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Coming Soon to Downtown Winnipeg: Surface Parking Lots?

What follows is a cautionary tale of how quickly downtown investment can go astray.
April 4, 2015, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Manitoba Hydro’s plan to build a new downtown Winnipeg substation has created a domino effect in which three low-rise structures on Notre Dame Avenue are slated to topple," Bartley Kives.

The domino effect described by Kives began when Manitoba Hydro, the provincial electric power and natural gas utility of Manitoba, purchased a surface-parking lot from downtown property owner Calvary Temple. The problem is that Calvary Temple turned around and bought a commercial strip at 312 and 318 Notre Dame Ave., as well as an adjacent surface-parking lot at the corner of Hargrave Street and Notre Dame Avenue to make up for the parking capacity they lost in that deal. According to Kives, "[t]he commercial strip at 312 and 318 Notre Dame Avenue is currently home to two vacant single-storey commercial buildings as well as one vacant two-storey building, built between 1948 and 1977."

In an ironic twist, Manitoba Hydro abandoned an earlier version of its proposal to build downtown electricity capacity by gutting the interiors of three McDermot Avenue heritage buildings after meeting strong public resistance. Kives notes, however, that the Calvery Temple has not yet sought permits to demolish the commercial strip in question. The Winnipeg City Council declared an "informal" moratorium on new downtown surface-parking lots, "but there are no statutes enforcing the unofficial ban," writes Kives.

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Published on Monday, March 30, 2015 in Winnipeg Free Press
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