There’s a renaissance happening along Winnipeg’s Selkirk Avenue. This famous North End street was once a bustling commercial district surrounded by neighbourhoods where European immigrants settled in the first half of the 20th century,
In more recent times, the area has changed dramatically and the north end thoroughfare has seen more than its share of boarded up storefronts, crime and poverty.
Now, to the delight of business owners and residents, Selkirk Avenue and the surrounding community are beginning to flourish again, anchored by steadfast businesses, committed social service agencies, and a resilient population.
A centrepiece of the renaissance along this iconic avenue is the redevelopment of The Merchants Hotel, at 541 Selkirk Ave., a celebrated establishment back in its day which, over time, deteriorated into infamy and eventually closed its doors in 2012.
Merchants Corner is an innovative redeveloped facility that will be an educational hub hosting the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Inner-City Studies and CEDA-Pathways to Education program.
It will also feature units of rent geared to income housing and will include common space open to the community in which literacy programming for preschoolers will be offered among many other activities.
CKUW 95.9 FM contributor and News Director, Michael Welch attended a ceremony earlier this month commemorating this project, where Premier Greg Selinger wielded the first sledge hammer to start construction.
The audio report begins with long time area resident Stella Blackburn reflecting on the impact this redevelopment will have on the community:
A large part of this ongoing turnaround in the North End is credited to the Moffat Family Fund, which has supported many charitable projects that have both changed the face of Selkirk Avenue and bolstered services for people who call the neighbourhood home.
Earlier this year, the North End Community Renewal Corporation (NERC), in partnership with Merchants Inc., celebrated and recognized its major donors who have, so far, contributed over $1.35 million dollars to the development of Merchants Corner.
These funds, added to the $9.1 million previously announced, bring the total project funding to $10.5 million of the $12.8 million required for this project.
In addition to the $600,000 grant for Merchants Corner from The Moffat Family Fund through the Winnipeg Foundation, a $300,000 gift is courtesy of an anonymous donor, $150,000 is coming from the Thomas Sill Foundation, $100,000 from Wawanesa, a gift of $100,000 from Mr. Michael Nesbitt, U of W Students Association donation of $75,000, a $20,000 gift from The Tachane Foundation, various community donations of $10,000 and The Zuken Foundation’s gift of $1,000, totaling $1,356,000 added to the Province of Manitoba’s $9.1 million contribution, for a grand total, to date, of $10,456,000. The ultimate goal of $12.8 million is only about $2 million away.
A walk along Selkirk Avenue today reveals the dramatic transformation this neighbourhood is experiencing. Some of the more noteworthy examples of this effort include, North End Women’s Centre at 394 Selkirk Ave., Indigenous Family Centre (470 Selkirk Ave.), Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad (472), William Norrie Centre (485), North End Community Renewal Corporation (509), Urban Circle Training Centre (519), Elizabeth Fry Society (544), Aboriginal Visioning for the North End (586), Oyate Tipi Cumini Yape (606), among others.
Compiled with files from Kerry Ryan, The Winnipeg Foundation