Portage and Main “biggest impediment” to new development, says Harvard Developments

James Richardson & Sons and Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce agree that reopening intersection will bring benefits

Winnipeg, September 18, 2018 – The owner of a vacant lot adjacent to Portage and Main says the current state of the intersection is holding up development.
“We have an empty lot that is adjacent to our current building and we would love to develop it. I think the single biggest impediment to us moving forward with a vision for development is the fact that people can’t get to it,” said Rosanne Hill Blaisdell, Managing Director for Harvard Buildings Inc., the owners of 201 Portage Ave. “And so the opening of Portage and Main would really spur the opportunity and the interest and excitement around what can be at this corner. If the citizens of Winnipeg support the opening of Portage and Main, they will reap benefits in terms of active economic vibrancy in the downtown, safety in the downtown, and a place that all Winnipeggers can be proud of on a national scale.”

She recorded her comments in a video for the Coalition for Portage & Main, which you can access here. Dave Finnbogason, Vice-President of Corporate Development with James Richardson & Sons, Limited agrees.

“Portage and Main has a rich history that reflects many important milestones and events that have occurred in Winnipeg and Manitoba over the years. It also offers tremendous opportunity for the future. The property owners certainly believe this as all of us have invested significantly in our properties over the years and continue to do so today. One of the significant changes that is occurring across Canada and globally is the revitalization of the downtown core. This can only occur if people want to work and live downtown. We are seeing this already with a large number of new residential developments complete or underway – the Exchange Districts (east and west), the SHED, the new Artis tower and the planned Forks development. More needs to be done,” said Finnbogason.

“People and businesses want a walkable, dynamic streetscape with activity and attractions that are safe and accessible,” he said. “Portage and Main, both above ground and underground, needs a lot of work right now. We want downtown Winnipeg to be a more exciting and welcoming place for our citizens who live and work here and for tourists who come to visit the many exciting things we have to offer.”

Keeping the status quo shouldn’t be an option, according to Loren Remillard, President & CEO of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. The deterioration of the existing barricades requires the city to invest millions at Portage and Main even if there’s a No vote. He noted this is an opportunity for our city to invest that money into transforming the intersection into an attractive location for greater investment.
“If the plebiscite asked citizens to support economic growth, we’d achieve almost unanimous support,” Remillard said. “The vote on Portage & Main is an opportunity to do just that, in the heart of our city. The fact the surrounding property owners are all on the yes side should speak volumes. They have hundreds of millions invested at that corner. They want the barriers to be removed for a reason.”

The Coalition for Portage & Main is displaying the entries from 2004 design competition that resulted in dozens of innovative and creative design options for Portage and Main. Winnipeggers are invited to visit the Coalition’s website at http://www.voteopenwpg.ca or its storefront location in the former TD Bank in the concourse under 201 Portage Ave.


Adam Dooley, Dooley PR



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