Tag Archives: downtown Winnipeg

Pedal in the Peg

Pedal in the Peg was launched in 2015 as a pilot bike rental program with participating downtown hotels to support and promote cycling in the downtown.

Funded by the City of Winnipeg’s Active Transportation and supported by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s

Transportation Committee, the program was modeled after successful bike rental programs established in cities across North America.

The program proved to be successful and this year will be offered from downtown businesses to guests,

customers, clients and/or employees, as well as to the general public.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ provides participating businesses with:

  • 1-4 Bicycles with baskets
  • Bike locks
  • Bike lights,
  • Helmets
  • Bike racks (if needed)
  • Monthly Bike maintenance

This year, hotels such as The Alt Hotel, Delta Winnipeg and Holiday Inn & Suites will be participating in the program with more businesses yet to be confirmed. Be sure to look out for the Pedal in the Peg launch and visit participating businesses to rent your bike this summer!

For more information about the Pedal in the Peg program, visit www.downtownwinnipegbiz.com.

Vision Quest Conference and Trade Show back for 21st year

Aboriginal Economic Development Conference heads back to RBC Convention Centre.

Vision Quest Conference and Trade Show, Canada’s longest running Aboriginal business, community and economic development conference, will be returning to the RBC Convention Centre May 16th to 18th.

The conference, which has been ongoing since 1997, has seen nearly 15,000 participants come together from not only Manitoba but all over North America, and has earned a reputation as a dynamic gathering that serves multiple purposes and has grown in size every year.

Kim Bullard, Chair of Vision Quest Conferences Inc. says the goal of Vision Quest is to educate, enlighten, and entertain throughout the three-day event.

Continue reading Vision Quest Conference and Trade Show back for 21st year

Winnipeg’s downtown shines on the International stage in 2015

By Stefano Grande and Sachit Mehra

It’s been an incredible year for our City.

With FIFA Women’s World Cup drawing in thousands of Americans, Australians, and international tourists into the City and the CFL’s 103rd Grey Cup showdown between the Edmonton Eskimos and Ottawa Redblacks, the perception of Winnipeg and its downtown was elevated, making it the place to be this year. Our belief in our city was confirmed by National Geographic, who ranked Winnipeg as one of the best places to visit in the world. This does not happen by chance – it is a result of all of the buzz and hype that’s created with major events like FIFA and Grey Cup, and with the abundance of tourists and locals taking in the experience. We are North America’s best kept secret.

Hotels were booked solid, restaurants were ready and eager to serve food and drink, and Winnipeggers were proud and pumped to take part in the atmosphere. The energy and pride was felt on sidewalks, and could be seen if peered in the windows of downtown establishments. Through our partnership with the City of Winnipeg, downtown was spotless, clean, and inviting, as the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s hundreds of staff and volunteers hit the streets with the goal of providing a safe, clean and welcoming environment. Getting to and from the downtown, too, was made easier with support from Winnipeg Transit and initiatives like a free downtown circulator. The business community put out its welcome mat to the rest of the world.

When FIFA rolled into the City, Winnipeggers were treated to seven world-class matches. The elite teams, coaching staff, family and friends arrived in Winnipeg from places as far as Sweden, Nigeria, USA, Australia, Thailand, Germany, China, Ecuador, Japan and New Zealand. Welcome to the centre of the continent!

The US soccer team was seen out-and-about signing autographs and walking around our downtown, with young fans waiting on the street corners to see their favourite players. And the international media was here too, broadcasting stories of Winnipeg and FIFA across the oceans. Our city was buzzing with kids and families wanting to feel the vibe of the tournament.

The 103rd Grey Cup, too, was a week-long Canadian-style party, bringing CFL fans from across this great country. Perhaps more party-hardy than the normal sporting fan and aficionado, Grey Cup attendees are enthusiastically devoted to the sport of football, with many fans who were spotted shopping for that perfect souvenir to bring home to their loved ones. With all the Saskatchewan fans from out of town wearing their Roughriders colour, one would swear their team was in the final!

These national and international sporting events were important for many reasons, in increasing the visibility and enhancing the image of our city. This all plays into creating a positive psyche for Winnipeggers too. And the direct and indirect economic spin-offs are important. Combined, according to Economic Development Winnipeg estimates, these two events will contribute over $124 million to our local economy. Sport is big businesses, and we are hitting on all cylinders.

We often hear that density is critical for the success of our downtown. Residential density is key, office density brings our downtown alive during the day, and our downtown is indeed undergoing a great re-birth. But the density of national and international events is truly magical. It transforms places over a short period of time, and introduces visitors to our great city and their perceptions are made, here in our city centre. Our historical buildings, our Exchange District, The Forks and waterfront, and the diversity of our core truly are unique and world-class, and we should be proud. Some visitors came early, others decided to stay longer. Our restaurants, retail and nightlife deliver truly Winnipeg flavour and provide great memories. The economic impact is instant and dramatic.

Hats off to all those involved, our political leaders, our FIFA and Grey Cup champions and volunteers. 2015 will be a year to remember, perhaps the year that serves as a reminder that we have a world class City, which has finally arrived.

Sachit Mehra is the Chair of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Management Board and Stefano Grande is the Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

True North Square moves forward downtown

There is no doubt our downtown is undergoing a significant urban renaissance, defining and carving out a role in its city as not only a place to work and travel to, but as an exciting place to visit for a diverse complement of entertainment. With the recent announcement of True North Square this past week, the emerging Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (SHED) within our downtown is looking brighter.

Now that True North Sports and Entertainment has acquired the property at 220 Carlton Street, in conjunction with an exclusive option to develop a large surface parking lot on south of Carlton Street, the company’s vision to develop the land assembled into a $400-million hotel, office and commercial complex –True North Square – can move forward.

This proposal fits exceptionally well with the vision for SHED and will move this emerging district forward, making our downtown a place where people want to be seen, play, shop and live. This development will feed off the traffic generated by our downtown arena, the MTS Centre and the recently expanded and renovated convention centre. If True North Square’s preliminary renderings and designs are any indication of the level of excellence, the development that will come forward will include incredibly well-designed mixed-use buildings that are comprised of hip places to live, dynamic office spaces and commercial sidewalk spaces for cafes, restaurants, jazz clubs and a community gathering place or a plaza, creating a high degree of pedestrian and vehicular connectivity.

While two or three new office towers would have been welcomed at this site, this proposal is the nirvana of downtown vibrancy we all wish for, and is essential in taking the real estate market to the next level. Mixed use, dense developments are the recipe for success of our downtown because they create a dynamic, walkable district that provides a wide range of things to do – at all hours of the day, from living, working, shopping, dining and entertainment venues that are all in close proximity to each other.

Perhaps one of the more bold ideas of True North Square is to create a new gathering place – a new plaza for our downtown, a unique gathering place. A place where people would arrive by foot, transit, bike or car and immediately know that they are at the centre of the downtown. A place where people can sip their cup of whatever and watch the world go by. A stunning area that will attract the community for outdoor concerts, pre-game tailgate parties, New Year’s Eve bashes, and celebrating community accomplishments. Evenings would be transformed into nocturnal showpieces of lit buildings and trees, while hundreds of people sit on patios waiting for the Jets game to start, or to celebrate the win of their team in the next playoff run. The centre of it all, the most significant place in a city that belongs to everyone, capturing the capture the essence and heart of our Downtown.

There is no doubt the project being proposed by True North Sports and Entertainment will be transformative. It will create a new market for consumers. It will force property owners to step up their game and re-invest in their buildings and better align their marketing strategies more in sync with the SHED Vision. It will provide reason for people to consider living downtown, it will make a compelling argument that if your company has “arrived”, this is the location to be, and if you are a unique retailer or a restaurant, this is the new emerging district which you will want to be part off. I would argue that this project will set the stage for continued renewal efforts over the next decade in downtown Winnipeg.

The dirty truth: what it takes to keep downtown clean

I smell like garbage. But that’s okay. I had the best day of the year this past week when I helped clean up downtown with the Downtown BIZ’s clean team.
Every now and then, I take to the streets with our front-line staff. It’s important to get your hands dirty, to see firsthand how your staff and the incredible work they perform impact our downtown. To get a better sense of what they do and how they do it. To understand and appreciate their challenges. To hear their ideas on how we can make their jobs more exciting, meaningful, and easier. So, I traded in my suit for a forest green uniform, work boots, a safety vest, and got an opportunity to get to know the people and the lives of my crew who serve as incredible ambassadors for our downtown.

I wanted to help clean up downtown with my team to show them how proud I am of them. I wanted my clean team to know that I appreciate the work that they do. And no doubt this week’s engagement with my team proved to deliver on this and more. Now that I have seen them in action, I can speak with confidence and integrity when I talk to the media or to our 1,300 members about how clean downtown truly is.

Hanging out with the team also reaffirmed my belief that they truly believe that they can transform the downtown daily. It’s obvious that our downtown-cleaning program is managed well and it shows. Picking litter, power washing sidewalks, cleaning bus shelters, removing graffiti and more – these are just a few of the daily tasks undertaken. I fear the day we stop. Because the trash, litter, and grime will not stop. It’s a daily war on downtown trash and litter. A war that we’re winning.

But it’s going to take the commitment of our entire community to keep downtown looking clean and great. Many of our business and property owners go the extra mile to keep areas around their buildings clean and tidy. They wash their windows, sweep the sidewalks. Thank you for caring when many others still don’t! And thank you to the many downtowners who move out of the way so we can do our job, and who smile and thank us when we keep sidewalks free of debris and garbage.

What I also learned was how businesses are creating jobs for people to improve the cleanliness of the downtown. Through their funding, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has been able to employ nearly 22 full-time and part-time clean team employees. When I took a break during lunch to hang with the team, I was touched by a moment between Brendan, a clean-team employee, and his wife – they were chatting over Skype. She was incredibly proud of Brendan for working hard to put food on their table. It’s a tough job.
But it’s incredibly rewarding and steady. I’m proud of the people who work for us. They are the definition of family.

My brief experience with my clean team was rewarding for many reasons. Deep down, I am envious of the daily sense of accomplishment they are able to feel at the end of every day. I certainly felt it. Working in a suit behind a desk can create change, too, but it often takes much longer to achieve.

When I came home to my kids to kiss them good night, they asked why I was limping, aching and sore. All I told them was that I had a hard day at work.

Thanks team.