Ground broken on Market Lands in Winnipeg, other construction projects still paused

That empty spot at 148/150 King St. in Winnipeg’s exchange district isn’t exactly empty anymore.

After almost a decade of wondering what to do with the site of an old public safety building and parkade, and five years after clearing the way, ground has finally been broken for Market Lands.

The site will be home to a net-carbon-zero, nine-storey building with 95 apartments. Forty-eight of the units will be considered affordable housing — a one-bedroom unit costing just over $600, said Jeremy Read, president of Market Lands Inc. The second and third storeys will also host Manitoba Music and Creative Manitoba, in what Read called “the Arts Cube.”

He hopes to see it done by January 2026 and said though construction is now rolling, there were some challenges that pushed back the start date.

“I think with any major infrastructure project, where you’re a non-profit in particular, depending on public dollars and you’re going through those processes, that that in itself is a challenging and rewarding process. But that in and of itself can take time,” he said.

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Read added the building’s original net-carbon-zero designs were too costly and needed to be re-evaluated, creating further delays.

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But it hasn’t been the only project freckling Winnipeg with empty space.

Ron Hambley, president of the Winnipeg Construction Assocation (WCA), said finances play a big role in pausing projects. It’s led one to be dropped, even though work had started, he said.

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“One of them down on Saint Mary’s, which was supposed to be a 14- or 15-storey building, stopped about a year ago,” he said, adding that it was done on the basis of financials and interest rates changing over the course of the project’s construction.

He said a new owner has snapped up this particular endeavour, but to see it suspended was a shock to the industry.

Other factors delaying projects include labour shortages, supply chain disruptions and a pause on funding from the provincial government as the NDP settles into office, Hambley said.

“The provincial government is probably responsible for 50 or 60 per cent of the construction work,” he said, adding that he hopes the province will release the pause button soon, so WCA members can start planning projects for spring.

Global News reached out to the province for comment, but it did not respond by deadline.

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Hambley said the Sutton project, which is a part of the True North Square Development, was stalled because of the pandemic.

“We assumed it would have restarted by now,” he said.

It’s expected to get back up and running in in spring.

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More parking problems?: Winnipeg finally unveils Market Lands plans

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