WINNIPEG -- The City of Winnipeg is looking to figure out what to do with the now-vacant Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) building downtown.

On Tuesday, Mayor Brian Bowman announced the creation of The Bay Downtown Advisory Committee, which will advise city council on the opportunities for future use of the building, located at 450 Portage Avenue.

“Many Winnipeggers, myself included, have very fond memories of The Bay downtown,” Bowman said in a news conference. “It has historical significance to the history of our city.

“While it is disappointing to see this landmark location close its doors, it represents an opportunity to think creatively about how this prime real estate can have significance in Winnipeg’s downtown.”

The building closed at the end of November, ahead of its earlier planned closing date in February 2021. The store opened in 1926.

At the time, a spokesperson for the company said the COVID-19 restrictions on non-essential businesses in Manitoba prompted the closure.

The sign for the building was removed on Friday.

“Obviously, the landscape for retail has changed in the many decades since that store opened,” Bowman said.

Bowman said the goal of the committee is to engage with HBC to determine a future plan for the building.

“We want to have those discussions about their plans to dispose of the land, but also, what opportunities they’re aware of that might exist in the community, and engage with key stakeholders on what those future use opportunities might be for consideration,” he said.

The committee will be chaired by Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg.

Other committee members include:

  • Sandy Riley, CEO of Richardson Financial Group Ltd.;
  • Sherri Rollins, councillor for Fort Rouge, East Fort Garry, City of Winnipeg;
  • Jessica Dumas, president of Jessica Dumas Coaching and Training;
  • Kate Fenske, CEO of Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, City of Winnipeg;
  • Angela Mathieson, president, CEO of CentreVenture, City of Winnipeg;
  • Bruce Moore, senior vice president of Real Estate, Hudson’s Bay; and
  • John Kiernan, director of Planning, Property and Development, City of Winnipeg.

In a statement, the committee said it will also engage with partners who are “committed to conserving and respecting the building’s historical designation.”