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Aspers nix new building

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June 30, 2006

Aspers nix new building

CanWest plans canned


CanWest Global Communications has axed a plan to build new offices in Winnipeg.

The media conglomerate said an "exhaustive review" found the proposed central communications hub at Portage and Main found the project wasn't a wise investment, according to a memo released yesterday.

"The decision not to proceed was simply the outcome of a feasibility study, in which it was weighed out against other demands for investment in the company," said Geoffrey Elliot, vice-president of corporate affairs.

Hints of the new building came about one year ago, when David Asper announced plans to revamp the area around the 32-storey CanWest Global Place.


But CanWest cancelled $100 million worth of construction, which would have centralized local operations in Winnipeg, Toronto and Auckland, New Zealand.

"In all three cases, the costs became too high, since there was no obvious or immediate return on the investment, and the plans were deferred," wrote president Leonard Asper in a memo to Winnipeg employees.

Instead, the company will invest in technology, such as high definition television, digital newsrooms and updated circulation systems.

Rumours the Winnipeg-based company would move its headquarters peaked in March, when brothers Leonard and David Asper each bought homes in Toronto.


But Elliot insists the latest news will not affect CanWest Global Place, or local CanWest jobs.

"It doesn't affect any of the operations CanWest has in Winnipeg," said Elliot.

He said the company will demolish the four-storey building at the proposed site and work on other ways to develop it.

Global Television may still move downtown to a smaller building.

Dave Angus of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce said the loss will curb some construction spinoffs, but isn't a major blow for the city's core.

"I don't think we can pin the future of the downtown on one project. We need to look at a whole strategy of investment," said Angus. "We can't look at this as any other thing than the organization making a solid business decision."

Angus added the move doesn't indicate the company is moving out.

"CanWest Global has absolutely made a commitment to Winnipeg," he said.

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