Manitoba

Winnipeggers react to True North downtown plaza proposal

Many Winnipeggers are thrilled with the possibility of a new plaza that might be built downtown by True North Sports and Entertainment, but others have reservations.
Many Winnipeggers are thrilled with the possibility of a new plaza that might be built downtown by True North Sports and Entertainment, but others have reservations. 1:25

Many Winnipeggers are thrilled with the possibility of a new plaza that might be built downtown by True North Sports and Entertainment, but others have reservations.

“True North has done a lot for our city already,” said Jaisal Parshotai. “They brought back the Jets, they revitalized the MTS Centre. There’s a lot more people coming downtown, so I think they should just get the go-ahead.”

True North said its proposed plaza would feature a hotel at the site of the former Carlton Inn. It would also include office space, restaurants, entertainment and several places to shop.
Kamal Mehra, COO and general manager of East India Company, says he supports a plan that would grant True North the rights to build a multi-purpose plaza in downtown Winnipeg at the site of the former Carlton Inn. (CBC)

“More restaurants, businesses downtown would be beneficial,” said Lynne Gauthier. “I don’t think there’s enough people here after work hours and I think a lot of it has to do with people don’t necessarily feel safe, so the more people we can bring here, the better it’ll be for everybody.”

Mayor Brian Bowman has raised concerns recently over the nature of the deal between True North and CentreVenture, the city’s arm’s-length development agency.

Bowman and the executive policy committee have expressed a desire for there to be a bidding process for the hotel's land.

"Let's also be clear. I mean, True North does incredible work and look at what they've given back to the community. This really isn't about True North. This is about following proper processes," said Bowman.

"The fact that this was done outside of the public accountability, it could be a very good deal ... and I have no doubt that it will fare very well when Centre Venture assesses other expressions of interest, if they're there."

But Kamal Mehra with East India Company said he thinks the city should remove itself from the process altogether and let the original deal stand based on the merit of True North’s proven positive impact on downtown.

“They have expanded downtown to what we are now, so CentureVenture should be the main authority as to how to proceed on this,” said Mehra.

Still, some Winnipeggers, like Nick Solonsky, believe True North should still have to go through the normal channels to gain building rights.

“In the interest of fairness, and openness, and transparency, and in the interest of the entire process being competitive as well, I think it is a good thing and there should be a process for that,” said Solonsky.

True North said it entered into a deal with CentreVenture last September for an option to buy the property on 220 Carlton Street. 

Whether or not a bidding process is needed will be decided by city council later this week.

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