Eliminate Surface Parking Lots



The redevelopment of downtown surface parking lots is key to fully revitalizing our urban core. Currently, approximately 41% of land downtown is allocated to parking, and over 20% of that are surface parking lots. The BIZ believes rapid re-development of surface parking lots can only be achieved by private/public partnerships and through the application of innovative programs like TIF.


  • Downtown Winnipeg has approximately 32,000 parking spots; approximately 30,000 off street spots and 2000 on street spots.
  • Street parking is free on Sundays, 2 hours free on Saturdays, and free on weekday evenings
  • The cost for hourly parking is $1-2 per hour for both on street parking, as well as parkades and lots. This is well below the average hourly cost for parking in downtowns across Canada, which is just over $5 per hour
  • Daily parking rates in parkades and lots range from $4 to $10, which also falls well below the national average of $16 per hour


  • More than 40% of land downtown is allocated for parking, 20% of which is made up of surface lots
  • Surface parking lots create voids in the urban fabric, and make an area less desirable for pedestrians.
  • Surface parking lots are a blight and should be developed, but they are also a symptom of a bigger issue: the critical need to revitalize downtown.
  • People parking downtown already rely to heavily on street parking
  • Thousands of people already compete for the limited 2000 on street parking spots that currently exist downtown
  • Almost 60% of businesses use on street parking for themselves and their employees, reducing the number of valuable spots for their customers
  • Often the occupancy rates of on street parking increase to more than 85%
  • Developers often build their own parkades or create more surface parking as a part of their new projects


  • Winnipeg residents believe there is not enough parking in the downtown
  • Winnipeg residents also believe downtown parking should be free and unregulated, especially on street parking
  • Surface parking lots are owned by a variety of entities including the provincial government and its affiliates, the city of Winnipeg, private businesses and individuals
  • Some surface lots are owned by individuals from out of town, who have little interest in the health of Winnipeg’s downtown
  • Market forces have not yet succeeded in making the development of surface parking lots an attractive development move
  • Often the cost of building on a surface parking lot far exceeds the possible rent that can be charged in trying to regain the investment
  • Surface parking lots are profitable for the owner when left undeveloped


  • Surface parking lots represent a development opportunity to fulfill the vision of creating a unique destination in Winnipeg’s downtown
  • Enhance the pedestrian realm through improved public space
  • Since the inception of the Winnipeg Parking Authority (WPA), downtown parking has been changing for the better. The continued presence of an unencumbered WPA will allow for more improvements that can be implemented quickly
  • City-funded parkades can be used as a tool for revitalizing downtown districts. Public investment in parkades should be fully integrated with the downtown’s transit, pedestrian and bike networks

Option 1 – Strategic parking structures

  • Can stimulate further development
  • Help shape the public realm
  • Still offers parking but keeps cars out of sight
  • Active building fronts can be wrapped around the parking structure

Option 2 – Promote other transportation options

  • Park and ride – individuals can park their vehicles in designated lots just outside of the downtown area and take the bus in
  • Public transportation – bus
  • Car sharing – Some condo developers have included car share memberships in the purchase instead of developing an additional parking lot
  • Cycling – promote the bike lanes the city has created to date, as well as what is planned for the future
  • Walking – promote attractive walking routes and share distances and time to important landmarks

Option 3 – Create a vibrant, mixed-use neighbourhood

  • Provide attractive places for people to live downtown
  • Enable diverse development including retail, hospitality, and office

Past News/Blogs

CBC News. Things you might not know about Portage and Main. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/things-you-might-not-know-about-portage-and-main-1.1262369

Cuciz, S. (2015). Council moves forward with study of reopening Portage and Main in Winnipeg. Global News. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/2060143/council-moves-forward-with-study-of-re-opening-portage-and-main/

Grande, S. (2013). The reopening of Portage and Main…getting it donw… Stefano Grande Tumblr.  Retrieved from http://stefanogrande.tumblr.com/post/67682331603/the-re-opening-of-portage-and-maingetting-it

Grande, S., SMART Tab (2014). Battle for Portage and Main comes down to city vision. Retrieved from http://mytoba.ca/life/battle-for-portage-and-main-comes-down-to-city-vision/

Nickel, L. (2013). Pressure building to reopen Portage and Main to pedestrians. Global News. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/778573/pressure-building-to-reopen-portage-and-main-to-pedestrians/

Pursaga, J. (2015). Tead-down Berlin wall of Winnipeg, reopen Portage an Main: Gerbasi. Retrieved from http://www.winnipegsun.com/2015/06/10/tear-down-berlin-wall-of-winnipeg-reopen-portage-and-main-gerbasi