Sunday, September 30, 2007

End of September

After a long delay the decision on where Manitoba Hydro will constructs its transmission line from the north has been decided. It will go down the west side of the province rather than the east side. The fate for where the lines would go was probably decided during the election where Gary Doer said he would not run the line down the east side.

The decision to run the line down the west side will cost $400 million and be 50% longer in terms of the line. This will also bring added costs in terms of lost power to the tune of millions.

The east side can now only be reached by air or winter roads. In the past few years, those winter roads have not been around long enough to bring in supplies.

Some of the east side First Nations didn't want the transmission lines. Other First Nations wanted the lines but they also wanted part ownership of them. Hydro refused. Understandably, while some might be celebrating Hydro's decision to go the west, others are feeling bitter.

The issue of economic development on the easy side won't go away. A few winters of bad ice roads could put the communities there in a crisis situation. The Manitoba government could be on the hook for re-supplying by air for decades to come.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Banjo Bowl, murder and policing

Today is the infamous Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg where the Winnipeg Blue Bombers play the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It will be the fifth consecutive sell-out for the team as they watch records being broken by Steagall and Roberts.

The Banjo Bowl name came from the flamboyant kicker Troy Westwood (my brother;s former roommate) who once said that it was wrong to think that everyone in Saskatchewan was a banjo picking inbred. He said that not everyone in Saskatchewan could play the banjo.

This stinging rebuke of Saskatchewan was embraced by both teams as a way of filling seats on both the Labour Day Classic and the follow-up game a week later. And thus, the Banjo Bowl was born.

Numerous Saskatchewan fans travel to Winnipeg to support their team in the game. It is a time of good cheer between blue and gold and Saskatchewan green.

The one snag: tailgating won't be allowed. The police have said they will crack down on any alcohol they see in non-unlicensed areas such as parking lots.

Can you imagine if American police tried to crack down on American fans? There would be a revolution.

I have no problem with the police trying to stop drinking and driving as well as belligerent behaviour but this crack down is an over aggressive stance that seems geared to protecting booze sales at licensed establishments.


The Winnipeg Police Service has consistently poo-poohed the idea of a serial killer stalking prostitutes. That was the standard response by the police in Vancouver and again by the police in Edmonton until...they arrested a serial killer.

I don't know that the police in Winnipeg are simply dismissing the idea as an investigation strategy or because they really believe there is no serial killer. Certainly, one expert in geographic profiling seems to think so.

The province has allocated more resources to finding the killer or killers of prostitutes in Winnipeg. The bodies keep piling up though and the dumping ground for some seems to be concentrated in one area.

A little more openness about the problem could help but the cops keep everything close to the vest.

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

What happened to summer?

School is back after the Labour Day long weekend. I can well imagine that the streets are going to be choked with parents, students and teachers. This problem is likely to be compounded by delayed road construction this year. The wet months early in the summer saw quite a few days of cancelled infrastructure repair.

City councillor Scott Fielding has been championing longer hours for the workers involved in construction but has run into resistance at City Hall. It seems Calgary can do it but Winnipeg can't for whatever reason.

It seems there is a lack of imagination at city hall.


Winnipeg is to have the first 24 Wal-Mart in Canada. The big retailer has been experimenting with the concept over the last two years in Canada over Christmas holidays. I'm not surprised they picked Winnipeg as the first city to try it and it has always been something of a test market for new concepts.

There are only a few 24 places in the city. There are a couple of restaurants, a Shoppers Drug Mart or two but to date, no major retailer has taken the plunge. By contrast, travellers to North Dakota will find a number of 24 hour Wal-Marts.

Some will say this is a bad thing for people. I don't. Stores like Superstore and Wal-Mart already stock shelves all night. Now, they can simply open the doors and let people shop at the same time.

There are thousands of shift workers in Winnipeg. They are ones who will benefit most from this.

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