Heritage status sought for Armstrong's Point neighbourhood

The City of Winnipeg is looking at giving heritage designations to entire neighbourhoods.
Middle Gate is one of three gated entrances to Armstrong's Point, a tree-lined neighbourhood filled with character homes. (Google Street View)

The City of Winnipeg is looking at giving heritage designations to entire neighbourhoods.

On Monday, the downtown development committee asked the administration to create a framework to establish Heritage Conservation Districts (HCD), and approved a motion to make Armstrong's Point the test neighbourhood.

Jim Fielding with the Armstrong's Point Neighbourhood Association said it makes sense because the area is known for its historic homes. Having the designation will help promote the neighbourhood, he said.

He said such designations are successful in other cities, citing the Rosedale neighbourhood in Toronto as an example.

"[It] is now one of the leading areas in the city of Toronto to live in and to purchase a house and the property values have skyrocketed because of the Heritage Conservation District," he said.

Armstrong's Point, wrapped on three sides by the Assiniboine River and tucked a pocket south of the West Broadway area, was developed in the 1880s.

"As Winnipeg continued to grow and become a commercial centre, the higher class residents no longer desired to live in the central core of the city. They wanted to escape from the chaos, noise, pollution, disease, criminals, and immigrants that filled the city’s centre streets," according to a profile of the neighbourhood on the Heritage Winnipeg's website.

"Armstrong’s Point offered that exclusivity, safety, and peacefulness that the wealthy desired and has since been home to some of Winnipeg’s richest citizens. Many of the homeowners even named their houses. There are three gated entrances that act to further separate and secure the area from the rest of Winnipeg."

The ornamental Tyndall stone gates were built in 1902 and designated by the city as historically significant in 1993.

Some of the historically significant buildings include:

  • 20 West Gate: Cornish Library, a Carnegie library named after city's first mayor, Francis Cornish. Completed in 1915.
  • 40 West Gate: At one time, was the French Consulate.
  • 54 West Gate: Ralph Connor House. A National Historic Site.
  • 134 West Gate: At one time, the Japanese Consulate.
  • 158 West Gate: The original St. John's-Ravenscourt School. Demolished 1950

Fielding said 90 per cent of Armstrong's Point's residents are in favour of the designation. Some are hesitant because a heritage designation comes with restrictions on what can be done to a property.

But Fielding said people shouldn't be afraid.

"Just because you're a Historical Conservation District doesn't mean that you can't paint your house or you can't do things like that. It isn't against development. It's [about] development in a particular manner, in a planned manner," he said.

The city hopes to have the framework completed by September.


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