Active Transportation

Urban Systems Arrives at Portage and Main

When we first launched our relationship with the City of Winnipeg two years ago, Manitoba was still a relatively new market for us. In helping the City develop their initial walking and cycling plan, Brian Patterson and our Active Transportation team started making connections within the community, both at the civic and neighbourhood level. “There is a great community in Winnipeg,” states Patterson, who works in our Vancouver office. “They have a real grassroots culture for active transportation, with a lot of momentum.”

Since that initial project, our relationship with the City and surrounding areas has grown, with about half a dozen active projects currently on the go. With a greater need to be present in the area to better serve our clients, as well as build our connections throughout Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, Urban Systems officially opened an office in downtown Winnipeg. The new space will provide consultants like Patterson with office space to meet with clients, as well as operate as their “workspace away from home”.

Andrew Baigent, a Community Planner and Advisor also from Vancouver, is enthusiastic about having an established space in Winnipeg, and being able to collaborate more closely with many of the Indigenous communities in the area. “Urban Systems works very closely with many of the First Nations communities in British Columbia, and this experience is an asset in building relationships with others in Western Canada.”

Having a more physical presence in the area will go a long way to supporting the work we do in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, and the people we are working for. “It’s hard to become a trusted source of support when you’re not physically present,” Patterson admits.

Both Baigent and Patterson acknowledge that the City of Winnipeg, while a metropolitan centre, has often operated in a bit of isolation. This has translated into Winnipeg being a tight knit community of friendly and welcoming people, something we have experienced from day one. For Baigent, he believes that a key ingredient to better servicing the area will be bringing in talented local professionals who know the culture of the city and the province.

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Presently, the office will be staffed by Mike Wakely, a planning student from the University of Manitoba, as well as a steady presence of Urban Systems professionals from other branches in Western Canada. Combining that local point of view with the knowledge, lessons learned and best practices established in other markets also means offering the value of the outside perspective Urban Systems can provide.

“We are bridging our experience in BC with the needs in Manitoba,” Baigent points out. “Having a home base in Winnipeg will allow us to build on the success we’ve had with First Nations communities in Manitoba.” Our work to date covers the spectrum of what we offer our Indigenous clients, including land use planning, zoning laws, and residential and commercial development. The relationships that have been built are both valued and respected, and we are eager to better support them as they bring positive change.

Within the City of Winnipeg itself, Patterson and his team will continue their work on the City’s Walking and Cycling Strategies and the initial plans for protected bike lanes, neighbourhood greenways and other active transportation projects, developing plans that look to other cities like Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton and Calgary, but still suiting the needs of the community in Winnipeg.

Our professionals across all practices are eager to continue working throughout Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Having a sustained connection to the city, the province and its people through a dedicated office space will inevitably help us to better understand each community and develop projects that will make a positive impact for their members.

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