Repairs to Portage and Main concourse might top $46M

The concourse below downtown Winnipeg’s iconic Portage and Main intersection needs millions of dollars of repairs and upgrades.

There are leaks in some walls; a skylight, the roof and parts of its electrical, heating and ventilation systems need to be replaced. 

The shortcomings are detailed in a report attached to a City of Winnipeg request for proposals for a plan to fix the 41-year-old underground concourse.

The study was done by SMS Engineering in May 2019, but wasn’t made fully public until the RFP was issued by the city just before Christmas this year. It contains a list of upgrades from critical to non-critical that need to be addressed in a recommended timeline of 10 years.

The total project is estimated at $32,615,600 without inflation and $46,840,063.96 with inflation calculated into the total.

Buckets collect water dripping from the ceiling in the concourse below Portage and Main. (Samuel Rancourt/Radio-Canada)

The cost was estimated without including several factors, such as GST, contingencies, contractor overhead and profit and consulting fees, the report says.

There are also shortcomings with the emergency systems in the concourse — lighting, exits, signs, sprinkler systems and alarms.

“The life safety upgrades also play a role in the overall costing. The facility is dated and has a number of grandfathered conditions. These conditions are required to be rectified should major renovation be commenced,” the report says.

A spokesperson for the City of Winnipeg said the request for proposals to develop a repair plan should be awarded by March and whatever work is required is forecast to be completed within five years. 

“The results of the newly posted RFP will assist in determining the total cost to complete repairs to the concourse,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

The head of the city’s property and development committee told CBC News “we need to move on this,” but acknowledged there was a lot of money involved and budgets are tight. 

“With such a large price tag, my hope is we will concentrate on addressing issues of safety and how [we] can hopefully do it in stages. We do need to make sure that it is safe for the public and those that are in and around the area,” Coun. Cindy Gilroy wrote in an email.

Above the concourse, Winnipeg’s most famous intersection was the focus of an effort to remove barriers to pedestrians that was defeated in a plebiscite in 2018.

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