In the fourth of a series of 5 Future Vision essays commissioned by the Exchange District BIZ, Deborah Zanke describes the Exchange District of the future to her house-sitters — the lucky chosen ones out of a crowd clambering for a chance to spend a summer in this bustling core neighbourhood.
You can read more about the Exchange District Planning Process here.
Thanks for housesitting for us over the next couple of months. I’m sorry we weren’t here when you landed in Winnipeg. I hope this note finds you not too jetlagged and happy to be settling into one of Canada’s “top-rated neighbourhoods in the country.”
When I posted on my social feed that we were looking for someone to take care of our Exchange District condo while we travelled to visit family this summer, I did not expect the avalanche of responses. I definitely didn’t expect people overseas would be lobbying for the opportunity. When you posted that my photos and descriptions of the neighbourhood have long put Winnipeg on your travel radar, my heart swelled a little.
Here’s some info that will make your stay extra fabulous:
- Both the West and East Exchange are closed to motorized vehicles. You will see delivery trucks around by special permit, but otherwise, the area is a pedestrian zone.
- It’s a short walk to Main Street, where you can catch a rapid transit bus or driverless taxi pod at one of the transportation stations to get around the city. The electric busses are super fast and run every six minutes. They’ll take you to Union Station where you can get transportation to any area of the city. Download the app to your device for maps and routes, load it with credits, and you’re off and running.
- While you’re within walking distance to virtually anything you’ll need day-to-day, you can also use the above app to rent a bike or electric scooter. I’m sure you saw one of the kiosks in front of our place. You can take them just one way if you like, dropping them off at any station along your route.
- You’ll find the garbage, materials, and food compost bins under the sink. Recycling and waste vehicles circulate through the neighbourhood in the morning and evening. You’ll hear a distinctive tune as they come by. That’s your cue to bring the bins to the street to be picked up.
Things to Do
Oh my gosh, where to start? I can’t cover everything there is to enjoy in the Exchange, but here are some of our favourites:
Market Lands – You will LOVE this place at the end of our block heading north. Grab something uniquely Manitoban to eat from the pop-up kiosks promoting new yummy creations and local produce. Stroll through the galleries that showcase contemporary Indigenous art or sign up for a maker workshop while you’re here (I left the schedule on the fridge door).
Culinary Arts Festival – Our neighbourhood is “festival central” year-round. One of my faves is the Culinary Festival featuring world-renowned chefs partnering with area restaurants and students from the Red River College Culinary Arts program across the street. It’s happening while you’re here, and it’s a super fun mix of demonstrations, competitions, and hands-on workshops.
Groceries – You likely saw the grocery store next to our place on the corner of Princess and Bannatyne. It’s got a great selection of anything you’ll need during your stay. Did you know that this building once housed Winnipeg’s first garage?
Albert & Arthur – Head east a block, and you’ll find two fab pedestrian malls. This is my favourite people-watching spot. Grab a fresh-roasted morning coffee and a seat outside and watch the world go by. This area is a terrific spot for many dining options, as well. You can’t beat sitting on one of the expansive street patios on a warm evening while buskers come around to entertain. There are lots of unique boutiques tucked into these streets and alleyways too.
Waterfront Drive – Across Main Street in the East Exchange (past all the theatres and museums), beautiful Stephen Juba Park is an excellent spot to enjoy nature in the heart of downtown. It’s a leafy oasis where people come to walk their dogs, play lawn sports, have picnics, or catch the waterbus to Assiniboine Park (another Winnipeg gem).
Artists Collective – On the corner of Princess Street and Notre Dame is the gorgeously restored six-storey Peck building. The four top floors are affordable live/work spaces for emerging local and visiting artists. The lower floors house a rotating gallery where you can buy works by those who live there. Part of the proceeds from sales goes back into the collective to support the subsidized rent. Cool, right?
There’s so much more I could tell you about, but half the fun is discovering on your own. Enjoy your time here, and I can’t wait to hear about your favourite spots after your stay.
Deborah Zanke has lived in her Exchange District loft for close to 20 years, where she also runs her business, Message Communications.