The Forks for People Not Profit - Position Statement

What we are opposed to:

We are opposed to the development of business ventures such as a luxury hotel, luxury condominiums and similar development plans at the Forks.

The reasons for our opposition:

The Forks has been a great success. It is currently receiving in excess of seven million visits per year. Much of its success is due to the Forks National Historic Site, the green space and the river walkways. It truly is the “meeting place” envisioned in the original Concept Plan. At the same time that the Forks is experiencing success, the downtown (which is physically and psychologically distinct from the Forks) is in a state of decay.

It is generally agreed that a strong residential component is crucial for downtown revitalization. Thus, residential units at the Forks will only detract from this needed revitalization.
As more space is used for housing developments, a hotel, office space, retail and other commercial development, the unique character of the Forks site can only be diminished.
Any land used for buildings at the Forks will be lost for many generations. It is critical to reserve significant portions of the available land for future conversion to the green and recreational space that is so highly valued by Forks visitors. Survey data indicate that the main reasons for visitation are to browse, go for pleasure walks and use the River Walkway.

Possible solutions:

One solution that has recently emerged is the dissolution of the current self-sufficiency mandate of the Forks. This would put an end to the constant striving for revenue generation that is taking place.

With funding from all three levels of government, an endowment or trust fund could be created. The revenue from this fund could maintain the Forks site, and support cultural, historical, musical, interpretive and recreational programming that would complement, not compete, with the attractions of a revitalized downtown.

Contact persons for the group include Janis Kaminsky (774-5936), Stuart Kaye (474-8419), John McLeod (885-4446), Costas Nicoloau (453-3275) and Gladys Stupich (889-6476).



The Exchange District



The Exchange District encompasses some 20-city blocks in downtown Winnipeg, just north of Canada's most famous corner--Portage and Main. The Exchange District derives its name from the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, the centre of the grain industry in Canada, and the many other exchanges which developed in Winnipeg during the period from 1881-1918.

At the turn of the century, Winnipeg was one of the fastest growing cities in North America and was known as the Chicago of the North. Some of Chicago's architects came north to practice in Winnipeg and many local architects were strongly influenced by the Chicago style. What remains of their work today is The Exchange District -- one of the most historically intact turn-of-the-century commercial districts on the continent.

Winnipeg became the third largest city in the Dominion of Canada by 1911 with 24 rail lines converging on it and over 200 wholesale businesses. The Great War from 1914-1918 slowed its growth, however, and with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1913, there was a new route for shipping goods from Eastern Canada and Europe to the West Coast and from the Far East to the larger markets on the East Coast. Most of Winnipeg's development thereafter occurred on Portage Avenue and streets to the south. Winnipeg's slow growth meant that few of The Exchange District's Chicago-style buildings would be demolished.

The Exchange District today flourishes as Winnipeg's commercial and cultural nucleus. This thriving and unique neighbourhood is home to an array of speciality retailers, restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries, wholesalers, and Winnipeg's theatre district. Its cobblestone streets and friendly pedestrian environment also contribute to The Exchange District's popularity as a period backdrop for today's movie industry.

The Exchange District is comprised of approximately 640 businesses, 205 not-for-profit organizations, and 140 residences (and growing).

The Exchange District is home to a variety of festivals and special events including: the Winnipeg Fringe Festival; the Jazz Winnipeg Festival; Music For Lunch concert series; etc, many of which occur in Old Market Square.

The Exchange District is home to Winnipeg's theatre district with the Centennial Concert Hall which hosts the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature.

The Exchange District boasts 62 of downtown Winnipeg's 86 heritage structures. These 62 structures represent approximately 2/3 of heritage building square footage and about 6% of downtown Winnipeg's total floor space area.

The following are excerpts from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Agenda Paper titled: The Exchange District, Winnipeg, Manitoba, written by Dana Johnson, Historical Services Branch.

"The Exchange District illustrates in a particularly vivid fashion the opening of the Canadian West
at the turn-of-the-century, and especially the key role which Winnipeg played in the development of the early western economy. The Exchange District ...(contains) approximately 149 buildings, 117 of which predate 1914. One these 117 historic structures, 48 were erected before 1900 and therefore document the early development of the City of Winnipeg. A further 69 structures were constructed between 1900 and 1914, the years of Winnipeg's spectacular ascension to the status of metropolitan centre for western Canada. ... Three of (the buildings) - the Union Trust, the Confederation Life and the Bank of Hamilton buildings - have been declared of national architectural and historical significance, while the phenomenon of the construction of 12 skyscrapers in Winnipeg during the boomtime years...."



Exchange District Becomes National Historic Site

On September 27, 1997, the original core of the city of Winnipeg, the Exchange District, was declared a National Historic Site by the federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Right Honourable Sheila Copps.

The Historic Sites and Monuments board recommended that Winnipeg's Exchange District be designated an historic district of national significance because it illustrates the city's key role as a centre of grain and wholesale trade, finance and manufacturing in two historically important periods in western development- between 1880 and 1900 when Winnipeg became the gateway to Canada's West, and between 1900 and 1913, when the city's growth made it the region's metropolis.

A twenty-city block area composed approximately 150 heritage buildings, the Exchange District has joined the ranks of a handful of other urban areas which have also received this distinction. There are almost 80 municipally designated buildings in the Exchange District with a further 52 on the inventory, any of which may fit the criteria for municipal designation.

This remarkable group of commercial buildings vividly illustrates Winnipeg's transformation between 1878 and 1913 from a modest pioneer settlement to western Canada's largest metropolitan centre. The district's banks, warehouses, and early skyscrapers recall the city's dominance in the fields of finance, manufacturing, wholesale distribution and the international grain trade. Designed by a number of well-known architects, these buildings reflect an approach to architecture that was innovative, functional and stylish. The First World War and the Great Depression contributed to the end of Winnipeg's spectacular boom era, leaving the district virtually intact. Through the efforts of dedicated citizens since the 1970s, the Exchange District has been preserved as a distinctive legacy from a formative period in Canada's economic development.

Heritage Auction

• Held in the historic Armstrong's Point in 1997, a residential area with a vast history - tour of the home and auctions held in order to educate, entertain and bring and awareness of our organization and to help raise much needed funds and to become an annual event;
• Attend various Heritage Open Houses at different site locations across the city to help educate the public about our organization and its instrumental role in heritage preservation;
• Network with many organizations within the city to help assist in any possible;
• Fundraising - in the past this has included things such as Heritage Winnipeg mugs, Years Past Books, and possible future ideas are currently in the works;
Maintaining a membership which includes - Individuals, organizational/family, students/seniors and Corporate.



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