Human Rights museum architect slams water park pitch

The architect of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg is criticizing the waterpark proposed for a lot across the street at The Forks.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is under construction on the grounds of The Forks historic site in Winnipeg. (

The architect of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg is criticizing the waterpark and hotel proposed for a lot across the street at The Forks.

In a letter sent to Winnipeg city councillors Thursday night, Antoine Predock said a water park "risks trivializing" the area's rich historic past and cultural district that is being built up.

"It seems to me that this site is destined for a higher civic purpose than a water park," his letter stated.

"The site, with its unmatched proximities to The Forks, the museum, and the [Goldeyes] ballpark, should be the home for an institution that is focal to the city and that will benefit the life of the Forks in exchange for being benefited by these key adjacencies."

The proposed hotel would also create a high barrier right in the line of sight between the $351-million museum and the downtown, he noted.

"While an indoor water park may be an important amenity for Winnipeg, I have some serious reservations about locating the park on this fantastic once in a lifetime site directly adjacent to the museum," Predock's said in the letter.

Canalta Hotels, along with water park designer Waterfun Products, wants to build a 50,000-square-foot water park and hotel on prime downtown land.

The proposal has caused a rift on council and it was facing defeat at a meeting in April before those in favour made a last-minute pitch to defer the vote and give the developers a chance to better explain the proposal.

No date has been set for when that vote will return to council, or when Canalta will present a more detailed proposal.

Museum spokeswoman Angela Cassie said Predock, who is based in New Mexico, is passionate about the museum and regularly checks the site's webcam to see how things are progressing.

"Antoine, when he designed this building, he didn't just take the broader mission of the museum. He carefully considered the location at The Forks. He studied the city of Winnipeg," she said.

Coun. Grant Nordman, who is opposed to the water park being located at The Forks, hopes other councillors recognize the importance of receiving a letter like this from a world-renowned architect.

"I hope my colleagues on council understand who this individual is," he said.

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, who also opposes the water park location, says people need to listen to Predock.

"You know, he poured his heart and soul into that design [and] took the unusual step of contacting council, that's how concerned he is," she said.

"It just doesn't seem wise to completely ignore that concern or dismiss it."