Monday, September 15, 2008

Health Sciences Centre Part 2

Thereasa Oswald at the announcement of the new hospital.

In the election in 2007, the NDP promised to build a new Women's Hospital for around $40 million. The old one, as mentioned here was built in 1950. It was meant to handle 2000 deliveries a year but that number has jumped to 5000 a year.

The NDP government announced on September 10 that they would build a new Women's Hospital on the site of the Weston Bakery across the street from the Children's Hospital.

For the NDP it was a bit of a coup to both negotiate for Weston Bakeries to move from their present location to the Fort Garry courthouse on Chevrier. That property had turned into an albatross for the government when it was never used for the high security trial it was built for. The bakery had been making noises about moving to Saskatchewan.

According to the Free Press, the original Women's Hospital was located a half kilometer away from the Children's Hospital because of an outbreak of childbed fever in 1936. While it might have been a good thing at the time, it is not only inconvenient but dangerous to have the hospital so far away. The crash cart team had to make a mad dash through the tunnels whenever a child's life was in danger.

The new hospital won't be built until 2009 as the Weston Bakery needs the time to complete their own $25 million building on the Chevrier site.

Let's hope that the new hospital will not be as ugly as most of the rest of the hospital buildings are at HSC.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Commodity Exchange Tower/Winnipeg Square Part 1

From The Second City Book Lorimer p 107 and posted on Flikr and credit to Mr. Christian who has some great pictures.

Winnipeg Square was built in 1979 by Trizec Corporation. In the desperation to have some good economic news back in the 1970s, the city agreed build a three level underground parking lot and re-routed to an underground concourse to feed into a mall that was integral to a two tower project at Portage And Main.

As everyone knows now the project ended up. Today there is only one tower, one mall, the city owned parkade and the concourse. I'm not going to go over the history of how much the city ended up on the hook for in getting the one tower built. You can see the details on the West End Dumplings site which has some great pictures, one which I have posted here.

There are a few selections to read in Google books as well on the subject.

My impression of the tower shortly after it was built was how forlorn it looked for many years following its completion in 1979. For quite some time many floors were unoccupied.

Today, the tower is home to numerous law firms including giant Aikens MacAulay high up on the 30th floor with it nearly 100 lawyers. Down on the 17th is Fillmore Riley with over 50 lawyers.

Head back up to the 25th floor at it is Pitblado with around 60 lawyers.

Two floors of the tower are devoted to storage and mechanical equipment.

One of the main tenants of the Commodity Exchange Tower is of course, the Commodity Exchange. In keeping with the commodity theme, other tenants in the building com from a variety of grain companies and brokerages.

At the time of construction, Scotiabank had indicated they wanted to take up residence in the building and they remain a part of it but rather than the 360 Main Street address, they have a low rise banking center fronting Portage Avenue. The 200 Portage address is what is observed at the corner of Portage and Main while the tower sits farther back on Main Street.

The Free Press has recently reported that the new owners of Winnipeg Square and the Commodity Exchange building. The building will be renamed 360 Main Street.

(to be continued)

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rapid Transit

Free Press picture of Katz at bus announcement.

Sam Katz seems to finally come aboard on bus rapid transit. Like most people, I used to take the bus regularly back and forth to school. However, I found that on some occasions, it was faster for me to walk back to River Heights from the University of Winnipeg rather than wait. I did that frequently.

Nowadays, my work involves me travelling from suburb to suburb on an almost daily basis. I could ride a bike to work in the summer but the lack of bike stands where I work makes that a difficult prospect.

My wife works at Health Sciences Centre and while bus travel is possible back and forth, it would make a 12 hour day probably a 14-15 day if you included the commute.

I know some people will say we picked where we live in Charleswood but we did so in part for financial considerations. Homes in River Heights which have several bus routes are more expensive.

Sam Katz rejected an earlier form of rapid transit and instead used the money for community clubs. The jury is still out on that one but clubs are still falling apart or showing no indication they are willing to collaborate to build actual multi-purpose facilities.

The new plan for rapid transit comes with help from the provincial and federal government's. Gary Doer was also on hand for the announcement on September 8.

From the Free Press:

The first leg of the corridor -- which comes with a $138-million price tag -- will begin at Queen Elizabeth Way near The Forks and then snake 3.6 kilometres southwest to Jubilee Avenue near Pembina Highway, crossing over Osborne Street on a new bridge and then tunnelling below CN Rail's Fort Rouge Yards along the way.

The overall plan is for a $327 million corridor to the University of Manitoba but CN seems to have a lot of questions about the plan, the borrowing to get it done and details about the housing surrounding the 12 bus stations.

Katz says light rail is coming but that is in the future. I have no idea what that means.

There is a plan for 700 apartments to help finance the busway but details on that are sketchy as well.

Once approval of this plan happens, it will take three years to get the first phase done.

No rush it seems to bring fast mass transit to Winnipeg.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Canada Election 2008

The election has been called by Stephen Harper for October 14, 2008. The prime minister sure went through contortions to justify calling an election. I always said it remained the PM's right to call an election and said that Harper would probably do it prior to the end of the mandate. I was told how ridiculous that was by many. Now, I hear how totally justified he is in breaking his promise.

We've seen that type of spin before in regards to income trusts and how it wasn't a broke promise to end them.

Jack Layton came out the first day saying he was up for debating Harper but refused to answer any questions about letting the Greens join the leader's debate. He just stared blankly at the CBC reporter.

I have no idea how the Greens will do. It is an uphill battle though. Elizabeth May will have a tough time winning against MacKay in Nova Scotia.

Stephane Dion had a good performance in Winnipeg this past week but he is quite weak nationally. The Environics poll from the CBC showed the Tories close to a majority.

My prediction based on trends is that the Tories are headed for a massive majority.

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