New report highlights rising visitation, residents and investment in downtown Winnipeg

Mar. 6 2024, Treaty No. 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB – More people moved in, paid a visit, opened up shop or made a big investment in the heart of our city last year, a new report shows. The 2023 Downtown Snapshot was released by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ to highlight developments during the past year and build understanding of downtown’s current economic landscape.  

“2023 was an exciting year for downtown. We saw fantastic new businesses open, more people both living here and visiting, creative adaptations of office and building space and a renewed sense of optimism in downtown Winnipeg that we’re carrying into 2024,” says Kate Fenske, CEO of Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

“This new annual Snapshot gives decision-makers and everyone who cares about downtown the insights we all need, so we can keep moving forward,” Fenske adds. The 2023 Downtown Snapshot highlights some promising numbers for downtown as it continues to bounce back from the pandemic, including:

  • More residents: 18,000+ people live downtown with hundreds more moving here every year. More people means a safer, more vibrant neighbourhood, plus an enhanced customer base for downtown businesses. The estimated number of Winnipeggers living downtown is anticipated to increase by more than 2,000 in the next two years as more residential units are built.
  • Increased visitation: People visited downtown for business or pleasure 9.4% more than in 2022, hotel stays more than doubled to almost 60,000 nights booked and large events produced an estimated economic impact of $60 million. 
  • Ongoing investment: Over $200 million in downtown investments from all levels of government and the private sector was committed in 2023 for new housing, safety initiatives, infrastructure improvements and more.

“In 2023 there were many reasons to come downtown, with countless events and experiences at great venues including The Forks, RBC Convention Centre and Canada Life Centre,” says Amelia Laidlaw, Board Chair of Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “The Winnipeg Sea Bears were also a huge draw, bringing in record-breaking crowds in the team’s inaugural season.”

While people are returning downtown, the need to fill vacant storefronts and office buildings during downtown’s recovery still exists.

Ten more businesses closed downtown in 2023 than opened (27 versus 17), but the gap is far less than the year before, when 26 more businesses closed than opened. And that gap is continuing to narrow: in 2023’s fourth quarter, an equal amount of businesses opened and closed – the first neutral quarter since before the pandemic.

The 2023 Downtown Snapshot also details some significant steps towards economic and social reconciliation, with historic partnerships breathing new life into old buildings led by the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Southern Chiefs Organization.

“This report confirms we’re on the right track, but there’s still work to do. We need the business and non-profit communities to continue to work together, and for all levels of government to keep the momentum up to support a thriving downtown in Winnipeg for the long term,” says Fenske. “Our downtown matters. It’s important for our city and our province as an economic driver where people live, work, shop and explore.”

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Kristian Escoto
Cell: 204-806-8923, Email: kristian@downtownwinnipegbiz.com