Monday, December 26, 2011

Rogers Closing Video Stores in Winnipeg


It sucks if you rent videos or games. The choices are becoming limited to small kiosks for videos and nothing really for games.

We keep hearing this is the wave of the future and that it is old technology, etc. However, as I have pointed out a few times, to access this technology, you need a high speed connection to the Internet, computer or electronic device or cable and satellite connection. Not to mention a subscription to a content provider like Netflix. Video on Demand on cable and satellite is still too limited in its offering, is expensive and has no extras.

People may say: So what? I get all my stuff with free downloads. Well, we have seen that those avenues are being blocked more and more. Could be a time soon when we might not be able to access things nearly with the convenience or lack of consequences.

Rogers Video Plus are the latest to announce a series of closings. Four of their stores are being shut down. It is part of a 40% reduction of their stores in Canada.

If you live in certain parts of the city, there are no larger video rental places left at all. It can be a good thing for an independent willing to stick it out but we have even seen the owner of Movie Village looking to sell.

Here are the stores that are closing.

1853 Grant Ave
Winnipeg, MB R3N 1Z2
(204) 488-4969

756 Pembina Hwy
Winnipeg, MB R3M 2M7
(204) 452-1234

823 McLeod Ave
Winnipeg, MB R2G 0Y4
(204) 654-1234

47 Goulet St
Winnipeg, MB R2H 0R5
(204) 237-7496

There was a point made here that if you wait a while, a DVD will be sold for around the same price as a rental. While that might be true of DVDs, it isn't true of games that they can be purchased so soon for so little. The rental places truly made it possible to check out a game and decide if it was worth it.

I know one thing that has happened since most of the video stores have closed around me: I have not watched as many new or older movies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Bar Street For Winnipeg?





Top picture is 456 Main Street today where Fox and Fiddle will be located

Middle picture is Fox and Fiddle on Yonge Street, Toronto

Bottom pic is 456 as the old Bank of Toronto


In the last weeks, we have been inundated with stories of bars and restaurants opening, often in the downtown.

One of the restaurant groups in Toronto that has worked with older buildings is Fox and Fiddle, an Irish pub-style group. They announced recently they going to build on Main Street near Whiskey Dix.

Fox and Fiddle is likely to appeal to those looking for a meal, pre or post sports or theatre events and after work or as a neighbourhood eatery. It is likely to bring a slightly more mature crowd than the nearby Whiskey Dix. And this is good, since there should be a variety of crowds up and down the street if for no other reason than to create excitement but also a civil interaction.

Whiskey Dix has been around a few years, overcoming some violent altercations ending in death in its previous incarnations. At 12,000 feet, it is monster sized and has one of the largest patios in the downtown area.

Violence is the type of stuff can destroy any bar even suburban ones. Security for bars and restaurants is both an internal and external matter. Bars have to enforce no weapons policies and over-serving protocols. Police have to be very vigilant and everyone should be aware of zero tolerance of shenanigans.

However, a lively bar and restaurant quarter can also be a boon for cultural and business affairs. It is not enough to have the Fringe Festival or MTS Centre in an area if there is nothing to do before, in between and after.

The streets of Portage and Main Street used to be lined with offices and retail. We have lost both offices and retail to the suburbs and in its place we have suffered either empty store front or offices or worse, large surface parking lots.

We have seen a scattering of restaurants and bars in the Exchange District and elsewhere but never in a real grouping like they have in Austin, Texas or Ybor City in Tampa.

The addition of Fox and Fiddle on Main might actually attract other similar businesses. At 3,100-square-foot and $750,000, this is a major investment downtown.

And it isn't the only one. The old Chocolate Shop restaurant is being converted into a Mediterranean-style restaurant. That 3,500 square foot location has been a restaurant for years aside from a stint as a cooking school. Arkadash Bistro and Lounge at 268 Portage Ave will be getting around a $300,000 facelift.

Farther down the street, some major players are sniffing around locations near the MTS Centre. More on that in a Portage Avenue update.

We have been seeing some interesting developments over the last several months. Except more private cash to start investing. And time to get some of the large surface lot landholders off their duffs and looking at possibilities.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shopper's Drug Mart Osborne Village Part Deux




Shopper's Drug Mart and Vietnamese restaurant Vi-Ann

After the first expansion plan went poorly, Shopper's Drug Mart is putting forward another plan. This time it has found two willing sellers to facilitate growth up Osborne Street.

Already there is neighbourhood resistance. The city's board of adjustment will look at the proposal in a meeting at City Hall on December 21. Expect a lot of concern.

Two things emerge from the genesis of this plan: The first is that Movie Village might not be long for Osborne Village. If the owners are looking to sell and are unsuccessful, it doesn't means that the movie rental shop will stay open.

The neighbourhood has already lost Blockbuster. This would be a major hit for the non-car drivers living in the area.

Now, some people will say no loss...things are going digital anyways but people forget that the seeing movies via TV or computer still requires cable, satellite or high speed Internet connections all of which cost money. Then you have to pay for content. This can end up more costly than a TV, DVD player and a rental.

However, this isn't about video stores. If Movie Village wishes to sell or close, it is their right to do so. However, it would be wrong to assume the store will remain a video store by resisting Shopper's expansion.

If Movie Village does close, chances are something would go into the location. Just not a video store.

The one business is this endeavour that is at the mercy of the property owner's is Vi-Ann. The restaurant doesn't own the building it is in and if it is sold and redeveloped, they might not have options about going somewhere else. This is a sad situation but one we see often repeated with businesses that lease space. Sometimes the owners of the property push you out in favour of other things.

Once again, stopping Shopper's to save Vi-Ann may not work if the owners of the building looks to re-develop on their own.

Both Shopper's and Vi-Ann face out to Osborne Street and have entrances to it. Movie Village has long turned its back on the street and looks on to the more lucrative Safeway behind it.

The street behind Osborne, more of an alley, really has become the choice route for pedestrians. It is a long stretch of street from Shopper's to the Liquor Commission where you don't see the same vitality as you do in the blocks after. With only two businesses having any access to the street, there is very little presence there.

So, what exactly happens if Shopper's gets its wish? Well, we lose two beloved businesses, both of which might be in danger regardless if the proposal is turned down. Will it affect Osborne? Probably no more than what is happening now. In fact, with a good zoning ruling on the proposal, maybe Shopper's can be persuaded to be more street friendly on Osborne. Ditching the frosted glass might help.

If resistance to the Shopper's proposal is about "fighting the man", it is as wrongheaded as resistance to Safeway's expansion in the Village.

Outright resistance to Safeway ignored the fact that the neighbourhood was successful because there was a large grocery right in the area. Some homes were displaced in the area for expansion but Osborne Village's entire history has been marked by development and increasing density. Dogged resistance to change would have left the neighbourhood a low density section of the city. Who knows? Had activists been at the ready long ago, it still might be a barracks.

I am in the middle on this. I am not against Shopper's expanding for the sake of saying no to a large corporation. I am also of a mind that no one should roll over. If Shopper's get the green light, significant consideration needs to be looked at on zoning to make sure Osborne Street is vital. The look of the building is worthy of consideration. Entrances, windows, colours should be appealing.

Perhaps one aspect that might be promoted is: Can floors above the Shopper's be built? Now isn't that a novel idea? A residential component, offices? Wouldn't be rather neat if the floors above a Shopper's contained a restaurant like Vi-Ann? Just saying...

We'll see what happens next week. An open mind will be good. Don't resist, don't roll over, be constructive.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Westport Festival




Plans and Location for Westport Festival

The Westport Festival is a new development being promoted by Shindico. It seems festival has replaced Centre, Plaza, Court, Common and Village.

I guess the developer thought a retailing concept called The Downs was too sad.

In any event, this development near the Assiniboia Downs is very large. How big? Well, bigger than the lot where Unicity Fashion Square used to be before being converted to a WalMart big box concept in 2000.

The Westport follows that same big box line with two very large box store locations with one unique difference. There is a listing for a large movie theatre complex on the site.

We have already seen that we are losing one discount movie theatre chain with the conversion Cinema City on McGillivray. What could this theatre be? First run movies, second run?

One thing is clear: The people of St. James and Charleswood have been under-served for years in the movie theatre department. The only real theatre in St. James was the King's Theatre and it closed decades ago. And the Polo Park Theatre in the deep dark recesses of the basement of Polo Park Mall was not worthy of the place.

Silver City Polo Park
has been serving the west part of the city since it was built in the 1990s.

That is a large section of the city where kids faced a very long bus ride in some case or difficult to impossible access if they lived in Charleswood to any movie theatre. It was one reason that for a very long time, there was a lot of video rental places along Portage Avenue.

The 450 acre Red River Exhibition Park is immediately north of the site. The eight auto dealers of Pointe West Autopark is right next door on an equally large piece of land.

In short order, things are getting busy in this area. It is easy to see the streets serving a mall, Red River Ex and the autopark are not up to snuff. Work will have to be done to avoid a three ring circus there.

So what big stores might be looking at those retail boxes? Well, a good bet is Lowe's. However, could not Target be a possibility? Kohl's would be the next dream store for Winnipeggers but there are others coming like J. Crew, Brooks Brothers and Crate & Barrel.

Only time will tell but fully leased signs are up in a lot of the city malls and some retail street strips.

The other interesting element of the Westport Festival is a hotel. Like a lot of others, Shindico hopes to capitalize on the nearby MTS Iceplex and the need for hotel space for the teams going to tournaments. It is obvious that there seemed to be no need just to serve the Red River Ex and Assiniboia Downs.

There has been a flurry of hotels built in that area after years of nothing.

The stretching out of our infrastructure and the traffic chaos in Headlingley is a debate that should happen as this project starts to take shape. Nevertheless, the increasing fully leased signs all over the city means that if we are ever to get certain stores, they will have to have a place to go.

To that end, the city continues to expand outward. Perhaps city council will continue to try and backfill spaces without some of the NIMBY-ism we have seen in recent weeks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kiehl's Opens in Winnipeg



Kiehl's Opens Wednesday

They only have 135 stores around the world but Kiehl's is an an iconic New York store that has been around since 1851. Each store as motorbike in it and Winnipeg is no different. The bike in the 1000 foot second floor location has a 1969 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide. The store is now a division of L'Oreal.

The store describes itself as an "old apothecary" concept.

Polo Park continues to pursue exclusive retailers to its location. Any local retailers would fare far better in the regional malls or at street level than hope to get into the mall now. In fact, many Canadian retailers will have to look over their shoulders in the next months.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blockbuster is Dead, Long Live the Local Video Store



The aftermath of the closure of Blockbuster has been rather swift moving in Winnipeg. Most of the old locations have been grabbed by other retailers, restaurant operators and service industries. This is in stark comparison to the sad state of affairs in the States where so many Blockbusters stand empty.

Snap Fitness has been grabbing up many of the old locations. In the Charleswood Shopping Centre Plaza, Pet Valu has grabbed up the old Blockbuster location leaving their smaller spot in the mall. I think it will fill fast.

Farther up in the north part of the city, one of the Blockbusters is becoming Famous Dave's.

The Portage Avenue location near Grace Hospital remains empty.

Still, within one year, it is likely every empty Blockbuster will have found a new tenant.

But what of video stores in general? Has online crushed the bricks and mortar store?

Well, not quite. Simply put, Netflix does not carry everything and often lacks new stuff. The price maybe good for the service but you still need high speed Internet and delivery devices such as computer, cell phone, tablet or TV.

Netflix has come a long way but the truth is that some areas may never have fast reliable high speed Internet to receive high definition signals.

As for cable and satellite: Their selection of stuff on Video on Demand is limited, the price is high and the means to select what you want to watch is not the best.

So, what has the closure of Blockbuster really meant? Well, according to the Free Press, it has meant additional business for existing video stores. In short, local business has benefited the most.

In essence, it is Back to the Future for the rental business. Prior to the Rogers, Jumbos and Blockbusters, the video rental market was very local. For years, I used to get my videos at Video Zone on Academy Road.

There was a shakeout later in the 1980s and most of the smaller shops closed up shop.

Now the shakeout is the bigger shops.

What has happened is that the over capacity in the market has been removed.

While Netflix and other downloads are having a huge impact, the DVD market is still viable. The very cheap DVDs in Safeway are still not as plentiful or diverse as a well stocked store.

It is doubtful that a major industry player would look to do what Blockbuster did and have a national chain of stores. The margins are too low.

However, until highspeed downloading arrives everywhere and the price and selection are there, most people will not toss their DVD players out.

The market needs local players. A new business opportunity has arrived.

One suggestion to local business out there. Charleswood and Tuxedo need both a hotel, a video store and if we are to believe some seniors, A Sal's.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Winnipeg Internet Pundits



I guested on the brilliant program Winnipeg Internet Pundits on Wednesday at 5 on UMFM.

Tessa Vanderhart hosts smart bloggers Christian Cassidy from West End Dumplings, James Howard, Slurpees and Murder and Winnipeg Cat, Graham Hnatiuk, Progressive Winnipeg , Robert Galston, Rise and Sprawl and Walter Krawec, One Man Committee on a roundtable discussion of Winnipeg and the blogosphere.

Tessa had provided a very detailed program plan which I apologize for going rambling past. Listening to the program, I think my stuttering is cringeworthy. Thanks to Christian, James and Walter tried keep thing on course and I thank them for that. Note to self: Bring something in writing yourself so you can not just talk off the top of your head.

The topics covered included the future development of Polo Park and surrounding area. I expressed confusion as to how the Asian food grocery was lost and how Western Financial suddenly became part of a mixed use mall.

We talked about retailer we might like or expect to see. First off, I should say I have no problem with local retailers and will seek them out whenever possible but I will say right up front that Polo Park and St. Vital Shopping Centre are poor prospects for a purely local retailer.

The better areas are most certainly along Henderson, Nairn, Main, McPhillips, Portage Avenue, Academy Road, Osborne and Corydon.

We talked about the little music area on Portage near Advance Electronics. I don't know that anyone has ever mentioned how many local music stores call that area home. There is Yamaha and Encore along with a few others.

The Free Press has written about how many wedding dress shops are along Portage near The Bay. What hasn't been mentioned is how many optical places are there too.

Touching upon The Bay downtown, there was a discussion of how the restaurant Oliver and Bonacini was going to be a destination location.

Downtown will only draw people with something exclusive like Mountain Equipment Co-Op or Birks. The old Bay restaurant certainly wasn't going to draw pre-Jets games crowds. Oliver and Bonacini will.

As far as the old stadium site, I expressed doubts about Lowe's locating there but thought Kohl's might be the right store. Truth of the matter though, nothing will be set in stone until the stadium is knocked down.

And many big retailers might be looking at the Seasons of Tuxedo to see how things shake out there before committing to an undefined stadium site.

I criticized the province about squatting on parking lots when they could have out the space on offer as both a parkade and office or residential and help create more energy and density around the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

I hope I didn't sound too negative about things because generally speaking I see positive things happening.

We are still finding our way on things but discussions of where we live, work, shop and play have to be in the forefront of any discussion we have on the city.

Thanks to all on the show who help try identify the city's strengths and where there needs to be improvements. And I will try not to ramble on as I did if I am ever back. I was nervous.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Store and Restaurant Wish List Part 2



Lowe's Home Improvement Stores

Back in July of last year, I wrote what I heard from some people was their wish list for restaurants and retailers for the city of Winnipeg.

There was as follows:

Restaurants:

Outback (already in Alberta and in Ontario although many closed in that province in 2009)
Hard Rock Cafe (in some Canadian provinces)
Chili's (already in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta)
Rainforest Cafe (already in Ontario)
Ruby Tuesday (already in Ontario)
Sweet Tomatoes

Stores:

Target
Lowe's
Juicy Couture
Crate and Barrel
J Crew
Brooks Brothers


We continue to be the one gap where Lowe's has no location.

However, all is not lost. In the last couple of years we have seen locations open up for Forever 21, Apple, Sephora, Hollister, Aeropostale.

For restaurants, Famous Dave's and Woody's Barbecue are on tap. And TGI Fridays just opened at the airport with Swiss Chalet a week before.

I should point out that no other post I have written has ever come close to matching Swiss Chalet for traffic.

I think we can add a few other retailers to the list we'd like to see:

Kohl's
Menard's
Abercrombie and Fitch
Victoria Secret
Marshals
Wet Seal
Charlotte Russe
DSW


and the one that seems so close to making an announcement:

H&M

To be fair, some of these stores don't operate any locations in Canada but it seems the big question has to be as what is taking Lowe's, Victoria Secret and H&M from coming?

Winnipeg is one of the hotter retail markets for non Canada's retailers to look at.

Part of the problem is no room in any of the big malls. Polo Park is full up. Ditto St. Vital Centre. Some older Canadian retailers have toppled like bowling pins the last few years as interlopers come in.

My guess is if Polo Park had a third floor, they'd fill that sucker in no time flat. However, how likely is that when they would have to build an addition to their parking deck. As for St. Vital, would any approval come with that traffic nightmare that is there now? Even a second deck of parking will not fix bad access off of other streets.

So, Victoria Secret and others wait with their faces pressed up against the glass to see if Polo Park will throw other tenants such as Broadway Florists under the bus to make space for them.

To be sure though, more stores are coming.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Central Canada Comic Con and the Conventions



Me as Rorschach and my friend Wonder Woman

Halloween weekend and Central Canada Comic Con all on the same weekend. It certainly makes for a costume friendly weekend.

Sad to see the downtown explode in shootings and stabbings once again because there was quite a lot going that was peaceful and fun. It is quite ridiculous when you think about how someone's checklist for Halloween goes like this: Booze, drugs, gun, knife. Check! ready for my night out!

If this is left unchecked, it won't long before some people make a decision about going to a Winnipeg Jets game, convention center show, Concert Hall outing or The Forks based on fearing that they will be killed in their cars.

It will be useless telling people that perception is not the reality.

The reality is that we will surpass our murder rate this year. The reality is that shots are being fired and stabbings are occurring. Everything and I do mean everything should be done to prevent protect the population from this unsettling trend.

Anyway, I won't try to spin this story about how good things are. Suffice to say, I want to go downtown to Jets games, conventions and plays. I am demanding that things be better. And yes I am looking at you Mr. Mayor and you Mr. Premier.

Anyways, back to the convention that I attended...

For those interested in knowing, there were many people from very young to very old at the Winnipeg Convention Centre enjoying Central Canada Comic Con. Since 2006, it has taken off and thousands are in attendance. I suspect it will only get bigger.

There were some stars from TV and film present for autographs and question and answer not the least of which was William Shatner.

Met Kevin Sorbo who seems to be a genuinely good guy.

There were so many excellent costumes and activities that it was enough to keep most people engaged for hours. Wonderful show and you know it will only get better.

****

It is the type of show the Convention Centre has been doing so well over the years. Home show, car show, boat show. Literally thousands of people who generally don't go downtown for a host of reasons go to the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

I am not an expert on the economic activity generated by a Convention Centre. It is probably lots and although the costs are high to build them, I think they are worth it so long as they have the tools to generate some cash for their operations. Parkades can make money after the initial huge start up costs.

It is curious to note that developers are keen on buying parkades. There is high interest in Portage Place's parkade to spur a tower. This isn't a bad idea but CentreVenture should hold off till they get a commitment for both towers to be built on west and east side before selling. They should not think of this as losing a revenue generator in the parkade but getting seed money for further projects.

This weekend's convention had two decks of parking lot filled. It had every food service counter filled to capacity and probably more could have done business.

I think more revenue has to come from services provided from the Convention Center. It should have more restaurants, concessions and the like.

The plan for expansion that I have talked about here includes a hotel. This is a good thing and should be thought about in terms of how it can create further revenue and support for the convention center.

The Convention Center has been isolated too long from the rest of the downtown or Broadway by a selfish province that thought nothing about having huge surface parking lots spread out all around and no plan for doing better. Those parking lots were owned by the province and any thought of developing them till this year was rejected.

Here's hoping that enough vision is in place to try and make what works in the city work better and stop working at cross purposes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Swiss Chalet Now Open in Winnipeg



Swiss Chalet opened Wednesday, October 28 at 11 am according to reports.

It has been chaos around there as people who have been waiting for some time for it, head there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Horizon Insurance



Almost unnoticed in September was the purchase of Manitoba's largest independent insurance broker Horizon Insurance by Hub International of Chicago.

Horizon has operated in Manitoba for 100 years founded by Louis Leipsic. Today it is has 18 locations and 180 staff. It also owns the locations of Ryan Gateway Insurance. Not a small company by any stretch.

The acquisition by Hub is supposed to help the company in terms of products and expansion. Hub has an interesting background. It was founded in Canada and moved to the States. It has been on a tear with insurance companies being snapped up left and right across North America.

By all accounts, Hub buys an insurance broker and leaves them intact with their head office forming a super regional office. However, B.C.'s biggest independent brokers with nearly 600 employees seems to have lost their own website in favour of Hub's. hardly the local presence you might want to have for such a large company.

The best business for a place is one where there is a strong local head office and independence to charity, sponsorships and have your local execs out in the community.

I hope that is the case with Horizon.

I have seen too many times when a local company is purchased and then they chop or eliminate any head office staff or have thing run by a small supervisory staff who have no authority to do much of anything including things like the United Way.

Horizon still has a website and identifies who runs the company and who they are. Barton in B.C. doesn't list anyone as far as I can tell. Not good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Modest Proposal - Movie Theatres




Cinema City: Before and After

In what is surely a preemptive move from prospective construction of a multi screen movie theatre on the IKEA site, Cineplex Odeon at McGillivray Boulevard and Kenaston Boulevard.

From the beginning, it has been reported that part of the IKEA site was going to movie theatres, possibly from the Empire chain or the expanding AMC chain. This obvious didn't sit well with dominant player Cineplex.

The response from Winnigeggers has been somewhat mixed since a decent second run movie theatre is now going to have first run movies and posh prices.

So now the Cineplex Odeon McGillivary & VIP Cinemas is born.

What will it consist of? It will be eight traditional auditoriums and three VIP screening rooms. Presumably, if Justin Bieber is back in town, he will be able to entertain his girlfriend Selena Gomez at this theatre rather than at Silver City Polo Park.

The Cineplex announcement is part and parcel of $6.5 million of renovation being done to most of the properties the company owns in the city. New concessions, paint, seats and entertainment are all part of what we'll be seeing in the various facilities.

Now...a modest proposal:

Since we are losing a discount movie theatre in the south end of the city, is not time to consider the Empire Theatre location at the Grant Park Mall. It is the only location of the Empire chain in Winnipeg.

If indeed, it is Empire intending on building on the IKEA site, would it not make some sense to possibly convert the Grant Park site to a discount theatre?

I know I'm not the owner or anything but yeesh, we do like our discount theatres in the city and Grant Park might do well by it.

****

Just picked up the Uniter at McNally Robinson. Saw the story on OMC there. Good job!

I'd love it if the Uniter, Manitoban and Projector were available in boxes around the city. Just sayin'

Despite the fact that so much is online, I love the feel of the paper in my hands.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Polo Park North







Shovels were turned on the old Winnipeg Arena site finally. It is sometimes amazing how long projects take and how much they can change from the original plans.

At first, it looked like the site was going to be the location of an Asian food grocery. Then CJOB moved into the old CKY site. Now, groundbreaking is taking place on what will be a $36 million development.

Downtown's loss is Polo Park's gain as Western Financial combines four offices all on one floor of a mixed use building seen at the top of this page.

I think the big surprise for the 210,000 foot structure is that it includes an underground parking lot for 200 cars. Kind of a shocker in open surface parking crazy Winnipeg. We saw another underground parking lot on Sterling Lyon for the the new medical center which was a bit of a surprise too.

It used to be for a while that underground parking was a primary consideration for a development. Might be making a bit of a comeback.

The three floors of the new complex are supposed to retail on the first, Western Financial on the second and other offices on the third. It seems inevitable that Western Financial is eying the third floor to add to their present 370 employees. This is a good thing and one of the few good things about losing this company from the downtown.

I suspect that the new development will be successful but unimaginative. If lucky, we might get some retail on the first floor that Winnipegger would like to see.

The issues of traffic will continue to be a problem. Empress was never meant to handle the traffic it does.

The stadium redevelopment is likely to bring all things to a head although it is unlikely that a developer will front the money like IKEA has.

Much of the announcement is seen as being a loss for the downtown and within that whole prism of downtown is not safe, etc. To be sure, there is much to be done for the downtown but it won't be just office buildings that do it. Nor will it be just retail. The area needs people.

It would have been great if Western Financial was downtown. However, what will be more important is if more people are brought downtown to live and that they feel safe and secure when they do so.

We have a ways to go to achieve that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Hub Campus Bar to Open at University of Manitoba




The new bar at UMSU


The never ending construction at the University of Manitoba must make for some less than enjoyable student life.

How long does it take to get student services like a pub or restaurant going at UMSU?

It would seem the answer is months.

The Hub will be the new campus bar replacing the old Wise Guys on Campus bar and the UMSU pub before that.

It is Back to the Future for UMSU; a return to pub fare and entertainment. Some of the themed nights will be: “Classic Country” and “Revamped Rez”.

Art from students will be featured as well.

Given that the new Blue Bomber and Bisons stadium next door, you would figure some sports themes. Lots of Jets games could also attract a crowd. No idea if flat screens is on the agenda. If not, UMSU...please consider a sports bar on campus.

One thing the university bar should try to avoid is losing money. The Soma food services idea at the University of Winnipeg has been a moneypit. Tens of thousands has gone down the rabbit hole there.

Campus life should be hard work but also fun. The universities in this town seem to specialize in the exodus: How we get out of here as fast as we can?

Wouldn't it be nice if thousands of students at a variety of things that enhanced their academic and social experience at the university level?

So...here's hoping The Hub is the first of a few things to give the U of M some swagger.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

River Heights Firehall



There probably hasn't been a time in recent Winnipeg history where so many firehalls were being constructed all at the same time. Three are planned for and being constructed. Not much imagination for individual design. They come from the same design as the Sage Creek station.

I wrote already about the decrepit Charleswood station. The River Heights one is getting up there in age as well as a two vehicle unit on Grosvenor Avenue surrounded by a bus loop. I have no idea of how the building is faring other than it has been there for many decades and aside from addition for hanging equipment to dry many, many years ago, it seems to have been left as is.

The new place is on Taylor Avenue as the picture above indicates. Location-wise, it is less than center in River Heights than it was. I am no expert in response times but coverage from St. James could be more of a problem with Route 90 being even more congested.

Everything along Kenaston remains up in the air so long as Kapyong Barracks and the St. James Bridge are not dealt with.

The big question long term will be productivity and effectiveness of a large city fire department. While there is large support for fire service, some halls are less busy than others. Careful consideration will have to be made about how to ensure safe coverage of the city while not having full-time pay for part-time work.

The move to make fire fighters into paramedics is good. However, fire fighters can't transfer patients to hospitals. We have seen in the last year fire crews tied up with paramedic calls while waiting for an ambulance. Not very effective service.

It remains to be seen whether we will have that rational discussion of how many people is just right. It is entirely possible that those who try to talk about it will be shouted down or threatened electorally.


In the meantime, equipment and firehalls need to be updated. There is no doubt many are crumbling.

The city will have to consider how it spends money though and know that any rise in overall staffing in the city has it costs and that might be letting infrastructure like firehalls crumble.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reg Alcock



Read Alcock Dead at 63

Back in 1988, I ran for the provincial Liberal party in the Logan constituency. At the same time, another gentleman by the name of Reg Alcock ran under the same banner at the behest of Sharon Carstairs and won. I remember when seeing him that he appeared to be a giant.

He turned to federal politics in 1993. Upon Lloyd Axworthy's departure from Winnipeg-Fort Garry in 1988 for the new riding of Winnipeg South Centre, a rare opportunity existed where some of Axworthy's strong constituency support straddled two ridings.

The Liberals had narrowly lost the riding of Winnipeg South Center in 1988 and the longtime Liberal roots of a large portion of the riding and the continued activism of former Axworthy constituents helped Alcock take the riding from Progressive Conservative Dorothy Dobbie in 1993.

Alcock was a government backbencher for 10 years until Paul Martin appointed him to cabinet.

When I worked in the legislature, Alcock was known for big size and gruff nature. He was without doubt the most technologically savvy politician in Canada for many years. He was also at the forefront of policy development.

Like Lloyd Axworthy, there are few major projects in Manitoba today that he did not have a hand in getting started or seeing reach completion.

His defeat in 2006 in the Winnipeg South riding was probably the first time he seriously misjudged things. The quickly changing riding in terms of growth probably needed far more face time than he gave it. He had been a fixer for so long that he was called upon to shore up support elsewhere in the province.

At the time of his death, Alcock was where a lot of Liberals are after being defeated: teaching at a university. He, like Axworthy, did good work post politics.

Alcock leaves a wife and family behind.

He also leaves a city and province that are a little better than when he found them.

edit: Clarifying Axworthy's departure. October 15, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Woody's Bar-B-Q Coming To Winnipeg



Woody's Bar-B-Q

The Free Press reported that Woody's Bar-B-Q will be opening at the busy corner of Pembina Highway and Grant Avenue.

It will be a new building constructed on the corner near the hotel. Part of it will house the ever expanding Papa John's. Hello continued Pizza War. The other part will be the Florida-based Woody's.

Woody's Bar-B-Q only recently announced it was coming to Canada and has barely started franchises in British Columbia. Southern barbecue with a decor that looks like a Mississippi barbecue shack will be the order of the day. Unlike the U.S. locations where few have liquor licenses, all Canadian locations will sell liquor. There is more emphasis on take-out. In other words, these restaurants are smaller and will cost less to franchise than their U.S. counterparts.

It remains to be seen whether Famous Dave's and Woody's Bar-B-Q will do well in this market. I expect that they will.

At the moment, it is KFC and Chicken Delight on the retreat. In years past it was Bonanza, Ponderosa, Country Kitchen, Mr. Steak and Chi Chi's that died in the competitive market here and across North America.

Now, how about a Rainforest Cafe and a Hard Rock Cafe across from MTS Centre?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Welcome Back Winnipeg Jets



Go Jets go!

TSN Radio



Sports Radio 1290 has re-branded itself TSN Radio 1290.

It is quite the change from from CFRW days to home of the Winnipeg Jets.

TSN and Bell Media have put out a lot of money grab radio and TV rights for the Jets and increase local programming dramatically.

Bravo to them and bravo to all local media who have upped their game to cover the Winnipeg Jets.

I complained loudly about the lack of local content at first but this a job well done so far.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Manitoba Election 7 Aftermath - Classless



Greg Selinger with unprecedented fourth majority victory.

I was wrong.

First things first. It was a classless act of Greg Selinger to go on with a speech before Hugh McFadyen went on. It is obvious the NDP were sick of waiting for a concession speech and decided in a classless manner to go on ahead anyway.

Seems they did not have the backroom guys call and ask what might be going on. Had they done so, they would have heard that McFadyen was contemplating what to say about his stepping down from the leadership.

Classless, graceless and stupid is all I can say.

I predicted a majority NDP government. I didn't see the PCs making gains in Winnipeg except for St. Norbert. The NDP squeaked that one.

I focused on rural Manitoba for the PCs to make any gains. It was an overall terrible outcome for party. Ridings they needed to pick up, they didn't. Even with an incumbent out such as in Swan River, the PCs failed. There was an increase in the popular vote for the PCs but translated into nothing.

So what went wrong? A poor platform that elicited no excitement. Where was the promise of full-time Kindergarten? With that promise alone, the NDP would be on their heels and the Manitoba Teacher's Society would be expressing support. Where was the bold promise of lowering the PST down 1%? Where was the promise of taking over RCMP policing in Manitoba and creating a Manitoba Provincial Police?

Big brass ones. Those are game changers. Put the other side on the defensive.

The NDP used the power of their office to advertise and then they used their political budget to go negative. And often.

If you have some brass one that you show and someone tries to kick them. You kick back and you keep kicking.

Whoever the new Tory leader is, they will have to go on the attack and attack often. Go negative, go personal and do it often. Why? Because it works.

The NDP philosophy sometimes is summed up by classless. It can also be used to describe behaviour. We saw a lot of it in this election.

However, if we base things on outcome, the NDP way worked.

From my own perspective, I really did focus on ideas the parties presented. I was disappointed that there was not more innovation and vision. Only a highly partisan person would say that any of the three presented the best election campaign we have seen in Manitoba history.

There will be two new Opposition leaders in the next election, possibly a third if the Greens have someone new.

It will not all be peaches and cream for the new government. Continued weakness in the U.S. economy will hurt all of Canada. The deficit will not be easy to end. Healthcare costs will continue to rise. And violent crime will continue to scar parts of the province.

Some NDP were suggesting they might win even more seats in the next election. I remember when Frank McKenna won all 57 seats in New Brunswick. Eventually, you wear out your welcome. Or is possible we see NDP governments over and over again like Alberta.

I guess we see in the future.

Manitobans Get Hosed at the Polls

Monday, October 3, 2011

Manitoba Election 6 Predictions



In the last election the NDP won a majority government with 36 seats won to the Progressive Conservatives 19 seats. The Liberals came away with 2.

In the terms of change, it was a 1 seat addition for the NDP and a triumph for the NDP. Little did anyone know that Gary Doer would not serve his entire term. Did anyone ask?

There was only one seat gained by the NDP but it affirmed the popularity support that Gary Doer had as leader of the NDP.

The difference for the PCs to unseat the NDP seems too great at this point to make a difference in ending NDP rule.

First, the Liberal predictions.

Jon Gerrard should should hold River Heights. It has been a tough fight but people appreciate his presence in the riding and in the legislature.

Kevin Lamouruex is gone to represent federally. But his people are working hard to gain Roldan Sevillano a seat.

Tyndall Park and River Heights will be gains.

Spirited campaigns by other Liberals will have difficultly breaking through.

Liberals Hold: 2 Seats.

The Progressive Conservatives will hold all their present seats or the proximity to the old boundaries. Hugh McFadyen and the PCs will make some gains.

The NDP made a wash with in St. Norbert. They screwed up the nomination and with no incumbent there, they are vulnerable. Gain for Karen Velthuys. Shocker will be if name recognition puts Marcel Laurendeau of the the Liberals there instead.

I think the NDP are vulnerable in a few places in western Manitoba. Brandon East will go PC. I think with Rosann Wowchuck in place, Swan River will go PC. I think Interlake will go PC.

In a shocker, re-distribution may deliver La Verendrye and the new Dawson Trail to the PCs.

Progressive Conservative Gain: 6 seat

That puts them at 25 in the Legislature.

The NDP drop to 30 in the Legislature.

NDP Lose: 6 seats

House split 30 NDP, 25 PCs and 2 Liberals.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Air Canada and Downtown Winnipeg



Like OMC, I was driving to work on Kenaston when I heard the CBC Radio One national news report on.

It was rather than disconcerting. I wrote last October about the Radisson Hotel renovations last year and how things needed to be cleaned up around there.

This was the text of Air Canada's message:

Ladies and Gentlemen, In response to several reports indicating questionable safety in the area surrounding the Radisson Hotel in downtown Winnipeg a Security Assessment was conducted, in conjunction with the Winnipeg Police Service, by Air Canada Corporate Security. Recent environmental issues have forced approximately 1,000 displaced people from rural Manitoba to numerous hotels in the downtown area. Instances of public intoxication, resulting in several downtown locations being susceptible to crimes of violence and opportunity, have been observed by local Police. Based on concern generated by Crew Reports, Corporate Security, and keeping in mind our obligation, to the extent possible, for ensuring the safety of layover locations, a decision has been made to relocate. Alternative downtown layover options were investigated, and while The Inn at the Forks is considered secure, as a boutique hotel they were not able to accommodate our crews. We considered locations available outside the downtown core and while our preference was the Clarion at Polo Park they, as well, were not interested in accommodating our crews. For now, we have arranged through API, to have Crews layover at the Sandman Hotel and Suites. Information on the Sandman Hotel and Suites is found at www.sandmanhotels.com/en/hotels/manitoba/winnipegairport.php. We will certainly revisit the downtown area once the present situation improves. Authorities anticipate displaced people to be an issue for another 12 months. Best Regards,

Captain Jeff Dennis Manager, Flying Operations


I have a few of the people who have been displaced by flooding as clients. None are too happy about their situation. In some cases, kids are still not back in school. Two governments are responsible for their welfare: the province and the feds. One government is responsible for the outcome of so may displaced people: Winnipeg.

It isn't just First Nations people but that probably comprises the bulk although who can say?

Winnipeg has a drug and alcohol problem. It isn't just solved by throwing Hell's Angels in jail. That goes after the supply. It doesn't do anything about the demand. And that demand is there. Legally or illegally, there are people seeking out substances.

We can go a long way to talk about addiction, prohibition and how legal and illegal all blend together. We need that debate. We should have that debate. One thing is clear though after that debate is that addiction is best worked on as a medical problem and that has been clearly supported by the recent unanimous Supreme Court decision. The Harper Tories sought to shut down a medical response in favour a criminal approach. The court pretty must indicated that pushing addicts underground who seek to minimize the harm they are in or end their addiction must have have protection under the law and province trumps federal government on that matter.

However, back to the Air Canada issue, it is obvious that that the company took a look at the situation. Much like how Western Financial decamped to Polo Park out of fear of downtown, Air Canada is going down the same route. The loss of Western Financial's 350 employees and 72,000 square feet of office is a particularly bitter pill to swallow.

The war of words on CBC's and the Free Press website over Air Canada's decision is ferocious.

One blogger was blunt how bad it is.

So, here is what I've seen in my time living downtown. I am going to focus on the negative first, and then go into the positives, because there are lots of good things about the area.

Most recently, there has been a man hanging around outside my apartment every afternoon, and he bothers everyone that walks by for money. He's called me a bitch for telling him a) no and b) to get off the private property. Really, I'm a bitch because I don't want to give you money and because I don't appreciate you trespassing? Eat a dick.

My apartment has a convenience store attached to it. There's this wonderful Korean family that runs it and they are all super sweet. There's an ATM there I sometimes use. One day I came downstairs to use it and there was a sign on it saying it was broken. As I went to walk away, the owner of the store told me the machine actually worked, he just put the sign up because he was sick of the drug dealers coming in off the street to use it to conduct their business.

Some other fun things about downtown. Hmmmm... well, I live down the street from a Manitoba Housing complex that is full of equal parts welfare bums and unmedicated crazy people, all of whom seem to wander over to the City Place food court to loiter all day. There's one particular crazy man that will try to sell you anything he can steal. One time he tried to sell me a computer monitor for five bucks. A steal of deal, literally. Mostly, these people order a McDonald's coffee and then hang around the mall all day, smelling up the place, bumming smokes and change and in some extreme cases, publicly masturbating.

Last week a friend saw a man just hanging out, bleeding from the head, chilling at the fountain on the main floor. He also told me there were unsupervised little kids throwing pudding cups off the second floor.


It goes on. I recommend reading it.

One writer states:

I've seen Air Canada flight crews take some excessive harrassment from drunks as the crews tried to check in at the Radisson on more than one occasion. And I don't blame them for this move a second, however thoughtless a couple of their comments in their discussion of the issue might have been.

I do blame the people who persist in claiming that the solution is silence or propaganda. We need to stop talking about or excusing these problem, and to start demanding that certain indifferent public officials in both levels of local government earn their pay and fix the problem instead.

Other cities have cleaned up their downtowns and dramatically reduced petty, nuisance and violent crimes in public areas. We can, too, but only if someone gets off their ass.


People are going to feel defensive about the city and they should. The mayor Sam Katz ask lashed out about the decision. Don't know if he is Winnipeg today though. Did he call it in from Phoenix? And Greg Selinger will say that he has done his part. if that is true, what is up with Air Canada and Western Financial? Has the helicopter caught any aggressive drunks and panhandlers? Has there been some dramatic enforcement of provincial liquor laws or at the liquor stores?

We have had city and provincial continuity in leadership and downtown still has the same burning questions. It can't be brushed aside and no one solution will solve the problem. It has to be a full court press day after day after day.

There are some bright spots downtown. The Forks is not considered part of downtown. Imagine that. The greatest strength of The Forks is that people don't consider it to be part of downtown. Broadway and the Exchange District have their strengths too.

However, there are too many wide swaths of vacant land that are only used for parking, too many neglected Manitoba Housing buildings, too many rogue bars, too many people with substance abuse issues or mental illnesses and just too few people living in the area to say: This is my home, it is unacceptable that this is happening!

I think it is safe to say that city and provincial officials need to dig deep and figure out how to solve the problem rather than bluster about how wrong people are to have negative feelings.

Suffice to some people in the suburbs might always have negative feelings about the downtown even if there were no issues related to crime or poverty. Can't say that some who live in the downtown don't have feelings about those in the suburbs as well.

We can't help those feelings if they are related to lifestyle. We can help it if it is related to safety.

Building the downtown is going to have to be step by step so that a community is formed. It has to have a living component that thinks about how to make that area liveable, safe and attractive.

So what to do about the problem of the Radisson Hotel and perhaps the Air Canada building?

Well, first is to boost visible police and security presence. Drug deals can't be happening in the park outside of Air Canada. Panhandlers can't be loitering and aggressive at every bus stop and business entrance.

Larger issue of addiction and poverty will no doubt play a part but safety, security and personal responsibility will have to taken care of.

In the 1980s, the Exchange District around Albert and Arthur Streets was under siege from prostitution. It took a concerted effort and it was driven away. Sad thing though is it never ends, it just moves places.

Still, had the prostitution stayed, it is hard to say whether Red River College and others would have moved into the area.

The point is that if Portage Avenue suddenly became the safe and attractive place that people aspire to, elements of crime and poverty could move elsewhere if the underlying problems remain.

But first things first: address the immediate safety needs around the MTS Centre and hotels. Keep at them until the area takes on a vibrancy like we see at The Forks and perceptions will change because the circumstances have changed.

Next post up will be about something encouraging. The transformation around the University of Winnipeg.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Manitoba Election 5 Liberal versus Liberals



John Harvard and Anita Neville decided to throw Jon Gerrard under the bus today and endorse NDP candidates in Kirkfield Park and Seine River.

Both have mused in the past about merging the NDP and the Liberals and seem to be hurrying along that process.

It has to be a bitter pill for Gerrard who has presented a good platform, has recruited some excellent candidates and received some credit in the press for trying to show some alternatives.

I have stated I don't believe in the two party option of simple left and right choices.

Jon Gerrard has one thing correct and that is the NDP performance in health is underwhelming and the worst place you can end up having happen to you is to end up in the emergency room. While the NDP clams they have reduced wait times, they don't include waiting to be discharged out of the ambulance.

The thinking behind Neville seems to be "anyone but the conservatives." Sadly, that attitude wasn't held by the NDP who gunned hard for her and the result was...a Conservative.

We need a third or more choices in our Legislature. Some Liberals seems to want to end their party by undermining support for the party. It would appear some Liberals are moving right and some left.

Doesn't leave room for us centrists.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Famous Dave's Restaurant Coming to Winnipeg



The closets Famous Dave's restaurant to Winnipeg is in Fargo. There are two places to get ribs in Fargo. One is Space Alien's and the other is Famous Dave's.

In short, people who love ribs are are looking for something a bit different than Tony Roma's or some of the other restaurants who serve ribs or riblets such as Applebee's are going to love Famous Dave's.

Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba Ltd, an experienced restaurant operator with the Wok Box, is responsible for the restaurant coming and a number of locations will be opening. The first will be at Lagimodiere Boulevard in the Reenders Square shopping centre.

The list of restaurants from the U.S. that people want to see here just got a little shorter.

The indication is that Famous Dave's is moving to Reenders Drive but where? Could this be the end of Royal Fork which closed in Fargo in 2008 due to competition? We'll see.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Voted



Hats off the Elections Manitoba for better ease in voting this year. Certainly this concept can go even further but the ability to vote in a variety of places for numerous days is the way to go. Someone who does not vote, does so knowing that they have a harder time blaming lack of time as the reason.

I am in the Tuxedo riding which takes in a chunk of Charleswood and River Heights. I expect no surprises in this seat as mentioned earlier. There are plenty of signs for Heather Stefanson, I see fewer NDP and Liberal signs than the last election.

I have been wholeheartedly unimpressed by the election thus far. I don't even go as far to say that the two main parties have a hidden agenda. They have no agenda except power and uninspired governance. The PCs and especially the NDP have been nasty.

I did look at all the platforms of the parties and try to see who the local candidates were. There were a number of items in all the platforms that I liked but I was singularly not impressed by the financials of anyone who didn't cost things out.

But who can blame the parties? It isn't like the federal Tories cost their programs even now. They introduce an omnibus crime bill and won't say how it will be paid for.

There have been two polls out in the last day from Viewpoints Research and Environics. One has the NDP up comfortably, the other has the Tories up marginally. The advantage still goes to the NDP.

There is probably one poll left out there in a campaign that had almost nothing to gauge what has so far been an unengaged public.

In the end, I cast my ballot for the Liberals for the best of the platforms but for a candidate who, aside from a resume, I didn't know that well.

In truth, no local candidate here really fleshed out a lot for me to grasp a hold of and make me think local politics mattered.

My centrist leanings and need for an option was fulfilled. It would be terribly tragic if we are left with even less choice after this election and into the next.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Winnipeg Pizza Wars



Over the last couple of years some of the big pizza chains have moved into the city. Papa Johns in the latest American entry into a very competitive market.

We have seen a retreat of the chicken restaurants lately. KFC had a major contraction in the last two years and Chicken Delight retreated from the prominent corner they inhabited on Corydon Avenue.

Chains such as Pizza Pizza and Little Caesar's have started flooding the market. In my area, Presto Pizza closed rather than compete against Little Caesar's across the block.

We have always been price competitive in Winnipeg on pizza. We have also had some amazing pizza joints over the years such as Santa Lucia as well as some dominant players such as Pizza Hotline and Domino's.

Sushi and pizza seems to dominate new places opening while the chicken places continue their decline. Chinese food restaurants seems to pass from family to family over the years.

It is difficult to see what the margin is on pizza but Winnipeggers love the stuff and there will be knock down, take out brawl in the next year.

Now, if we could get more Indian restaurants and pubs setting up.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Manitoba Election 5



Fear

And Charleswood

It has been an election campaign about fear. Fear of change. fear of the other guy.

The vitriol in this election comes more from the NDP than pretty much any other quarter. The Blackberry Addicts and Just Damm Stupid are instructive in this matter.

Aside from The Black Rod, the sealed from the outside world, written in a dark basement somewhere with doors bolted and shotgun across the lap, there is not a lot of right of center blow the barns door off blogs.

I am not likely to vote Progressive Conservative in this election. I am in the Tuxedo riding. Some River Heights and Charleswood people get thrown into this mix, me among them.

Not since 1988 when Gary Filmon squeaked out a win against Jasper McKee has the riding been threatened with not having a Progressive Conservative MLA. Given the amount of signs for Heather Stefanson, it is hard to see fall in the riding.

I have nothing against Stefanson personally. She is solid enough and likely a cabinet contender should the Progressive Conservatives get into office. I don't fear her. The fear or secret agenda of the NDP don't wash with me.

However, I have simply have not seen outstanding ideas from the PCs or from her when it comes to the future of the province. The PCs under Hugh McFadyen have come a long way. However, they still have not articulated outstanding ideas that have the wow factor in them. And when they have possible strength in saying they would have better financial management for the future, it is tempered with spending promises and deficit reduction that says "not quite conservative."

The NDP candidate Dashi Zargani is no stranger to the riding. He ran for city council although he played down his NDP roots when questioned about it in that election. He is an improvement from the last candidate the NDP ran who was a student from across town. I had nothing against that candidate in the last election except I could not help wondering why the NDP party, the government in power, could not attract a single local resident to run under the party colours. It isn't like they were the opposition who might not have any local presence and had to send a candidate from outside to ensure a full slate.

This time the NDP have a local candidate in Zargani. Still, I remember from two council forums in the last election, he fell short of wowing the audience with ideas for the riding. I was initially impressed with him as a candidate but he needed polishing then. This time, I have not heard too much of what his ideas for the riding are.

Zargani's problems don't come alone from having very little on his website or campaign literature or door knocking. It comes with the long term party he represents in power. I simply cannot abide the fear that drives it.

The NDP could have said they were proud of what they had done but they were planning on renewal and change in the future. They didn't do this. Instead they have been on the attack like never before. Nasty, venal, bullying with the power they have and brutish in various forums they try to shout down others.

The Green Party has Donald Benham running. He is the son of former River Heights councillor Donald Benham. He is from outside the riding and is waving the flag for a stronger provincial effort on the part of The Greens. More power to the Greens but their stand on bans, restrictions and the like on a wide range of items make them unpalatable to me. Much like Prohibitionists, they don't seem to realize the backlash they would create. Much better for them to concentrate on their strengths of offering ideas that might save more money but wouldn't feel like a bitter pill shoved down one's throat.

The Liberals are running their past party president Linda Minuk as Tuxedo candidate. She is a bilingual lawyer.

Like Zargani, the Liberal candidate doesn't have a lot on her website about what she might do in the area. To be truthful though, hardly any of the candidates do. Minuk appears to be, like everyone else, standing behind the leader.

Jon Gerrard has been around a while. His platform does have difference from the other two parties, sometimes touching on policies the others don't wish to discuss such as Sunday shopping.

There is still time before the election for local candidates to make their presence felt so I won't say more till the date draws close. I really hope to see something either on a website, news article or elsewhere that gives me more information.

Until then, fear rules the day. Anger and nastiness prevail. And people looking to know more about their local candidates struggle. They try to sort through the chafe and for many, they try to care at all.