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A Threat to the Very Nature of the Exchange District

Updated: 5 days ago

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:

  1. 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)

  2. Send me an email to voice your opposition to the appeal of the height restriction (please include your full name and address)

  3. 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:

  1. 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)

  2. 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.

  3. Pass the word around to your friends and neighbours.



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