A downtown Winnipeg shopping mall that has struggled over the years is set to be redeveloped.

True North Real Estate Development announced today that they will take over the space and create a $500-million diverse three-part campus that will connect a health care centre with affordable and family housing, as well as a full-scale grocery store, neighbourhood services and urban green spaces.

While sections of the existing structure will be developed in stages, the finished project is planned to be one-third bigger than the current building.

“For decades, Portage Place unintentionally created a barrier between north and south neighbourhoods that make up our downtown,” said Mark Chipman, executive chairman, True North Sports + Entertainment. “Our goal is to transform it into a place that connects neighbourhoods, provides access to badly needed services, and has social and economic impact by building a sense of community mindedness.’’

When complete, the new space will connect communities from the former Hudson Bay Co. building, the University of Winnipeg and YMCA, providing everything from physical fitness, child care and community drop-ins, to arts and culture opportunities like Prairie Theatre Exchange.

The Manitoba government will support this transformation by making a long-term commitment to a massive health campus, providing wellness and community services tailored to the neighbourhood and urban population.

“With this reimagined space we will connect communities by creating an urban ecosystem that serves and connects communities with supportive programs reaching everyone in Winnipeg.,” said Premier Heather Stefanson.

A major component of the health campus will be a more than $300-million urban centre for health excellence providing clinical as well as educational and research space delivered by Shared Health and Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. The Pan Am Clinic will expand to become an anchor tenant.

The 30,000-sq.-ft. tower will provide accessible, progressive community urban health-care delivery including:

  • a primary care clinic to provide quality primary health-care services offered by physicians, nurse practitioners and other regional health-care service providers;
  • an extended-hours walk-in clinic that will offer an alternative to urgent or emergency care for non-life-threatening health issues that need to be addressed the same day;
  • supports focused on mental health and addictions; and
  • a renal dialysis unit that will allow dialysis patients to receive comfort care closer to home.

In addition, the Pan Am Clinic will expand advanced musculoskeletal operations to the more central downtown location providing a leading downtown centre for ambulatory and orthopedic surgery, diagnostics, minor and sports medicine, concussion treatment, casting and pain management.

“This is a progressive urban renewal and health-care project that responds to Winnipeg at a critical time,” Stefanson added. “With the guidance of stakeholders, we will transform downtown Winnipeg offering historic help in health care, community services and make downtown a safe destination for years to come.”

“This is a made-in-Manitoba solution born by listening to people and understanding their needs,” said Jim Ludlow, president, True North Real Estate Development. “This is not a retail play – it is a community play. It is about building with people in mind and we are so excited to enter into the next discussion phase to get feedback on how we might refine it further.”

Over its lifetime, the development is projected to create $698 million in economic activity including $411 million in wages, the premier noted, adding that once complete, ongoing operations would provide $325 million in net GDP contributions annually.

The new facility will add critically needed health services to Winnipeg’s downtown and have the capacity to serve all Manitobans into the future, Stefanson noted, adding the facility will include new MRI units, CT scan units, X-ray machines and additional surgical suites that would increase Manitoba’s health-care capacity as the population ages.

“This will be built from the ground up with the needs of the community in mind, providing urban Manitobans better access to health care with wraparound supports for the general population,” said Lanette Siragusa, CEO, Shared Health. “This centre will also play a major role in the city of Winnipeg’s future by providing the ability to expand key services with additional clinical space.”

Engagement with experts, stakeholders and community members will validate key assumptions and build out a detailed plan for the new health-care facility, Stefanson added.

“The urban health centre of excellence is uniquely located to maximize accessibility with an extended after-hour walk-in clinic and the ability to provide ambulatory care,” said Mike Nader, president and CEO, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. “The central location means services will be easily accessible for walk ups, public transit or any other means.”

True North has the support of all three levels of government that make up The Forks North Portage Partnership to purchase the land by the end of 2023.