Saturday, August 25, 2012

171 Princess Street - Civic Centre Parkade

© 2012, 2020 Christian Cassidy
Place: Civic Centre Parkade
Address: 171 Princess Street
Opened: November 1965
Cost: $1.34 m
Architects: Green, Blankstein Russell Associates
Contractors: Peter Leitch Construction

City Hall Overview (Edited)
The 1960s brought massive redevelopment to the area around Main Street and William Avenue.

After exploring a number of possible locations, the city decided to build its new city hall on the site of the old one. The Civic Centre, which featured separate buildings for administration and council buildings. It later expanded to include a Public Safety Building to replace the central police station.

The province also unveiled redevelopment plans of its own in the form of a new Centennial Arts District right across the street. That complex would consist of a concert hall, theatre centre, museum and planetarium.

The least glamorous building in all of this new development was a 460-stall parking garage that would serve both sites.

Parkade's south wall at left. Sept 29, 1964, Winnipeg Tribune

It was after construction of the new city hall began that attention turned to a possible phase two.

The city was looking for a new home for its circa 1906 central police station on Rupert Avenue. The building was already considered cramped and "dysfunctional" for a modern police force and would have to be replaced by the end of the decade.

At a meeting of the city's finance committee on December 20, 1962, architects
Libling Michener and Associates, (now LM Architectural Group), presented a report suggesting that the area immediately west of the new city hall would be a perfect location for a new police station. The rest of the city's administration would be just meters away and the city already owned the land, which would save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It was also suggested that the new structure could also house fire department officials who were located in a building near the city limits on St. Matthews Avenue and the signals garage that was also looking for a new home.

For the vacant land north of the news police station, the architects recommended a 500-vehicle parkade to serve the buildings.

October 28, 1964, Winnipeg Free Press

The city agreed with the plan and on April 8, 1964, ratepayers voted to spend $2.8* million to construct phase two of the Civic Centre. (Only 25% of ratepayers voted and the project barely passed with 16,404 in favour versus 12,941 against.)

Tenders were called in November and on December 21, 1964, council voted 17-1 in favour of awarding the contract to Peter Leitch Construction and its bid of $4,853,908*. Of that, $1.36 m was earmarked for the parkade and basement level.

(*The discrepancy in the numbers was partly due to higher than expected bids. The bids also didn't factor in rebates that the city would receive from the federal and provincial governments.)

Designed by Green, Blankstein Russell Associates, who also designed the council and administration buildings of the civic centre, the parkade was constructed of reinforced concrete clad in Tyndall Stone, stood four stories in height and had room for approximately 460 stalls.

The basement level was for use by police and fire administration vehicles and home to the city's repair and signals garage. A tunnel under King Street connected the parkade to the Civic Centre. (That tunnel was continued on to the Centennial Concert Hall in 1967.)

October 23, 1965, Winnipeg Tribune

In September 1965, council approved parking rates for which were said to be in line with other facilities in the city: 15 cents for the first 30 minutes; 10 cents for the second half hour; and 10 cents for each additional hour. The maximum daily rate was $1.

The issue of monthly rates was a bit more contentious. The city first proposed $9 per month which was well below the $11.35 it was estimated to provide the stalls. After some outcry about providing city employees with "below cost" parking the rate was boosted to $12 per month.

At that same meeting, the city's solicitor was asked to draw up an agreement with the city's five-member parking authority, a body created in August 1956 to oversee off-street city parking lots, to run the facility.

The Civic Centre Car Park began operations on November 1, 1965. The adjoining Public Safety Building opened on May 18, 1966.

By the 2000s, the Civic Parkade was in poor condition. An October 2007 Winnipeg Parking Authority study claimed that the structure needed more than $6 million in immediate repairs.

On August 24, 2012, the city ordered that the Civic Centre Pakade be closed indefinitely after the results of an engineering study found that it was in serious need of repairs to prevent the concrete from crumbling onto cars.

The decision was made to tear down rather than repair the structure and demolition got under way in January 2020. This will soon be followed by the demolition of the old Public Safety Building. The site, which has been rechristened Market Lands, will be redeveloped.

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