Winnipeg downtown in period of unprecedented growth, study finds

A new study is backing up conventional wisdom about growth in downtown Winnipeg.

University of Winnipeg Institute of Urban Studies says downtown projects, population on the rise

Winnipeg's downtown is in a period of unprecedented growth, the University of Winnipeg's Institute of Urban Studies says. (Michael Fazio/CBC)

A new study is backing up conventional wisdom about growth in downtown Winnipeg.

The Institute of Urban Studies (IUS) at the University of Winnipeg said there has been unprecedented growth in the city's core over the last decade.

Between 2005 and 2015, $2.4 billion was invested in rejuvenating downtown, including 126 major projects receiving roughly $1 million each. There's another $1 billion earmarked for future development projects too, said Jino Distastio, the director of the IUS.
True North Sports and Entertainment's concept for True North Square, a commercial and residential development it has proposed for Carlton Street in downtown Winnipeg. The company announced it has come to an agreement to buy the land with Winnipeg's downtown development agency. (True North Sports and Entertainment)

The figures should be a source of validation and pride for Winnipeggers, Distasio said.

"We all travel to different places. We see the cranes up in other cities. In Winnipeg, now we're seeing more cranes," Distasio said. "We've seen so much more activity. We've seen the big projects, and now we're seeing the smaller infill projects coming behind it."

Distasio said the institute's findings are exciting and are connected to the amount of people and students living downtown. The core population is sitting at over 17,000 up from 9,000 not long ago.

Distasio said that near-doubling was made possible, in part, due to the thousands of condos that have been constructed over the last few years in the area.

"People are choosing to live downtown and I think the population is fundamental to what we've seen in our … residential and student base," said Distasio, who is also the associate vice-president of research and innovation at the U of W. "I think it's adding a vitality that we haven't had before."

There is also no shortage of mega projects planned downtown over the next five or six years, he said.

The creation of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, upgrades to the RBC Convention Centre and university and college campuses, as well as plans for True North Square, all attest to the kinds of trends the IUS has been tracking downtown.

People from outside of Winnipeg are starting to take notice of the changes, he said.

"They like our downtown. We definitely have a lot of things we need to deal with, but it's a good time right now."


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