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The City’s History is Written on our Streets and Buildings

"Winnipeg's Original Downtown" has seen boom and bust, adapted and innovated through times of change. We will persist.

During the past few weeks, we’ve seen countless beautiful photos of the Exchange District. Captured by people who live in (or simply love) the neighbourhood while out on a physically distanced walk, these images have been compelling for many reasons.

This National Historic Site is home to local business, incredible restaurants, art, creativity, festivals, makers, tech companies, students and entrepreneurial incubation. So the streets that are normally teeming with people and activity are empty, creating a haunting sort of beauty. Our city’s history is written on these streets and buildings, its beautiful architecture always persistent. Many of these buildings were already here when Winnipeg faced the Spanish flu— the last time the world saw a pandemic of this scale.

As we write another chapter in our history, the businesses in the Exchange District have demonstrated the type of persistence that make this neighbourhood special. As they’ve altered course, radically changed their operations, or temporarily closed their doors, the entrepreneurs who operate them have seen tremendous support from the community. That same spirit of relentless determination and creativity saved the Exchange District from being nearly bulldozed in the mid-1970’s, allowing it to become the vibrant neighbourhood it is today. Our history teaches, inspires and reassures us that as a community, that spirit will get us through. And it’s that spirit we’re highlighting in a video we’ve released today.

By believing in its potential, it’s the people who live, play, create, and work here who continue to make the Exchange District a special place in the heart of Winnipeg. In the coming weeks, we’ll be focusing on our community by sharing videos created by a small cross-section of people who call this neighbourhood home in one way or another.

As we move forward together, we hope Winnipeggers will continue to support the small businesses in the area and consider a pleasant, physically-distanced walk exploring our historic streets. On-street parking is currently free for the first hour on weekdays and the first two on Saturdays. You can find a listing of businesses that are providing modified service here.

The Exchange District BIZ will continue to provide eyes on the street with our Exchange Patrols maintaining a presence in the community. Our maintenance and beautification team continues with our spring clean-up and graffiti removal. Spring planting plans are well underway. We continue to actively work with businesses and partners to adapt our programs and adhere to government guidelines to maintain everyone’s health and safety. Our aim is to be as nimble and responsive as possible as the province begins tentatively easing restrictions.

We’re working to be ready, so that when the time comes, these streets and these buildings can really bustle again. As a city, we’ll come through, just like we always have. And the Exchange District will be here for you.