Monday, 30 June 2008

Winnipeg Urban Renewal Mega-projects: The Civic Centre Complex

Winnipeg has a history of had a number of mega-project redevelopment ideas that started with lofty goals and many tens of millions of dollars later the results are mixed. Note that these are not pokes at the buildings and institutions themselves but just a look-see at what has happened in the past.

The Civic Centre Complex (1961 – 1966)

History: When it came time to replace the old city hall the plan went from just a city hall to an entire Civic Centre Complex. The idea was to bring together a growing city administration under one roof in a series of buildings.

The process began in 1961 with the construction of a Council Building and an Administration Building connected by a courtyard. When completed in 1964, construction then began on phase 2 which was a Public Safety Building and parkade to house 500 cars.

Renewal Goals: Originally envisioned for Broadway, the Province “persuaded the city to reconsider the location and put it back in the heart of the warehouse district. As a tool of urban renewal, and together with the plans for a new Concert Hall it was seen as a necessary rejuvenating influence for the area” (Siamandas)

Image: Library and Archives Canada PA-020568

Area torn down: The footprint was larger than the existing city hall and police station. It included the Old Market Square behind city hall.

main1959 demolished for city hall

U of M Archives, Tribune Collection Item: PC 18/7243/18-6475-33

It also took in a full city block to the north of the old city hall. In the above photo it is the block to the left.

Influence as an urban renewal tool to the surrounding area: Nil. Derelict buildings and some of the sketchiest bars, SRO’s and other living accommodations continued to exist right on the doorstep of city hall four decades later.

Price tag: Phase 1 $8.2m. Phase 2 $4.8m. Total $13m.

City Hall Overview (Edited)

Panorama from 1950s showing location of Civic Centre and Centennial Centre Buildings.
U of M Archives, Winnipeg Tribune Collection, Number PC 18-7243-18-6475-65

Part 1: Civic Centre
Part 2: Manitoba Centennial Centre
Part 3: Portage Place
Part 4: The MTS Centre
Part 5: Conclusion

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