Some Lots


The documentary “Some Lots” explores downtown Winnipegʼs rich expanses of heritage surface parking lots. These crumbling parking pads mark the footprints of some of the cityʼs earliest and most prominent buildings - ever to be demolished for outdoor car parking. Not surprisingly, developing flat, open spaces is an ingrained trait of those of us living on the prairies.

Follow along on this special tour of a few of the many city center parking plots. Included is a uniquely shaped isle of asphalt, once home to a large, ornate church. Formerly recognized as a mother church for western Canada, this institute also provided the foundation for the cityʼs university. Now, with the structure shucked off in favour of wide, open parking, you can rejoice at a choice of hourly, daily, or even monthly offerings.

Or how about a drive-by look at a sleek stretch of concrete on display in front of the cityʼs prominent, historic Forks District, and right next to the prominent, historic train station? Here had stood a rare metal clad building, the construction of which managed to bankrupt the dreams and fortunes of its owner, a once prominent Quebec, then Manitoba politician. New ownership had this building converted to a luxury hotel. Then, after one hundred years, to handy outdoor parking.

Then thereʼs the windswept gravel and tarmac plot that stands, actually, lies right in the heart of the business center, at the cityʼs most famous intersection. A long established economic hub, this parking patch was once congested with a significant office building, boasting an ornate limestone facade with massive windows. An interior light court also helped illuminate the brass rails and marble stairs, along with carved oak and ornate glass panels. Now itʼs a pretty economical place to park, especially considering its prime location. Truly a showcase of the proud business sector.

Yet, amazingly, without any consideration of the supporting role they once played in the development of a once booming city, and in spite of having been established for decades, some of these epic property swaths are now in danger of annihilation. This threat is real. Albeit vague and somewhat unwarranted.

Nevertheless, these shallow surfaces cover deep roots, and a park preservation initiative is essential. Here, “Some Lots” can help raise awareness. This is a universal concern, not just for Canadian cities, but for long established cities everywhere that are stuck with the burden of maintaining their history. Though hopefully in this most efficient, streamlined manner possible.

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