Old Winnipeg building gets ice-blasted into the 21st century

The 114-year-old industrial building took high-powered blasts of ice pellets to remove "about 80 layers of paint"

Western Investor
October 22, 2018

ice blast


High-powered blasts of ice pellets are helping to transform a 114-year-old industrial building into 21st-century space in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District.

The desire to open up his own retail outlet convinced Jim Slater to finish up the renovation of the Exchange District building he owns in downtown Winnipeg.

The owner of K9 Storm, a manufacturer of bulletproof vests for police dogs as well as more traditional but high-end equipment, such as dog harnesses and leashes, bought 168 Bannatyne Avenue a decade ago. 

The four-storey, 3,800 square-foot building was built in 1904 and has been used exclusively for manufacturing since he got the keys. Until this year. 

Slater has just cut the ribbon on a 250-square-foot space in the renovated building. It will be used to sell K9’s goods locally. The company has been in business for 20 years and markets its products to police, military, special forces, search and rescue and ambulance rescue organizations in more than 30 countries.

“We decided to let Winnipeg know what we’re about,” he said.

Slater had an ice-blasting system remove old paint, debris and loose paint on the bricks and “about 80 layers of paint” on the tin front of the building. 

The process involves firing pellets of dry ice that expand to 700 times their size and turn from solid to gas when they hit the building, all without damaging the surface.

The most recent exterior work cost about $20,000, bringing the building’s total renovation costs to more than $250,000.

The building was an empty shell when K9 moved in and had a lot of water damage, requiring the replacement of beams and the roof.

The transformation was so remarkable that people in the neighbourhood started to notice the building.

“It used to look a little bit vacant. Now people know we’re moving in,” he said.

Geoff has been a contributor to Western Investor for 15 years. He is also a senior business reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, covering real estate and financial services. Geoff plays competitive tennis at a national level in the senior ranks and is an amateur boxer and hockey player. His favourite Star Wars character is Yoda.
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