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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Year End Clearance: Top stories of 2011

Yes, I am a bit late on this. This was to be my final post of 2011 but as I was getting started on it, well, a little fire happened next door and that took over a lot of my personal time. For today's Winnipeg Internet Pundits (5 - 6 pm on UMFM 101.5) we're revisiting 2011 stories so I had to go back to my half finished list.

Here are what I considered the top stories of 2011.

Return of the NHL
Jets Return
The return of the Jets has to be the big story of 2011. It had elements of David and Goliath - a big I told you so to the NHL. On a purely financial level, it's a nice sized company to have suddenly plop down on the middle of a city.

It will be interesting to see what the spin offs will be over time.

There was, of course, the announcement of the ALT Hotel development across the street, but a bigger question for downtown is will Jets fans spend any of their money outside the confines of the MTS Centre ? Also, will the Jets create a giant sucking sound that will impact attendance / donations / sponsorship of other sports teams and arts / entertainment groups ?

The Axworthy Effect on Portage Ave
U of W Science Complex
The U of W has been transforming Portage Avenue west of Memorial. Their Continuing Ed department moved into new premises on the old Army Surplus Store site, they got back into the student residence business with McFeetors Hall, their science department left its 1960 era digs behind. There has been some nice spin offs as well. Check out the developments here.

Surface Parking
Parking Lot
In a strange twist, many Winnipeggers will cheer (or at least be ambivalent) the demolition of a building then bemoan the empty space left in its wake. This year, there were concrete signs that a couple of the huge downtown parking lots could soon be gone with the Convention Centre expansion and MPI's call for proposals.

Taking back the streets
Selkirk Avenue, Winnipeg
Something that we discussed on WIPS with Michael Champagne is a new youth movement taking shape in the shadow of Selkirk Avenue's bell tower. Tired of the violence a series of rallies involving North End youth that will soon spin off into a newspaper is taking place.

As I learned living in West Braodway for a decade, you can stomp your feet and call on the police and politicians to do something but if the community is not involved in wanting to make it a better place you're really just asking them to do a better job cleaning up the mess.

I hope to see more of this movement in 2012.

The Burning of St. Paul
Fire on St. Paul Avenue, Winnipeg
I can't let 2011 pass without mentioning the demise of 817 St. Paul Avenue. Thankfully, everyone got out safely.

The building sat 10 feet outside my window and there was fear that our building would come down with it in fire or the collapse. Smoke and water damage is all we have.

The residents were more than just neighbours. We shared common spaces, services and friendship. It wasn't uncommon on a summer's evening to find a collection of residents from all three buildings having dinner together in the courtyard or enjoying a bonfire. The triplets were a community and we lost part of that over the holidays.

Of course, when something hits so close to home you read fire stories that you once glossed over very differently. To everyone displaced due to fires or floods in 2011 I hope that 2012 brings you home.

More Year End Clearance !
- Top stories of 2011
- Top blog posts of 2011
- Most disappointing story of 2011
- Completed developments

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