Thursday, April 17, 2014

Manitoba Courts to Allow Television Recording

Manitoba still picture of court proceedings
Manitoba becomes one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to allow for video recording of court proceedings.

The first pictures and video of a court case the other day look surprisingly staged. Hope this won't reflect on future cases.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New High School and Dorms for Lee Boulevard Waverley West

South East Collegiate 
Back in October I pointed out how much development was happening opposite the Waverley West lands near Lee Boulevard. I pointed out then that a major condo development was slated to go up on the corner of Waverley and Lee.

I also indicated that Lee Boulevard had become a centre for First Nations health and education through the South East Tribal Council. A high school as well as personal home centre have been in place from 1995 and 2011 respectively.

Field where new school will be built
The latest news is that the high school will be re-locating to a spot just in front of the personal car home. It is possible the thinking is of having more students attend the school as it will come with 156 two bedroom dorms. The present population of the school is 160 students. By my reckoning that will really increase the amount of students in the school.

School site
 Meanwhile, South Pointe and Bridgwater are no where near approving a school to be built for high school students.

The issue of traffic along Waverley and through the Waverley West area will continue to grow. Expect some woes associated with that.

However, an expanded First Nations school is a good thing.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Thank you Winnipeg Jets

"The Jets were lousy anyway." The Weakerthans

Third year out of the play-offs but undeniably the Winnipeg Jets are the must see and must talk about item in the city. They are the water cooler talk of the town.

Winnipeg has had quite a few hard knocks over the last decades but losing the Jets in 1996 was one of the most heartbreaking. It bespoke of a place that was not just down on its luck but in unspeakable decline. The fans who rallied at The Forks emptied their piggy banks only to hear the powers that be say: No.

The 1990s were a bad time not just for Winnipeg but across Canada. The dollar was at the lowest point ever, the deficit was being cut everywhere, interest rates were out of control, taxes were up, inflation high and unemployment rising.

Winnipeg had barely emerged out of the 1980s recession when we ran smack into a wall in the 1990s. The city became a war zone of crime, declining home prices and high taxes combined with poor economic growth.

The Winnipeg Jets remained a passion for the people of the city but the Winnipeg Arena was owned by the city through Winnipeg Enterprises. The worst kept secret in the city was that some people who were most likely to afford season tickets got in through side doors not controlled by the team organization. Even when the product on the ice was excellent, the team had problems selling out the building.

The attitude in the city in the 1990s was defeat. So much bad news piled atop bad news. And then there was the Winnipeg Jets question. Will they stay, will they go? Do we get a new arena? And in the last year we trade Teemu Selanne for a bag of hockey pucks. It was awful. Heartbreaking.

The refrain of: "Will the last person to leave Winnipeg turn off the lights" was heard frequently.

The arrival of the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg seemed like the booby prize.

It took a while for the Moose to win us over and for the new ownership group of the Chipman family to convince us there was a plan and that the plan was good. On the back of a paper napkin, a downtown arena plan was hatched and a long game of building on success in hockey management and entertainment was forged.

The MTS Centre was a controversial yet important step in overcoming the knocks the city had been taking. Sad as people were to see the Eaton's building come down, it was unlikely that the site would ever see as many people on a day to day basis as it gets now were it not an arena.

The long plan for hockey and entertainment has meant a certain amount of patience has been 15 years patience. It wasn't just one thing Winnipeg had to wait for, it was a lot of things. We needed someone interested in running a hockey team first. We needed private and government investment in a new arena. We needed the economy to improve. We needed a good salary cap and revenue sharing for any team we had in the city. We needed a building that was run by the team owners and revenues from concessions and merchandise staying with the ownership group. We needed non-hockey events to come to city whether they were monster trucks or curling or Juno Awards.

After the MTS Centre was built, Winnipeg started getting all those things. And it started to be part of the conversation in regards to a possible NHL franchise. Inevitably, whenever a NHL franchise elsewhere in the league was in trouble, Winnipeg became the hammer to use against cities who didn't buckle down and give the owners/league what they wanted.

It seemed we would always be a bridesmaid and never a bride. But the plan, the plan continued and when the Atlanta Thrashers needed a home, the NHL came calling. And the Chipman's were ready, hockey was ready, the arena was ready and the city was so ever ready.

People might have forgotten already how important it was to sell out the MTS Centre not for one, not for two but five seasons in a row. This is turn ensured the success of TSN Jets, the dedicated channel for Jets games. The hottest ticket in town was now available to those who couldn't go on TV...every game. The mostly ESPN programmed 1290 sports radio became one of the most heavily local stations as a result of the Jets.

Quite literally the Winnipeg Jets became the joyous talk of the town. We followed every announcement from general manager to coach assignments. But what wasn't certain was the name of the team until the draft and then we swooned when indeed the name was going to be the Winnipeg Jets.

The uniform design came later. We hemmed and hawed a bit. Debated it but ultimately fell in love...all over again. We were even prepared to buy counterfeit designs of it before it was officially released.

We got to know our team and they got to know us. On everyone's Christmas list was something with the new Jets logo on. Even if you couldn't get into a game, you could show your love.

Training camp was everyone's chance to learn how to pronounce player names and see what they were all about. Heck, we got excited just to hear who would be calling the games and doing colour!

Those pre-season games gave everyone a hint of what was to come and when that first game came...even the new Winnipeg Jets players could only look up and wonder who on earth these insanely joyous fans were. It was heaven.

It seems anticlimactic to point out we didn't make the play-offs in the first year. We didn't expect to. That was part of the plan too...tell people the plan. Winnipeggers were told to expect a slow build over five years. And how much could we expect of a team that first year that really only had a few months to gel in a new home, with new owners, new management, new coach and new fans?

That first year we did make a good go of it.

Second year, league-wide issues came up in the form of a lock-out. It was amazing we even had a season. However, when we did start playing, oh boy! It was a fast pace all the way through and for a while...we touched first place in our division. It was not to last as injuries and inconsistencies and lack of depth had us on the outside looking in when it came to play-offs.

There were many promising signs, not the least of which was the players we drafted. Some looked like they might join the line up in the third year of the re-constituted Jets. And we would need it as change was happening once again for the team in a move to the powerful western conference.

For the first time, training camp really was able to bring in all, and I do mean all, prospects, and have everyone in the organization get to know what we had in talent and prospects.

Third season...this season...the Winnipeg Jets were better. But so was out conference. Our new rookies played like champions but both were stung by injuries. In fact, the last several games looked like the farm club had all been promoted. They played like champs regardless.

This year the Jets showed they could beat the best in the league only to lose to the worst in the league. Consistency is still not there. But what a ride.

The joy is not gone. It is still there every time we shout True North! Where once the old Winnipeg Arena was sometimes filled with more Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys or Edmonton Oilers ones, it is a pretty solid Jets crowd in the audience. And not just in Winnipeg. It seems over many decades we may have exported citizens but the one thing they refused to give up was love of Jets.

So thank you Jets. Thanks for the fun, the excitement....the sense that we are together again, the possibilities you represent...not just for hockey but for entertainment beyond the arena. We have bought into the plan. And the plan is good.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New Long and McQuade to be Built off Kenaston

Similar to the one in Calgary?
I cannot say for certain although it would appear that the Long and McQuade location at 651 Stafford will be no longer if plans are approved for a Kenaston and Wilkes location.

Long and McQuade presently has over 60 locations across Canada and generates nearly $300 million for the family owned business. It is one of the world's largest musical instruments, lessons and rentals business in the world.

The large store at Stafford Square right by Pembina has grown over the years. It is a rambling store over a piece of property that once dominated by Videon and VPW, the public access network. Nearly 40 employees work the Stafford location. I am uncertain of the square footage but based on the footprint, I would have thought perhaps under 20,000 square feet.

Long and McQuade founded in Toronto in 1956 has grown over the years incrementally by expanding locations or buying up music companies that were being sold in cities across the country. As so often happens, a family looking to retire from the business looks to Long and McQuade to buy them out.

 One such business was Mother's Music on Wall Street in Winnipeg. It was incorporated into the Long and McQuade family.

It looks like Long and McQuade is prepared to make a substantial multimillion design for a warehouse, showroom and offices complex near the Golf Dome on Wilkes. The design is based on a 2012 complex that McQuade built in Calgary. The overall building with be a sprawling 30,000 square feet.

Right beside Golf Dome
At the end of the line beside Kenaston
More news on this big investment for the music industry in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Winnipeg Jets Moving to Quebec City

Quebec City
From Canadian Press:

QUEBEC CITY: The Quebec election heated up with the announcement Tuesday that the Winnipeg Jets would be moving to Quebec City for the start of the 2016 NHL season. PQ chief Pauline Marois and star candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau were on hand with Commissioner Gary Bettman at a news conference held at the site of the new Quebecer Liberté arena.

The news was the most startling event of the election thus far with the shockwave felt far beyond Quebec.

Pauline Marois was ebullient as she donned the new Nordique Liberté uniform. "This day is one for all Quebecers to rejoice over," she said to cheering crowds. "It is just one more thing a PQ government can help bring to Quebec."

The Quebecer media conglomerate bought the Winnipeg Jets early Tuesday morning from the True North owner Mark Chipman. The Winnipeg Jets had just suffered a collapse against the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 after leading for two periods. In a terse statement, Jets owner Chipman said he had sold the team because it had been causing him health problems related to his heart.

Commissioner Gary Bettman welcomed the new Nordique Liberté team and said it would be good for the NHL to have the old rivalries back such as the one against the Montreal Canadiens. "The NHL is stronger for this move. We did not do it lightly and we will miss the Chipman family and Winnipeg being part of the NHL. However, we do understand Mark Chipman's reasons as well as the fact that no suitable owner could be found in Winnipeg."

Bettman stayed out of the politics of the Quebec election. "This is not about any election. This is about the NHL and I believe the new Quebec Liberté will bring excitement playing in their new $400 million Quebecer arena for the 2016 season."

PQ star candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau will become governor of the new Nordique Liberté team. It raised immediate concerns again about his business interests running afoul of rules in regards to politicians and their private holdings. Provincial Liberal leader Philippe Couillard welcomed the return of the NHL but warned that Peladeau should not receive a free pass from the rules just because he owns the Quebec City team.

The ecstatic joy felt in Quebec over a return of hockey to the capital was in turn greeted with outrage and sorrow in Winnipeg. It was only three years prior that the Winnipeg Jets returned to the city after an absence of 15 years. The surprise sale caught everyone off guard including Manitoba premier Greg Selinger who now must contend with a large investment in the MTS Centre with no NHL and, as it turns out, no AHL team to play in the arena. The purchase of the Winnipeg Jets by Quebecer includes the majority of the MTS Centre property plus the Saint John's Ice Caps. The intention of the new Nordique Liberté is to leave their farm club team in Newfoundland.

Greg Selinger responded in shock that his government would look at all options for the MTS Centre including possible penalties for moving the team. "We are in grief right now and will have more to say on the subject at a news conference Friday."

Fans in Winnipeg rallied at Portage and Main at noon. The crowd reaction was one of anger and resignation. One fan at the Dollarama on the famed Portage Avenue shrugged his shoulders. "The team sucked anyway," said John Gray as he counted loonies after his purchase. Still it was hard not to notice the Burmistrov Jets uniform as he walked down the steps into the darkened pathways of Winnipeg's underground concourse.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Factory Outlet Winnipeg - Outlets of Seasons

Outlets of Seasons
It looks like the development across the road from Seasons of Tuxedo will known as Outlets of Seasons. Forster Projects and Harvard Developments look to open the first part of the new factory outlet mall in summer of 2015.

It is a race to see who gets their factory outlet mall up first. The factory outlets of Tanger indicated they were interested in building in Winnipeg in 2011 and are only now starting to build across Canada. They may be beaten the punch by Outlets of Seasons.

The area across from Seasons of Tuxedo is 117 acres and has been zoned for residential as well as commercial. The retail available for leasing is a shade over 850,000 square feet. Just over 330,000 square feet is set aside for factory outlet stores.

To put that into perspective, the 100 stores of the Albertville Premium factory Outlet mall in Minnesota occupy 400,000 square feet. Best guess is that Winnipeg could be hosting upwards of 80 factory outlet stores in the configured space.

Outlets of Seasons across from IKEA
A typical factory outlet mall might have Nike, J. Crew, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste and Kenneth Cole. Some of these stores already exist, some don't in the Winnipeg market.

Factory Outlet in Yellow
The building of this factory outlet does not preclude the building of another but it is the rare city that hosts more than one.

The idea of a hotel and a movie theatre on the site seems unlikely now but there are a few places it still might be possible north or south of the Sterling Lyon.

A few key open spaces available
Some retailers like Target have been stung by not being ready for the Canadian market and have lost a bucket full of cash. Still others have been quite successful and U.S. retailers still look at Canada as an uptapped market.

If Winnipeg can only have one factory outlet mall, you can better believe the race to get started is well under way. Expect a lot of work between now and 2015.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Qdoba Coming to Winnipeg

Brandon was the first place in Canada to get one and now Winnipeg is getting one as well.

Qdoba Mexican Grill will be opening at 1320 Ellice in the Polo Park area in the Canad Centre which houses Winner, Jysk and the Canad Inns Hotel.

Three new tenants will move into the spot next to Winners. Those businesses are: Sally Beauty Supply and Beauty Systems Group and Rogers.

The Denver-based Qdoba restaurants first opened a Canadian location two years ago in Brandon. The local franchise rights holders have been looking for the right location in Winnipeg ever since.

It is another case of Brandon got it first. Qdoba and Five Guys Burgers both got their start in Brandon.

There has been a real increase of Mexican style restaurants going up in Winnipeg. Most people in the city remember the success of Chi Chi's Polo Park next to the Winnipeg Arena in the Jets heyday.

Qdoba serves up San Franciso-style burritos and other Mexican dishes.

This is unlikely the last Qdoba to up nor the only U.S. Mexican restaurant chain to set up in the city. Rumour has been that Chipotle Mexican Grill be here in the next year or two as well.

Could Taco John's be next?