Wednesday, 17 December 2008

More Skywalk

One of the last projects funded by the Winnipeg Partnership Agreement will be an expansion of the skywalk - sorry, that's the "The W" Walkway System, of course - through to the convention centre. From the news release:

The expansion will connect the existing walkway system through to the Winnipeg Convention Centre with an overhead passage from CityPlace Mall to 330 St. Mary, above Hargrave Street, and in front of the Delta Hotel connecting to the existing links at the Convention Centre and 155 Carlton.

When / if the Lakeview hotel gets built on the empty lot west of the Convention Centre that will, save for the stretch that runs through The Bay parkade, complete the southern loop.

I see walkways as a necessary evil. They suck retail and pedestrians from street level making downtown seem emptier than it is. We do, though, live in a winter city and the increased mobility they provide, whether it be an office worker able to walk down to the Paddlewheel for lunch or someone in a wheelchair able to run errands instead of being snowbound for the winter, is a major plus.

Skywalks have been part of Winnipeg's urban landscape for many decades. The earliest example I could find was in 1969 when Eaton's and the neighbouring Somerset building were linked up.

The Convention Centre used them to connect to the Lakeview development next door in the mid 70's

Unfortunately, this new section is going to cut in front of St. Mary's Cathedral blocking the view. We've not always been sympathetic when skywalks and historic buildings come in close proximity.

Scale is important. Many walkways - City Place to the Library, Eatons to the Somerset Building - blend into the urban landscape. The 80's, though, brought about the "in your face" skywalk to the city.

For Portage Avenue, considering the Portage Place lot and most of Portage Avenue were dug up many storeys down, I don't know why an underground crossing was not used. The "boxcars" really destroyed the view down a grand avenue.

So get your 360 looks and shots of St. Mary's now before the skwalk crosses - you'll never get that view again !


Anonymous said...

I agree on the necessity of the Skywalk system in -40 Winnipeg. As I comment today at Don Street, we should consider the surface parking lots, the shortage of apartment space, and the completion of the sky-walk as an ideal confluence. I've started the group IMBY to build apartments on Donald street on the surface lots and attached the Skywalk. Membership fees are one (1) surface parking lot. Sign up today!

mrchristian said...

Heh ! I loved at Chateau 100 for a while and overlooked the myriad of missing teeth along Donald. It was like what you'd imagine parts of a war torn city looks like after the cleanup.

Alex Reid said...

I especially like the SkyWalks downtown. It's not just because of the brutal cold during the winter (or humidity during the summer), but because it elevates pedestrian traffic.

It can be for those not wanting to be delayed or injured by vehicular traffic, but most of all for our older population and the disabled. It's also helpful for unadventurous tourists, like following a coloured line in the hospital.

Skywalks aren't for everyone and they aren't everywhere. But where they are, they assist.

However I would like to see the private sector realizing the benefits to having a skywalk connected to their properties, and thus spending more of the cost share.