News / Winnipeg

Decision delayed on demolition of Winnipeg's Public Safety Building

After a 13-hour meeting, the committee voted in favour of delay, deciding to wait for a chance to review its historical value.

The Public Safety Building.

Metro File

The Public Safety Building.

A city committee has opted for more time to decide the fate of Winnipeg’s Public Safety Building. 

After a 13-hour meeting, Tuesday’s committee on property, planning and development voted in favour of delay, instead deciding to wait for a chance to review its historical value. 

John Kiernan, the city's director of planning, property and development, said the historical buildings resources committee already evaluated the PSB.

That advice was provided to consultant Deloitte, who provided a list of recommendations to the city for a price tag of $275,000 as what to do with the aged building. 

Kiernan said although the PSB was seen to have  “architectural merit” given its proximity to other modernist structures, such as City Hall and the Centennial Concert Hall, it was not considered the “best of the best.”

Coun. Matt Allard questioned the committee’s findings, and tabled a motion to layover the decision to demolish the buildings until they learned what the committee found. 

In the staff report, it recommended the PSB, along with the adjacent Civic Centre Parkade, be demolished in order to make way for a large public space and future private development. 

“While demolition is not a sustainable approach to deal with heritage buildings, the current state of the PSB, as well as the limitations of the structure and exterior cladding make it unsuitable for a significant and costly restoration project,” the report reads. 

Other options included seeing the building and shuttered parkade transformed into a civic campus, or for a new 520-stall parkade and sale of surplus land.

According to the report, turning the site into a public space and selling off a portion of land would be the cheapest option.

The report pointed out a number of challenges with restoring the PSB building, which include its lack of main floor accessibility, limit to the development of underground parking and difficulty to obtain Tyndall stone cladding. 

The report also recognized the fate of the PSB is connected to the mostly vacant tower at 266 Graham Ave., which is part of the city’s new Winnipeg Police headquarters. 

“Civic reuse of the PSB would limit strategic alternatives for any civic reuse of the tower,” it read. 

In the new budget year, staff forecasted a revenue loss of $2.1 million from the mostly vacant tower, plus $300,000 spent in operating costs needed for the unleased space.

City staff told the committee a decision has to be made as which asset to keep and upgrade.

More on