Doors Open Winnipeg finds a way through COVID-19

By | September 13, 2020

WINNIPEG — When COVID-19 hit the city of Winnipeg, many events had to be cancelled or postponed.

One event that stalled was the Doors Open Winnipeg, a free annual event that celebrates heritage buildings in the city.

It showcases architecturally, historically, or culturally significant buildings and opens their doors to the public.

The event was initially set to take place in May but was pushed back to September 12 and 13.

On Saturday, Winnipeggers lined up outside of Vaughn Street Jail, one of the venues participating in Open Doors Winnipeg, and the only time of year the building is open to the public.

Kirsten Balness was in line and said it was her first time attending the event.

“Just trying to discover some of the history of Winnipeg,” she said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and haven’t seen any of these cool buildings, and I just want to learn more about my own city.”

Balness said she wasn’t apprehensive about attending the event, despite COVID-19.

“They had really good regulations here. Every person has to wear a mask, and just your own safety, having your own hand sanitizer.”

Heritage Winnipeg is responsible for organizing the event.

Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg, said when COVID-19 broke out, many of the venues scheduled for Doors Open Winnipeg backed out.

Tugwell decided to postpone the event and rescheduled for mid-September.

“We wanted a challenge, and we felt like fall would be a good time to see where everyone was at,” said Tugwell. “We realized that there were logistics we could work out that would make this event a success.”

Tugwell said venues are doing pre-registration online to control capacity, physical distancing is mandatory at every building, masks are recommended, even mandatory in some places, and hand sanitizer is available at every venue.

Kris Hurd and his wife decided to visit Dalnavert Museum on Carlton Street as part of Doors Open Winnipeg.

He said he’s been to the event before and was excited when he heard it was going to happen.

“I was hesitant at first, but I think signing up online and having small groups at a time worked out great,” said Hurd.

In a statement to CTV News, Minister of Sport, Culture, and Heritage Cathy Cox said, “It’s important to ensure Manitobans are following the fundamentals when enjoying events in our community.”

“My congratulations to Heritage Winnipeg for organizing the event, particularly during the challenges we all face due to COVID-19.”

Balness said Doors Open Winnipeg is a great way to spend your time while COVID-19 prevents Winnipeggers from travelling.

“[Go] see your own city because you can’t leave right now,” she said.

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