In 2002, a profile of Downtown Winnipeg published by the City of Winnipeg described the Walkway as a system of 14 skyways and 7 tunnels connecting 38 buildings and allowing for a maximum protected walk of 2 km. It went on to state that the system provides year-round climate-controlled access to over 170,000 m2 of space, including over 200 shops and businesses, 10 office complexes, 60 restaurants and snack bars, 700 apartment units, 2 hotels, 11 financial centres, and the Winnipeg Millennium Library, bringing together 21,000 employees. The walkway system has since expanded.
Starting in 2004, in anticipation of the openings of the MTS Centre and Millennium Library, a new unified system of signage was developed for the entire network to assist wayfinding therein. This process brought with it the branding of the system as the Winnipeg Walkway and the subdivision of the network into four interconnected segments.
This portion of the network is centred underneath the historic intersection of Portage and Main, said to be the windiest in Canada. At street level this intersection is closed to pedestrians; it is not possible to cross it without going underground.
On a much smaller scale, this segment is somewhat reminiscent of Montreal's Underground City. Via a network of tunnels, the Main Underground connects the following:
- Portage and Main Pedestrian Loop
- Trizec Complex
- Royal Bank Building
- 201 Portage (formerly Canwest Place, CanWest Global Place, TD Centre)
- Lombard Place
- Historic Bank of Montreal Building
- MTS Place (formerly Bank of Montreal Tower)
At the southwestern corner of Winnipeg Square, near the intersection of Graham Avenue and Fort Street, there are escalator, lift and stairway connections to the second floor of 200 Graham Avenue, thereby connecting the Main Underground to the Graham Skywalk.
The 360 Main Street tower sits upon one of several structural pads atop Winnipeg Square. The complex is said to be able to accommodate the construction of an additional high-rise office tower on Graham Avenue as well as a low-rise building for use as a hotel on Main Street, following this same model.
The Graham Skywalk consists of a series of skyways connecting the buildings on the south side of Graham Avenue, between Main Street and Hargrave Street, as well as the MTS Centre (the former site of the historic Eaton's store) and the former Eaton's power station on the north side. This portion of the network provides access to the following:
- 200 Graham Avenue
- Cargill Building
- Canada Post Centre
- Millennium Library
- CityPlace Shopping Centre
- CityPlace Office Tower
- MTS Centre
- Powerhouse Building
The MTS Centre can be said to be a major hub in the Winnipeg Walkway network as it connects the Graham Skywalk to the Portage Skywalk.
This segment of the Winnipeg Walkway boasts many of the shopping and entertainment attractions most often associated with Downtown Winnipeg. An extensive network of skyways and second-floor pedestrian rights-of-way connects the Radisson Hotel, the MTS Centre, the Newport Center (sic) and other adjacent buildings on the south side of Portage Avenue, with the three-block Portage Place shopping and entertainment complex between Carlton Street and Vaughan Street on the north side. Several neighbouring residential, recreational and commercial buildings, including the One Canada Centre tower between Vaughan Street and Colony Street, are directly connected to Portage Place. At the western edge of Portage Place there is a skyway link to the historic Bay department store and the Power Building on the south side of Portage Avenue. Via an open-air connection through the covered parkade of The Bay, the network reaches further south, providing access to the Saint Mary Skywalk. More specifically, the Portage Skywalk links the following:
- MTS Centre
- Somerset Place
- Newport Centre
- Carlton Building
- Portage Place Southside Shops
- Manitoba Hydro Place
- Portage Place
- One Canada Place
- YMCA Downtown Winnipeg
- Place Promenade
- IBM Building
- Kiwanis Chateau
- Fred Douglas Place
- The Bay
- Power Building
As was the case with the construction of Winnipeg Square, structural pads were built atop Portage Place to allow for future upward expansion. There is one atop each end, and there is currently a plan for an office and hotel tower to be built on the western pad.
Saint Mary Skywalk
This is both the smallest, and the most tenuously linked segment of the Winnipeg Walkway System. Its only connection to the network is via the covered, although not exactly indoor, parkade of The Bay department store. The Saint Mary Skywalk connects three buildings on the south side of Saint Mary Avenue, between Vaughan Street and Edmonton Street, namely:
- Centra Gas
- 420 Saint Mary Avenue
- 400 Saint Mary Avenue
The Convention Centre walkway system is connected to the Graham Skywalk section by way of a covered walkway spanning St Mary Ave and Hargrave St, connecting cityplace mall to the Delta Hotel and the Convention Centre. The connection between the pre-existing Convention Centre walkway system and the Winnipeg Walkway system was completed in 2010.
On the two blocks bordered by Edmonton Street, Saint Mary Avenue, York Avenue and Hargrave Street is a residential and commercial complex consisting of the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the various buildings of Lakeview Square. A network of pedestrian tunnels and skyways connects the following buildings:
- Winnipeg Convention Centre
- Lakeview Square
- Lakeview I
- Lakeview II (175 Carlton Street)
- Shannon's Irish Pub
- Lakeview III
- 185 Carlton Street
- 189 Carlton Street
- Ichiban Japanese Restaurant
- Holiday Tower South
- Holiday Tower North
- Delta Winnipeg Hotel (formerly Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza)
The two Holiday Towers are linked to each other by a basement tunnel, and by two different skyways, one closer to ground level and one near the top floor. The North Tower is also connected by tunnel to the Delta Winnipeg, which is itself connected to the adjacent 185 Carlton Street. The Convention Centre is connected by skyways to both 185 Carlton Street and 155 Carlton Street. The latter is connected to the adjacent 349 York Avenue. The Lakeview Square development forms a 'U' around an open central courtyard which faces the Convention Centre across Carlton Street.
Other Downtown Pedestrian Networks
In addition to the Winnipeg Walkway, is another smaller enclosed pedestrian network in Downtown Winnipeg that is not currently connected to the principal Walkway network.
Another series of interconnected buildings straddle Main Street, approximately 1 km north of Portage and Main. On the west side of Main Street is the Winnipeg Civic Centre and on the east side is the Manitoba Centennial Centre. This pedestrian network's underground tunnels link the following public buildings:
- Winnipeg Civic Centre
- City Hall
- Administration Building
- Public Safety Building
- Manitoba Centennial Centre
Unlike the Convention Centre pedestrian network, creating a pedestrian link between the Civic Centre and the principal Winnipeg Walkway System is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Not only is the distance great between the Main Underground and the Civic Centre, but any connection between the two would require sensitive tunneling underneath turn of the century heritage buildings over several blocks.
- City of Winnipeg et al.: Downtown Winnipeg Profile (page 7)
- "Downtown skywalk extension opens". CBC News. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
- City of Winnipeg et al.: Downtown Winnipeg Profile (page 3)
- Santin, Aldo: '$20-M tower to crown Portage Place', Winnipeg Free Press, 22 March 2004
- O'Brien, David: '$20-M tower planned for Portage Place mall', Winnipeg Free Press, 7 February 2005
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Winnipeg Walkway.|
- Winnipeg Square - How to Get There
- Downtown Winnipeg Indoor Walkway Guide
- A set of photos taken inside the Winnipeg Walkway.
- Humorous CBC Television report from 1988 showcasing the perils of wayfinding in the Winnipeg Walkway.
- Bruce Kuwabara's July 2005 presentation of his firm's winning design for the new Manitoba Hydro Building.