On September 13, Winnipeg will welcome over 600 urban leaders from all over the world for the International Downtown Association (IDA) Conference and Tradeshow. These delegates are not only from downtowns, but from business districts everywhere across the globe that are committed to helping and inspiring BIZ organizations and urban leaders in shaping their cities.
The Downtown, West End, and Exchange are the central business improvement zone (BIZ) organizations dedicated to Winnipeg’s downtown and surrounding West End. They share a passion for the work they do and are proud to be the official local hosts and organizers for the conference.
As IDA members for many years, they know firsthand the benefits gained from the sharing of knowledge through our globally connected network of business district professionals, urban champions, municipal leaders, businesses and other individuals who work in related fields.
Why is this conference important and what does it mean for our downtown and urban areas?
IDA will bring hundreds of people — district champions, city planners, councilors, urbanists, tourism pros and more — to study our communities, explore our issues, share and exchange ideas, and help each other problem solve so we can improve our cities. Tours and mobile workshops will be using our BIZ zone areas as urban laboratories, and daily breakout sessions will include expert panelists to lead discussions on current and emerging issues and shared concerns. Daily master-talks will feature engaging and informative speakers, including Paul Jordan from The Forks and Ry Moran from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Winnipeg has come a long way since last hosting an IDA conference in 1995. The host BIZ groups, along with their partners, the city of Winnipeg, Tourism Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba, are excited to share the revitalization and successes in the past 20-plus years.
The revitalization story of downtown Winnipeg and renewed energy throughout our city is a story worth sharing. As a result of our collective efforts, partnerships, dedication and enthusiasm for our city, our vibrant downtown and its surrounding urban neighbourhoods are alive and bustling with new housing opportunities, cultural, waterfront and entertainment districts, dining and shopping.
The new downtown arena has not only reversed the traffic flow of people on evenings and weekends, but has led to dozens of new restaurants popping up everywhere. The emergence of the SHED district and True North Square will introduce new and exciting places for people to work, shop, live and hang out, and support the re-emergence of the downtown residential market. With the recent arrival of new residents in the new downtown towers, the downtown is again becoming a neighbourhood.
Directly adjacent, the trendy Exchange and cultural West End have become fast growing districts, attracting new residents and visitors with their own unique amenities and appeal.
The theme for the conference, aptly named, is AuthentiCITY. From our diverse and cultural communities and districts and our creative peoples to authentic Indigenous culture and unique historical buildings, Winnipeg is that special place where the two rivers meet.
Stefano Grande (Downtown) Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner (West End) and Brian Timmerman (Exchange) are proud to share our city with these visitors. They invite you to also play host and ambassador in welcoming the world to our city centre.
The delegates are also a boost to our local economy and will be out looking to find those local favourite spots! Keep an eye out and show them what we mean by our motto, “Friendly Manitoba.”