So you think you know the West End? Winnipeg’s West End started to develop around 1890 making it one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods. Historically, it has always been one to welcome new immigrants, many of them entrepreneurs to the city. It developed as an area of mixed-use buildings, where commercial and residential structures were built in close proximity to each other. Today, many apartments still exist above and behind retail shops and eateries. It is one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in the city with approximately 36,000 residents calling the West End Home. That’s roughly the size of Portage La Prairie, Steinbach and Selkirk combined and a lot of potential customers!
Centrally located adjacent to the downtown, the West End has eight major transportation routes with commercial corridors passing directly through it. Many smaller but still crucial roadways connect with these, making the West End easily accessible to and from all areas of the city by car, transit or bike. Dozens of businesses are within walking distance on any given street.
Approximately 1,100 businesses and organizations operate in the West End, along with world class recreation, education and health facilities. The Cindy Klassen Center, UW RecPlex, West End Cultural Centre, University of Winnipeg and Richardson College for the Environment, and the Health Sciences Centre are all amenities that draw people to the area, locally, and internationally.
Part of the West Ends appeal is its diversity. The culture and unique business districts, and a wide array of goods and services offered with warm hospitality from shop owners keeps people coming back. Sixty percent of our businesses have been in the West End for more than 10 years. Icons like Mordens of Winnipeg, Independent Jewellers, Jeannies Bakery and Prairie Stained Glass are just a few of the many successful businesses who have been here for decades.
The West End is also affordable. The average retail rental rate is $12.94 per square foot. Although property values have risen dramatically in recent years through revitalization efforts, West End properties still offer great value, and with our location, density, diverse business districts and amenities, can offer a clear advantage over the suburbs. Building on the density of our inner city will only create more activity and opportunities for everyone.
Perception has been our worst enemy but you just have to look at the headlines to see that crime knows no boundaries and no area is exempt. The reality is… crime stats in the West End have been steadily falling for several years. And on the rise? Our people, places and new development. Winnipeg’s West End. We invite you to look again.
Gloria Cardwell Hoeppner is the Executive Director of the West End Business Improvement Zone.