Manitoba

Future of the Bay building in downtown Winnipeg up in the air

The future of a downtown Winnipeg icon is in limbo, as officials try to figure out what to do with the Hudson's Bay Company building.

What to do with the Bay building in downtown Winnipeg?

7 years ago
2:12
The future of a downtown Winnipeg icon is in limbo, as officials try to figure out what to do with the Hudson's Bay Company building. 2:12

The future of a downtown Winnipeg icon is in limbo, as officials try to figure out what to do with the Hudson's Bay Company building.

Provincial and city officials gathered on Thursday to celebrate the success of a pop-up shop — located just across the street from the Bay — that aims to revitalize the city core.

Meanwhile, the Hudson's Bay Company currently operates on fewer than half the number of floors it used to occupy in the six-storey building, which dates back to 1926.

"The challenge is its size. It's an 80,000 square-foot floor plate; there's 500,000 square feet of space," said Ross McGowan of CentreVenture, a downtown development agency.

Kevin Chief, the provincial minister responsible for the City of Winnipeg, says he understands the historical significance of the Bay building.

"The very first time that I ever came into the downtown — and this is probably the same for a whole bunch of people — was to come to the Bay," he said.

Multiple bids for the space

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, a Crown corporation that was recently created from the merger of the province's liquor control commission and lotteries corporation, is looking for a downtown space for its head offices.

Chief said there are other interested parties.

"There have been bids from multiple, you know, organizations and people and companies, and so that's a process that's rolling out," he said.

McGowan said as with many major problems, the Hudson's Bay Company may have to leave in order to force everyone to focus on a solution.

"Maybe it takes a crisis to galvanize the community to say, 'OK, there it is guys. There is a reality; it is going to be closing on X. Now what do we do?'" he said.

Officials with Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries won't decide on a location for its new downtown headquarters until the new year.

The Hudson's Bay Company did not return calls from CBC News on Thursday.

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