Winnipeg moves closer to “shopping centre saturation”

Plans to construct a new “big box” shopping complex in suburban Winnipeg with Swedish retailer Ikea as its anchor tenant have touched off another debate about urban development in Manitoba’s capital.

For some, the new Tuxedo Yards development is something to cheer: a boon to the province’s construction industry in economically uncertain times, and a break from the 650-kilometre drive to the nearest Ikea store in Minneapolis for fans of assemble-it-yourself Scandinavian furniture.

For others, the dumping of 1.5-million square feet of new retail space in one relatively small area (which will account for about seven percent of the city’s entire inventory of retail space once constructed) raises the spectre of traffic jams, empty storefronts elsewhere in the city and, possibly, an eyesore on par with the ghastly Regent Ave. Strip in east Winnipeg.
There is some merit to the concern that the city is spreading its retail business too thin by allowing too much retail activity to become concentrated in suburban malls and “power centres”, to the detriment of independent businesses in older neighbourhoods.

As the following graph illustrates, Winnipeg was one of Canada’s most shopping centre-saturated cities in 2004-05, with 9.2 shopping centres for every $1 billion in retail sales. Only residents of London, Ont., Windsor, Victoria and Calgary had a keener appetite for malls and big-box stores.

Shopping centres per $1 billion in retail sales, 2004-05

Shopping centres per $1 billion in retail sales by city, 2004-05. Source: FP Markets, Canadian Demographics 2005.

Note that the places considered to be the “must-see” cities for both domestic and foreign tourists — Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Vancouver and Ottawa — all had fewer than half as many shopping centres as Winnipeg per $1 billion in retail sales in 2004-05. After all, it’s stylish, walkable neighbourhoods that make a city attractive to visitors, not millions of square feet of paved-over suburbia.

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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

One Response to Winnipeg moves closer to “shopping centre saturation”

  1. cherenkov says:

    Interesting post. I don’t doubt the graph, but it’s not clear what is considered a “shopping centre”. It could include strip malls, for instance. Still, I agree with the gist of the post.

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