Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Brandon's new power centre area is isolated even from it's growing suburbs but, at least, they have a transit system to allow people without vehicles to reach it. (The red arrow indicates the new retail area).
Selkirk has allowed it's new commercial growth to be set up on the western edge of town, past the Mental Health Centre.
Selkirk has no transit system but, thanks to this and other developments, Selkirk City Council unanimously accepted their task force report's recommendation that they spend $837,000 in 2009 on start up costs for one. It's great that they're getting transit but, considering that it's because they are allowing their new growth (commercial, residential, industrial), to take place on their periphery it becomes a one step forward / one step back proposition.
Portage has the oddest new commercial development of all. It also has no transit.
Most commercial development there stretches along Sask Ave up to the tracks, then there's an expanse of vacant land followed by the newer commercial area bunched up near the western outskirts of town. It had been a couple of years since I'd been there and when I went back I was floored with what I saw. New commercial development continues to take place on the western edge, but they are set wayyyyy back from the road. The below pic is actually after turning off Sask and driving up a bit.
As a friend of mine from Portage said "if you live in Portage and want a job, you need a car".
Rather than driving all the way up the long, lonely road I decided to make a U turn and go back to Sask Av. I had to chuckle when I saw what the road was called:
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Okay, jobs I have had ....
Video Store Clerk - back when video stores were da shit. Blank tapes cost $19.99 and people rented VCR's (your choice, VHS or Beta) for $7 a day - more if it was a weekend. Purchasing a movie would set you back $79 to $129. Ah, those were the days.
Hospital Volunteer - At a temp job when I was 14 I got my hand caught in a machine at a print shop. I had to go for physio for a few weeks and signed up as a volunteer to put something back into the hospital. I stayed long after my physio was over - about 6 years more - mainly at Rehab. Everything from candy cart and gift shop to manning the library, taking patients on shopping trips and special events. Great times. Not paid but I logged over 750 hours so I am going to count it as work !
Hospital job - Doesn't really fit into a category but part with the volunteer department and then more maintenancy type work. I knew the HSC and its crawlspaces like the back of my hand. I recently went back to the HSC after years away and it was comical trying to take shortcuts. I ended up staring at brick walls where hallways used to be and what were quick exits would open into the lobby of a vast new building !
All together, the HSC was a huge part of my life. Some people hate big hospitals, I love them. The bustle, the 24 hour aspect, even that weird cleaning agent smell (interestingly called Beaucoup, by the way !).
As I always like to inject some local history into my posts, here's one about the place: did you know that the green garbage bag was first used at the HSC ? (Wpg General Hospital in those days). Local inventor Harry Wasylyk created it for the hospital, he and a Union Carbide scientist in Ontario perfected it. UC bought the rights and marketed it for commercial use as the "Glad Garbage Bag" ! It only hit #36 on Canada's Greaest Invention, tsk tsk !
Fart Catcher (as Frank Magazine, may it rest in peace, puts it). Close to a decade I worked for 2 city councillors, 2 Fed Ministers, 1 Fed MP, 2 mayors. Great stuff. I wasn't that interested in the thrust-and-parry of party politics, preferring to work the community side of things. I met more people and community groups, saw more parts of the province got behind the scenes on more projects than most would in 3 lifetimes. On top of that, in all those years no two days were the same ! Great work !
Oh, and I only made it into Frank twice !
Payroll / Office Stuff - I realized that I eventually had to get a grown up job. I finally settled into a job doing payroll / benefits and other 'office managey' stuff for a local non-profit in the science field. Man, it was hard adjustment to make sitting at a desk doing the same thing all day but they finally broke me ;-)
What's next ? Who knows !
I won't tag anyone. I don't mind answering but I don't like spreading it around.
Update: I see cherenkov included funny highlights. Here's one of my favourite...
While working for a Fed Minister I'd be invited to the Brandon Winter Fair each year. On my first visit me and a staffer for the Premier tagged along on a tour deep into the bowels of the Keystone Centre, right down to where they kept the horses. At the end of the tour the guide said "okay, here are the waggons" to the VIP's (who were to be waggonned onto the arena floor as part of the opening ceremonies).
We two staffers said "we'll just go back up now" but the guide said that it would take forever to find our way back up and, anyway, the VIP seating for the ceremonies couldn't be reached via the arena proper - you had to go via the floor. He told us to get up on a spare waggon.
Ceremonies start, the procession of waggons enter the arena floor and each VIP is introduced over the PA system to a crowd of 5,000 or so clapping people. The last waggon enters - no intro as the announcer has no clue who we are. Nonetheless, we circle the arena for a lap and people continue to clap but you could see some get a puzzled look on their faces and people leaning into each other, undoubtedly asking, "who the feck are those two guys ?".
Friday, December 26, 2008
First off, the city backed down on one of it's favourite area improvement methods: turn the bulldozers loose. Over the decades numerous mind-bogglingly expensive megaprojects have been tried to improve areas of the city. From The Civic Centre Complex, to the Centennial Centre to Portage Place. In the end, the project was moved to U of M where BOTH the Bombers and Bisons will enjoy a top notch facility.
It also focused attention on South Point Douglas as a neighbourhoood. Though some of the attention may be unwanted, it nonetheless reminded people that, yes, people live there. In the Provincial throne speech SPD was mentioned by name as a priority area for the next Winnipeg Partnership Agreement. It's probably been a long time since SPD received that sort of attention !
Two of our nicest public spaces began their much deserved face lifts - Central Park and Old Market Square. (my blog entry)
KICK has a very enjoyable line up of music - alt rock and local bands - and some great shows like Beer for Breakfast, Just for Kicks etc. that serve me up a whole new world of music. I now listen to radio again. Thanks guys !
Will he change the world ? Likely not, but he did something more than that. He broke one of the last psychological barriers that Amercians had: the "not ready to elect a black man as president" one. For a country that thinks it can do anything at all, that was one of the last taboos they could truck out.
Seeing older black people being interviewed with tears in their eyes because they remember the hate, the segregation and the humiliation of decades ago, you know something special happened that night.
If a bit of that "Yes WE Can" attitude could sink into the local media, politicans, beurocrats and citizens he will have served us well.
Some have accused Lloyd manifest destiny, (in a negative way) which is par for the course for making things happen here. Some of these items like science upgrades were in the rumour mill over a decade ago (I think there was even talk of the scince program's accreditation being in question at the time ?).
Investing in education, especially in some of thea reas taht actually generate income for a university: the private high school, rental accomidations, Con_Ed, are a good thing. It's also making good changes to Portage Avenue as well.
This year I joined a new community - the "blogoshphere" (I'm with cj, I really don't like that expression).
My first attempt was to create a personal site, which did not go too well. Technology isn't my strong suit, I find that I am a bit too impatient to learn the "how's" and like to jump right into things. Eventually, I set up shop on blogspot with two sites: this one for my thoughts and This Was Winnipeg for my local history stuff.
I've enjoyed my 6 months or so immensely not only doing my own thing but contributing to others and hearing and reading what others have to say. There's a great crew of folks out there. Check out my blog roll for some of them !
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Of course, an event like this could not be marked without the boo-birds at the Winnipeg Sun dumping on it. (Let me get off topic for a sec).
Romaniuk talked to a single employee and focused his usual negative article on it:
Yawn...I wonder if it the same single individual he used to dump on IKEA last week:
This is the same guy who feels of the Human Rights Museum that it's a waste because it's been done before so we couldn't possibly do it here:
And earlier this year dumped on the volunteer who put together the 1400 person skating chain at the Forks for a bit of fun in February
How many reporters does the Sun have left ?!
The fact that Romaniuk is whining about it is pretty much akin to the fact that the sun rose this morning.
Back to Hydro.
I would imagine that some employees are not happy. Moving offices means changing routines and people don't like change. IF there are employees that "want no part of it", funny that FIVE YEARS after the original announcement they haven't got around to finding a new place to work. That shows either an immense lack of motivation or the fact that it's really not all that bad. Change like this is part of being a grown-up and I think a majority of people working for Hydro are grown ups.
I would bet that for most employees, after a year or two downtown, if Hydro decided to move the offices again to East Kildonan most people would complain: "we have to drive for our food at lunchtime", "I can't run errands on my coffee break anymore" etc. For a list of reasons WHY employees will like working donwtown check out the 101 Reasons why Manitoba Hydro Employees will LOVE Downtown compiled by newwinnipeg forum members.
As for the Hydro building's impact on downtown, is it the magic bullet ? No, of course not. We go through this everytime something happens downtown. The Hydro tower is an additional piece to the downtown puzzle along with things like an expanded library, the MTS Centre, new retailers, expanding educational facilities. They will bring an extra couple of thousand sets of eyes to the streets, and for some, represent extra feet in the stores and restaurants.
So, welcome to downtown Manitoba Hydro. It's nice to see you !
Monday, December 22, 2008
This Christmas, when looking for last minute gifts, consider a book, magazine or membership in a heritage organization. I put together a collection of suggestions here.
Also of note, the Manitoba Historical Society is counting down the 12 days of Christmas on their website again. This year they feature a write up and photo of a different old Winnipeg schoolhouse each day, most of which are now long gone.
If you went to, or grew up near, a school that no longer exists check it out !
Sunday, December 21, 2008
It’s being reported by The Free Press that the city is considering halving the Winnipeg Parks Police Force from 14 members to 7.
My first reaction to the headline was to say “this is a dumb move”. Though our major parks are not high crime areas, still, the required enforcement of bylaws, complaints and crimes will, presumably, fall to the regular police force which makes little sense. The proposal, though, that a "Park Watch", (similar to, say, the Downtown BIZ Patrol), be used instead I think has merits and is worth considering.
I have lived and worked downtown for about 15 years and have seen the evolution of the Downtown BIZ Patrol first-hand.
There is definitely a comfort factor that the BIZ Patrollers create. I feel better knowing that there are 10 or 12 BIZ Patrollers always walking around with that skill set versus knowing that a couple of times a week a pair of beat police might wander down Portage.
I could not find specific stats as to what the Park Police spends most of it's time dealing with. In the 2007 Economic Opportunity Commission Report, (chaired by Scott Fielding), they maintain that the force deals mostly with complaints such as noise, open liquor and 'lost and found' issues. The Commission concluded that instead of having officers trained the same as the Winnipeg Police, (but do not carry weapons), that another force could deal with these matters for less than the $1.1 million dollar price tag.
I understand the union's issue with this. It will mean a loss of jobs. They probably also see it as a thin edge of the wedge with regards to park services as well. The Downtown BIZ, for example, now has the duties of park clean-up, sidewalk clearing and flower planting - things that CUPE members at one point did.
CUPE's news release (linked above) claims "This is strictly a public-safety issue". I am not sure if public safety would be challenged. They'd have to truck out a lot more stats for me to buy that.
The BIZ Patrol's real bonus is that, through paid staff and 100 or so volunteers, it puts a hell of a lot more eyes out there than the police ever could. That helps reduce problems before they start or, should something major happen, creates a larger network to relay information to authorities.
The union will likely get an initial jump of support. Anything to do with "less police" will instill an uneasiness in people. I think that will settle down, though, when people realize that if they have a problem or need assistance they just want it taken care of as quickly as possible. They want a perception of safety by having people around keeping an eye out for them. Whether they have the title Park Patrol or Park Police I don't think it will make a difference to them.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I see walkways as a necessary evil. They suck retail and pedestrians from street level making downtown seem emptier than it is. We do, though, live in a winter city and the increased mobility they provide, whether it be an office worker able to walk down to the Paddlewheel for lunch or someone in a wheelchair able to run errands instead of being snowbound for the winter, is a major plus.
Skywalks have been part of Winnipeg's urban landscape for many decades. The earliest example I could find was in 1969 when Eaton's and the neighbouring Somerset building were linked up.
The Convention Centre used them to connect to the Lakeview development next door in the mid 70's
Unfortunately, this new section is going to cut in front of St. Mary's Cathedral blocking the view. We've not always been sympathetic when skywalks and historic buildings come in close proximity.
Scale is important. Many walkways - City Place to the Library, Eatons to the Somerset Building - blend into the urban landscape. The 80's, though, brought about the "in your face" skywalk to the city.
For Portage Avenue, considering the Portage Place lot and most of Portage Avenue were dug up many storeys down, I don't know why an underground crossing was not used. The "boxcars" really destroyed the view down a grand avenue.
So get your 360 looks and shots of St. Mary's now before the skwalk crosses - you'll never get that view again !
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Start in 2000 with the ill conceived takeover of white-owned farms that decimated the country's ability to feed itself. Those changes are still being felt today through the starvation of millions.
What land that is in production faces a massive crop failure in 2008 but he's cracked down on the NGO's that have come to try to feed the starving.
Add to that the "disappeared", the record breaking hyper inflation rate of 13.2 billion % PER MONTH ( making any money earned worthless by the end of the day) and toss in the political violence and unrest from fixing a democratic election.
You'd think Zimbabweans have faced enough this century. Now, there's cholera. Here's two weeks in the life of Zimbabwe:
Zimbabwe 'asks for cholera help'- 3 December (500+ dead)
Zimbabwe cholera 'an emergency'- 4 December (600+ dead)
Mugabe: Cholera is over - 11 December (783 dead, 16,000+ infected)
Zimbabwe blames its cholera epidemic on Western biological warfare - 13 December
Surge in Zimbabwe cholera deaths - 15 December (978 dead, 18,000+ infected)
Zimbabwe cholera toll reaches 1,000 - 16 December 2008
There are conflicting reports of an official in Mugabe's government being shot. It's too early to confirm what happened or if it's the beginning of a power struggle to oust Mugabe by his own party.
Whatever the turmoil created if Mugabe was ousted cannot be worse for his people that what he's already put them through in the past few years.
UPDATE: Start of 2009: Death toll at 1,732. WHO estimates 30,000 infected.
UPDATE: Jan 28 2009: Death toll at 3,161 (climbing to over 1000 new cases a day). WHO estimates over 60,000 infected and, says Reuters:
"(the) ... outbreak that has now surpassed the WHO's previous "worst case scenario."
Heavy rains and the year-end holidays, when many urban Zimbabweans traveled to visit relatives in villages, have fueled the spread of the water-borne disease, the United Nations agency said."
"(the) ... outbreak that has now surpassed the WHO's previous "worst case scenario."
Monday, December 15, 2008
Initially, I have to admit, I did see humour in the event and the lame way Bush tried to brush it off: "so what if someone threw a shoe at me ?"
In time, though, the humourous aspect will fade and the event will be seen as symbolic of the Bush reign. The tough guy Texan whose reaction to 9-11 was to use it as an excuse to invade Iraq, sort the world into "friendlies" and "evils", and damn the consequences, being subjected to something as bizarre (to us in the west) and insulting (to those in the mid east).
Sometimes the defining image of a failed campaign or event is media driven, (well, okay this sort of was in that it was a member of the media that threw them), like Joe Clark waiting for his lost luggage at an airport in the Middle East or Stanfield, after successfully catching a number of passes, being shown dropping the ball.
Sometimes the defining image is self inflicted:
It's fitting, I feel, that one of the most defining images of Bush was delivered by a mostly unheard of, middle class Iraqi.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I can remember it from when I was a kid but can’t find any pictures of it. It was a large sign and within it was a smaller sign made up of a number of long, three sided blocks that would rotate to reveal a different ad: Grubee's, Champs Chicken, what have you. I can’t remember when it went out of service but my guess would be the late 70’s.
A billboard at the site has been a constant, so it seems:
From 1930 you can see a little billboard there (top left):
During WW II, the Victory Bond billboard, indicating the money collected to date, was stationed at Portage and Memorial:
In 1949 yet another sign !
The scaffolding that some find interesting, but most consider an eyesore, has caught the attention of the city at times. A scan of past meetings shows that in September 1999 the Property and Development standing committee instructed the department to “...submit a status report on the abandoned roof mounted sign structure atop the United Army Surplus Building at 460 Portage, including therein an outline of the signage/zoning regulations in other municipal jurisdictions applicable to a structure of this type”.
Proving that City Hall gathers much moss, the issue does not crop up again until March 4, 2003 when the 1999 motion returns as an "outstanding item" on the agenda. I couldn't find if a report, indeed, had been submitted. The item was dealt with in 2003 by sending the owners of the offending structure off to work with the Downtown Biz to find a resolution.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Due to asbestos and other problems with the building, the U of W and the owner have opted to demolish rather than renovate. The final plans for the new building are still in the works but it is going to be between 2 and six storeys and expected to begin construction spring 2009. The U of W will be the lead partner with a ten year lease. A new structure is welcome at that intersection. Portage and Memorial marks the western gateway to the downtown section of Portage Avenue and deserving of something a little grander.
Thornton Andrews Drug Store (c 1904)
GA Cedarquist, Tailor c 1911
National Herb Co. c 1913
Lou's Barber Shop c 1915 The opening of The Bay brought big time retail to that section of Portage Avenue and some changes to the southwest corner of the intersection as well. Gone was the collection of individual buildings to be replaced by one long unit as the 1935 aerial shot below shows.
Winnipeg Radios 462 Portage (1932)
Winston Dependable Furrier 466 Portage (1938)
Arctic Furs 468 Portage (1938)
Electric Expert Radio Service 464 Portage (1943)
Ludwig Furriers 462 Portage (1944)
Marianne's Style Shoppe 464 Portage (1953)
Stewart Electric 460 Portage (approx 1939 - 1962)
Alfred Rudolph Furs Ltd 466 Portage (1966)
It was in 1947 that across the street, near the Mall Hotel, that brothers Nathan and Fred Bogoch opened an army and navy equipment surplus store. Their gamble proved to be a huge success. Around 1950 they moved to a new location, the former Stewart Electric space at 460 Portage.
Over time, Army Surplus would absorb neighbouring units and eventually built a new frontage over top of the pre-exisiting basements.
At it's peak Army Surplus had three stores around the city. One dark time in Army Surplus' past was the 1973 fire that started in a neighbouring hair salon. That forced their flagship location to Notre Dame Ave, (where Giant Tiger is now).
A nice shot of this block on Winnipeg Love Hate
- Newspaper clippings from manitobia.
- A great write up on this block
- For the other pics, click them for references.