There’s no doubt the Winnipeg Jets’ playoff run shined a spotlight on the downtown, bringing in tens of thousands of people.
But did that momentum last?
“I think downtown Winnipeg is still on people’s radar,” Tineke Buiskool-Leeuwma, the director of marketing, events and communications with Downtown Winnipeg BIZ said.
While the BIZ doesn’t track numbers regularly, Buiskool-Leeuwma believes there are more people coming downtown, not only to work but also to dine and play.
“I think restaurants are for sure thriving, because so many people did experience them when they were down for the Whiteout street parties. Now they’re aware of those great restaurants and frequenting them.”
But not everyone agrees. Peter Ginakes, the president of the Pony Corral chain of restaurants, said like most downtown establishments, his restaurant was jam packed with people during the playoffs, but he said that momentum didn’t last.
“Listen, the honeymoon is over,” Ginakes said.
“The Whiteout was exciting and then we get into the summer months where a lot of people go out to the lakes, and they go and stay in the suburbs.”
Ginakes said it’s important that the downtown thrive all year round but to do so it needs more attractions, like street festivals.
“The streets are empty in the summer, let’s fill them up with some major events,” Ginakes explained. “We did a lot of them a few years back, like I started the car shows downtown Winnipeg and we would have 50-60,000 people close eight city blocks.”
And that’s what Buiskool-Leeuwma said the BIZ is trying to do –bring more events to the downtown.
“We’re doing lots of initiatives downtown, like new events, our downtown night market, we have our pop-up parks and pop-up toilets. We have so much going on, that I think downtown is still really relevant.”