A Threat to the Exchange District
Should Rules be Broken?
In 2001, The Exchange District was named a National Historic Site of Canada because of its ...”harmonious representation of one or more styles or constructions, building types, or periods that has a sense of history....” That designation could be in jeopardy if the plans for the development of a 12-story skyscraper goes through and opens the door to other high-rise development in the Exchange District.
The developer, Alston Properties, also responsible for the 7-story pump house project, is proposing to build a 145’ building in the parking lot at 127 Bannatyne, in the East Exchange. The City has rejected the planned height of 145 feet in accordance with the 2004 Downtown Winnipeg Zoning bylaw No. 100/2004 that stipulates a maximum height of 100 feet. The developer has petitioned for a variance and has a hearing scheduled for April 19, 2021. Essentially they want to break the rules.
What's the Current Lay of the Land?
Most buildings in the Exchange average 4-8 stories. In the East Exchange, aside from Main Street, only 3 buildings are at or near the maximum 100’ height (two on Waterfront and one at the corner of Market and Rorie), two are 6 stories (including Ashdown Warehouse) and all the rest are significantly smaller. A modern-looking, 12-story tower would become an unwanted beacon and detract from the historic aesthetic. A 6 or 8 story building would be a better fit; at least in terms of height. So far, there has been no public decisions regarding the facade materials and colour of the proposed building.
While it is good news to contemplate more people living in the Exchange (something I have promoted for years!), the bad news is a building of this size will affect the aesthetic feeling relative to the other historic buildings in the area. More importantly, this building could set a dangerous precedent that could open the doors to the development of even taller buildings in the area which, in turn, could lead to a deterioration of this historic jewel of Winnipeg.
If you have the same concerns that I have, please join me in opposing the height of this development. Here are 3 ways you can help:
- Register to speak against the appeal at the April 19th Zoom hearing (call (204)986-8665 or email CLK-Appeals@winnipeg.ca by 2:30 on April 16)
- Send me an email to voice your opposition to the appeal of the height restriction (please include your full name and address)
- Pass the word around to your friends and neighbours.
I will be at the meeting. I think we would be quite effective if we show a united front at the meeting, as well as to have a significant showing of emails from fellow residents that are against a building well in excess of the 100’ limit. Let’s work together to preserve our historical neighbourhood.
Does Size Really Matter?
The architect’s (ATLRG.ca) rendering below shows a view of the proposed building down Bannatyne from Rorie. From this perspective and angle the building doesn’t look too obtrusive.
However, if we look at the proposed building from a front view, you can see the impact it will have compared to everything around it. The rendering is a bit rough but is to scale. The numbers on the surrounding buildings indicate the number of stories.
How Would a 12 Story Tower Impact the Existing Exchange Roofline?
I'm sure you would agree that this proposed building might stick out as a prominent shiny tower amongst buildings that are all over 100 years old?
Here is the architect’s rendering of the proposed view.
Here is my rough but to scale rendering. Quite a difference from the architect’s view.
Who is the Developer?
Alston Properties’ current project in the Exchange is located at the James Avenue Pumping Station. The 7-story, 28 unit, motel-like building in front of the pump house (see picture)is leased and nearing completion. They are working on the foundation of the second much larger 65 unit dual rental building (see rendering) behind the pump house.
The developer is quite committed to new projects in the Exchange District. In addition to owning the parking lot at 127 Bannatyne, we understand they also own the parking lot directly across Ashdown Warehouse, so possibly that is their next development opportunity.
Who is the Architect?
The architect for the proposed 12-story building on Bannatyne is ATLRG. They have other projects on the go, or planned, for the Exchange including this proposed building which would be located at the iconic centre of the Exchange District at the corner of Albert and Arthur Streets.
This architectural wedge would sit on the site where the old service station building once stood. While the concept is very cool and would look great in many areas of Winnipeg, most people think it doesn’t belong in the centre of the historic Exchange District.
What About Parking?
Parking is always a hot issue, for residents of the Exchange as well as for tourists, shoppers and concert-goers. Will this development help or hurt parking? Here are the facts for 127 Bannatyne:
Current number of parking spots in the lot: 40
Number of parking spots in the building: 32
Number of apartments in the building: 90
So, assuming an average of 1.5 people per apartment, there will be 135 additional people (most with cars) and 8 less parking spots than today. Clearly a nice addition to the resident numbers, but it would make the parking problems worse.
How to Take Action?
Again, if you have concerns about this development, please join me in opposing the height of this development. Here are three ways you can help:
- Register to speak against the appeal at the April 19th Zoom hearing (call (204)986-8665 or email CLK-Appeals@winnipeg.ca by 2:30 on April 16)
- Send me an email to voice your opposition to the appeal of the height restriction (please include your full name and address). You must register by Friday April 16 at 2:30 p.m.
- Pass the word around to your friends and neighbours.
Spring Spruce Up
We hope to see you at our second annual Exchange District Spring Spruce Up on Wednesday, April 21! (NEW DATE)
In celebration of Earth Day, the Exchange District Biz is hosting a community cleanup to get the Exchange District looking fantastic for spring.
When: Wednesday, April 14, 9 am - 12 pm
Where: Old Market Square
Gloves and cleaning supplies will be provided. If you're interested in joining in, please register.
We’d love to have you join us but if you can’t make it out, you can still do your part by cleaning up around your building!
Come out and connect with your community, and let’s work together to beautify the area and take care of our small corner of the planet.
Indigenous Dining Experience
In October 2019, the historic Exchange District played host to Ishkode, a dining experience celebrating Indigenous cuisine. Four Indigenous chefs, including Melissa Urban Brownee, Glenna “Cookum Daisy” Henderson and Steve Watson will develop a 7-course meal inspired by the theme of "pre-colonization.”
There were only 5 seatings of this not-to-be-missed experience, and Ireserved one of them for the Residents of the Exchange District! The R:ED seating was on Thursday October 24th at 6:00.
First Nations people have worked toward building various platforms to showcase the beautiful traditions and teachings that have been passed down from generation to generation. Ishkode incorporates Indigenous cuisine with traditional plants/medicines and wild game that have fed First Nations’ families for generations.
Education and sharing knowledge are core components of Ishkode and we focused on incorporating traditional and historical knowledge to give our participants an all-around culinary and learning experience, including cultural and food sovereignty.
Ishkode also featured indigenous artists works from up and coming artists Dwayne Bird and Nicole Leclair.
This special evening was hosted for R:ED by Long Plains First Nation member Kyra Wilson and Metis restaurateur Noel Bernier. Ishkode aims at bringing light to an entirely new generation of Indigenous Chefs as they begin to create modern Indigenous cuisine.
This event was offered at a cost of only $99. What makes this even more spectacular is that while the general public will pay $149 to have an entry and wine/beer pairing included with dinner, for this R:ED event, the pairing has been sponsored and will be included in the $99 charge. An amazing deal!
The event took place in the historic and stunning Cloakroom, on the 2nd floor of 70 Albert Street.
New Waterfront Development
Details have been released on two new developments on Waterfront Drive by a Calgary developer that will bring an additional 330 rental units to the East Exchange.
The $100 million development will include 170 units on the site currently occupied by Great West Metal on Waterfront Drive between Alexander and Pacific Avenues. It will be designed as a very modern structure that will wrap around the heritage building behind it which will be converted to commercial space.
The second part of the development will be two six story buildings on the corner of Waterfront Drive and Galt Avenue.
The deal was recently closed by CentreVenture and the buildings have been designed by Exchange District based 5468796 Architectural.
See this WFP article for further details: WFP-2019-10-08
Market Lands - 5 Proposals
The Market Lands design competition was exciting! A reality-TV talent competition, but with architectural designs and no Simon, all in front of a panel of judges who will decide on the ultimate winner. Twenty minutes for each presentation, eight minutes for questions from the judges.
I had the pleasure to be in packed audience and despite the lack of buzzers or spinning chairs of the TV talent shows, it was exciting to see the amazing and varied ideas that five talented teams from across Canada had for the same plot of land.
After two years of public consultations, CentreVenture determined that use will be a mixed-use development encompassing a multi-storey affordable-housing building, a ground-floor space for local arts groups, retail spaces for local artisans and a public plaza so this formed the basis of all of the presentations.
The winner will work with Centreventure to finalize the design of Market Lands development, expected to be a $30 million development between the Exchange District, City Hall and China Town
Check out the Market Lands website for details on the proposals; a decision will be announced on December 14.
Market Lands Presentations
The public is invited to hear/see presentations of ideas from the 5 shortlisted designers for the Marketlands area of the Exchange District. Should be interesting -- click on the image for details.
St. Charles Hotel vs Residents
It started in December of 2015 with a yellow poster from then MLCC on the boarded up windows of the long abandoned St. Charles Hotel. They were applying for a dining room licence and a beer vendor licence. Wait a minute: the building has been abandoned for years -- how can they apply for a liquor licence?!
I sent in an objection to the beer vendor licence application on behalf of R:ED. CentreVenture also objected. In a July 2016 R:ED newsletter, I asked for residents to email their thoughts on having another beer vendor in the area. The negative responses were definitive in their opposition with many giving personal negative experiences with the current vendors and some with the St. Charles when it was open years ago. The 50 responses were an integral component of my submission of opposition sent to the MLCC.
The MLCC Executive Director allowed the owner of the St. Charles to proceed with a dining room licence, but the beer vendor licence was declined. The reason it was turned down: opposition by the residents. Yay - a win!
The owner appealed. After many delays by the owner in June 2018 the board set a date and said it would not be changed or delayed.
I again agreed to appear in person before the board to present our "case." Does it sound like a trial? It felt like it, and by the way, the hotel owner is a lawyer.
There was over an hour of presentations by Angela Mathieson, CEO of CentreVenture, and by me, representing R:ED. Then some 'cross-examination' by the owner and then final statements by all sides. The board left the room to deliberate and returned about 20 minutes later with a unanimous decision: the appeal was declined - the original decision to not allow the beer vendor licence held!
Two lessons learned. First, the process is onerous, legal-heavy and slow. The second lesson was valuable: When a new licence is under consideration, the interests of local residents are taken into account and are a significant factor.
Construction Update - McDermot Ave.
The last block of McDermot Ave, between Rorie and Waterfront has been changed from a two way to one way traffic heading east, to be consistent with the rest of McDermot. As a result of the success of the angled parking pilot project on Bannatyne Ave last year between Rorie and Waterfront, the new block of McDermot now has angled parking as well.
I have been lobbying for years to have a sidewalk built on this block of McDermot on the south side. I was told by many at the city that it couldn’t be done, and that an unnamed property owner would not allow it (despite being on city land). As a compromise, a couple of years ago, the city built a sidewalk on the north side of the street, where it is not really needed and where there was nice grass — one of the few grass boulevards in the area. ugh.
As part of this year’s street renovation project, they did build a sidewalk on the south side of this block of McDermot, getting rid of the ugly gravel sections and the dumpsters behind the new building addition close to Waterfront Drive.
Construction Update - Bannatyne
What a mess! First they tore up Bannatyne between Waterfront and Rorie, then they patched it. Businesses and residents went without water for hours a few days in a row as construction workers replaced a water main that was installed in 1890! The 128 year old water main pipe they replaced had a 4” diameter, and we were told that given the age and sediment, it probably only had 1 ½ inch opening. It was replaced with a 12” pvc pipe.
Then they dug holes in the next block (Rorie to Main) causing grief for the many residents and businesses. Then they patched it, then, they tore it all up again, patched it and now they are cutting new sections out…
Cycling Improvements in Exchange
The City’s recent protected bike lanes project has had significant changes on travel down Bannatyne or McDermot. Not only is there now a protected lane dedicated to cyclists, but there are changes for drivers too.
“No right turn on red” signs have been installed at all of the intersections. The reason is to protect cyclists — drivers turning right tend to look left and are not as aware of cyclists (or pedestrians) on their right. This change is effective now.
In addition, special signals have been installed on all intersections with traffic lights. When uncovered, these signals will give cyclists a few second head-start on the cars — much like transit priority signals for the busses at some intersections. Again, these new signals are to make cycling more safe.
Welcome: Generation Green
Welcome to a new store/cafe in the Exchange -- Generation Green & Acorn Cafe right at the corner of Main & Bannatyne (main floor of the passport building).
They offer some conveniences such as some bulk food items, a sourdough breadshare program where you preorder your bread once a week and then pick it up there. Also, since they have an all vegan cafe that is open 7 days a week, they also offer a pre-ordering program for vegan cheeses that are all made in house.
In addition to Acorn Cafe, Generation Green offers natural, safer alternatives to conventional products such as house cleaning, bath & body and cosmetics and have a refill station for some of those household items as well.
Also note that they are having a Monthly Cleanup Cleanup -staff and friends of Generation Green/Acorn Cafe help us pick-up litter throughout the Exchange. Next date is June 27 from 6:30 to 7:30 (more info on Facebook)
Bike Week Transportation Panel
JUNE 20 @ 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
In celebration of Bike Week (June 18-24), the Exchange District Biz wants us to take some time to reflect on how transportation networks have evolved in the Exchange District, and discuss ideas and opportunities for active transit and to build a supportive environment for all modes of transportation used in the area.
What: Bring your lunch, and join in for a summer picnic to chat transportation! The picnic panel will kick-off the discussion, and open the conversation around walking, cycling, and transit in the Exchange. We will explore what is needed in the area to support a culture of sustainable transportation for businesses, residents, and the areas many cultural events. We will also discuss how can the Biz can continue to support you to move around via whatever mode you choose.
Where: Stephen Juba Park
When: Wednesday, June 20th 12:00pm-1:00pm (Panel) 1:00pm-1:30pm (Ideas Exploration)
Will Belford – Natural Cycle/Bike Jams
Thom Sparling – Creative Manitoba
Phil Mikulec – Peg City Car Co-op
Bob Somers– Scatliff Miller Murray
Lynne Stefanchuk – Jazz Fest Winnipeg
Angela Mathieson – Centure Venture
David Pensato – Exchange District Biz
What to Bring? There will be picnic blankets for you to sit to eat your lunch, chill out and relax on. All you’ll have to do is come on down to Stephen Juba park, bring your lunch and your ideas.
Construction: Waterfront & James
It's that time of year -- and the City has roadwork planned for Waterfront Drive between Lombard and George as well as James Avenue between Waterfront and Lily.
Work is expected to begin May 7th, and be completed in late July.
During construction, northbound traffic on Waterfront will be maintained at most times. As work will be done on each intersection, short term closers will be required.
See the attached PDF for details.
Note that there will also be construction on McDermott and Bannatyne during the summer. Both are having active transportation routes built. McDermott from Waterfront Drive to Rorie St. will also get a new sidewalk on the south side, and the roadway will be converted to one way.
CentreVenture has issued a request for expression of interest to all businesses / non-profits interested in occupying space in the Market Lands development area.
Market Lands is the development project to utilize the space formerly occupied by the Public Safety Building and the civic parking garage.
Small town parking hits the Exchange
Okay, its not really “small town parking”, but that is what most of us associate angled parking with. As part of a pilot project, the City of Winnipeg will implement angled parking on Bannatyne Avenue between Waterfront Drive and Rorie Street on Monday July 24th.
Above: City of Winnipeg info (click to enlarge)
To facilitate the additional space needed for cars parked at an angle, this block will be converted from a two way street to a one way street. Curiously, this is the only block of Bannatyne that is two way, all the rest up the HSC is one way moving west.
The pilot project will last about 8 months, and the City will be seeking feedback from residents, businesses in the area and the public.
What's Up Dock?
On the west bank of the Red River, the Alexander Dock has a rich history of river transportation after it was built in 1929 and became a vital shipping link to the nearby Exchange District. But the future of the dock will be up for discussion at public meetings this week.
Consultations will be held inside The Forks Market on Saturday June 10 from 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Those unable to attend in person can access an online consultation form through The Forks website. Information collected during the process will be presented as a report to the city in July.
Victoria Park, where the dock was eventually built, was an important gathering place in the 1919 General Strike. The Alexander Dock was built in 1929 and was an important shipping and transportation hub for the City. Its location, on the bank of the Red River, was close to the heart of trade in the Exchange District. As trade routes and technology evolved the Dock became focused on recreational activities.
Over the ensuing years, the Dock has been repaired extensively and often. A few years ago an ice storm damaged the structure beyond repair and made it unsound. As such, the public can no longer access the Dock.
This City-owned property is a portion of the North Winnipeg Parkway, that extends from The Forks to Kildonan Park along the west bank of the Red River.
Current Site Considerations
The Alexander Dock site is less than an acre in total. The current dock spans approximately 406 feet (124 m) along the river with 44 feet (13.5m) width from the bank. It is within the flood plain and there is an aqueduct and a hydro line south of the current dock. These considerations must be taken into account for any future uses.
The site is located in the Riverbank Sector. This city defined sector is intended primarily for the use and enjoyment of the public, ensuring that views and access to and from the rivers are enhanced.
Looks like an interesting discussion regarding a downtown icon going to be happening in the Exchange District this month.
Living in the Exchange District
Reproduced with permission, originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 5, 2017.
Reimagined: James Avenue Pump House
Much of downtown Winnipeg was threatened in 1904 when a fire raged out of control at James Ashdown’s Main Street hardware store. The domestic water supply, fed by artesian wells, proved inadequate to fight a fire of this scale. Untreated Red River water was pumped into the domestic supply in a desperate attempt to increase water pressure. The fire was extinguished but contamination of the city’s water supply resulted in 1,300 cases of typhoid fever in the following days.
Winnipeg already had North America’s highest rate of typhoid since much of the immigrant population north of downtown had no access to the artesian wells and regularly consumed river water. Regardless, the business-oriented civic leaders saw fire protection for their new commercial buildings as the priority. James Ashdown, owner of the fire-ravaged hardware store and foremost member of Winnipeg’ commercial/political elite, led the way in the construction of the James Avenue High Pressure Pumping Station. He became Winnipeg’s mayor in 1906.
The Pumping Station was considered the most sophisticated in the world. Water was drawn directly from the Red River and pushed through an eight-mile network of high-pressure lines to more than seventy downtown fire hydrants. The system was completely isolated from the domestic water supply. Four large pumps were each capable of delivering 1800 gallons per minute and two smaller pumps each produced an additional 900 gallons per minute. As a result, any hydrant in the network could produce a 600-foot stream of water, roughly the height of a fifty-story building. By this time Winnipeg had its earliest steel-frame “skyscrapers”. It was anticipated that the new steelframe technology would send buildings much higher in the future. The Pumping Station assured fire protection for existing as well as prospective buildings.
The British built pumping machinery was set in place in working order before the handsome brick building was constructed over it’ a true example of form following function. An excellent example of early industrial architecture, the building is designed in a straightforward and utilitarian manner. The sole decorative feature is the corbelled brickwork above the large arched windows.
In 1919, the station was connected to the new Shoal Lake Aqueduct. This source was preferable to the muddy water of the Red River. A neighbouring coal gas producer plant and large gas storage tank were demolished in 1962 when the engines were converted to natural gas and electricity. The James Avenue Pumping Station was taken out of service in 1986, a victim of higher operating costs, deteriorating water mains, and modern pumper trucks which offer firefighters greater flexibility.
Two residential buildings connected to the Pump House will be built on east and west end of the parcel. The buildings will be separated from the Pump House by two muses. The development scenario allows for the great pump hall - a well-preserved example of the “golden age” of machinery - to become accessible to the public. At the moment the team is pursuing funding avenues for a dedicated public access and interpretive content.
The architects are going to present the conceptual drawings, models and renderings to illustrate the proposal.
Private Tour for Residents
At our upcoming R:ED event, Colin Neufeld, from 5468796 architecture will take us inside the pump house -- a building that few have seen the inside of. The tour will take residents into the underbelly of the City, a place of beautiful infrastructure, that has been closed for so many years...
James Ave Closure / Pump House Development
Many have noticed the yellow signs on James Ave indicating a "road closure." James Ave is not closing! The City is seeking approval to make it narrower, essentially closing one lane (see plan). That will still leave one lane in each direction and one lane of parking (see attached graphic). Along with this will be sewer upgrades, new sidewalks, boulevards and new light fixtures.
You may have also noticed an article in the Winnipeg Free Press about the most recent (in a long series) plan for the pump house at James Ave and Waterfront Drive. I met with CentreVenture CEO Angela Matheson last week to discuss this latest development, and she shared with me the preliminary plans and artist concept drawings of the proposed development. I was not able to take any with me, but they will be made public after they are presented to a City committee in two weeks.
After having seen many of the past ideas/plans, including the most recent 26 story skyscraper concept, I think most people will like this. According to CentreVenture, this could be the one that actually happens!
The best part of this plan -- the pump house is totally restored and the pumps (photo gallery) would be fully preserved for viewing. There would likely be a mezzanine level built over the pump house floor (which is below grade) with either commercial or residential space that includes viewing down to the pump level.
The development includes a 4 story building constructed in front of the pump house, and a 6 story building on the surface parking lot immediately behind -- both raised on a very high pedestal allowing for easy sight lines to the pump house.
All of this is contingent on many things happening, so who knows?
Winter is here -- Embrace it!
The cold weather will be with us for a few months yet, so let's not hide, let's embrace winter. Three suggestions on how to get outside and actually enjoy winter.
Dinner on the River
Enjoy a five course meal by an acclaimed Winnipeg chef in an amazing pop-up restaurant built right on the river, at the Forks.
This restaurant, "Raw: Almond" is open Jan 22 until Feb 11th for dinner (advance tickets required) and lunch. New this year, three times each night there will be a cocktail tasting bar with tickets available for sale that morning!!!
Festival du Voyager
This annual celebration of winter and the French culture will be held Feb 13 - 22.
Most of the Festival du Voyager events will be at Voyageur Park - a short walk from the Exchange District.
Our February R:ED Event is a beautiful Wednesday night outing for a short skate at the Forks, then dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Don't have skates? Rent them the Forks Market for $5. Can't skate - try, or come for a walk.
This is also a great opportunity to check out the international architecture design competition winning warming huts.
If you haven't skated on the river trail yet, this video from Rick Mercer Reports shows to skating trail and last year's huts.
So please join us for a Wednesday evening of skating (or walking if you prefer) and a spaghetti dinner. Click for further details and to register.
Making "Mad Men" Inspired Cocktails
Once it was discovered that there was a bartending school in the Exchange, it was a no-brainer that we needed to hold a R:ED event there. The owner, Brandon Whyte, not only has his business in the area, but he is a R:ED member too!
On Tuesday November 4th, about 35 R:ED members and guests packed the Exchange Bartending School on Princess for what was billed as an "educational" evening: Making Mad Men Inspired Cocktails.
We were greeted at the door with a French 75 cocktail - and with that the "education" began! Brandon talked to us about cocktails and bartending -- clearly a man with passion for his career.
He gave us detailed instruction in the fine art of making the cocktail brought back to fame by the Mad Men TV show: the Old Fashioned. Then his lovely staff of bartenders went to work to make an Old Fashioned for each.
Next it was our turn for hands-on bartending: the classic martini. Brandon discussed the history of martini's, and talked about shaken vs stirred, dryness and techniques. Then four groups of two went behind the bar to make their own martini.
Our last cocktail was a Negroni (or Boulevardier, if you substituted bourbon for the gin). Yum!
The evening included a lot of time for sipping on your cocktails and meeting new neighbours. There was a lot of community building at this event!
Continuing with the Mad Men theme, we had a door prize (generously donated by the Exchange Bartending School) for the best Mad Men look. The winner was Lindsay P. (aka "Betty Draper), who not only had the look and the outfit, she even made a package of Lucky cigarettes. It was Lindsay's birthday, so her win was doubly appropriate.
It was a very fun evening. Special thanks to Brandon Whyte and his bartender staff for doing such a great job hosting us.
[check the photo gallery for more images]
Friday Fresh Food Market
Knox Community Kitchen is proud to announce the return of its Indoor year-round bi-weekly Friday Fresh Food Market at Knox Church, 400 Edmonton Street from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The indoor fresh food market will feature an ethnically diverse selection of local and fresh food for sale by Knox Community kitchen’s budding social enterprise food business.
Fresh and local food can be enjoyed as a sit-down lunch or as ready to eat takeaway, and includes Belgian waffles, Texan style tacos and tortillas with unique salsas, hot soup, beef and chicken, Filipino fish sausage and liche flan, spring rolls and pineapple fritters.
Downtown and surrounding neighbourhood residents and workers will also have a variety fresh and local food-buying options to choose such as reasonably-priced fresh fruits and vegetables that can be purchased in small or large quantities, artisan breads, cakes and cupcakes, the infamous fruit pies and cheesecakes and donuts.
Knox community kitchen has become a vibrant centre as a diverse cultural food destination, and is becoming a food purchasing destination for the surrounding community, including the Exchange District -- be sure to check it out and support our neighbours!
Downtown Debate: Mayor Candidates
Candidates for Mayor of Winnipeg are going to debate on downtown issues on September 10th.
Brazilian Carnaval Coming to Exchange
As co-chair of this fun event, I invite you to Bannatyne Carnaval
Street Party in the Exchange District!
Our 3rd annual party will turn Bannatyne Ave into a Free Street Festival with South American food, music and dancing.
Come join us on Friday, Aug 22nd (6:30pm-11:30pm) and Saturday, August 23rd (1:30pm-11:30pm)! The party takes place outside my front door on Bannatyne Avenue, between Waterfront and Rorie St.
Our live entertainment includes local and imported bands playing South American music, as well as salsa and samba dancing presentations. Warning: spontaneous dancing may break out on the street!
Food is a major feature of a great street festival! Accordingly we will have food tents featuring South American food, including empanadas and churros.
There will be an large beer garden set up in front of the main stage, as well as patios at the end of each block where patrons can get food and drink.
We estimate that we had about 5,000 in attendance during our inaugural year, and 10,000 last year.
Looking forward to see all of our residents, their guests and the general public at this free event!
For the second year, two residents lead a Jane's Walk of interested people through the streets of the East Exchange. Dave Connors and John Giavedoni hosted the walk on Sunday May4th.
Kicking off from the Fox and Fiddle, co-owner Ryan Daneault talked about the history of the building they are in, and gave free water to the walkers.
From there, the 90 minute walk covered much of the history as well as the current residential development between Main Street and Waterfront Drive.
The energetic group asked a lot of questions and many "wows" were heard on the route.
Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. Each year on the same weekend, a global network of walks takes place in over 100 cities. There were 24 walks in Winnipeg.
Thanks to Dave Connors for spearheading this year's East Exchange walk, and Ryan Daneault for the water bottles.
Spitting is okay?
Not often can you go out for an entertaining and educational evening where spitting is allowed. On the other hand, the coffees were so good, I don't think anyone sipped and spit at our recent R:ED coffee tasting event.
Kristin Walker, manager of the Starbucks in Winnipeg Square, and a resident of the Exchange District put together a fantastic evening for the members that attended.
We received an excellent tutorial on coffee growing, picking and shipping. We not only learned about various coffees, but we learned how to property taste them. Coffee Master Stephanie Mitchell, guided us through comparative tastings, including some where food was used to accentuate the coffee flavours! Fun!
In addition to an entertaining and educational evening, 100% of the entrance proceeds ($190) were donated to "Lunches with Love", a local charity that provides paper bag lunches in support of Winnipeg's homeless shelters.
A huge thank you to Kristin Walker and her staff, Stephanie Mitchell, and Starbucks for a fun evening.
[Click for more event pictures...]
On February 4th the Residents of the Exchange District had an opportunity to tour the Mere Hotel and the CIBO Waterfront Café. Residents once again showed their interest and commitment to their community by having over 50 people show up for the tour and 27 people staying for dinner at CIBO.
The Residents were impressed with Mere’s lobby and especially the interactive screen that allows visitors to learn more about Winnipeg, the area and local attractions. The tour led the residents in groups of ten through a couple of main floor rooms, the exercise room overlooking the river as well as the modern lobby complete with a beautiful wave style couch.
The rooms were modern and equipped with a cappuccino maker. The only negative aspect noted, especially on the river side rooms, was that the ‘noodles’ that adorn the front of the building do interfere with what would otherwise be spectacular river views.
The tour continued to CIBO which most residents had already visited. The consensus was that the café has been restored beautifully and provided a relaxing atmosphere to dine, have a coffee, glass of wine or a beer as one enjoys magnificent views of the Red River, Human Rights Museum and Stephan Juba Park.
Residents are anxiously awaiting for the outdoor patio to be open but it appears currently there are some issues with licensing the outdoor space and alternate plans are being explored to have an outdoor patio this summer.
It was a great evening where the Residents of the Exchange were able to continue to develop their sense of community. A big thank you to Marion Mckenzie (GM, Mere Hotel) and Stephen Pawulski (GM/chef, CIBO Waterfront Cafe) for helping with this event.
Secret Dinner: the true secret...
The basic concept of the secret dinner is that you commit to the evening without knowing where or what you will eat, just that it will not be in a restaurant, and that some adventure will be involved.
At our first Secret Dinner in 2012, residents met in the Fairmont hotel lobby, and were taken by cab to a surprise location on Higgins.
For our second Secret Dinner, on a chilly December 10 2013, about 50 residents were only told to meet at HutK Furniture on Princess. The building was built in 1883 as the first Oddfellows Hall for the Independent Order of Oddfellows.
Expecting to be transported to the dinner location from there, most were reluctant to take off their coats and relax. It wasn't until champagne was served that they realized we were not immediately heading onward. Then came the baby cobs of corn wrapped in prosciutto, and now the coats were coming off!
While the relaxing, mingling and drinking was proceeding, the first group was asked to assemble in the back. Most thought we were going to slip out the back door. Instead, the plan was to take the freight elevator upstairs. On the third floor, is the original ballroom used by the Oddfellows and Rebekahs for their events; for us, a spectacular dinner, created by Chef Alejandro Mora, awaited.
However, the adventure was just beginning for the first group. Ten of us, armed with coats and drinks, squeezed into the old freight elevator. When the gate closed, we moved a few feet then stopped dead. Yes, we were trapped in the elevator! [click for FULL STORY]
Perfect Podium Pot-luck Party!
On Sunday September 15th, we held the first R:ED event of the fall season: Podium Pot-luck Party.
Hosted by David Connors and Sharon MacDonald, the event was held on the "podium" between the two Excelsior towers on Waterfront Drive.
The open air outdoor venue was beautiful with residents seated amongst the beautiful large plants. The sky was clear and as you listened to the entertainment, your eyes could wander westward to the setting sun. [photo gallery]
As it was a pot-luck, there was a stunning array of foods brought by the 70 attendees. The dessert table was a popular gathering spot into the evening.
A huge variety of great food, lawn chairs, neighbours and sunshine - what more could you ask for? Yes, we had more: the large turnout was entertained by the smooth folk music of J.P. Hoe.
Big thanks to Dave and Sharon for organizing and hosting this terrific event!
Bannatyne Carnaval: a huge success!
On August 23rd and 24th, R:ED participated in the 2nd annual Bannatyne Carnaval Street Festival. A true community event, with two stages of free live entertainment on Bannatyne between Waterfront Dr. and Rorie St.
R:ED members were well represented amongst the
thousands that attend the two day festival. Three big patios were setup to allow for patrons to sit and enjoy a beverage and food at Corrientes Argentine Pizza
, Carnaval BBQ Restaurant
and Liv in the Exchange
. There were also two beer garden areas, with
cocktails available from Prairie 360
and Billabong Gastropub
as well as craft beers from Barley Brothers
If you were hungry, there were BBQ stations from Corrientes serving deer, elk and pulled port sliders, and Carnaval, featuring a full pig BBQ'd the Brazilian way on a cross over a wood fire.
Entertainment was amazing! The headliner act, Thiago Correa
, direct from Brazil, had a crowd dancing in front of the stage whenever they played. Other crowd-pleasers included Marco Castillo
, Combo Latino and Paradize Band.
Marcia Monteggia, a Samba dancer from the heart of Sao Paulo who immigrated to Winnipeg in 2004, made sure everyone was on their feet when she and two students of her samba school starting dancing through the street. The amazing music, combined with Marcia's costumed samba, and a hot and humid street filled with happy people, made for a true Carnaval ending to the evening, and to a successful event.
A big congratulations to my co-chair, Noel Bernier, and his dedicated staff for a truly outstanding event.
[click on pictures for a larger view]
On Saturday May 4th and Sunday May 5th the seventh annual Jane's Walk strolled into town. This year, Winnipeggers could choose from over a dozen guided walks across the city presented in an innovative and uniquely neighbourly fashion.
Free walking tours are held on the first weekend of May each year are led by locals who want to create a space for residents to talk about what matters to them in the places they live and work. This year's selection included:
The Dreaming Downtown walk was filled with the history of the Scottish settlers, historic forts and their downfalls, engineering marvels including the Winnipeg aquaduct and the pumping station constructed to fight fires -- all along Waterfront Drive. David Connors, the walk leader, knew his history!
Jordan Van Sewell talked about his three art installations in the riverside park, their history and meaning. John Giavedoni assisted David with commentaries on the residential growth in the Exchange and vignettes on living in the Exchange.
For an hour and a half, the group strolled along Waterfront starting at the north roundabout, and ending at McDermot. It was a wonderful way to spend a sunny Saturday.
Union Sound Hall - Meeting
A new music venue is scheduled to open in the Exchange in the next few weeks. The "Union Sound Hall" will be located on the second floor of 114 Market Ave., above Don Pedros Mexican Grill. We had a special R:ED meeting tonight with the business owner, Sam Colosimo, and manager, Tyler Sneesby.
About 20 attended, and listened to the concept and plan for the venue, and took the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns.
The venue will host live music events, and will not be a dj pop dance bar. Tickets will be sold in advance for concerts. They are hoping to book a wide range of music, attracting performers looking for a venue that can hold up to 440 patrons. They are also looking for it to be a venue for jazz, fringe and folk festival events.
Issues discussed included noise, parking, garbage and security. We were told that our concerns would be listened to, that we would be invited to a pre-opening event, and that another meeting after opening could happen if there were other concerns to discuss.
It was nice to have a business owner consult with residents before opening, and it is a recognition that although the area has many bars and restaurants, it is also a residential area.
CARNAVAL - Sneak Peak
On Saturday, February 8th the Residents of the Exchange District attended a pre-opening dinner at the new CARNAVAL Brazilian BBQ restaurant in Winnipeg. It may have been a warm-up for staff to get ready for next week's soft opening (and the grand opening in March), but for those in attendance, it was a wonderful to experience Winnipeg's first churrascaria BBQ restaurant.
The various types and cuts of meat just kept coming, brought to your table by gauchos (and one gouchette!), carving the meat from a skewer at your table. There were almost a dozen kinds of meat, including many cuts of beef, chicken, sausage and lamb. The BBQ, imported from South America, was huge, with room for up to 48 skewers on three levels. An churrascaria expert was brought in to train staff, and others were sent to Brazil to learn the art.
It was an evening of delicious meats accompanied with beautifully prepared side dishes, Malbec wine, laughter and fun in this gorgeous new restaurant with unbeatable views to downtown, Waterfront Drive and Steven Juba park.
Thank you to Alejandro Mora, CARNAVAL's GM (and the talent behind our recent R:ED Secret Dinner), for inviting the restaurant's neighbours to this exciting pre-opening event.
Not only did we have a great time, but all proceeds from the evening, $3,100 was donated to the Immigrant Centre of Winnipeg.
RAW: Almond - Dining on Ice
Some of us are used to having our favourite cocktail "on ice", but have you ever had your dinner on ice? During 3 weeks of our coldest time of year, local chefs served a fixed five course dinner in a temporary shelter built on the Red River.
Chef Mandel Hitzer (middle) from Deer + Almond is behind the idea of this temporary contemporary restaurant, with participation from Chefs Eric Lee (far left) (Pizzeria Gusto), Alex Svenne (Bistro 7 1/4), Tristan Foucault (Peasant Cookery), Scott Bagshaw (Deseo), Adam Donnelly (Segovia) and others. Each are taking turns joining Hitzer in the kitchen.
The pop-up restaurant, named RAW:Almond (see Global National TV segment) was built by architect Joe Kalturnyk of RAW: Gallery of Architecture and Design. It seats 20 diners at one long table, with seating on wooden logs covered with faux fur..
Tickets at $85 were sold out in a few days. The dinner was about as much fun as you can have on a frozen river! And what a dinner. The evening I attended, Chef Hitzer was joined by Chef Eric Lee (far left in "kitchen" image above) of Pizzeria Gusto. They prepared the following menu:
Beet risotto, sheep's feta, pistachio, carrot & orange
Hardshell clams, Italiano sausage, white beans grilled bread
Beef and ricotta crespele, caponata, grilled broccolini
Carrot cake, goat cheese parfait, wild blueberry sauce, toasted walnuts, candied carrot chip, fennel greens blueberry citrus dust
It was fantastic! Between courses, Chef Hitzer came out and told stories, wrestled with Chef Lee or introduced the next entree.
I feel strongly that as we live in an area that has a long cold winter, we need to embrace the five month cold season, not hide from it. If ever there was a delightful way to embrace winter - this was it.
Of course, the R:ED Spaghetti Skate is the second best way to embrace winter this month. And the third? Festival du Voyageur, of course.
Secret Dinner: "Stunning!"
"Stunning" was the first word out of City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan's mouth as he and his wife Minas stood on the catwalk entrance and gazed at the dining venue. At the bottom of the stairs, a server waited with a tray full of champagne and in the corner of the room, behind huge art installations, an 8 piece orchestra played Christmas music.
That was the scene that greeted the 36 wary R:ED adventurers that signed up for the R:ED Secret Dinner. Starting off at the Fairmont lobby, the group headed out in a procession of taxis, with no idea where their dinner was to be held.
After a brief tour of the Exchange, designed to mislead some, and debunk the destination theories of others, the cabs stopped at a decrepit looking building on Higgins.
Confused residents were greeted at the door of The Graffiti Gallery by Pat Lazo and guided into the administrative offices. The looks on the faces said it all: "what the heck are we doing here??"
Shaw TV coverage of R:ED Secret Dinner
But passing through the doorway to the two story high gallery, and looking down at the stunning sight, the concern turned to literal jaw dropping, and a steady chorus of "wow!"
A cocktail reception complete with tasty hors d'oeuvres gave participants a chance to check out the amazing art which was an exhibition called "The Undesirables," by emerging Winnipeg artists. I say "was," because unfortunately the exhibition has ended.
The creative genius behind the evening was Alejandro More, General Manager for the Carnaval Brazilian BBQ restaurant opening in January 2013 on Waterfront Drive.
The group sat down to a beautiful five course dinner, served family style. Conversation was lively, food was plenty and the venue was stunning. And it was all helped along by wine pairings with each course, from De Luca Fine Wines.
We were not only having a good time, we were doing good. A portion of the event price is to be donated to buying hampers and toys for the 7th annual Christmas Eve Feast.
It is a testament to our community in the Exchange District, that an event like this can sell out -- that people are willing to pay a significant price to have a dining adventure: they did not know where we were going to eat, what we were going to eat, and how were were getting there. Congrats to those that took the leap of faith -- they were rewarded with a dining experience that they will boast about for a long time.
Check out the event pictures here (R:ED) or here (immagine.ca).
If the price tag of the Secret Dinner was too much of a leap for your budget, fear not -- our January event is free!! Click on "R:ED Events" button
in the left margin of your browser and check out the preliminary plans for the first half of 2013.
Looking for an older article? Check the R:ED archives