News / Winnipeg

Winnipeg's Public Safety Building to stand, for now

Mayor Brian Bowman says he's still determined to see the building demolished.

The Public Safety Building will stand, for now.

Metro File

The Public Safety Building will stand, for now.

The Public Safety Building will stand for now, but it will take something unexpected to prevent its destruction.

At the end of a marathon meeting Wednesday, Winnipeg City Council voted unanimously to launch a public consultation and have administrators prepare a report on alternative uses for the PSB space.

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said the building has “a lot of problems beyond the heritage issue,” but notes there are may be options that benefit downtown.

What those options might be is unclear, but most will probably include the building’s tyndall stone façade ending up in a pile of rubble.

In February, Mayor Brian Bowman announced his full support for demolishing the building, saying, “Bulldozing it is what I want to see.”

The fate of the building became the subject of substantial public debate in the months since the mayor’s “bulldozing” comment.

The debate culminated with an April 21 recommendation from the property and development committee—supported by council Wednesday—that could see Bowman’s intent fulfilled.

Numerous delegations spoke in favour of saving the building Wednesday.

Heritage Winnipeg Director Cindy Tugwell said she was “perplexed at the lightning speed of the decision-making” to date, saying demolishing the building is a mistake.

The building’s architect, Les Stechesen, said the building could stand 500 years if it were maintained properly.

“It was designed with great care,” he said, suggesting recladding and an engineering analysis —which a consultant expects would cost more than $50 million—rather than demolition.

Bowman said he is pro-demolition because it represents an opportunity for redevelopment and the potential to “better connect the west and the east exchange (districts).”

Coun. Wyatt said he hopes public consultation will yield interest in doing something unique with the space, but said if citizens don’t engage with the process, “that’s telling as well.”

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