Working with the City of Winnipeg, the Exchange District BIZ lead the creation of the Exchange District Plan 2022, the first long-term plan for the area in nearly 20 years. Based on significant background research, the consolidation of a number of relevant plans and strategies, the plan has been informed by a broad range of stakeholders as well as local and international expert knowledge in heritage conservation, urban planning, transportation and mobility, and economic, environmental and social development. The plan incorporates the findings of an extensive heritage conservation report completed as part of its creation. You will find links to both documents in PDF format below.
Exchange District Plan 2022 also includes the development of the Exchange District Community Investment Strategy which lays out specific actions, investments, and projects, all modelled to achieve specific social, environmental and economic outcomes.
Plan Area and Boundaries
The Plan Area is situated within Treaty 1 territory on the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation. Although there are several interpretations of the Exchange District’s boundaries, whether as a national historic site, census neighbourhood, or warehouse district, the Plan Area adheres to the official boundaries of Downtown Winnipeg and is generally consistent with past planning exercises completed for the Exchange, with several minor modifications to recognize the importance of surrounding areas and the opportunity to improve connectivity with them. Notably, while most of the Plan Area is within the operational boundaries of the Exchange District BIZ, some areas are within the operational boundaries of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.
Plan Vision & Framework
Representing the origination of its modern cityscape, the Exchange District reflects Winnipeg’s past while shining a light on its future potential as a sustainable and creative city.
While its legacy and character have been shaped by variable economic cycles over the last 140 years, it has emerged as the one of the City’s most distinct urban areas. It is celebrated for its architectural heritage, for serving as a home to the City’s cultural and creative sector, and for its continued transformation into a thriving urban neighbourhood.
Building on its incomparable character, acclaimed historic buildings, and the community of entrepreneurs, artists, makers, residents, businesses, and visitors that bring those buildings and streets to life, this Plan envisages the Exchange District’s enduring evolution as a celebrated urban destination and an animated, inclusive, and sustainable Complete Community.
The purpose of Exchange District Plan 2022 is to:
- define the long-range vision for the Exchange District;
- establish a set of priorities and objectives to align efforts and guide decision-making, and;
- identify corresponding directions and actions to help achieve the vision and objectives.
Accordingly, this Plan is intended to provide a roadmap for strategically guiding the Exchange District into the future. It seeks to ensure a proactive approach is taken to managing changing conditions, addressing new and persistent challenges, and responding effectively to emerging opportunities. In turn, a greater degree of predictability can be provided to residents, business owners, and other stakeholders who continue to invest time and resources into the area, while also promoting the community’s shared aspirations for the Exchange District moving forward.
The Exchange District serves an important and increasingly diverse role for the City of Winnipeg and, more broadly, the Province of Manitoba. The Exchange has long been recognized as a centre for civic institutions, commerce, and entertainment. More recently, it has also grown into a hub for cultural events, community festivals, and artistic productions. It has attracted unique local retailers, specialty restaurants, valued creative industries, a thriving tech sector, an acclaimed educational institute, a growing residential population, and more.
A key aspect of the Exchange District’s evolution has been the way in which old and new elements have supported one another over time. The unique character of the Exchange, most notably defined by the large collection of heritage buildings featuring turn-of-the-century architectural styles and materials, has continued to draw people to the area and help create a special sense of place. In turn, new interpretations of the Exchange have continued to infuse these historic buildings and spaces with life, often spilling out into the surrounding streets, sidewalks, alleyways, and parks.
The opportunity for Winnipeg to capitalize on the Exchange District’s potential as an iconic, sustainable, and vibrant complete community will be realized by addressing these challenges in an integrated manner, ensuring that the social, cultural, economic, and environmental shifts of the coming decades are considered together as a whole.
The resilience of the Exchange District has been driven by the strength of its authenticity and a dedicated community that has relentlessly invested its time and resources. Without a doubt, this will continue to be key for the Exchange’s evolution moving forward, but it will also require sustained government support and collaboration with the operating agencies, public institutions, private partners, and community members that embrace its inherent value. While different groups of people may focus on different aspects of what makes the Exchange District unique, be it national heritage site, arts, creative or innovation cluster, culinary and shopping destination, or simply home, there is one thing everyone agrees on – the Exchange District is the crown jewel of Winnipeg and will continue to play a critical role in the success of the City and Province.
Priorities and Objectives
To nurture the ongoing organic evolution of the Exchange District into a thriving, inclusive, and Complete Community.
- Support continued development and diversification of housing and growth of the residential population.
- Enhance and expand neighbourhood amenities (e.g. parks, grocery store, schools, etc.).
- Strengthen sense of community by promoting inclusivity and supporting well- being of all.
- Provide greater clarity to local stakeholder groups around new projects and initiatives, including the intended goals.
RESILIENCE & ADAPTATION
To positively contribute to the liveability, sustainability, and naturally, but consistently evolving identity of the area by strengthening the Exchange District’s demonstrated versatility in adapting to changing circumstances.
- Strengthen partnerships and collaboration between public, private, and community interests.
- Expand efforts for conserving, restoring, and reusing the Exchange’s historic buildings.
- Maintain a diverse and complementary mix of land uses and development types.
- Build the resiliency of the local business environment to current and future challenges.
MOBILITY & CONNECTIVITY
To develop a complete mobility network that is intuitive and equitable by prioritizing the pedestrian experience, strengthening connections, and balancing the needs of different groups of users and types of transportation.
- Improve accessibility and pedestrian comfort through a people-first approach.
- Promote sustainability in the design of transportation infrastructure and the overall mobility network, while adapting to the rapidly evolving nature of urban transportation.
- Enhance connectivity within the Exchange District and to adjacent destinations.
- Balance the mobility needs of all visitors, residents, and businesses, including accommodation and ease of use for all modes.
CHARACTER & PLACEMAKING
To celebrate and conserve the Exchange District’s architectural heritage, elevate design excellence, invest in great public spaces, and promote the cultural events and programming that define its character and identity.
- Strengthen and promote the Exchange as an everyday destination for everyone.
- Ensure public spaces are designed, distributed, and managed to support the needs of all users (e.g. residents of all ages, festival operators, film productions, etc.).
- Maintain the Exchange’s many heritage resources and reinforce its unique urban structure.
- Promote heritage and the historic significance of the area from all perspectives, including those of Indigenous peoples.