Revitalizing Downtown

Decades of downtown decline are being countered by a diversity of development projects and multi-billion dollar investments. While the 1980s, ‘90s and early 2000s saw slower growth, development in downtown Winnipeg ramped up significantly from 2005 to 2013, with over 100 commercial, residential, and civic investments completed, totally over $2 billion of investment.

“Much of this success can be attributed to a change in strategy, from the downtown mall construction of the 1970s and ‘80s, to an emphasis on downtown living, amenities, and the use of educational institutions as drivers of growth.” (“Revitalization in Downtown Winnipeg.” Plan Canada, 2013. J. Distasio & S. McCullough.)

Downtown is Turning Around

Fact:45.4%estimated increase in downtown's population since the mid-80s

Residential development – Since 2005, over 1,812 new housing units have been built downtown, with an additional 845 units currently planned.

Downtown population – In the mid-80s, downtown saw its low point with only 11,000 people living downtown. Current population is estimated to be about 16,000 people – a significant boost.

Office, commercial, and institutional development – An estimated $2 billion of investment is helping downtown become a vibrant place that supports a growing population while offering diverse amenities and services.

Setting the Stage for Growth

Before 2005, there were considerable changes to development policies, of which mark the beginning of change in Winnipeg’s downtown:

  1. Changes to the Downtown Zoning Bylaw made redevelopment of heritage buildings easier and faster, which then initiated a flurry of building conversions to condominiums and rental units.
  2. The construction of the MTS Centre shifted development focus to the creation of amenities and services to draw suburban Winnipeggers back downtown.
  3. There was a greater emphasis on rebuilding the downtown population by providing a mix of housing options. This priority has been supported through the Downtown Residential Development Grant Program, which provides grants of up to $40 million to help leverage multiple-family residential or mixed-use development in Winnipeg’s downtown.
  4. Education is a significant driver of downtown development and growth. Educational institutions like Red RiverCollege and the University of Winnipeg have augmented the physical landscape of Winnipeg’s downtown and have contributed to the growing downtown student population – currently at 24,000 students.
  5. A commitment from all levels of government for long-term investment downtown. Government stabilized heritage buildings by renting them, then began to work with private/public sector to redevelop and reconvert for better use.

It Takes a Community to Build a Downtown

Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
CentreVenture Development Corporation
The Forks North Portage Partnership
Economic Development Winnipeg Inc.
University of Winnipeg
Red River College
West End BIZ
Exchange District BIZ