Every summer, 102 jumbo flower baskets are raised along Portage Avenue. At over 200 pounds and measuring three feet in diameter, the flower baskets sit in brackets attached to street light poles along Portage between Main and Spence streets.
The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ puts up 22 flower baskets on Main Street and Graham Avenue and plants 1,500 flowers in planters on Graham, Vaughan and all around downtown, to make downtown look a whole lot brighter.
A BIZ maintenance person is dedicated, seven hours a day, seven days a week to keeping downtown’s flowers watered.
It was because of downtown businesses that the large Portage Avenue flower baskets went up for the first time in 2005. They embraced the initiative, sponsoring 21 flower baskets and allowing the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ to add more than originally planned.
The flowers add a splash of colour to downtown every summer, creating a beautiful environment for both pedestrians and drivers.
Indigenous Languages Welcome Decal Initiative
What is the Indigenous Languages Decal Initiative?
In an effort to create a greater sense of place and a feeling of welcome, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Committee launched a new initiative that will invite downtown businesses to install decals that express a feeling of welcome and inclusion, represented in Indigenous languages: Ojibwe, Cree, Dene, Michif, Dakota, and Inuktitut. Business leaders in attendance, who helped install the first decal at Portage Place Shopping Centre, took part in a workshop to learn more about the historical and contemporary issues that relate to the Treaties and what this means for Winnipeg and its downtown today. The City of Winnipeg also announced how it will be posting these decals in downtown and inner city recreational facilities.
The Indigenous Languages Decal Initiative is a powerful and symbolic initiative that celebrates Indigenous arts and languages. This initiative is a challenge to downtown businesses to work towards greater reconciliation with the Indigenous community, and in fostering understanding, respect, and dignity for all. This initiative links to the fourth guiding principle outlined in a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: “Reconciliation requires constructive action on addressing the ongoing legacies of colonialism that have had destructive impacts on Aboriginal peoples’ education, cultures, and languages.”
Translation services were provided through Aboriginal Languages Inc., with assistance from the BIZ’s Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Committee and the University of Winnipeg. We acknowledge that there are various dialects and ways to express the word/feeling of welcome.
The aim of the garden is to enhance the quality of life and increase community experience, promote communication about Indigenous culture and improve the visual landscape of downtown. There will be 5 planters outside the APTN building (close to Air Canada Park) that will be filled with indigenous plants.
Some of the plantings include:
Prairie Sage (Artemesia ludoviciana) The silvery wild sages are still very important in the ceremonies of the Plains tribes. It was burned at the beginning of ceremonies to drive away evil influences, and steeped in water to cleanse any person who had broken a taboo or touched a sacred object. The leaves and stems of sage, dried and crumbled, were added to soups and stews and used in poultry dressing to add flavour. The fine leaves of pasture sage were given to regulate irregular menstruation, and the antimicrobial properties of sage oil were used to treat various skin conditions and sore throats.
Rudbeckia (Echinacea angustifolia)
Though all parts of the plant can be used medicinally, most often just the roots are used in treating pain as an anesthetic. Other uses include treatment of coughs, colds and even snake bites.
Blue lobella (Lobella siphilitica)
Lobella was used as a love charm by several tribes. The plant was chopped and put in the food of a quarrelsome couple without their knowledge. Chippewa Indians used a combination of sumac and lobella to treat sexually transmitted diseases. Colonists used
it to induce vomiting.
Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata)
This pleasant-scented grass was used for perfume and is still widely used by Plains tribes in ceremonies to induce the presence of good spirits. The grass is braided and burned as incense, which is looked on as a cleansing agent. Sometimes called the “sacred hair of Mother Earth,” sweetgrass is often dried and braided, then burned so its sweet smoke can be used in ceremony.
Infusions of Aster roots were used as remedies for cuts, heart ailments or eye problems.
Thank you to the sponsors of the Indigenous Gardens:
Portage Avenue Lighting Strategy
A Portage Avenue Master Lighting Plan has been developed to highlight the avenue’s historical and contemporary architecture and unique elements like the skywalks and parks, as well as enhancing downtown lighting in general.
Lighting designer Gilles Arpin of Éclairage Public(Montreal) has prepared recommendations to illuminate historic buildings, streetscapes and façades on downtown’s Portage Avenue.
Éclairage Public was selected in 2007 to put together a proposal to enliven Portage Avenue at night through special lighting techniques, to give downtown Winnipeg a distinctive nocturnal image. The plan was requested by the Downtown BIZ, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, CanWest Global Corporation, Investors Group, Manitoba Hydro and other businesses and property owners, with assistance from the Winnipeg Partnership Agreement.
PDF of the proposal: Portage Avenue Lighting Strategy (2007)
The next step is advocating for funding from the government and working with the building owners to make the vision a reality.
The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and partners are seeking support from the City and Province for a tri-partite funding agreement with Portage Avenue property owners on the $8 million project. The plan provides a blueprint on how others can install lighting on different types of buildings—historic or modern—as well as City light standards and even what buildings are suitable for video screens.
Arpin’s firm, Éclairage Public, was responsible for the stunning illumination of the historic buildings of Old Montreal. The firm aims to draw people out onto the streets by using lighting to create a mix of drama and warmth in public spaces.
Banners add liveliness to the street, designate districts and highlight significant areas, while also promoting events and our history.
The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ works to ensure street banners are in place year round, lining major thoroughfares and character areas throughout downtown.
The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has displayed banners since 1991 for events, and more recently, we have put up banners at the major downtown gateways to welcome people downtown.
Chinatown Banner Contest
Eighteen banners are raised each year in February in Chinatown to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Each year, designs that reflect the current year are submitted in an annual competition, and a jury made up of members from the Chinese and downtown business community selects a final design to be produced.
Applications are now open for the 2020 Year of the Rat Banner Competition! All submissions must be dropped off or mailed to the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and be received no later than 1:00pm Monday, December 30, 2019.
Interested in putting up banners for your event downtown? The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ may be able to help coordinate and guide the process.