Learn more about this exciting new development that will prepare FortWhyte for its next 50 years and beyond. Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]
We are building Manitoba’s most climate-friendly building!
Starting in October 2022, the old FortWhyte Adventure Site area and the cyclist/pedestrian entrance located at 2505 McGillivray Blvd, will become the site for the construction of FortWhyte Alive’s exciting new building project known as Buffalo Crossing.
Buffalo Crossing is a brand new multi-purpose building and 10-acre site development. The 18,000 square foot, two-storey building will become a new southern gateway to FortWhyte Alive’s property and will allow us to accommodate the tremendous growth in programming we have experienced in recent years. The building will be anchored by a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge across Muir Lake that will allow for a quick convenient connection to FortWhyte Alive’s trail system.
For every group of people across this continent, the animal we now know scientifically as Bison bison, subspecies bison has had different names depending on the local language and historical period.
Prior to the scientific species name bison coming into general use in English, this animal was known for generations as the Buffalo. In the local Michif dialect of the Red River Métis, this animal was known as li Bufloo. The first written legal code in the Red River Valley was the Métis Nation’s Laws of the Buffalo Hunt. The Province of Manitoba also awards “The Order of the Buffalo Hunt” as one of its highest honours.
Though bison is the most biologically accurate term, buffalo is the word with the longest usage in English for this animal and is considered historically correct. In recognition of the animal’s near extinction due to settler hunting and the ongoing conservation efforts to restore the species, we use the name Buffalo Crossing to help educate the public about this history.
The original building at McGillivray that housed the “Fort Whyte Nature Centre” has been demolished to make way for the new building. Any reusable equipment and materials have been salvaged and will be recycled and utilized by FortWhyte.
Buffalo Crossing is an addition to our site and the Alloway Reception Centre and the Richardson Interpretive Centre will both remain open now and once Buffalo Crossing opens.
Some land has been cleared and trees removed to make way for the new building and landscape elements that will be part of Buffalo Crossing. FortWhyte has been working very closely with our landscape architect and construction management team to preserve, where possible, stands of forest to be incorporated into the new landscape plan and to minimize the amount of clearing that is required, but we acknowledge that with any construction activity it is impossible to avoid impacting the land and trees.
FortWhyte is strongly committed to maintaining and restoring habitat. We have planted over 200,000 new trees on our property in the last 10 years, including over 70,000 in the fall of 2022 alone. This is a far greater number than the amount of trees that will be cleared at the Buffalo Crossing site. New trees and native plantings will be an important part of the revitalized landscape when Buffalo Crossing is complete.
The land on which Buffalo Crossing is built is reclaimed industrial land, and all present vegetation was planted by FortWhyte over the years. The area is not considered pristine forest or high-quality wildlife habitat due to the amount of activity that currently takes place in that forest through FortWhyte programming and the adjacent traffic on McGillivray Boulevard.
A new temporary pedestrian and cyclist entrance has been established about 150 m west of the existing entrance that will allow public access to FortWhyte’s trail system. Pedestrians and cyclists will cross McGillivray near Brady Rd.
The project is projected to take approximately 24 months to complete, with FortWhyte planning to receive occupancy in fall 2024.
We are proud to say that sustainability and climate resiliency have been at the forefront of planning for this project. The Buffalo Crossing project will be the first commercial building in Manitoba certified to the Passive House standard. Passive House is considered to be the most rigorous voluntary energy-based standard in the design and construction industry today. By using passive house design, Buffalo Crossing will use 90% less energy than a building constructed to the National Energy Code. The building will also be certified to the Zero-Carbon building standard, further demonstrating FortWhyte Alive’s commitment to finding solutions to the climate crisis.
The new building will include visitor reception, a retail space and small coffee service. The majority of the space will be dedicated to school and youth programming such as day camps and larger scale events.
Yes, the Alloway Reception Centre will remain a main visitor entrance and activity hub for the general public. The existing Nature Shop and Buffalo Stone Café will remain open in this space as well.
An Indigenous Advisor has been a part of the design team from the start of the project and has provided feedback and advice throughout the design process to incorporate elements of Indigenous culture throughout the building and landscape.
On August 29, 2022, FortWhyte invited Indigenous knowledge keepers to the site to perform a ceremony with FortWhyte staff to bless the land in preparation for construction. FortWhyte has also been in contact with local Indigenous communities to solicit their feedback on the proposed development.
The City of Winnipeg has agreed in principle to bring Winnipeg Transit to the Buffalo Crossing site. Final approval for this route change must be provided by Winnipeg City Council. If approved, this will be the first time FortWhyte has been located on a Winnipeg Transit route and we are excited for our site to be more accessible to all Winnipeg residents and visitors.
FortWhyte has been engaged in consultations with the City of Winnipeg throughout the entire project design process. Ensuring the safety of pedestrians, visitors and commuters and enhancing active transportation routes are top priorities. More details to follow as the project progresses.