5. THE CONVENTION CENTRE

All of the concepts described above are illustrated in some detail on Plates 20 to 25. These illustrations are sufficiently graphic to make it unnecessary for any further detailed verbal description of the various elements of the plan. However, something should perhaps be said about the convention centre indicated for the block bounded by Carlton, York, Edmonton, and St. Mary. A major convention facility for Winnipeg has been discussed for many years, but no decision has ever been made about it. Such studies as have been made of the matter indicate that Winnipeg is favorably situated to attract a much greater share of the national and continental conference and convention activities than it does at the present time. One of the reasons for the city's failure to host more conventions has been the lack of adequate hotel space. This deficiency is about to be overcome with two new major hotels under construction the Winnipeg Inn and the Northstar Inn and with a third, the Holiday Inn, having been announced.

There seems to be little doubt that the realization of these three major new hotels will revive serious consideration of a new convention facility; and there also seems to be little doubt that such a facility will be constructed in the city sometime in the not-too-distant future.

If a [XMLmind] convention hall is built in Winnipeg, it seems elementary good sense that it be located within easy access of hotel accommodation. It also seems good sense to try to ensure that strong supporting services and facilities are developed in close relation to the convention centre, such as shopping, entertainment, etc.

With these considerations in mind, the site for the convention centre has been shown as the block bounded by St. Mary, Carlton, York and Edmonton. This location would make it possible to link the convention centre directly with a number of hotels by means of a weather-protected pedestrian corridor. It would also make it possible to link the centre with some of the supporting facilities and amenities which are so essential to ensure the success of the convention function.

Accordingly the block to the south of the convention centre site is shown developed with the basic parking structure and pedestrian-commercial corridor at the second storey level. Above this pedestrian level, and accessible from it, the plan proposes that a conservatory-restaurant be created, in which the floral display would be so arranged as to form a background or setting for the activities of the restaurant; patrons would have their meals surrounded by an informal but lush decor of plants, flowers, and reflecting pools. Northward, the convention centre is shown connecting across St. Mary Avenue to the proposed pedestrian shopping level and the hotels in the block between York Avenue and Graham, thus creating a strong convention function spine extending for the length of three city blocks. This spine continues northward to Portage Avenue in the form of a weather-protected commercial and recreational corridor, crosses Portage Avenue where it becomes a major downtown park which incorporates the present Central Park, and extends to Notre Dame. When fully realized, there will be thus created a central axis on the alignment of the blocks running between Carlton Street and Edmonton Street, running from Broadway to Notre Dame, containing shops, places of entertainment and recreation, open spaces, and a weather-protected pedestrian corridor. Such a “spine” would be a major feature of the Downtown, serving as a strong element of identification and contributing an important component to the Downtown character.