourhood of at least 4,200 residential units (equivalent to almost two dozen 20-storey condo towers) and 21,000 square metres of retail space (roughly five Safeway stores). The development will integrate dense, mid-rise, multi-family buildings with public green space and pedestrian networks, linked to the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor that's being extending to the new stadium.
An artist's rendering of the 'new' WSO building.
As the sun broke over the horizon on a sleepy Monday morning in July of 1867, the people of British North America awoke as citizens of Canada. With thriving transportation and manufacturing industries, Montreal, at the head of the St. Lawrence River, would be the economic engine of the young Dominion, remaining the largest, most powerful city in the country for the next 100 years.
The McIntyre Block pictured during the 1950s. It was the first office building in Western Canada, and site owner Creswin reportedly is eyeing a hotel tower for the land.
The Archives of Manitoba are filled with photos of buildings, but there are none of parking lots. Urbanites hate them. Mayors and premiers campaign against them. Parking lots are a maligned group. It is easy to love a building, to find beauty and meaning in stone columns and arched windows, but nobody ever considers the story of a parking lot or wonders what ghosts might linger on their asphalt surfaces.