A white elephant that’s been sitting empty for five years is finally coming down. The demolition of Winnipeg’s former Civic Parkade will leave a huge empty space in the heart of the Exchange District.
Last Tuesday CentreVenture, a group that facilitates development in Winnipeg’s downtown, hosted residents of the Exchange District at the Amsterdam Tea Room. Over luscious cupcakes and fabulous teas a full house of people offered Centre Venture plenty of ideas for what could happen to the space currently occupied by the defunct parking garage.
One resident suggested we need to diversify the kind of housing in the Exchange. Right now there are plenty of high end options but what about more affordable housing that would attract for example Red River Community College and University of Winnipeg students. The two institutions both have downtown campuses.
A young parent suggested a daycare. If we want more young families to move to the Exchange we need to offer more quality childcare options downtown.
We learned in the 1880s the soon to be empty site was home to Winnipeg’s public market. Some residents suggested we build our own indoor market place similar to Kensington Market in Toronto or The Ferry Plaza Market in San Francisco.
“Parking, parking, parking,” said one resident. Almost all Exchange residents agree we need many more parking options in our area.
Other suggestions were a green space, a public stage for cultural events, a park with picnic tables, an apartment block, a site for more public art, and of course something everyone who lives in the Exchange wants- a grocery store.
Exchange District residents aren’t the only ones who have been consulted about the future use of the space. If you go on the CentreVenture website you can see all the different groups who’ve discussed it. You can also read the responses of many Winnipeg residents who’ve taken the time to submit their ideas to CentreVenture . I think its speaks well for the city’s vitality that so many folks are enthusiastically engaging in conversations about how a soon to be empty space in a historic area of Winnipeg could be used.