Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Time Brings Change: Downtown Winnipeg

The day after I got home after travelling for five months around Central America, my younger sister was getting ready to go downtown to meet with her friends. I warned her that downtown Winnipeg is a terrifying place and that I feel uncomfortable with her going there.

My sister replied with "You just backpacked Central America alone, and you're more terrified of downtown at night than El Salvador?"

My simple reply was yes.

Growing up as a kid in the city, I was always told that downtown was a scary place filled with homeless people that want to rob you blind, and since my first year University three years ago, to me, downtown was still an ominous place.

It has been a little over a year since I've returned home, and downtown Winnipeg has seen some major changes since I've been gone.

These changes have not only shaped our downtown core architecturally, but it seems these buildings has breathed new life into our city's downtown culture.

Between the MTS center, The Winnipeg Hydro building and all the new apartment and restored buildings; life downtown isn't scary at all, it's thriving.

Downtown used to be sort of a only day time hour's place, with business people and empty buildings waiting for someone to inhabit them.

Downtown at night was deserted, and the people that were out were less than desirable to run into. But now, downtown on a night, when there's a concert, or if it's a nice summer night; is hardly desolate or scary.

Of all these visible changes, my favorite new change is the downtown day time clientele; the students.

The University of Winnipeg's four new buildings, and two new ones in the works, brings many eager learners to the downtown area.

Paired with Red River College's Princess street campus, and soon their new Culinary Arts building with student housing; downtown Winnipeg could quickly become a hub for post-secondary activity. These campuses create many job opportunities, activities, and the need for restaurants, cafes and bars. 

After moving home, fearing the worst for our downtown infrastructure, the new changes are refreshing, beautiful to see and it make me a proud Winnipegger.

My childhood fears of downtown Winnipeg will hopefully soon completely fade, and be replaced with new, exciting school memories.


  1. My parents owned businesses in the exchange district for many years, and lived about my Dad's studio for a time. There is quite a community in the neighborhood. With all the residential development happening, it's going to start looking like Queen Street West in Toronto soon.

  2. Hey Duncan, some good pointers. But what do you think about the post?

  3. Anonymous, I will reply when you are un-anonymous.

  4. a man of principle, LOL.

  5. Great blog Josie. Downtown is getting better, because you say so.

  6. Positive attitudes breed positive changes.

  7. The funny thing is that downtown really hasn't changed that much in the past decade. It's mainly perception.

    For some reason Winnipeggers are hypersensitive to panhandlers and street people. I'm convinced that you could bring the average suburban Winnipegger downtown for an awesome day filled with dining, shopping, culture and entertainment. Then on the way back to the car a panhandler will ask for change and the main lasting memory the average suburban Winnipegger will have of their downtown day was being accosted by a panhandler.

    I know I'm exaggerating for effect a bit, but the point is that people in other cities just roll with it while we have a harder time doing that.


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