Wheels on two redevelopment projects in downtown Winnipeg are turning after True North Real Estate Development Limited (TNRED) and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) entered a memorandum of understanding.
The memorandum states the pair will collaborate on redeveloping Portage Place and Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn.
In a media release, the organizations said they would use the almost two million square feet to “bring a shared focus on key downtown priorities including multi-family and affordable housing, healthcare, food security, and community spaces,” and build on principals of “reconciliation, inclusion, and building thriving communities.”
The Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn project will redevelop the Hudson Bay Company building. It “will be a place where economic and social opportunity are created, and First Nations heritage is celebrated,” the release said.
The Portage Place redevelopment will work to reconnect downtown Winnipeg neighbourhoods in the north and south with “public greenspaces, essential and community services, culture and arts, affordable housing, and a healthcare centre of excellence.”
TNRED and SCO said they are looking at ways to speed up the process of building more than 200 affordable and accessible housing units at Portage Place.
The organizations said throughout the redevelopment process, knowledge sharing, mentorship and training with a focus on First Nations participation will come into play. The duo said it would also try to enlist students from Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions to help out, with priority being given to First Nation students.
The release said the memorandum will give a model enabling the four levels of government and private enterprises to partner.
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“Strong downtowns are the heart of strong economies across Canada,” said Dan Vandal, minister for PrairiesCan. “The partnership between True North Real Estate Development and Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents the rich history and the future of downtown Winnipeg. It’s central to what makes our city special, and is reconciliation in action.”
Reconciliation is a common thread in the announcement, with Premier Wab Kinew saying, “this is economic reconciliation in action—by working together we can create a downtown that is safe, vibrant and a welcome place for all Manitobans.”
Mayor Scott Gillingham added that “this is set to be one of the most impactful projects in our downtown’s history.”
With regard to next steps, the release said the TNRED and SCO’s partnership will include a “working group to outline the process and timelines for public space design and programming” and “a second working group will be formed to address the priority of education and training.”
It added that an agreement on multi-family ownership and investment will wrap up by mid-2024.
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