Save the Public Safety Building, architects and advocates urge Winnipeg city council

Architects and heritage advocates are urging Winnipeg city councillors to preserve the Public Safety Building, which could be demolished.

Building could last hundreds of years if maintained, say architects opposed to demolition

The demolition of the Public Safety Building and its attached parking garage is recommended in a report commissioned by the City of Winnipeg. (Google Street View)

Architects and heritage advocates are urging Winnipeg city councillors to preserve the Public Safety Building, which could be demolished.

Advocates appeared before council on Wednesday morning to present their case for saving the 51-year-old former police headquarters.

The soon-to-be-empty concrete structure on Princess Street was made surplus by the move of the Winnipeg Police Service to its new headquarters on Graham Avenue.

A city-commissioned report, which was approved by the property and development committee on April 21, says preserving or renovating the building would be expensive and the land could instead be used to create a small public space.

Bowman has publicly said the PSB should be bulldozed.

However, those who oppose having the building torn down argued that the building could last hundreds of years if it's maintained.

As well, they said the building showcases a rare example of a style of architecture that should be preserved.

A decision was expected by the end of the day. 

Years have taken their toll

The PSB and attached civic parkade were constructed in 1965 in the brutalist style of modernism and clad in Tyndall limestone. But the years of freezing and thawing in Winnipeg have taken their toll.

Since 2006, a plywood-covered walkway has lined the street outside the building at William Avenue and King Street, to protect pedestrians from the risk of limestone cladding falling from the facade.

The parking garage has been closed since August 2012 after engineering reports raised structural concerns with the facility.

Although the PSB has "certain architectural and historical significance," its current state and the limitations of the exterior cladding make it unsuitable for a significant and costly restoration project, the report states.

But Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt has called the whole situation "a bad dream" and said the city purchased a "fiasco of a building" to replace the police headquarters.

"Now, you're knocking down a perfectly good building? You couldn't write a book [about this] and sell it. Nobody would buy it. It's such a bad story," he said before the meeting.


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