It's easy to get excited about the plans Red River College has for the Union Bank tower on Main Street. Built in 1904, it is a true example the early skyscrapers, not only by virtue of its height, but by its adaptation of classical orders to a tall building. Reaching 11 storeys from ground through the wonder of steel, it looks down on Main from a sharp bend in what had been, just a generation before, a muddy trail connecting two forts along the Red River.
When the tower became vacant in 1992, I was 10 years old, and I have grown into young adulthood seeing it as a heartbreakingly prominent reminder of Winnipeg's lost glory. And so, if nothing else, to one day see the lights on in the building at night will have a huge impact on the city's bruised psyche, sending a message that, for now at least, we no longer let prominent architectural treasures sit empty for years.
The possibility that Canada Post would locate its downtown sorting facility at the corner of Higgins Avenue and Main Street came and went in a matter of days last week, and so it might now seem a little pointless to devote column space to a now-dead development. But in that time, much of the discussion of the matter was of the hope that the design of the facility would not reprise the dismal monstrousness of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's offices a block down the street, at Logan and Main.
At the beginning of the year, as the form of the WRHA's building, boxy and cheap, and its adjacent parkade, crooked and brutal, took shape, it raised much public ire and left civic politicians asking how such an embarrassment was allowed to take shape only four short blocks from city hall. Good question, but what might be more worthwhile is to ask how it can be assured this never happens again.
Over the past six years, Winnipeggers have heard much about how Waverley West would be a panacea for civic woes.