Thursday, December 11, 2014

River City Sports Kenaston Closes

It seemed to be a can't lose location but River City Sports off Kenaston in Seasons of Tuxedo has been closed by the landlord. By some media accounts, they were not paying their rent and had been struggling for months.

The Kenaston location had been selected as the flagship location after the original Henderson Highway location was shut down.

River City Sports becomes the first retailer to fail at Seasons. Tucked in between IKEA and Cabela's, it seemed the location should have been perfect. This was not to be.

The additional retailers to be added in 2014 to the site definitely slowed and the focus turned to apartments of the south side of Sterling Lyon Parkway. The long awaited Lowe's is still not built. A continuation of planned retailing seems to have stalled.

So why the failure? In short, there has been a lot of retail built this past year. They 20 plus stores added to Polo Park and other stores built along Kenaston have spread out where new retailers are locating. River City Sports would never see others join it in the area and drive sales.

This could be a lesson for some retailers. The boom we have seen in retailers being added these last years could be mitigated by a saturation of the market and a slowing of the economy.

The focus of a lot of developers now is to ensure that housing goes up near their retail center and to this end, we see a lot of apartments and condos going up around Sterling Lyon.

The collapse of oil prices and the markets could signal a new recession. Is this one of the first signs for Winnipeg?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Old Broadway Campus University of Manitoba

Right, University of Manitoba Broadway Campus 1932
A story in this week's Free Press talks about connecting university campuses to downtown and core areas of the city. Up until 1950, the University of Manitoba had a large campus across from the Manitoba Legislature consisting of science and arts buildings. The site is what we now know as Memorial Park.

Land was set aside in 1899 along Broadway in 1900 and a science building went up for classes. At the time, the Manitoba Legislative Building was not even in the planning stages.

1901 Science Building
The provincial legislators called the Old Parliament Building on Kennedy Street home.

Old Parliament Building on Kennedy Street
There were fewer than half the elected officials of today so for some time smaller quarters for the government assembly were appropriate.

The Old Parliament Building on Kennedy was a handsome building and from the start, trees were planted and grew to make the site prettier.

The Old Parliament Building literally built on bald prairie
In essence, the science building by the University of Manitoba along Broadway was the first move by any institution to push downtown's boundaries westward. There was no Legislative Building and no Hudson Bay building. Those came 20 years and more later.

Starkly bare grounds of new Legislative building
Provincial leaders dreamed of a Legislative campus along Broadway but the truth was that University of Manitoba builders had beaten them there years earlier.

Dream of a Legislative Campus
Instead what happened was that the University of Manitoba continued buildings its downtown campus even as the Legislative buildings and HBC was going up north and south of it years later.

Look at all those cars!
And the building went on and on for 50 years.

Adding to the Science and Arts for U of M
More building

Winnipeg Auditorium newly constructed by U of M

Ready for class downtown
The University starting making use of other buildings downtown including the old courthouse.

part of the old court house used by U of M
Following World War II, enrollment at the University of Manitoba had exploded. The dream of having all colleges and departments together on lands fitting for a university campus proliferated. In truth, many of the buildings on Broadway were nearing the end of their useful lifespan without major work.

There were other factors as well. Wesley College and Manitoba College merged together in 1938 and together became United College (later University of Winnipeg). It was on Portage Avenue where the future lay for a downtown university campus as well as Bannatyne Avenue where the University of Manitoba had the medical school close to what was to become Health Sciences Centre.

Financially insecure colleges really had no choice but join and become part of a larger grouping. It was also too hard to splits arts and sciences students between downtown and Fort Garry.

By 1950, the Broadway campus was abandoned and students moved to the expansive Fort Garry site of the University of Manitoba.

The provincial government occupied the former science and arts buildings until the 1960s when they started moving into other buildings that were being constructed along Broadway. By 1962, the government razed the building and twinned Memorial and built a park that has served for protest and celebration alike over the years.

For many people it is hard to imagine that large university buildings ever existed on Broadway. One wonders what it would have been like to have seen the University of Manitoba stay on Broadway and be the main campus. How fascinating would that have been?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bermax Caffe + Bistro Opening Soon


In the 1970s there were few restaurants in River Heights at all. You could count them on your fingers really. Even in the 1980s, the restaurants were a bit spotty. There would be a Chinese good place there, a take-out pizza joint there. It was the early 1980s when a few places sprouted up on Grant to great success. Grapes and Pepper's filled a crying need on the border of River Heights and Tuxedo and both places were filled for many years to come.

To be fair River Heights is very residential. There are only a certain few places where any commercial development is even permissible. The spots that are available and often small and only offer street parking. During the 1980s a number of the gas stations that were on Academy Road closed and this set the stage for some more exclusive retailing such as Eyelot Dove, Laughing Giraffe and Paper Gallery. It still took some time before restaurants like Fusion and Saucers found their way in 1996 and beyond.

In short, many restauranteurs might want to ply their trade in River Heights but alas there are few spots to do so.

The closure of the CN Oakbank line has seen commercial development extend on streets like Academy and Grant. It has also seen many new condos go up all along that narrow property as well.

In front of the condos at Corydon Avenue, a commercial development went up. It started up in 2012 and the first tenants was a hair salon but paper is over the windows telling us that Bermax is opening soon.

Under construction in 2012 on Corydon
Bermax Caffee + Bistro has their website up but no menu. The indication though is that it will be kosher and that the coffee will be top notch. Will be looking to see what comes in the days and weeks ahead!

The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kelvin High School's New Gym

Kelvin High School Seen from Academy Road
Kelvin High School was first built between 1910 and 1912 right along Academy Road. The houses of River Heights came quickly after.

L.B. Foote Picture from roof of Kelvin High
The first Kelvin was named Kelvin Technical High School and was designed by provincial architect J.B. Mitchell. It was constructed for a total of $265,000 and stood four floors. Tyndall stone and Leary red brick was used for the materials. Much of River Heights was empty in 1912 but by 1922 an addition J.N. Semmens needed to be added as the neighboorhood was surging following World War I.

Kelvin had an identical twin school built on Machray Avenue in St. John's Technical High School. The rules on naming back then was alternating between British lords and saints. Hence, Kelvin and St. John's.

The name Kelvin presumably fit a technical school as Lord Kelvin also known as Sir William Thomson was a brilliant mathematician and physicist. Today he is best known for the absolute temperature scale or Kelvin Scale. He never visited his namesake school as he died in 1907 but he did come to Canada a number of times.

The school would stand through two World Wars and lose many students to the conflicts. 55 of 527 died in WWI and 225 died of 2,640 in WWII. They were honoured on a wall within the old school.

By the 1950s, the school began to fall into disrepair. The center town had to be removed because it was unstable in 1957. Eventually the building was literally falling apart in a post-war baby boom.

A huge need for additional classroom space led to an expansion in 1963. By 1964, an entire new building for the whole school was under construction along Kingsway for around $1.4 million. The new school was ready to go in 1965 and the old school was knocked down in 1965 and is the present track and soccer field.

Kelvin officially became know as Kelvin High School in 1965. The school had always been a grade 10 to 12 school but in 1995 the school added grade 9 students. Special education and physical disabilities requirements saw elevators added and in 2002, two art rooms, two classrooms and a computer lab were built out toward Stafford Street.

Kelvin's addition in 2002
The staff parking lot has grown as the faculty has grown and many students drive now so almost every street nearby has cars parked on it with kids running out to change spots as time runs out. Parking patrols make quick work of the heedless.

The new addition in 2002 used traditional red brick and modern dark windows. I have never been a fan of the yellow frames on the rest of the school. They always seemed out of date even in the 1970s.


The latest addition will be a new gym to accommodate the increased number of students.

Kelvin students created a visual of what the new gym will look like.



In 2015, the new Kelvin building will be 50 years old. The new gym addition is probably not the last change we see to the school. Hope they start with taking out the yellow panel windows.


Monday, November 3, 2014

One Big Synagogue for Winnipeg?

The discussion about a merger of two large Jewish synagogues is an intriguing one. While I'm not Jewish, it is reasonable to say that the merger could have a huge impact on a number areas of the city. Much like how the Asper Jewish Community Campus transformed the old Fort Osborne Barracks into a $28 million powerhouse of education, culture and wellness for Jews and Winnipeg-at-large, the merger of two powerful synagogues onto a possible site by the campus could create a religious and housing center of substantial strength and influence.

The Etz Chayim Synagogue on Matheson is a 1952 structure while the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue is 1950 structure. Both buildings are quite beautiful but will be in need of costly repairs to upgrade. The Etz Chayim has more parking and a housing component but a fact of life in Winnipeg is that many Jews in Winnipeg have moved south of the Assiniboine over many decades. This fact has seen synagogue mergers such as Ezt Chayim in 2002 when three congregations merged on the old Rosh Pina site on Matheson.

The 1997 Asper Jewish Community Campus was also a gathering of school, fitness and cultural components into a successful larger group.

Has there been any losers in the mergers within the Jewish community? The answer is yes. If are a faithful Jewish person and live in Garden City, the sad fact is your kids have a long way to go a Jewish school, a long way to go a Synagogue, a long way to a Jewish fitness center and a long way to a Jewish home when you retire.

The answer in a nutshell for many Jewish people is: Move south young man...or old man or woman or...errr. Well, you get the point. It isn't like Jewish people have not been isolated and away from fellow Jews before? Many in the Jewish community worked hard in rural areas building this country. It has been a very long process where Jewish people have drawn closer and closer together for a variety of reasons.

There are two possible places for a synagogue at the Asper Jewish Community Campus in my opinion. The first is on the field in front of Tuxedo and running along Doncaster. It has a baseball field on it right now and while a huge school is next door, it is under utilized to say the least. The other possibility is a large parking lot opposite the campus on Willow Avenue.

In a perfect world, the sale of both synagogues and other assets as well as fundraising sees Willow Avenue turned parking for the Rady Centre and Gray Academy, a new merged synagogue and possibly housing.

I don't think I have to tell anyway that Doncaster is turning into a crazy place for traffic. While supportive of a possible new super synagogue, the issue with parking, traffic, Rady Centre, school drop off and Folklorama can't be put off any longer. Greater minds than mine need to think about traffic flows before someone dies at Doncaster and Tuxedo.

Still, there is not much not to like in the synagogues merging onto the campus. The benefits to the city as a whole are easily demonstrated.

It will be interesting as well too see what becomes of the old properties especially the one on Academy Road. It will be sought after by many.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Winnipeg Civic Elections Endorsements


I have been terribly undecided all this civic election.

I think I had my school trustee selection for Ward 1 in Pembina Trails decided before any of my other candidate selections.

Without further adieu here are my selections for trustees.

I am voting tomorrow for Dianne Zuk and Eugene Melnyk, the incumbents. Why? I think Pembina Trails so far has been managed fairly well and they have the experience to watch for the big changes coming in Waverley West. The new trustree I am voting for is Jaime Glenat who is endorsed by retiring incumbent Gail Watson. I was leaning toward Glenat even before hearing that though.

For Charleswood-Tuxedo councillor I am voting for Evan Duncan. Why? He speaks passionately on the issues and seems intent on representing the ward. Why him and not others? I was concerned about some candidates having two jobs in business and in council and not having significant separation between the two. I was concerned some candidates were too party connected.

In the end, politics isn't personal. The person I don't vote for this time can be the person I vote for next time. That is also vice versa.

In the last election, I voted for Judy Waslycia-Leis. I won't this time. I have not been certain she can be her own woman once elected. I have thought I'd vote for Brian Bowman to ensure JWL doesn't win. However, I have been disappointed in the candidate from time to time. I have been impressed with Robert-Falcon Ouellette even when I don't always agree with him.

What can you say about Steeves? While some might agree with some of his policies, the campaign has been a three ring circus. As for other candidates, it is a crowded field and standing out is hard.

For mayor, I will be voting for Robert -Falcon Ouellette.

I am often on the losing side of elections. It isn't as important to me as feeling happy with that vote. And just every so often, my candidate wins.

I am one voter. Just vote for the candidate you think is right.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lindor Reynolds Loses Battle With Cancer

Lindor Reynolds, center
Lindor Reynolds lost her 15 month battle against cancer last night at age 56.

The long time Free Press columnist had over 20 years at the big paper and wrote on nearly every subject. She had her fans and her detractors as befits anyone writing in any medium.

Her last days were spent at Riverview Health Centre. In her last contribution to the paper she spoke of the care of both the health professionals and from family and friends.

The age of 56 seems to young to go with four daughters still needing mom around for the big moments in their lives. She was able to attend one of her daughter's marriages in recent months.

Our family made their annual contribution to Riverview Health Foundation this year. The health facility had been there to help build up some of our family members so they could go home and they have been there at the end when tender cars was needed most.

Lindor Reynolds helped raise money for many charities in her life but perhaps a thought could be given to Riverview as most of us in Manitoba may have a family member who needs their help.

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Stores at Grant Park Shopping Centre

Polo Park is not the only mall welcoming new stores.

Grant Park Shopping Centre is also finishing off the long awaited makeover for the entire mall. The arrival of Target triggered expansions of existing stores such as Shopper's Drug Mart and Liquor Mart as well as refurbished mall tile, lighting and skylights. Several stores closed, other new ones including kiosks opened.

Last week I went to the Modern Man Barber Shop and was suitably impressed. It is good to see the old style barbershop come back with modern amenities such as flat screen TVs and sports. It is directly across from McNally Robinson's which remains one of the finest book stores in Canada.

One new store in the mall is Creative Kulture which sells ballcaps and T-shirts. Another new store is Dream Shoez which as the names suggests sells women's shoes.

The new Booster Juice has been open for a while and the next group of stores opens November 1.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Charleswood-Tuxedo Fun Questions - Kevin Nichols

Question 1: What is your favourite form of recreation?

I just like being outdoors, working around the house or working on my cars.

Question 2: Do you have any hobbies?

My hobbies include working on my cars and woodworking.

Question 3: Do you support any charities?

I donate to various charities, no one in particular.

Question 4: What is your favourite book(s)?

Favourite book – The Iron Maiden

Question 5: What is your favourite movie(s)?

Too many to list, but of them all I would say Vision Quest, then Top Gun, then Days of Thunder.

Question 6: What is your favourite TV show(s)? 

NCIS is up there as a favourite, Magnum P.I. was a great one too,again, too many to list

Question 7: What is your favourite sport(s)?

Football hands down

Question 8: Who is the most important person(s) in your life?

Well I suppose I could say the person who cuts me a cheque every two weeks, but I better say my wife is the most important person in my life

Question 9: What is the last sporting event in Winnipeg that you attended?

The Bomber game, season ticket holder(obvious from #7)

Question 10: What is the last artistic event that you have attended in Winnipeg?

Not really the art type, I guess going to Gimli drag races doesn’t count, although I think it is an art to take 3500 lbs and make it do 200 mph in a quarter mile.

Question 11: What is your favourite type of music?

Heavy Metal, Rock(classic)

Question 12: Who is your favourite musician(s)?

Iron Maiden

Question 13: Who is your favourite author(s)?

I don’t really have a favourite

Question 14: What is the mode of transportation you use daily?

I use my car in the summer and my truck in the winter

Question 15: Who is the person you admire most outside of your family?

I wouldn’t say it is one person per se but more a group, I admire anyone that volunteers, that is the person who I admire.

Question 16: What school did you graduate from?

I graduated from John Taylor Collegiate in 1982

Question 17: What was the first job you ever had?

I worked concession at the stadium and arena as my first job

Question 18: What was your dream job growing up?

Always dreamed of being City Councillor

Question 19: What countries have you visited?

I have always lived in Canada

Question 20: Do you have a cottage?

I do not have a cottage, don’t need one, I live in Charleswood

Question 21: Do you have a second winter home?

I don’t have a second winter home

Question 22: Where was your last holiday and how long were you away for?

I vacationed in the States, 10 days driving

Question 23: What would be your dream holiday destination?

My dream get away, somewhere warm in the winter, Florida, Texas, Arizona

Question 24: What languages do you speak?

Well before my morning coffee I speak gibberish, my main language is English

Question 25: What is your favourite dessert?

Puff Wheat cake

Question 26: What is your favourite food?

 Roast beef with red pepper jelly

Question 27: What is your favourite restaurant?

Don’t really have a favourite restaurant, love all kinds, especially Chinese food

Question 28: What radio stations do you listen to?

I listen to 92.1, Wheeler in the morning and Shadoe at night

Question 29: What local or national newscasts do you watch on TV?


I watch Global news

Question 30: What provincial politician do you admire the most?

Duff Roblin – his foresight has yet to be matched

Question 31: What federal politician do you admire the most?

I don’t really have one that I admire

Question 32: Who in history would you want to have dinner with if you were to get the chance?

Bruce Lee

Question 33: Who is your secret celebrity crush?

Princess Di

Question 34: Which are better dogs or cats?

I don’t know if they are better or not but I do prefer dogs over cats

Question 35: What is your favourite season of the year?

Spring

Charleswood-Tuxedo Questionnaire - Kevin Nichols

Question 1: What is your name?

Kevin Nichols

Question 2: What is your profession? What business holdings do you have in Winnipeg and beyond. How would you avoid conflict of interest as an elected official with what you do now?

My profession- Safety Technician for the City of Winnipeg, I have no business holdings in or beyond Winnipeg. As a City employee of 28 years, I deal with conflict all the time. To avoid conflict of interest I would back away from anything that may even be perceived as a conflict of interest.

Question 3: How old are you?
Age- 50

Question 4: Can you tell us about your family?

My family – I am married with 3 kids

Question 5: Why are you running in Charleswood-Tuxedo?

I am running for Council for Charleswood – Tuxedo – Whyte Ridge because I feel that our needs have not been addressed and have gone unheard. I feel I can do the job that will restore public confidence and benefit all the citizens in the ward and the City.

Question 6: How long have you lived in the ward? Do you live full time in Winnipeg?

I have lived in Charleswood for 22 years, I was born and raised in the City of Winnipeg. Lived here all my life.

Question 7: Have you had any past political affiliations in provincial or federal politics?

I have no political ties what so ever.

Question 8: Who did you vote for in the last civic election both for mayor and councillor and why? How would you rate the last council and mayor?

I honestly don’t remember who I voted for, but I do know it wasn’t for the current mayor and councillor. I would rate them as failing miserably.

Question 9: Do you feel your political views are left, center or right? How would you describe your political views?

 My political views are neutral. While there are good ideas from all parties, there are equally bad ideas. My beliefs are that a politician is elected by the people and should represent all the people. I believe that people should vote for common sense, not a party. I also believe that party politics has no place in the City Council.

Question 10: What do you think are the major issues for the city of Winnipeg?

Infrastructure is a major issue, without a doubt there has been some neglected infrastructure throughout the City. Urban sprawl is another one, and very poor planning implementation.

Question 11: What do you think are the major issues for the ward of Charleswood-Tuxedo?

The major issues are the disappearing green space, the lack of indoor facilities for programs to run and the big one coming is the development of Ridgewood South.

Question 12: Do you support a tax freeze or do you believe that taxes should go up to re-build infrastructure and support programs?

Before we talk about tax freeze, tax increase or anything to do with taxes, we have to look at where the money is going and how can we be more efficient. If we are only getting 60 cents on the dollar for work that is done, we need to find out why and get better at what we do. Questions have to be asked of many people to ensure that our tax dollars are spent efficiently to get the best bang for our buck. Then and only then can we look at what an increase or freeze will be.

Question 13: Do you support cuts in the city of Winnipeg budget? Where?

We need to look at our wants and needs. Based on those, we can look at where to cut and where to increase. If it costs less to hire more fire fighters than to pay overtime, then it makes more sense to hire fire fighters. This holds true for all City departments.

Question 14: Do you support increases in the city of Winnipeg budget? Where?

See question 13.

Question 15: Do you support an increase, decrease or a freeze in the city budget for police officers? Do you believe we need more police officers? If so, would you support a tax increase for it?

The budget and what we spend on will give an indication of increase, decrease or freeze. I believe that more police need to walk the beat downtown, this does have a direct impact on the amount of crime. I believe that resources need to be deployed where they are needed most and a better use of those resources needs to be looked into. The cadet program is a wonderful program but it needs to be carried further. This program should be more of an apprenticeship where they shadow police officers to learn.

Question 16: What is your view on crime in the city of Winnipeg and what can you as councillor do about it?

I have seen the crime stats and they vary in degrees of violence, kinds of crime and numbers being committed. I believe as a councillor I can see that resources such as training are provided to ensure we prevent crime rather than just investigate it.

Question 17: Do you support rapid bus transit or light rail transit? Do you have any other ideas for rapid transit? Do you believe Charleswood is well served for public transit?

As Rapid Transit is designed right now, I can’t get behind it and wont. I believe that the City would be better served by adding more buses and more operators to man those buses. I would also like to see Cadets ride the buses as a deterrent to crime on buses such as assaults. Transit needs to provide increased service to all areas, transporting 10 people fast is not efficient. The diamond lanes seem to be working very well, moving people fast and causing less disruption to Transit operations.

Question 18: Do you believe a city should fund a zoo? If yes or no, please indicate why. 

I do believe a City should fund a zoo, and promote it as a major tourist attraction. When the zoo was handed over, it became too commercial and less attractive to those on a fixed income. It used to be a great place for parents to take kids on a nice summer day. Now it seems as if it is a “go once” type of thing and that’s it because it is too costly for parents to take their kids every day. I have been to a few zoos and for what other zoos charge, we are far behind in attractions.

Question 19: Do you believe a city should fund arts and culture? If yes or no, indicate why.

Yes, we do need to provide subsidies to the arts to a point. Arts in many forms help to enhance the city and promote creative thinking.

Question 20: Do you believe the fire department should have an increase, decrease or a freeze in their budget? Would you support a tax increase for the fire department?

See question 13. We need to look at all city departments to find efficiencies.

Question 21: Do you believe that roads, water and sewer should receive an increase, decrease or freeze in their budget? Would you support a tax increase for roads, water and sewer?

I believe there are efficiencies to be found(seeing the work done first hand) and before discussing budgets we need to look at what is really needed to maintain the roads and all infrastructure.

Question 23: Would you support the city of Winnipeg having a sales tax in addition to property tax?

No, I believe this will drive more people to shop elsewhere. I believe developing a municipal income tax coupled with a property tax decrease would be far more beneficial to everyone and bring in more revenue for the city.

Question 24: Do you think Winnipeg should have a tax cut? If yes or no, explain why?

See question 21.

Question 25: Do you believe that the present city of Winnipeg budget is adequate for the city of Winnipeg? If yes or no, explain why.

I believe we have to look at how we do business and what we spend money on. We also need to look at the overspending that is done such as for a new police station. We also need to look at contracts such as those for CAO’s that don’t work for us anymore but still receive a paycheck from the City.

Question 26: Should education be funded through property tax or through general funds from the province?

The province should look at different ways to fund schools and it should not be funded by property taxes.

Question 27: Do you support term limits? Will you be serving a term limit even if there are no rules in place? How long will you serve?

I believe a person’s term is decided by the constituents, if you have a great person in place, why get rid of them. If the people are not pleased with the elected official, then change will happen.

Question 27: Do you think housing should be allowed at The Forks? If yes or no, explain why.

No, the Forks is a gathering place for all, not just those that live there. The Forks has become too commercial and has strayed from its original intent in my opinion.

Question 28: What changes (if any) should be done to upkeep our city parks and recreation programs? 

More trees need to be planted in certain areas, this will cut down on the amount of grass to mow, which costs the city money. We need to ensure that new developments have adequate green space in the form of fields, not walking paths. We need to enhance green space not build on it.

Question 29: What do hope to see in the Kapyong Barracks along Kenaston?

Widen Kenaston is top of the list for Kapyong barracks. After that I would say high density housing close to Kenaston gradually tapering to regular housing to match the neighbourhood backing onto it.

Question 30: Do you support a moratorium on development on old railway lines in favour of rapid transit and bike corridors?

This should have taken place long ago, we had the chance to make a bus lane on the abandon line running north/south paralleling Kenaston. We crammed residential development into it instead.

Question 31: Do you support widening Kenaston to three lanes in each direction?

See question 29.

Question 32: Do you support the creation of service roads for any further shopping developments?

Yes, we should have made them along Kenaston south of Taylor.

Question 33: What is your view on city taxes helping to build professional arenas and stadiums?

In some major projects, I believe a reasonable amount of help is essential to help the community. However, I think that lavish spending must be curtailed if funds are provided.

Question 34: What is your view of a possible call for taxpayer help to expand  attractions around the MTS Centre? Would you support it? 

No, the arena was upgraded/funded in order to rejuvenate the downtown, if the surrounding businesses cant survive with this kind of help, then funding should not be put forward.

Question 35: What do you believe the city should do to ensure a vital downtown? Do you believe it is important as a councillor to support it?

Lots of proposals have been put forward to help downtown and not much has helped. I believe that a plan to get more people living downtown and more grocery stores available will help to draw people downtown. I would support any plan that is reasonable and sustainable to help ensure downtown does not end up a wasteland.

Question 36: Do you believe that some city service should be privatized? What services (if any) would be candidates for it?


I believe that some city services would be best served in a private industry, such as when specialized equipment is required. I believe the City has gone too far and has too much private enterprise involved. An example is garbage collection. When it was city owned and operated, the guys may occasionally drop some garbage. They would take the time to pick it all up, now, the ditches have garbage in them all over the place because no one even gets out of the truck if something falls out.

Having worked for the city for 28 years, I have seen worker pride and morale decrease, I would like to bring back worker pride, increase morale. As anyone knows, a happy employee produces more in a more efficient manner.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Charleswood-Tuxedo Questionnaire

Last election, I sent out a questionnaire for the candidates of Charleswood-Tuxedo and this year I am doing the same.

I am still undecided and slowly making my way to a decision. I have formed the questions to be informative as well as fun. They were mailed out to all of the candidates and I post the results in complete form when they come in.

Here are the questions:


Questions for the candidates for Charleswood-Tuxedo Ward

Question 1: What is your name?

Question 2: What is your profession? What business holdings do you have in Winnipeg and beyond. How would you avoid conflict of interest as an elected official with what you do now?

Question 3: How old are you?

Question 4: Can you tell us about your family?

Question 5: Why are you running in Charleswood-Tuxedo?

Question 6: How long have you lived in the ward? Do you live full time in Winnipeg?

Question 7: Have you had any past political affiliations in provincial or federal politics?

Question 8: Who did you vote for in the last civic election both for mayor and councillor and why? How would you rate the last council and mayor?

Question 9: Do you feel your political views are left, center or right? How would you describe your political views?

Question 10: What do you think are the major issues for the city of Winnipeg?


Question 11: What do you think are the major issues for the ward of Charleswood-Tuxedo?

Question 12: Do you support a tax freeze or do you believe that taxes should go up to re-build infrastructure and support programs?

Question 13: Do you support cuts in the city of Winnipeg budget? Where?

Question 14: Do you support increases in the city of Winnipeg budget? Where?

Question 15: Do you support an increase, decrease or a freeze in the city budget for police officers? Do you believe we need more police officers? If so, would you support a tax increase for it?

Question 16: What is your view on crime in the city of Winnipeg and what can you as councillor do about it?

Question 17: Do you support rapid bus transit or light rail transit? Do you have any other ideas for rapid transit? Do you believe Charleswood is well served for public transit?

Question 18: Do you believe a city should fund a zoo? If yes or no, please indicate why.

Question 19: Do you believe a city should fund arts and culture? If yes or no, indicate why.

Question 20: Do you believe the fire department should have an increase, decrease or a freeze in their budget? Would you support a tax increase for the fire department?

Question 21: Do you believe that roads, water and sewer should receive an increase, decrease or freeze in their budget? Would you support a tax increase for roads, water and sewer?

Question 23: Would you support the city of Winnipeg having a sales tax in addition to property tax?

Question 24: Do you think Winnipeg should have a tax cut? If yes or no, explain why?

Question 25: Do you believe that the present city of Winnipeg budget is adequate for the city of Winnipeg? If yes or no, explain why.

Question 26: Should education be funded through property tax or through general funds from the province?

Question 27: Do you support term limits? Will you be serving a term limit even if there are no rules in place? How long will you serve?

Question 27: Do you think housing should be allowed at The Forks? If yes or no, explain why.

Question 28: What changes (if any) should be done to upkeep our city parks and recreation programs?

Question 29: What do hope to see in the Kapyong Barracks along Kenaston?

Question 30: Do you support a moratorium on development on old railway lines in favour of rapid transit and bike corridors?

Question 31: Do you support widening Kenaston to three lanes in each direction?

Question 32: Do you support the creation of service roads for any further shopping developments?

Question 33: What is your view on city taxes helping to build professional arenas and stadiums?

Question 34: What is your view of a possible call for taxpayer help to expand  attractions around the MTS Centre? Would you support it?

Question 35: What do you believe the city should do to ensure a vital downtown? Do you believe it is important as a councillor to support it?

Question 36: Do you believe that some city service should be privatized? What services (if any) would be candidates for it?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pinkerton Series Starts Sunday at High Noon

The Pinkertons TV series has been shooting in Manitoba all this summer and now will be airing on TV starting this week. Here is where you can see it in Winnipeg.

High noon.

The western series set in the 1860s follows the Pinkerton Detective Agency which acted as law enforcement long before other American law agencies ever did.

Look to see many Canadian actors featured in the series as well as Manitoba dressed up to look like the Old West. The Prairie Dog Railway stars prominently.

Sunday, high noon. There will be 22 episodes of this syndicated series coming in the weeks to follow.

Monday, September 29, 2014

XS Cargo Closing

XS Cargo Winnipeg
XS Cargo Winnipeg along with the rest of the 50 stores in Canada will be shutting down after failing to re-structure this past week. This comes on the heels of the shut down of another warehouse store Big Lots which shut down 78 stores last years including the Winnipeg store.

The XS store was in the parking lot of The Brick near Polo Park.

XS was known for colourful ads inserts and low cost goods, some of if re-conditioned product. The company blamed competition with Target and Walmart for their demise.

Other stores circling the drain the last months are Bowring, Bombay and Sears.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Race for Mayor of Winnipeg 2014


It is usually after the long weekend when people start to pay a little more attention to what is happening besides what they will do on the weekend cottage visit or how many Fringe plays they will attend.

Our past mayor usually didn't even announce he was running until after Labour Day.

We still have a little while for the nominations to close. Across the province, lots of incumbents remain unchallenged. In some cases not enough people are running for the positions that are available. Sad, really.

It is a difficult decision to run. Mayor and Councillor are full-time jobs. The present mayor had his business as well as a home in another country and this was a source of consternation for many including our media. No matter how high energy a person is, running a city is an all encompassing thing. Also, the matter of conflict of interest is a growing concern. The wearing of two or more hats is no easy matter. Even the perception that you are acting on behalf of someone else is enough to destroy the credibility of the process and everyone within that process.

As of last count, we have 7 people running for mayor. One dropped out, three were ruled ineligible due to problems regarding getting the 250 signatures needed to run.

I have joked around over the amount of people running for mayor and even made some teasing remarks. However, let me state quite clearly that I am happy for a competitive race. The last mayor's race had four people including an incumbent mayor. I was undecided almost till the end and voted for my candidate despite doubts. In the end, I want better governance and despite witty rejoinders and some sarcasm, I respect anyone who runs.

In the last election I voted for Judy Wasylycia-Leis (JWL). Despite misgivings that her campaign had gone off the rails a bit and increasingly relied on her NDP friends, I voted for her over Sam Katz. I deeply worried that she would not be her own woman and felt that Greg Selinger would have undue influence over her.

The NDP has tried for many years to win City Hall all the while telling us there are no party politics. Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats have been in city office for years but it is only the NDP that seems to have an agenda of controlling the city through the provincial party.

At this point in the 2014 city election, I am once again undecided about who I will vote for mayor.

There are 7 final candidates barring any other changes. It is a lot to go through. Some people have dismissed some of the people listed already. To be sure some people in past campaigns seem to have entered in part for publicity.

At the moment, I can only assess what I can see, read, hear or otherwise find in regards to the ten mayor candidates. Some candidates have complained the media has not been covering them. I'm sure others think the media covers them unfairly.

It is not the job of the media to promote and go into depth on any particular candidate. Heck, they can endorse someone right now if they like and only cover that person till the election. The biggest threat to the media is if they are not regarded as credible so generally they will cover news stories and then add a healthy dollop of opinion. candidates should not get hung up on media coverage and try other forms of getting their message out there.

I consume a fair amount of print, radio and TV news and you soon realize that there is a variety of ways to approach news and even more varied opinion. I also read blogs, social media and often the personal or professional sites of the politicians. City Circus had one of the more extensive interviews with Judy Wasylcia-Leis.

The point is that candidates should use whatever means they can to get known, put forth a a platform and debate it whenever possible. Don't expect a free ride, understand that you might find the questions challenging, repetitive and even hostile. If you don't like dealing with the media, keep them at a distance like Stephen Harper does. It hasn't harmed him in getting his message across.

There have been a few polls out. Some say the race has already been won. Be that as it may, I am still undecided.

Let's work our way backwards from the least known candidates at this point. Some have called them fringe to whit they have bristled. Calgary elected a fringe mayor who became a beloved mayor. You could do worse. For sake of argument, I will just say least known which I think even the candidates would agree with at this point.

7. Michel Fillion

He doesn't have a website. I do follow the Twitter account. I have seen a few newspaper stories and he has promised to change perceptions of downtown and offered some ideas on what to do to provide better security. He has not been invited to a number of forums by some organizers. This is their right. If he wishes to crack that group, he will probably have to set up a website, organize his own media events, use all social media and forums he can.

What I do know of him is that he comes from a political family and that he is an entertainment booking agent. What I don't know is why he is running for mayor. I say this because many of his ideas focus on downtown. I would have thought council might have been a good start. With around 40 days to election, we'll see if some of his ideas will help elevate his status.

6. David Sanders

He has had a varied career in law,  journalism and government and rose to attention for his constant monitoring of city governance. He asked the uncomfortable questions that those representing the voters needed to ask. As an outsider, he faces an uphill climb. Sometimes it is easier to be a critic than to formulate your own ideas. That's okay. The world needs critics too. However, in a city election the voters are also looking for ideas and even a vision of how to run their community.

The job of running for mayor is one that requires organization which can be difficult. He might have made a more formidable candidate for councillor. It is possible over the course of the election that more notice will be taken of Sanders and his considerable resume. This will take ideas and challenging candidates who come to forums with empty rhetoric or outright lack of knowledge on a subject. It will be interesting to see in the days ahead,

5. Robert-Falcon Ouellette

Here is a candidate with another impressive resume and a little charisma. He probably challenges JWL on the left for the progressive vote. Some Liberals, Greens and NDP are looking at him now. I don't know that prominent NDP are going to endorse as they would likely be clubbed by the provincial party. However, nothing is stopping general members from climbing aboard.

JWL is well in the lead but RFO could eat into that support if she cannot tap into some of the vote that is looking for something a little more exciting. As it stand, RFO has been introducing some policy ideas that contrast with JWL. It will be interesting in the end to see which of the candidates has the more fleshed out campaign.

As a First Nations man, RFO is mounting a campaign that inspires even if he doesn't close the gap to striking range of the perceived front runners. One wonders if some in the city will let the issue of race dictate their vote. You would hope that like Calgary, we would look only at the person.

4. Paula Havixbeck

As a first term councillor, she was on the Executive Policy Committee but soon fell into disagreement on a host of issues with Sam Katz. This got her booted off. I didn't vote for her because I thought she would be brought into the inner circle of the mayor and things would never change. I can say I was wrong in thinking that. At first it appeared to be that way but she could no longer go along with the old way of business.

I can't say how I feel about her as councillor. I had one issue that I dealt with myself for the most part. After one term, I can't really assess how she has done since she was shunted aside by Katz. Her currency went up being a critic of the mayor but was it sufficient to make a run for mayor herself? We are still seeing policies unveiled but might be a case of too many people at center right running for office and she doesn't have as many endorsements of establishment backing.

It is difficult to break into the lead without something exciting to propel you there and the people to do it.

3. Gord Steeves

Steeves keeps bouncing back. He quit city politics, changed long time party affiliation and ran as Progressive Conservative and was smacked for it with defeat. Out of office and back into law, he indicated his interest early in the mayor's race and possibly crossed the line into violating the law on when you can announce. Had another set back when a prominent organizer and supporter ditched him. Ran into huge controversy when his wife said things that stung of racism.

And yet Steeves keep ticking. This is in part due to the fact that the front runner is on the left and is running a campaign light on actually mentioning too much. The controversies may have knocked Steeves down again but they also bolster people and supporters. It is likely a few people think his wife was bang on.

Steeves has been in politics a long time. He had a huge mandate from his ward when he was a councillor and would likely still be there if he didn't have wanderlust. It would appear that Steeves is trying for aggressive and is confronting JWL at every turn. It is a risky proposition as it can look like bullying but it has turned attention to the contrast between the candidates. Given the setbacks, Steeves has remained part of the discussion for the top 3 but he might have to wait for someone else to falter to benefit.

The people who look to Steeves are the ones who will hate rapid transit, are sick of tip toeing over which demographic scares them and makes them angry, are not fans of downtown, want roads fixed but also want their taxes low. The aggrieved suburbanites.

2. Brian Bowman

Another lawyer in the mix. This one a privacy lawyer with long time ties to the Chamber of Commerce. In short order he has picked up some top business endorsements. However, the bulk of the Progressive Conservative party and Liberal party are split among candidates. The Liberals have people in almost every camp. The NDP key supporters are by and by with JWL.

Bowman has largely tried to straddle the center right with a positive campaign. Like a lot of candidates, there is talking of finding efficiencies in the system. He remains a supporter and expander of BRT in contrast to Steeves. In fact, he has several policies that contrast him with Steeves including downtown. What he still lacks is policies that contrast him with JWL. The transparency policy could be that but he would have to show how allies of JWL such as the unions and trustees on school board don't record votes and hide facts such as raising salaries for unionized workers. Even if was a good idea, hiding it wasn't.

Depending on which poll you read, Bowman is second or third. It appears that Steeves and Bowman could do with a consolidation of the anti-JWL vote. However, neither seems likely at this stage to drop out. At this point, the movement in support is unpredictable. Stumbles can happen and momentum can build. Front runners can slip. Bowman could be well positioned to move up.

1. Judy Wasylcia-Leis

She has been the front runner since the beginning and campaigns like one. She tries not to be controversial, she makes no big vision or policy statement. In the one area of rapid transit, she says to finish it but struggled to indicate how to pay for it.

It is hard to fault her campaign. She is collecting the endorsements she needs, the union support and NDP/Liberal support she needs and just has to be the thing the is really the elephant in the room: Sam Katz.

Could Sam Katz have won again. Sure. However, it seemed obvious that some in the business community were looking for something different.

JWL still has difficulties in outlining her ideas. She can get flustered or angry. Being the only woman in the race had advantages though. She can appeal to a part of the population who want a left of center female mayor in power. Ideology and feminist movement politics are in the background. Union activity in the foreground.

I voted for JWL last election mainly because I believed that Sam Katz was increasingly running into problems related to city management. I worried that all the police and fire union endorsements could result in a lack of due diligence on budgets. It would seem much of that has borne out.

Nothing seems to have dislodge JWL from grabbing the ring of power in this upcoming election. And yet I have troubled thoughts that she might not be her own woman and that the provincial NDP and Greg Selinger will be pressuring her to kowtow. The provincial party has bulled city candidates before with Harvey Smith. I don't see them changing their tune that NDP people should do as they are told.

***

Despite my misgivings on the election, campaigns and some of the candidates, I am still undecided. There is still some time before the vote so I continue to watch with interest.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Winnipeg Jets on TV Tonight TSN 3

TSN 3 is the host of the Winnipeg Jets regional games this year and this means that people who used to pay $10 a month for the right to see the games will see them as part of their overall cable package. This should result in far more people in Winnipeg and beyond watching the Jets this year.

Exhibition games will also appear on the network starting with tonight's against the Minnesota Wild at 7 PM. This will be of special interest to people who have no desire to see fall season premieres that are as thick as thieves this evening.

Expect to see a lot of the young guys trying hard to crack the line-up in pre-season.

One thing everyone agrees with is that the Winnipeg Jets have drafted well since the move. Many of the players picked are some of the most exciting to see on the team.

Go Jets go!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Autumnbee's Pizza Coming to Grant Park

It will be sad for some but Pizza Place has been closed at Grant Park Shopping Mall after being located there since 1969. The Pizza Place chain was the first pizza restaurant to open in the city as Crestview in 1960. Shortly after that, Pizza Hut and Gondola came as well.

The 88 seat Pizza Place became an institution, a place to get a set down meal at Grant Park for the neigbourhood and before a movie. They had the most memorable jingle in the history of restaurants.



"It's ready with spaghetti and they season it just right, so let's go to Pizza Place, they're ready every night."

Decades of serving Winnipeg and now the last Pizza Place with its leaning tower of Pisa logo is gone.

In the place of Pizza Place and opening very soon will be Autumnbee's Pizza. It look to be an Italian restaurant. It is good that a casual dining restaurant will remain inside the mall.

Even now, renovations continue to take place as new skylights, tiling, paint and the like are replaced. Several stores have upgraded, a few others are newly opened. The Landmark Theaters is under renovations as well.

Perhaps when things are completed in the fall, it will be possible to get a slice at Autumnbee's and then attend a show at Landmark.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Seasons Apartments Tuxedo Coming Soon

Seasons Apartments near IKEA/Cabela's
It has kind of flown under the radar but is now taking shape on the IKEA and will open in spring of 2015. It is immediately beside Cabela's on a spot that that was designated for future development. Surprisingly, it has gotten built faster than the long awaited Lowe's Home Improvement that presented their plans for the area many, many months ago.

The spot beside Cabela's is Seasons Apartments
 More of the activity near IKEA has shifted across Sterling Lyon where the factory outlet mall is being laid even as we speak. Condos and apartments are also being prepared adjacent to the new shopping area.

What is interesting about Seasons is that it is a large 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartment rental complex that is pet friendly. Unlike many apartments, it also has in suite washer and dryers and dishwashers. Prices are not listed for the apartments yet but given the shortage of newer rental units, it could prove popular.

The big question is: Will people want to be in space of one of Winnipeg's newest and largest shopping districts?

If the increased building around Superstore on Bison Drive is an indication, the answer appears to be yes. It seems most developers have cottoned on to fact that if you want to fill your very large site, putting housing in might be the ticket.

There seems to be few larger developments now that don't have some sort of housing component.

I am still awaiting the day that Polo Park or St. Vital Centre announce they are building additional floors for housing.

The arrange of housing for Seasons appears to be three buildings laid out in a horseshoe. All look to be four floors with outdoor parking.

There is additional retail likely to be added to south of Sterling Lyon near IKEA but it will be interesting to see if so much housing will attract a grocer to supply all the residents.