Could there be more money woes at CanWest Global Communications? Can the Asper boys really be abandoning Winnipeg? Is their father Izzy rolling over in his grave?
This shocker is from today's Winnipeg Free Press (sub. req'd.). Seems that the company has abandoned plans to erect a $40 million headquarters on the historic intersection of Portage and Main.
The media giant has decided to shelve the 120,000-square-foot, 10-storey project, which was announced last October. The glitzy building was to have housed all of the company's operations, including its national news service and the broadcast centre for its local Global television station, its digital cable stations and its Winnipeg radio station.
In a memo distributed to CanWest employees yesterday, CEO Leonard Asper said the decision to cancel the project, which was to be built at 209 Notre Dame Ave. -- home to an empty five-storey building -- was made after an "exhaustive review" by its executive management group.
"Unfortunately, in light of the rapid technological and other changes taking place in the Canadian media today, we have concluded that the Winnipeg building project is not the best way to allocate our capital investment capacity," Asper wrote.
Instead, CanWest has elected to concentrate its capital spending on high definition television infrastructure, digitizing newsrooms, renovating Global Television's Toronto facilities and updating newspaper circulation and classified advertising systems.
Despite the decision, David Asper, executive vice-president of CanWest, said his family remains as committed as ever to developing the corner.
"There's nothing that has changed our view that we will ultimately animate and liven Portage and Main," he said in an interview yesterday.
"The easy thing to do is say, 'that's it.' Well, that's not in my genetic code so we'll move on to the next one."
He said discussions are already underway to determine alternative developments for the site, but he declined to give any specifics.
Crickets chirping. Frogs croaking. Lawn mowers in the distance.