R:ED - Building a Community in Winnipeg's Exchange District
Welcome to Residents of the Exchange District.ca
As residents of this heritage area in downtown Winnipeg, we are working to
make the district not only a better place, but a better community.
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...
Strategic Planning Round Table
Exchange District Produce
Hearts & Roots is a small-scale, spray-free farm near Elie, MB. They offer a $25 bag of produce (called a "Garden Growler") for pick up weekly in the Exchange.
Garden Growlers are a great option for fresh, weekly produce without the commitment of a full season contract.
Here's how it works: sign up by 5 p.m. on Wednesday on their growler page, and pick up at Forth Coffee (171 McDermot Ave.) on Friday between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Hearts & Roots' posts a photo and provides a detailed list of what will be in the growler on Mondays on Facebook, Instagram (@heartsandroots) and in their weekly newsletter (sign up at their website).
There are always options for great add-ons (such as flowers, tomatillos for salsa and pickling cucumbers). They accept cash and credit.
I've attached the photo of this week's growler - next week's will be different, but as I mentioned, some elements will remain (such as the heirlooms!).
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?
Portage & Main: party in your corner
There are a few events scheduled for the iconic intersection of Portage & Main this year.
This is not a "close the intersection and have a party" event, this is a "everyone to your respective corners and have fun" event! Yes, it will be difficult to move from one corner to the other, but perhaps that is the point that Imagine Portage and Main will drive home to the participants!
July 29 (11am - 1pm) - Farmers' Market
Aug 26 (5pm - late) - Battle of the Beers
Sept 30 (5pm - late) - Biggest Dance Party
New Monthly Market in Exchange
A unique outdoor evening market is being planned to match the Exchange District's distinctive character: one part farmers market, one part design exhibition and one part curated pop-up shop.
The markets will be set up in some of the district's most defining, yet often overlooked public spaces: the alleyways and carriage ways that connect its buildings like a neural network.
You'll find Alleyways Market in a different alleyway one night per month with a carefully selected set of food producers and makers wrapped up in a uniquely redesigned space.
The first Alleyways Market was on Friday June 24 on the laneway behind Forth/The Mitchell Block/UN Luggage on McDermot Ave.
There was a great turnout and the assortment of vendors was wonderful. I went home with amazing olive sourdough bread, pasta, beet chips. toffee, hot mac and cheese and smoked trout!
Residential Parking Permit Program
The Winnipeg Parking Authority (WPA) is currently reviewing its delivery of the residential parking permit and loading zone programs. The intent of the review is to create programs that reflect current parking and loading needs and industry best practices
They are seeking our input to identify challenges, issues and potential solutions. I have attended a stakeholder meeting and strongly voiced that we need a real program in the Exchange District that allows for residential parking.
Your input is important too. Your feedback can be provided by attending their pop-up event at the Forks:
Saturday, June 18, 2016 11:30 am – 1:30 pm 1 Forks Market Road
Please provide your feedback by June 30, 2016 through their online surveys:
In September 2015, the City of Winnipeg initiated a public engagement process to receive input on the Downtown Bike Lane System Study. Feedback received during this process has been incorporated into preferred designs. Please visit us at a pop-up engagement event and online to view the preferred designs and provide your feedback.
Pop-up Engagement Event at the Forks - View the preferred designs, speak with project team members, provide your feedback and ask questions regarding the study.
Thursday, June 23, 2016 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM 1 Forks Market Road, South Atrium
Our Blues and BBQ at Miss Browns was a great event and was sold out. Residents and guests in attendance enjoyed a wide range of appetizers including smoked salmon mini bagels, fried pickerel on toast with avocado, brisket sliders and smoked chicken wings.
A first for Miss Browns, we brought in live music -- a trio called Blue Noise who played many of the classic blues tunes and set a fun tempo for the evening.
Dinner included BBQ pulled-pork, smoked brisket, baby back ribs and a selection of sides condiments and sauces. Huge thanks to Jenny and Steve for the great evening!
Rail Side Development is a proposal to develop the Rail Side and Parcel Four lands, two pieces of land directly across from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
The Rail Side and Parcel Four lands are comprised of 5.9 acres owned by The Forks Renewal Corporation (Rail Side) and 5.7 acres owned by The City of Winnipeg (Parcel Four). They are the largest surface parking lots in downtown Winnipeg.
Following failed development plans by the City of Winnipeg, including a hotel and waterslide park, the City asked the Forks to consult with the community and plan a development that will be consistent with the needs of the area.
Mr. Jordan discussed the current plans, talked about the presentation boards illustrating the plans and a entertained a lengthy Q&A session.
Our thanks to Paul Jordan, and to Tom Janzen who assisted with logistics for the presentation.
Your Input is Requested
There are two studies on the go that are seeking public input, both of which can have an effect on the quality of life for those of us in the Exchange District.
Designs: Lily Street, John Hirsch Place
You are invited to a public open house to view proposed designs for the next phase of improvements in the North East Exchange District. The City will present concept designs for Lily Street and parts of John Hirsch Place for tentative construction in 2016, and parts of Pacific Avenue for tentative construction in advance of the 2017 Canada Games. You will have an opportunity to provide input to project team members.
The open house is on Thursday January 28th from 4:00 to 7:00 pm at Pantages Playhouse Theatre. An invitation can be seen here (PDF). Click here to download (PDF) the display boards.
Dog Park Survey
The following information was sent on behalf of the City of Winnipeg, looking for our input:
The City of Winnipeg recognizes the need for an off-leash dog park in the downtown area and is launching a process for community input. A neighbourhood dog park that is within a 5-10 minute walk to residents in Downtown Winnipeg is being considered.
A dog park in the downtown area is important to:
Build strong community ties by fostering social opportunities for dogs & people.
Encourage downtown living.
Help make dog ownership in the downtown more accessible.
Create a designated space for dogs to safely exercise and play with other dogs.
Provide an amenity to attract people to the city’s core.
We want to gather feedback from the public to help us better understand where dog owners live in the downtown, where residents would like to see an off-leash dog park built and preferences for dog park amenities. The results of the survey will assist in locating and planning a dog park.
A new apartment building is planed to rise at the end of Market Avenue this year. It is believed to be the first residential rental building to be built in the Exchange.
The building is to be constructed at 98 Market Avenue on what is currently a parking lot.
Construction is expected to start this year on the six story, sixty four unit building, with completion planned for 2017.
The building is to be developed by Albert Cheung, who owns the property an an adjacent one story building. The project has been approved for funding under the new city-and-province-funded Live Downtown Rental Development Program.
Slow Growth: Frustrating but Allowed History to Remain
City Beautiful: How architecture shaped Winnipeg's DNA was an amazing project by the Winnipeg Free Press, resulting in a three part series in the newspaper, a very informative and entertaining website and a beautiful hardcover book.
In this short video from the series, architect Brent Bellamy and a city historian explain how Winnipeg's Exchange District, a National Historic Site, was saved due to slow economic growth in Winnipeg over the 20th century. Video is 4:30 long -- well worth a watch.
How slow growth saved Winnipeg's Exchange District - September 2014, by Melissa Tait.
Entrepreneurship is alive and well in the Exchange
Startup Winnipeg is the new name for AssentWorks and RampUp Manitoba and has become the hub of a vibrant startup community in Winnipeg over the last four years. The success and entrepreneurial energy from bringing together the brainpower and equipment, prompted Mayor Brian Bowman to re-name part of Adelaide Street -- between William Avenue and McDermot Avenue -- to “Innovation Alley.”
As well as RRC, the two-block strip includes AssentWorks and RampUp Manitoba (its information-technology partner that shares the space), the Manitoba Technology Accelerator, the cyber-security firm Seccuris, ACI Manitoba (the Arts and Cultural Industries Association of Manitoba) and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF).
The maker-space facility now has more than $3 million in equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters and a host of state-of-the art production equipment that can be accessed 24/7 by members who pay as little as $100 per month.
Michael Legary, one of the founders of AssentWorks and the current chairman of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and Startup Winnipeg, strongly believes that entrepreneurship is required for us to grow, and fundamental to us as humans.
Startup Winnipeg is attracting attention globally. Prince Charles took a tour when he was in Winnipeg for one day back May 2014. Now it’s our turn — the R:ED tour of StartUp Winnipeg will in May (click here for details).
How to make a good thing better? Add coffee!
That’s what East Exchange resident Lyle Stafford decided to do when he opened Joe and Lily – a coffee shop, intended to serve locals and interested others. At 145 Pacific Avenue, in the Sport Manitoba Building, this 12-seat café is the perfect place to spend at least a few minutes of your day.
Joe and Lily serves Other Brother Roasters – coffee beans roasted in Winkler, Manitoba. Joe and Lily are among the first in the city to be selling their product. Espresso-based drinks cranked out of an elegant Italian-built Elektra machine, are only part of the offering.
Tall Grass Prairie Bakery breakfast items and sandwiches are available daily. Stafford collaborated with the team at Tall Grass on two special sandwiches he had in mind: cheddar and chutney, and pig and fig – a ham, cheese and fig compote combo.
Winnipeg classics such as lime and root beer flavoured bottles of Pic-a-Pop are also available, if you get there early enough.
As Stafford puts it, “we are purveyors of fine coffee and assorted other quality items, humbly seeking to add to the richness and intrigue of the East Exchange and South Point Douglas communities.”
WSO members, sports Manitoba staff and residents in local condos are already becoming regulars.
Opened in March 2015, hours are still being fine-tuned. Next time you find yourself near the corner of Pacific and Lily, do yourself the service of dropping in.
It’s late Friday afternoon and I’m running late through rush hour
traffic. I’m supposed to meet two people in the Exchange who will hand
me keys to their newest business venture for the weekend.
I pull up outside the Kelly Building where Wes Grycki is standing
with a little black garage door opener and what looks like a brightly
coloured pirate map. The treasure, however, is a coveted parking spot
deep in the bowels of the converted warehouse.
I drive past century old wooden beams in the well-lit underground and
slide into my assigned spot. Wes appears immediately offering to carry
my bag and shows me to the elevator where his wife, Kathryn Kinley,
meets us. We whiz up and he unlocks the door to a suite they call The
Letter Press: 1700 square feet of luxury loft living. [full article] [website for Brick and Beam]
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.
It's one of those good news / bad news stories. It's that time of year: the wonderful Santa Clause parade will be on November 15th, starting at 5:00 pm. Block parties along the route begin at 4:00 pm.
It's an exciting time, as families fill the route along Portage Avenue to Main Street, and south to William Stephenson Way. Everyone will ooooo and aaaahh at the wonderful floats, and the children will anxiously await seeing the last float, featuring Santa.
The bad news, traffic downtown is gridlock for a few hours as no one can cross Portage Avenue through all of downtown and Main Street is closed from McDermot to Graham. Detours through the Exchange District lead to bumper to bumper traffic from road closure time, around 2:30 to after 7:00 pm.
The parade will feature about 90 floats, and take about an hour to pass any spot. Also changed this year: rather than fireworks afterwards at the Forks, the fireworks will take place along the route!
Best advice for residents: do any driving well before or after the parade, and most certainly, walk on down and check out the fun. It's one of the reasons we love to live where we do: no need to drive to the action!
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.
The recent election buzz has calmed. Our area's incumbent city councilor, Mike Pagtakhan was re-elected. Congrats to Mike on his victory - he has been on council since 2002.
And of course, we have a new mayor, Brian Bowman. A recent article in the Winnipeg Free Press listed all of Mayor-elect Bowman's campaign promises, and it was a very long and ambitious list.
Below is a very ambitious list of promises, and these are only the ones that relate to the Exchange District, downtown, development, parking or public transit:
Add Wi-Fi to transit buses.
Complete the second phase of the southwest transitway corridor.
Complete all six transitway corridors by 2030.
Increase the number of bus shelters across the city.
Create an off-leash dog park downtown.
Build and operate a community centre at The Forks.
Annual property-tax increases of two per cent.
Promote development along riverbanks.
Work with the province to control rising river levels.
Promote development and growth of South Point Douglas.
Remove the barriers at Portage and Main and allow pedestrians to cross the intersection.
Develop a seasonal pedestrian mall in the Exchange.
Use tax-increment financing to upgrade 200 rooming houses in the city core.
Fund outreach workers for the Downtown BIZ who will help the homeless.
Attract a major grocery-chain store to the downtown area within two years.
Increase the population of downtown by 5,000 in four years.
Raise property-tax rates for downtown surface parking lots.
Introduce new safety and lighting standards for downtown surface parking lots.
Impose a tax freeze for any new residential development occurring on a downtown surface parking lot.
Provide tax-incentive financing to encourage downtown affordable housing.
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!
Grocery Store in a Bus?
CentreVenture and other downtown stakeholders are looking into the feasibility of a Mobile Grocery Store and Community Food Market(s) to serve the diverse communities in Winnipeg’s downtown and central neighbourhood.
The proposed business model is a mobile Grocery store (retrofitted city bus) that is mobile part-time, is stationary part-time and also serves to partner with one or two existing small retail grocery stores in the West End/ the Forks, by routinely augmenting their fresh produce.
The main grocery service would be to provide fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen prepared meals, and local food products. The community grocery/mobile grocery store would likely be a full‐time four-season operation, operating 5 days a week.
They are asking that downtown residents complete a survey to help in their assessment. It is a short survey, and will only take 2 - 3 minutes; it can be accessed here.
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.
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.
Join the Winnipeg Urbanist Meetup on Friday April 25th at La Maison des artstes (219 Provencher) from 5-8pm to hear three exceptional local community leaders share their insights and stories about making Winnipeg a more accessible city.
Presenters include Jomar Manzano, co-chair of the Downtown Community Residents Association and a civil engineer in training with a passion for transit and universal urban design will be presenting a pecha-kucha style talk. Andre Clement, owner of Cafe Postal, will be talking about efforts to reclaim Provencher as a vital boulevard with a focus on pedestrians, and Karina Cardona will present findings from her research into the construction and experience of impaired mobility in Winnipeg
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.
Canadian Tradition Hits Exchange
One Canadian tradition, deeply routed in our psyche and often the image of Canadian life in the suburbs has taken root in the Exchange District. No longer restricted to the 'burbs, this tradition spontaneously broke out on a cold January Friday, to break through the residential vs downtown barrier.
Yes, we speak of the iconic road hockey game. With a constantly changing roster of players, emerging from different directions, this event took place over a lunch hour. Cheers, boos and shouts of "goal!" could be heard between the buildings.
Naturally every few minutes, the refrain that has previously been exclusively heard on every residential street, echoed down John Hirsch Place: "car!" In seconds the goals were pulled to the side of the road and back after the car passed and the game continued.
In about an hour, they were gone. Instead a light snow was falling. January in the Exchange...
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]
New Exchange Hotel
Developed by Sunstone Boutique Hotels, Mere Hotel is Winnipeg’s newest boutique hotel. It opened December 15, 2013 on Waterfront Drive in Stephen Juba Park. Mere Hotel is the newest addition to the portfolio managed by Sparrow Hotels, a local Hotel Management company.
Mere Hotel is a limited service hotel and features 67 guestrooms that focus on technology and design. An intimate exercise space overlooks the historic Red River, a high tech boardroom features floor to ceiling windows to let in natural light, and the lobby features a spectacular digital interactive “welcome wall”.
Cibo Waterfront Café is located just steps from Mere Hotel in the former harbourmaster building. Located right on the banks of the Red River, Cibo Waterfront Café is a Mediterreanean-style café that will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night and will have a takeout menu.
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.
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.
Where is the Grocery Store?
The Exchange District BIZ is currently running a survey regarding grocery store needs for the Exchange. Your input is truly valuable as this is a hot issue that is currently being examined.
All entries received by April 22 will be entered into a draw for a $50 gift card to any restaurant in the Exchange District (the winner’s choice).
Surveys can be done online, or printed and mailed, faxed or emailed in.
Here are a few links for the survey.
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:
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.
"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.
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.
R:ED Receives Image Award
At the AGM for the Exchange District Biz, an Award of Distinction was presented to the Residents of the Exchange Distict for Image Enhancement. The beautiful glass award, presented by Daniel Edwards (Board Chair), was accepted on behalf of the residents by R:ED's Executive Director John Giavedoni.
Special accolades go to the organizers of the spring cleanup on Waterfront. This initiative, spearheaded by R:ED members Merv Pritchard, David Thompson and Mavis Bolman, focuses on debris and litter removal from the riverbank, Stephen Juba Park, Waterfront Drive and surrounding East Exchange streets. It is a fun annual event, where participants get to meet some neighbours while beautifying the neighbourhood.
After working, we got together for coffee (donated this year by Bill Thiessen) and pastries (donated by Cynthia Brick) and talked some more!
In this case, clean-up and community spirit go hand-in-hand, and it is this spirit that was recognized by the Exchange District Biz with this award.
We now have over 250 members! If you know someone living in the Exchange, they can apply for a free membership here.
F I R S T F R I D A Y S
First Fridays is a year-round event where artists, artist run centres, galleries, cafés and businesses open their doors to the public every first Friday of each month from 5:00 p.m.– 9:00 p.m. throughout the Exchange. Click on the logo above for more details.