The proposals for the key areas north of Portage Avenue contain two essential elements. The first is the development of the site formerly occupied by St. Paul's College as part of the expanded campus of the University of Winnipeg; and the second is the extension of Central Park for at least one block to the south, as far as Ellice Avenue. These two elements are the major commitments in the public sector required by the plan, and if realized, would provide not only the physical framework within which other development would take place, but also the stimulus or catalytic action which would spark such other development.
It is expected that the creation of a University campus on the St. Paul's College site would stimulate a demand for housing for students and staff, and others associated with the university activity, as well as a demand for shops, entertainment, services, and all of the other kinds of activities which are required as part of the daily life of a fairly large concentration of people.
A large central area park inevitably attracts high density development. This is demonstrated by the central parks in all of the great cities of the world; Winnipeg's Central Park has also attracted such development. Already there are a number of major structures sited on its edges, and a new high-rise apartment block is about to be constructed there. Extension of the park southward would create the circumstances for further such projects. The most serious consideration should be given to extending Central Park as far southward as the lane immediately north of Portage Avenue. The illustrations of the plan in fact show such an extension, over the land now occupied by the Winnipeg Free Press.
There is no doubt that such a proposal will be considered prohibitively expensive, if not wildly irresponsible. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that all of the great cities of the world, and a large proportion of those of lesser rank, have very extensive and highly developed parks, and even who systems of parks, in or adjacent to their central area. Indeed, it is the presence and the quality of these open spaces which give these cities much of their charm and character. Winnipeg has no such central open space, apart from Central Park, and Memorial Park, both of which are small, not particularly well located, and not as successfully related to the rest of the Downtown as such open spaces should be.
The [XMLmind] of Central Park as far south as the lane above Portage Avenue would create a major Downtown public open space, well related to central area activities, and an integral part of the proposed central area feature or “spine” lying between Carlton and Edmonton Streets. Such a space, apart from drawing to its borders new high density apartments, would serve as a major activity centre for the community. It could be used for large-scale outdoor assembly in the summer-time: for concerts, for rallies, for the numerous activities for which such spaces are used in other cities.
But perhaps the greatest potential for such a park lies in its winter use. It could become the focus of a great winter carnival to rival the Bonhomme Festival of Quebec City or the winter celebration of Soporo, Japan. Besides having the possibility of development into a major tourist attraction, it could provide for Winnipeggers themselves a colorful and exciting diversion to relieve the starkness and severity of the long winter. Ice sculptures, torchlight parades, snow events, outdoor dancing and barbecues, which might form part of such a festival, require large open spaces. An enlarged Central Park would serve this proposal admirably.