City workers could staff former Canada Post office tower

City employees could one day fill the office tower connected to the downtown police station.

In 2009, the city agreed to buy the former Canada Post tower and warehouse on Graham Avenue for $29 million. Police work out of the warehouse and a portion of the office building.

The scandal-plagued police headquarters construction project ballooned in price, and is the subject of lawsuits.

On top of that, the city has struggled to find tenants for the tower. Of the 11 floors, six are currently vacant.

It was once valued at $18 million, but several repairs are required for the structure that opened in 1958.

An attempt to find a reuse for it in 2016 failed.

City Property Committee Chair Cindy Gilroy said there are also security issues to think about.

“I think the Winnipeg Police Service has indicated they want to make sure they know who the tenants are in the building and I think that’s a security thing,” said Gilroy.

Now the city has released a Request for Proposal seeking a $120,000 feasibility study to reoccupy the tower. The winning bidder would detail the condition of the building, the work needed to renovate it and bring it up to code, and how much it would cost.

“As the tower has been mostly vacant for a prolonged period, it is necessary to determine the extent of remedial work required throughout the building prior to occupancy and any new tenant…” states the RFP.

The RFP also says while tenants have not been finalized, it’s expected employees from select city departments will be included in the mix.

As downtown continues to struggle with many still working from home full or part time, the city says this plan aligns with an April consultant’s report recommending the city consider consolidating municipal properties by moving workers into the tower.

“I don’t really want to see an empty space within our downtown, we’re seeing those challenges downtown, this is an opportunity for us to, you know, get our staff there,” said Gilroy

There are also financial reasons to fill the tower. The city says 2021 numbers show costs to operate the tower are exceeding revenues by $670,000. It says that figure does not include the value of space currently occupied by police and municipal accommodations staff. 

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