Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Union Station getting facelift

Preliminary work to start on $6.5-M project

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The historic Union Station in downtown Winnipeg will get a $6.5-million makeover, including a better back door to The Forks.

The station, on Main Street at Broadway, turned 100 years old this year and is showing its age.

Fixes announced Friday include a better, brighter passenger waiting area in the back of the station, new wheelchair-accessible washrooms and repairs and restoration work to the huge central rotunda, which was last painted 30 years ago.

Via Rail also plans to do some exterior repairs and will upgrade the 120,000 square feet of office space in the wings of the Tyndall-stone station.

Tenants include the federal Citizenship Court, Red River College, provincial conservation staff and some federal government employees.

Minister of State for Transport and Winnipeg MP Steven Fletcher, who announced the new cash, said the upgrade he is most looking forward to is the new rear entrance, a shortcut from Main Street to The Forks that's tricky to find and a little dark.

"If you can even find the door, it's kind of a nightmare," Fletcher said. "This will open it up, making it clean and safe and attractive, and it will become a natural walkway to get from The Forks to the rest of the downtown."

Some of the $6.5 million is old money, part of cash earmarked for Via since 2007. Another $3.5 million comes from this year's federal budget.

Design and engineering work will begin almost immediately, with construction likely starting next year. First to get done will likely be the waiting area and the washrooms.

Via has already upgraded the station's heating and cooling systems to modern standards.

The station is listed as a heritage building by the City of Winnipeg and the government of Canada.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Opened in August 1911

WINNIPEG'S main rail station is getting a facelift, thanks to cash from Ottawa. Here's some history:

The first train arrived at Union Station August 7, 1911, with the station's official opening the following June.

It's Via's largest station and a historic rail gateway to the west.

The Beaux-Arts building was designed by the same New York architects who built Grand Central Station.

It broke CP Rail's monopoly in Manitoba. The station was a joint venture between CP rivals CN Rail, the National Transcontinental Railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. That's partly why it's called Union Station.

-- Source: Via Rail

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 26, 2012 B4

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