Group representing building owners, managers calls on city to reconsider plan to close underground concourse – Winnipeg

The Building Owners & Managers Association of Manitoba says the city needs to go back to the drawing board when it comes to a proposal to close the underground concourse beneath Portage and Main.

Executive Director Tom Thiessen says the group has sent a letter to City Hall, saying a shutdown of the concourse would be a “step in the wrong direction”.

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham introduced a motion earlier this month which calls for the re-opening of Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic rather than fix the membrane that protects the underground pedestrian concourse.

Gillingham says the city is losing massive amounts of money each year to maintain the concourse, and say repairs to the membrane would cost up to $73 million. He says it would cost the city somewhere between $20-$50 million to decommission the concourse.

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The motion will be voted on by City Council on March 21.

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But Thiessen says the concourse-connected buildings provide plenty of benefits, including around $12 million in property taxes and workspaces for more than 6,000 downtown workers.

“The City’s recent argument for closing the concourse – presented at EPC on March 12th – is, in our view, hastily coordinated and incredibly one-sided,” said Thiessen in the letter.

In terms of the $73 million estimate, Thiessen says the report states the city’s cost consultant has estimated that excavating and replacing the membrane will cost approximately $29 million.

The other $44 million applies to the intersection rebuild and work that would happen whether the concourse is closed or not.

“It is indeed disingenuous to say that the City will save $73M by closing the concourse,” Thiessen said, as he calls for more clarity to the numbers being provided.

He also says the concourse provides climate-controlled access between four major buildings and believes it is needed to ensure a vibrant and sustainable downtown.




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