In addition to its enviable arts programming — which has helped keep folks employed and housed — Red Road Lodge helps individuals build life skills, and assists in finding permanent housing and employment opportunities. And thanks to funds raised by the Downtown BIZ’s annual CEO Sleep Out, the lodge is able to offer a work program in which participants complete two three-hour shifts per week, earning $200 a month, the amount exempt from employment and income assistance (EIA). They learn about money management so that, when the program wraps, they have some savings. “They were so invested in their jobs and the whole process,” Burkard says. “If you give people housing and opportunities and say, ‘Here are 10 different things you can do,’ they will stabilize their lives and they will move forward,” Burkard says. “These people get so little. They are so impoverished by our system. Many struggle with mental illness and all they can hope for is to survive on EIA.” It’s been a banner year for Red Road Lodge, which was dogged by funding cuts and an uncertain future in 2013 (Red Road didn’t participate in Doors Open last year). The lodge received word in February it would receive sustainable, ongoing funding from the province and in April, the facility achieved charitable status. “We’ve got a really good story to tell this year,” Burkard says. “We’re a slam-dunk.” The lodge has several new initiatives in the works, including developing the now-closed Tallest Poppy restaurant into an art boutique that will feature works created by Red Road Lodge artists. “I want it to become a tourist destination,” Burkard says. “When people come to Winnipeg, I want them to take away something that speaks to community revitalization.” As for Doors Open Winnipeg, it, too, has its eye on growth. Tugwell says the plans are already underway for next year’s event, which will include an Exchange District condo tour and, she hopes, a tour of Dalnavert Museum, which has been shuttered since last fall. Tugwell knows all too well that you can’t always get what you want when it comes to Doors Open Winnipeg; scheduling is an obstacle for theatre tours, for example. Renovations can also knock sites out of consideration. Tugwell figures that if she could get everyone on her wish list, she could easily have 200 sites — a number that speaks to the quality and variety of architecture that exists in the city. The goal is to increase it to a consistent — and more manageable — 85. Doors Open Winnipeg has helped Heritage Winnipeg do the work it does year-round — which includes everything from advocacy and education to economic development and tourism. “We’ve felt there’s been lots of growth in the relationships we’ve built with building owners,” Tugwell says. “They’ve really encouraged this event.” Now in its fourth year, the Doors Open Winnipeg Awards, which honour the best restoration, tour, architecture, overall experience and hidden gem as voted by Doors Open Winnipeg participants, have also been a way to build goodwill. “It’s a way for us to tell the heritage and cultural communities they’re doing a good job. “I don’t want heritage preservation to be a reactive thing,” she adds. “These buildings are part of the fabric of our city.” Through Doors Open Winnipeg, the public see the value of these buildings — and, in Red Road Lodge’s case, the potential. “It brings preservation into focus,” Tugwell says. “If (a building) makes the papers, people will say, ‘Wait, this isn’t something we want to lose.’”
Resident Kevin Anderson will be on hand with his art at Red Road Lodge.