Thursday, September 30, 2010

City Election and Charleswood Part 5

Timothy Martin, candidate for Charleswood-Tuxedo

Timothy Martin is one of the seven candidates running in the Charleswood-Tuxedo riding. By profession he is a lawyer and on his website says that he has gone before council and the province a number of times. He doesn't indicate is what capacity though.

He indicates that he wants to balance the budget and have no tax increase. At the same time, he wants to improve bike paths, roads and recreation areas. He is pro-development and wants to grow the tax base this way. He supports transparency but has not indicated how that might be done.

He has indicated that crime is a big issue and suggests better policing.

One again, I am left a little bit at sea about what policy changes the candidate is thinking about specifically. In terms of transparency, he mentions allowing public scrutiny of contracts but doesn't say whether this will be the law, whether you can examine contracts on the website or whether he will show the details of past contracts.

I hope to see further details on policy.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Politics

The issue of how Active Transportation and how it is affecting River Heights along Grosvenor Avenue and my post on it was mentioned on Kick FM's Great Canadian Talk Show on Wednesday.

Marty Gold said I was a "avowed lefty." I managed to catch that part of the show in between appointments at work. It made me laugh a bit and I dashed off a correction and "centrist" was added later on.

I guess to clear up any confusion, I should say that I am not a NDP or Progessive Conservative on the provincial front. In terms of the NDP, I find them to be very light on vision but prone to taking ideological stances on issues from hydro's transmission line to forcing Manitoba drivers to buy ethanol gas. In ten years, crime has got worse under their governance.

I don't support the Tories because I feel they still have too many problems with social conservatives who are reactionary. There is a strong hint of anti-urban forces within the party. In recent years the policy platform has been based on fear or crazy things like bringing back the Jets.

I have held both provincial and federal Liberal memberships in the past but they have both lapsed. I donate monthly to the federal Liberals because I still believe they are better than the high spending Tories. I am in complete opposition to Stephen Harper because of his style of politics, his ideology and for his lack of control over fiscal matters.

I'm a fiscal conservative and a social liberal in that I'm anti-deficit, a supporter of low taxes and pro-business. I also support allowing gay marriage and de-criminalizing a host of laws that only encourage organized crime to get involved as we have seen historically with Prohibition.

In terms of this election for city office, I want my new councillor to show some vision, address the issues with more than vague answers and to be transparent in terms of how they govern. I expect the same from my mayor.

I am comfortable with the term centrist. I believe it is where I stand politically and for the most part, I think people in the city pretty much straddle the center as well. We don't necessarily need a populist telling us what we want to hear. What we do need is someone with vision who can lead either to the left or right depending on the city's needs.

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Charleswood-Tuxedo panel on CBC Radio

I will be taking part on the CBC panel this Friday on election race in Charleswood-Tuxedo.

I don't know when it will air on CBC Radio but I suspect segments will be on in the afternoon on Friday. If I hear anything else, I'll let you know.

If anyone has some points to make to the panel, get in touch with me.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fury In River Heights-Active Transportation

Looking east on Grosvenor Avenue. No parking signs went up on Saturday. Right, Westworth United Church.

Looking west on Grosvenor Avenue. No parking signs went up on Saturday. Left, Westworth United Church.

There is absolute fury in River Heights about the no parking signs that went up in front of Westworth United Church on Grosvenor Avenue on Saturday. Voters are calling John Orlikow and his assistant was shocked to hear the no parking signs are in front of the church.

The church has been present since the 1950s and the parking across the street on Grosvenor Avenue has been used by people for services on Sunday, for funerals and weddings, for rummage sales and teas and ironically, for voting.

This all came to an end Saturday when the no parking signs went up. People will be forced to park on Lanark and Beaverbrook Streets which are already filled most Sundays.

The bike path will run in front of the church on the north side and no parking will be the rule on the south side of the street.

People were talking about civil disobedience defying the rule and challenging the city to ticket and tow. It is possible that a lawsuit will be contemplated since the economics of the church renting its hall will be greatly affected.

The ones who should feel the most heat on this are the elected officials. Some could face defeat if they don't put a stop on some of the dimwitted blockage of a church to function. Sam Katz, are you listening?

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Monday, September 27, 2010

City Election and Charleswood Part 4

Dashi Zargani, candidate for Charleswood-Tuxedo.

I still haven't heard a lot to tell me about the policy distinctions of the candidates.

CBC Radio will be featuring a discussion in the next day of the Charleswood issues. It should be interesting.

I am looking at the websites of the candidates to see if I can find out anything that will help me in my vote.

At the moment, I am looking at candidate Dashi Zargani. Dashi was one of two people who filled out a questionnaire and the answers have been posted here.

Dashi also has a website that you can view here. I think the answers he provided to the questionnaire provide more details.

In his bio, Dashi says he has been in Winnipeg since 1995, is of Iraqi descent, is married and has three children. It doesn't say where he works in the bio but in the questionnaire he said he is a business owner. I believe he owns the White Tower restaurant on Roblin Blvd.

His bio says he supports tax increases at the rate of inflation. He also says the neighbourhood and the city needs more police.

He indicates that he will have weekly and monthly open houses and forums with residents.

One of the areas Dashi says he will look to improve is city infrastructure. And by that he means roads, bridges and water and sewer work. He believes bus rapid transit should hook up with the IKEA.

The platform is a fairly general one but not inconsistent with some of the other things I am seeing on websites of the candidates. Still, I am craving more detail. I hope to see more of Dashi's stand on a variety of issues in the media, on his website or in flyers to my door.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010


This is what happens when you substitute orange juice for a cup off coffee.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Polo Park 8

Exterior of Hollister storefront.

Polo Park continues to get ready for Christmas. Skechers is now open and Forever 21 and BCBG MAX ARIA are building. Now word comes that a young favourite Hollister is going to open in the mall.

Hollister moves into the recently vacated Addition-Elle store. The retreat of Addition-Elle should come as no surprise. They are following Tommy Hilfiger out to Kenaston. No sense having two stores so close together.

Hollister only has seven locations in Canada so far. This should prove a major attraction for people outside Winnipeg to come to the city to pick up clothes not easily found elsewhere in the province.

Overall, Hollister has only been around for 10 years world-wide but it has swept the U.S. coast to coast with bright T-shirts and hoodies. Their exterior storefronts are intriguing and the inside has various rooms. One outstanding feature is a wall bank of TVs that features two views on either side of the pier at Huntington Beach. It is live footage of surfers. Cool.

Hollister usually like to place side by side with its older sibling of Abercrombie and Fitch. However, space at Polo Park in nearly filled save for the huge empty spot of McNally Robinson at 20,000 square feet.

The other exciting news in terms of Polo Park is what is happening just north of the mall. Work is well under way for Corus Entertainment's radio stations. CJOB, Power 97 and Groove 99 are moving soon from Portage Avenue. However, the radio stations occupy only a small portion of the nearly 200,000 square feet of space being developed. Word has it that the anchor store to the development is T and T Supermarket, a Vancouver-based Loblaw's owned Asian food grocer.

Illustration of the new development.

T and T is planning a 45,000 square foot store which dwarfs the recently opened Lucky Supermarket which opened on Winnipeg Avenue earlier this year with 20,000 feet of retail space. Sun Wah Supermarket on King Street is only about 13,000 square feet.

The CBC said some Asian retailers are fearful of the competition whereas some people said that the store will appeal to a variety of customers of non-Asian descent who are looking for produce and products.

The store will be a great addition.

However, I can't be the only one thinking that issues of traffic in the area are only going to get more complicated.

View of the busy Polo Park area.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

City Election and Charleswood Part 3

As I have indicated, I am trying to learn all about the seven candidates running for election for the Charleswood-Tuxedo riding. I sent a questionnaire out early so that I could inform myself and two of those running have replied and I have posted the results. I have heard back from a few others saying that replies are pending. So far only two or three flyers have arrived from candidates. They had basic information and contact numbers.

In the interest of learning more, I went to the City of Winnipeg's election page. In the past, I was able to see where the candidate lived which I considered important in determining whether the person running was actually a resident of the ward. The rule used to be that you had to a resident of the municipality for six months and this continues today.

Now I'm not basing my decision solely on whether a candidate lives in the ward but I am interested if they know the local issues well and live them. In other words, I am not fussed about someone who lives close by to a ward if they are well versed in what happens in the area they are running. Still, if someone is from right across town, it might prove an issue. With that in mind, I went to the city election site to see what the addresses of the candidates are. I was surprised at what I found.

There are no addresses listed.

Initially I thought this was a reflection of candidates being duly and publicly recorded only when they were officially in the race at the deadline. I found that this was not the case.

What has happened is that there is a change in policy. I spoke to City Clerk's office and they said they will not put up the addresses on their website ever. Never. As in not now and not in the future.

I asked if this was a privacy issue raised by the Privacy Commissioner. It is not. I asked if I could see the addresses of those running and was told that I could. I just had to come to the City Clerk's office and ask to see the addresses.

I was confused. I asked if the Privacy Commissioner did not have a problem with the information of where a candidate lived then why was this information being withheld? I asked if there had been a complaint about the information being on the website. I was told of no official complaint. I said that if it was a question of security that it made no sense since the information can still be accessed by going to City Hall.

I can think of no incident involving the security of a councillor as the result of their address being known.

I asked the official at the City Clerk's office that if I got the addresses for myself from their publicly available papers at City Hall and published them, would I be in trouble. I was told no.

I ask this because in the province of Ontario, The Toronto Star actually printed pictures of the mayoral candidates homes in the paper. The addresses of the candidates there are published for all to see.

In the interests of getting to know the candidates, I am publishing their addresses here and a map location.

I may include a picture of their houses like the Toronto Star did as well.

Dashi Zargani
8-215 Edgeland Blvd

Paula Havixbeck
423 Laidlaw

Jarret Hannah
62 Alenbrook Dr

Timothy Martin
11 Bloomer Crescent

Steve Szego
618 Cathcart St

Wendy Lenton
46 Savoy Cresent

Livio Ciarelli
864 Community Row

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

City Election and Charleswood Part 2

I have heard from another of the candidates running for the Charleswood seat. He has said that he will be filling in the questionnaire but that he has been inundated by them in the election.

I tried to mitigate than by sending it way back in July but it could be that many people were already calling or writing the candidate even then.

In the interests of trying to get to know the candidates better, I am resorting to looking at their websites. If I meet any on door to door rounds, I will write about the encounter. I may try some phone interviews as well in the first weeks of October.

I still have no idea who to vote for in the election but I am willing to post all the information a candidate wishes to put out that will shed light on the focus of their campaign.

As far as the race for mayor goes, I am at a total loss as to how to vote. It is very discouraging.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We Speak No Americano

This is what having time on your hands is all about.

And if you want to see the original:

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Winnipeg Transportation and Driving Part 1

Traffic circle in River Heights.

It can be a frustrating experience driving in Winnipeg. Many of the problems can be attributed to lack of planning but just as many can be blamed on the lack of courtesy among Winnipeg drivers.

The bike paths being created on Winnipeg streets have been causing chaos. The city blew its chances years ago to acquire a right of way bike path that could have run from St. James to Taylor Avenue over the Assiniboine River. The old CN line called the Oak Point Subdivision should have been grabbed for future city use after CN abandoned it. Sadly, the idea of anything aside from green space for the line torpedoed any acquisition. Now, residents are reaping the seeds of that dissent as condos are squeezed into the space that they thought would remain green forever. No one seemed to consider that a private owner such as CN might want to actually develop the property rather than leaving it as private parkland for people of the neighborhoods to park their extra cars or to dig a garden. This picture shows the line as it passes through St. James.

Here is the picture of it running through River Heights.

The old line through St. James is now occupied by retailers such as Future Shop and Best Buy who took the opportunity to have bigger setbacks from St. James Street. Who can blame them but what a waste to the city who could have created actual walking and bike paths travelling north/south.

Back in the 1970s or 1980s, there was a proposal for a bike bath along the Burlington Northern Line that also runs through River Heights. The idea was squashed by opposition from an activist who generally fought for social causes. I always remembered that. If I can find the archived news story about that incident, I will include it.

Today we are seeing all sorts of issues in regards to the bike path down Assiniboine Avenue. It has created a nightmare for commuters and people living in the area. One wonders why they didn't utilize the existing east-west corridor in the area.

Here, I will show it to you:

There it is: Between the trees on Broadway.

Here is what originally went down the center of Broadway:

Is it not too late to look at that choice on Broadway?

In any event, those represent some of the choices the city could have made on bike paths that might have made sense.

The traffic circles in River Heights along Grosvenor, including Lanark, Borebank, Waterloo and Waverley are causing some people in the area consternation. The street will also include a bike path and eliminates all parking west of Cambridge Street. There is a picture of the circle on the top of the page.

Many of the people living in the area have a legitimate beef that the discussion about the changes were rushed through to ensure that federal dollars were spent before the deadline.

The first time bump outs of curbs were attempted in 2001 along Lyndale Drive, the residents there rebelled and they were removed a year later. The people of St. Boniface gave councillor Dan Vandal an earful about them.

I am not opposed to roundabouts or traffic circles. The one along Waterfront Drive works well enough. A few more of them are appearing in the Waverley West area. However, I can say from experience that some people still aggressively enter the traffic circle, tailgate and try to maintain high speeds.

I was a longtime resident of Kingsway and at the open house on the subject of the active transportation corridor, planners admitted they wanted to turn Kingsway into more of a thoroughfare. Certainly the people of that street are not going to be happy with speeders running past two schools at high rates of speed to avoid Grosvenor.

River Heights is already a speedway as people try to avoid Kenaston, Corydon and Academy Road during rush hours.

The issue with Grosvenor will be about whether it will be too narrow for buses, cyclists and cars to co-exist with traffic circles. The side effects of the change will also have to be examined. Those side effects would include: changes to traffic patterns elsewhere, the loss of parking on Grosvenor and the issue of parents dropping kids off at River Heights Junior High.

It would be fair to say though that not all problems in Winnipeg are the result of poor city planning. Winnipeg has some very aggressive drivers and there is a distinct lack of courtesy among people. Tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, speeding along lanes in attempt to cut in to traffic are all examples of treating commuting into some sort of bloodsport measured by if you win or lose.

Here is an example of one driver's attempt to end the bloodsport and break-up traffic jams.

I will talk more on the lack of courtesy in a future post but I will leave readers with this thought: If you drive at a regular speed, leave space between your car and the one ahead of you, stay in one lane for the most part, use your turn signals and pay attention, it is very likely you can help ensure fewer stoppages along your commute.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

City Election and Charleswood

I still have only heard from two candidates in terms of their responses to the questionnaire that I sent out. I am sending out reminders to some of the remaining candidates.

Signs are popping up all over though. In some cases I suspect they are up in places that are listed as forbidden in the rules. It is hard not to feel that the rules were set into place by people who were already elected using this method themselves to get noticed.

There have been some endorsements of some candidates.

Steve Szego has received endorsements from True North owner Mark Chipman and hockey star Mike Keane. A few prominent businesses in the area have also come out in favour of the candidate as well.

Paula Havixbeck has received the endorsements of Alex Forrest, the president of United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, Tory cabinet minister Steven Fletcher, and Conservative MLA Heather Stefanson.

If anyone else has endorsements listed, please let me know.

Hope to hear from Jarret Hannah, Timothy Martin, Wendy Lenton, Paula Havixbeck and Steve Szego in response to my questionnaire.

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English 50 Cent and Rock Retractions

This is a rather funny site that translates in English the Twitter messages of entertainer 50 Cent.

There is also a site called Rock Retractions where you write a retraction to a particular rock lyric.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Regional Airline Superpower

Exchange Income Corporation was a company created in 2004 and since that time, it has gone on a tear in terms of acquisitions. It first acquired Perimeter Airlines and now owns Keewatin Air, Calm Air and just bought Bearskin Airlines, a Sioux Lookout-based airline.

Winnipeg has had a few major airlines call the city home over the years. Air Canada originally had its head office in Winnipeg. Transair was based in the city until 1979.

While the name of Exchange Income Corporation is boring in the extreme, it is good that the city is getting back to its roots as center for the airline industry.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Winnipeg Art Gallery

Winnipeg Art Gallery and Studio building.

It has been a good few months for the Winnipeg Art Gallery. First there was a donation of a painting worth a couple of million dollars.

The 98 year old gallery is the oldest civic art gallery in Canada. The building along Memorial Boulevard was built in 1971. It has had a couple of major renovations over the years and they acquired the Mall Medical building beside the gallery 15 years ago to host some of their work and outreach.

Now, as the 100th birthday draws closer, the WAG has announced that they will tearing down the former Mall Medical building to showcase their excellent and important exhibit of Inuit art. The new building will be three stories and cost $30 million when everything is included such as an endowment.

As Manitoba and Winnipeg near their 150th birthdays, I believe all museums and galleries could do with expansion and enhancement. I wonder if the province is looking that far ahead.

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