December 14, 2020
Heritage Saint-Boniface Refuses to Give Up: The Sale of the Saint Boniface City Hall & Fire Station
As reported in the article, “Heritage Saint-Boniface Refuses to Give Up”, from the December 9 to 15, 2020 edition of La Libérté, Heritage Saint-Boniface is working to ensure the historic Saint Boniface City Hall is open to the public even if the building is sold to a private company. The City of Winnipeg, which owns the 1906 Saint Boniface City Hall and 1907 Saint Boniface Fire Hall, seems to be in a rush to sell the buildings, even though the tenets of the City Hall cover its costs and there is funding in place to maintain the sculpture garden on its grounds. Only the Fire Hall is vacant at present. Heritage Saint-Boniface President Walter Kleinschmit, believes the buildings are at the heart of the French community in Manitoba, and champions the idea of a public square, with some sort of privately owned public space agreement, akin to the Forks:
“We have to find a way to reconcile the public and private dimensions of the buildings. Especially when we understand that the very existence of the Sculpture Garden is directly linked to its environment. If the public no longer has access to the buildings and places as they wish, the Sculpture Garden will no longer have the same visibility. With respect to the former fire station, it can be noted that the city of Winnipeg has sold or kept former fire stations for conversion in the interest of the community. For example, the former St. Vital Fire station now houses a museum.”
Efforts to consult the public on the sale of the buildings have been hindered by COVID-19, but the City refused to extend the November 6, 2020 deadline for proposals. Kleinschmit remains hopeful that the efforts of Heritage Saint-Boniface and Société de la francophonie manitobaine, along with public support, will make the City realize the importance of these buildings and ensure their sale puts the community before profits.
“Community buildings represent not only our roots, but also the evolution of our Francophonie. It used to be very homogenous, but today it comes from everywhere and is enriched by everyone’s culture. Our community buildings should reflect the aspirations of the Francophonie,” said Kleinschmit.
Heritage Winnipeg supports the effort of Heritage Saint-Boniface, recognizing both the historical and architectural significance of the buildings. “The City of Winnipeg must work with the community to give the best possible future to the former Saint Boniface City Hall,” said Heritage Winnipeg Executive Director, Cindy Tugwell.
Stay up to date with this issue and lend your support by visiting the Heritage Saint-Boniface Facebook group.
Learn more about the Saint Boniface City Hall and the Saint Boniface Fire Hall in the Heritage Winnipeg Blog:
All quotes in this post are from the article “Heritage Saint-Boniface Refuses to Give Up” published in La Libérté, December 9 to 15, 2020.