The Downtown study area is bounded by Main Street on the east, the Assiniboine River on the south, Memorial Boulevard on the west, and Notre Dame Avenue on the north. The total area contained within these limits is 400.68 acres of which 138.8 acres (34.5%) are made up of streets and lanes. Private business enterprises are the major users of land in the study area, accounting for 69.79 acres or 27% of the total exclusive of streets and lanes. Public and Institutional uses are close behind with 64.8 acres, much of which is represented by the grounds of the Provincial Legislative Buildings. The next two major users of land are multiple family residences, and parking areas, accounting for 44.8 acres and 48.1 acres respectively. The remainder of the land is used for hotels (5.5 acres), industry (1.7 acres), parks and recreation (10.2 acres), single family dwellings (4.8 acres, or is vacant (12.8 acres). Table 3.1 sets out the information relating to land use.
Portage Avenue is the major axis of the Downtown. Running east and west, it divides the Downtown into two major enclaves that lying north of Portage Avenue, and that lying south. Broadway, another east-west arterial, although not nearly as heavily used as Portage, further divides the area lying south of Portage Avenue. There are thus three major sectors in the study area, defined by the two major east-west arteries: the first extending from the Assiniboine River to Broadway, the second between Broadway and Portage Avenue, and the third between Portage Avenue and Notre Dame.
Portage Avenue is not only the major traffic artery within the Downtown study area, but is also the location of the retail core of Metropolitan Winnipeg. The south side of Portage Avenue, extending for the seven blocks between Smith Street and Memorial Boulevard, contains the highest concentration of retail floor space and retail employment (and incidentally the highest concentration of pedestrians) in the whole of Metropolitan Winnipeg. The north side of Portage Avenue, virtually for its entire length, also contains retail establishments, but not in the same concentration as the south side. This of course is to be expected because of the presence, on the south side, of The T. Eaton Co. store, between Donald Street and Hargrave Street, and the Hudson Bay Co. store, between Vaughan Street and Memorial Boulevard two of the largest department stores in Canada.
Broadway is one of the handsomest streets in the Metropolitan area. The 132 feet right-of-way are divided by a generous median into three lanes of traffic westbound and three lanes eastbound. The median is 40 feet wide and is well landscaped with trees, shrubs, and benches where the public may sit in the pleasant shade on summer days. In recent years Broadway has attracted the offices of a number of insurance and financial corporations, creating the beginnings of a very prestigious thoroughfare. The Fort Garry Hotel, the Law Courts, and the Legislative Building with its vast sweep of carefully tended lawns add to the dignity and appearance of the street.
The sector south of Broadway contains two principle land-use areas. Between Main Street and Donald Street, the area is mainly non-residential, containing several office buildings (including those of the Metropolitan Corporation), industrial premises, and the Fort Garry Hotel. West of Donald Street the land-use is mainly residential, with a large number of small apartment blocks as the characteristic building form.
The sector between Broadway and Portage Avenue contains very few residences. The sense of decline and abandonment is felt most strongly in this sector, at least as far as Graham Avenue. This no doubt is due in considerable measure to the fact that vast areas of land are devoted to surface parking. Nearly 30% of the available land surface (i.e. other than streets and lanes) is devoted to automobile parking. Furthermore, much of the land between Main Street and Garry Street is devoted to automobile service industries, housed in single storey buildings, many with adjacent open storage areas. The Main Street frontage at the eastern end of this sector is characterized by buildings in run-down condition, vacant premises, used car lots and parking areas. Scattered through the sector are still a number of single family dwellings, all in manifestly poor condition, emphasized by the fact that many are exposed to empty surroundings. There is therefore little wonder that the sector has an air of general dereliction. The Osborne Street frontage on the western boundary is almost the only pleasant area, due to Memorial Park and Memorial Boulevard. In the western reaches of this sector there are a number of office buildings containing medical and dental offices, and their related services.
Between Graham Avenue and Portage Avenue there is some greater density and variety of development in one or two nodes, or concentrations, but even Graham Avenue can hardly be described as a street with a high density of development or a high level of activity.
The sector north of Portage Avenue is also an area of mixed land-use, more varied than the other two sectors. Central Park, the only significant open space within the study area, is probably what saves this sector from the same environment of dereliction as is experienced in other parts of the Downtown. This attractive park is defined at its periphery, by two recent high-rise apartments (one a senior citizens home) and a third high-rise apartment now under construction. The fine architecture of Knox United Church, and an older apartment block have stood at the edges of the park for some time. All of these elements combine to create a physical environment of relative high quality.
In the eastern part of this sector is a concentration of cinemas, taller office buildings and a convention hotel which provides an element of character and activity to this part of the Downtown. The western reaches of this sector contain extensive areas of row housing and low-rise apartments, together with institutions such as the Y.M.C.A, Y.W.C.A, Y.M.H.A., the adult education centre in the former Isbister School, a concentration of boutiques on Kennedy Street between Portage and Ellice, all of which gives the sector an air of varied, if low-key, activity.
Plate 2 [XMLmind] the general land use pattern in the study area, while Table 3.1 indicates the percentages of these uses.