Encouraging Better Balance Between Suburban Sprawl & Downtown Development



A dense downtown and inner city for people of all incomes leads to greater vibrancy, sustainability, a stronger real estate market and a fiscally strong and responsible city. The BIZ will continue to challenge urban sprawl, car culture, and the growing number of surface parking lots downtown; promote and create well-designed open spaces; support physical improvements and streetscaping that help to create lively streets that encourage pedestrians to explore; and encourage a diverse economy and mix of people.


  • Developers and decision makers are realizing that there needs to be a better balance between urban sprawl and downtown development
  • Density creates more taxes per hectare which results in lower operating costs for the city
  • Infrastructure needed for development is already in place in our downtown and older neighborhoods


  • Currently tax payers subsidize urban sprawl
  • Downtown and inner city real estate markets need incentives to compete
  • Large retailers that could help bring people downtown usually only open stores where pedestrian traffic is already high
  • Urban renewal cannot be achieved through individuals projects


  • Downtown is becoming healthier however, the improvements are fragile and require commitment from the public to be maintained
  • Suburban sprawl leads to an unsustainable, less vibrant, expensive city
  • The perception that downtown is unsafe is still prevalent
  • Social challenges that lead to negative perceptions of downtown still exist
  • Pace of change is dependent on market forces, resources, and informed leadership, and these factors are always in flux


  • The Mayor is aware of the issues surrounding downtown development and prepared to invest in it
  • Developments like SkyCity, the Convention Centre expansion, and the SHED are bringing more and more people to downtown each day
  • Downtowns today are where people go to find things they cannot find in the suburbs
  • Waterfront Drive, the Forks, and UofWs emerging campus district are evidence of the importance of a vision for development
  • Winnipeg’s downtown is uniquely shared by the entire province because it is the battery that drives the economic engine for all of Manitoba

Option 1 – Ensure civic leadership is on board

  • The Mayor and city council must make downtown a priority

Option 2 – Change our approach to development

  • Encourage mixed use development and rapid transit
  • Make accessibility a priority, sidewalks can not be broken and in disrepair
  • Development supported by public investment should be prioritized in strategic locations in the downtown
  • Create a plan for downtown revitalization

Option 3 – Change zoning

  • Zoning bylaws need to reflect downtown development goals

Option 4 – Enforce design guidelines

  • Create a set of design guidelines that prohibit unattractive facades
  • Don’t allow surface parking lots
  • Design guidelines can help establish districts which can help focus revitalization efforts

Past Blogs/News: