New Downtown Trends Report Launches


February 27, 2014


Downtown Winnipeg – A new report launched today, with the aim of providing potential downtown investors and entrepreneurs with insight on the perceptions of the public and information about developments that have generated increased traffic and significant reinvestment in our downtown.

“Much has changed in the downtown in the last decade. This report demonstrates with concrete baseline numbers just how our downtown has been turning around,” says Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “The report shows the diversity of development projects and multi-billion dollar investments happening right now in the heart of our city.”

The Downtown Trends report will serve as an important toolkit and catalyst for future development downtown. Throughout 2014, tours with brokers, young entrepreneurs, elected politicians, and the media will take place throughout downtown to highlight significant downtown statistics and figures, in addition to showcasing the developments that are making downtown a showpiece.

“Downtown Winnipeg is alive with big business opportunities that are attracting the attention of astute investors from all over the world,” said Marina R. James, President and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg Inc. “Capitalizing on this kind of unparalleled present-day momentum is critical to our continued prosperity, and that’s why Downtown Trends is such an integral asset. Research like this equips decision-makers with up-to-date data that yields a succinct yet powerful appreciation of prevailing market conditions within the city centre.”

Created by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, CentreVenture Development Corporation, The Forks North Portage Partnership, Economic Development Winnipeg, and the University of Winnipeg’s Institute of Urban Studies – the Downtown Trends report offers a comprehensive lens on the people who work, live, learn, and experience downtown.

“Our Capital City’s downtown continues to undergo a renaissance with the numerous development and residential projects that are transforming the heart of Winnipeg into a sustainable community,” said Ross McGowan, President and CEO of CentreVenture Development Corporation. “This is the type of positive activity that helps make our downtown vibrant and secure. In fact, this is the kind of momentum that revitalization strives to achieve and it shows no sign of slowing down.”

The research conducted was extensive and the process was collaborative. Indicators that were chosen for study ranged from investor-specific information, such as the number of developments built/constructed downtown, to facts that make downtown unique and enjoyable. With Downtown Trends, we now know that there are: over 210 free WIFI locations downtown; over 200,000 Winnipeggers follow downtown agencies on Twitter; over 20% of creative industries are located downtown; and downtown consists of 440,000 m2 of green space and 2,780 trees on parks and boulevards. Downtown is also greatly “walkable” with neighbourhoods scoring positively with respect to their access to public transit, commuting time, and proximity to people and places.

“By bringing together groups like ourselves, CentreVenture, Economic Development Winnipeg and the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, we believe we are painting an extremely  accurate picture of our downtown right now: who lives here, works here, plays here, “ says Jim August, Chief Executive Officer, The Forks North Portage. “The continued work of this group, along with the investments we believe this report can inspire, will continue to shape our downtown for years to come.”

The Downtown Trends report hopes to inspire greater confidence in our downtown, presenting relevant research on investment opportunities and why people come downtown: to visit, work, dine, learn, shop, experience, and live. Civic, residential, and commercial downtown projects are conveniently catalogued based on their value, size, and development progress and is made accessible online. The full report can be found at: or in print format.

Trends 2014 is intended to serve as a baseline information report. Moving forward, indicators will be updated monthly and downtown developments will be mapped as they are reported.

About Downtown Trends

Downtown Trends is the go-to source for up-to-date downtown market research and is utilized by both private and public sector. The research in this report has been compiled by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ with support from other downtown stakeholders like the University of Winnipeg’s Institute of Urban Studies, CentreVenture Development Corporation, The Forks North Portage Partnership, and Economic Development Winnipeg Inc., as well as from surveys and research the BIZ has undertaken. It is designed based on feedback from downtown retailers, realtors and stakeholders about how we can promote, sustain, invest, and stimulate business development in downtown.

This report is relevant to you, whether you are an existing downtown business considering new marketing opportunities or expansion; a real estate broker or agent representing a client who is thinking of making an investment in our downtown; or an entrepreneur looking at investment in downtown property or opening a business.

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For more information, please contact:

Jason Syvixay                                                  Clare MacKay
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ                             The Forks North Portage Partnership
Managing Director                                         Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Tel: (204) 958-4635; Cell: 997-3040          Tel: (204) 987-4360; Cell: 291-9151   


Patty Nero                                                                    Marcus Lipnicki
CentreVenture Development Corporation            Economic Development Winnipeg Inc.
Marketing & Communications Coordinator         Manager, Research & Special Projects
Tel: 204-954-7733                                                      Tel: (204) 954-1991                      



Downtown Trends Report Highlights

  • More than $2 billion has been invested downtown since 2005, with 111 development projects already built. $266 million of investment is proposed.
  • 62 developments built from 2010-2013, a significant increase from 49 built developments from 2005-2009.
  • 15 LEED certified buildings (or awaiting LEED certification)
  • 26 BOMA BEST/Green Globes certified buildings
  • 861 postal codes in the downtown
  • 210 free WIFI locations, with dozens more currently being installed
  • Over 200,000 Twitter followers of downtown agencies
  • More than 69,000 people come downtown to work every day
  • In 2013, 24,260 students reported as coming downtown to learn. 16,000 students in 2013.
  • Almost 16,000 people live downtown. 13,000 people reported in 2007.
  • 1,812 housing units have been constructed since 2005, with 845 more planned
  • More than 2.8 million out-of-town tourists visit Winnipeg each year
  • An estimated $647 million is spent by tourists in Winnipeg each year
  • An estimated 308,000 people attended nearly 655 events/conventions in Winnipeg in 2012. An estimated 404,000 will attend 743 events/conventions when the Convention Centre is expanded
  • There are 4 million annual visits to The Forks, which was named Best Public Space in Canada (Canadian Institute of Planners)
  • There are about 1.5 million annual visits to the Millennium Library
  • There are 1 million annual visits to the MTS Centre, the 13th busiest venue in North America
  • More than 900,000 people attended downtown events every year
  • Over 4,000,000 people visit downtown arts and entertainment venues every year, with an additional 4 million attending The Forks
  • 20% of creative industries are located downtown (670 businesses in total). Creative industries employ over 25,000 people citywide, attract 1.1 million tourists and spend $87 million annually.
  • 16 major public art installations, adding over $1.8 million of investment downtown
  • Cycling is up 60% in Winnipeg since 2009, and an estimated 6,200 people commute downtown by bicycle
  • Walk Score is a website that rates over 10,000 neighbourhoods in almost 3,000 cities with respect to their access to public transit, commuting time, and proximity to people and places. We looked at 3-4 downtown neighbourhoods and they scored between 88-98 out of 100 for walkability.
  • There’s 440,000 m2 of downtown green space
  • In 2013, 86% of people said downtown was clean, a 23% increase from 2004.
  • 90% of people said they feel safe downtown during the day, a 33% increase from 2007.


Downtown is Turning Around

Residential development – Since 2005, over 1,812 new housing units have been built downtown, with an additional 845 units currently planned.

Downtown population – In the mid-80s, downtown saw its low point with only 11,000 people living downtown. Current population is estimated to be about 16,000 people – a significant boost.

Office, commercial, and institutional development – An estimated $2 billion of investment is helping downtown become a vibrant place that supports a growing population while offering diverse amenities and services.

Before 2005, there were considerable changes to development policies, of which mark the beginning of change in Winnipeg’s downtown:

  1. Changes to the Downtown Zoning Bylaw made redevelopment of heritage buildings easier and faster, which then initiated a flurry of building conversions to condominiums and rental units.
  2. The construction of the MTS Centre shifted development focus to the creation of amenities and services to draw suburban Winnipeggers back downtown.
  3. There was a greater emphasis on rebuilding the downtown population by providing a mix of housing options. This priority has been supported through the Downtown Residential Development Grant Program, which provides grants of up to $40 million to help leverage multiple-family residential or mixed-use development in Winnipeg’s downtown.
  4. Education is a significant driver of downtown development and growth. Educational institutions like Red River College and the University of Winnipeg have augmented the physical landscape of Winnipeg’s downtown and have contributed to the growing downtown student population – currently at 24,000 students.
  5. A commitment from all levels of government for long-term investment downtown. Government stabilized heritage buildings by renting them, then began to work with private/public sector to redevelop and reconvert for better use.